Rick and Morty Season 2 Review
So what about season 2 of Rick and Morty then?
In truth, Rick and Morty season 2 has been something of a mixed bag. There have been three masterpieces, a couple of pretty funny ones, a couple of episodes saved by some good gags, and a total turd almost saved by plumbus.
Let’s go through seasons 2 episode by episode:
Episode 1 is called The Migraine Episode. I didn’t love it due to the annoying gimmick I’ll discuss in a minute. Yet, despite being hamstrung by a stupid central conceit, it’s always lively, amusing and inventive. I instantly remembered why I loved this show last year and kept recommending it to everyone I met.
Unfortunately the central gimmick sucks. By going multi-screen for most of the episode and having about 32 screens going at once, and then having the different screens interact with each other, the Migraine Episode is the recipe for an instant migraine. Hence the name. Sensory overload and eye strain followed by a quick liedown are the outcome.
Episode 2, aka the Jerry Daycare Episode, is miles better in every way. I love Roy. What gets me is that Rick gives Morty no warnings about what is about to happen: an entire lifetime as a child/teenager/man/old man/dead man called Roy. Rick just whacks a helmet on Morty’s head. Is that callous or adventurous? Probably a bit of both, but it’s a funny idea executed perfectly.
As a fan of Flight of the Conchords I’m an easy sell for Jemaine Clement singing in his “Bowie-voice” twice in the same episode. The same song that is, the same song twice. A song about moon-men: a subject at best tangential to the a-plot.
I also dug Krombopulos Michael.
Overall it’s not a total masterpiece of an episode, it doesn’t offer anything transcendent or next level but there’s plenty to enjoy.
Third up was the Unity Episode. I didn’t love it, but nearly everyone else did so I guess I’m wrong. But I laughed once or twice the whole episode. I must be wrong.
Episode 4 is the rightly celebrated Parasite Episode. I love so many things. In random order of names: Reverse Giraffe, Mr Poopybutthole, Cousin Nicky, Amish Cyborg… the list goes on.
Cousin Nicky is probably my favourite. My “I’m Walking Here!” is the worst.
After the Parasite Episode Rick and Morty seemed untouchable. But then they did the American Idol Episode, which was depressingly close to a Family Guy storyline. The American Idol Episode was a reminder of why I’ve never seen a Ted movie, and hopefully never will.
Rick and Morty had somehow remained unique and brilliant for a full season and a half – and then this generic crap. I guess writers sometimes have shitty ideas, and if allowed to fester they become inoffensive shlock like the American Idol Episode.
One of the great thrills of Rick and Morty, generally speaking, is how it doesn’t feel like any other show on TV. It’s uniquely funny, uniquely nihilistic, uniquely absurd, at times uniquely bleak. It’s a TV show for people who don’t like most things on Comedy Central or Adult Swim. It doesn’t feel hackneyed, safe, obvious, pointless or wallpaper. But, really, what is more hackneyed and obvious than taking the piss out of reality tv?
Like, seriously, is that the lowest hanging fruit on the tree or what? The ants had a picnic that night.
That was the moment I started to worry that season 2 was gonna disappoint. I was thinking it would never produce an episode as great as the Meeseeks or Lawnmower Dog or Rixty Minutes – and then along came The Mini Universe Episode, and all was good again.
Rick and Morty works best when it goes full-on zany sci-fi adventure and the Mini Universe Episode is a masterpiece of that genre. I’ll go even further. It’s a multiple masterpiece. A masterpiece of nihilistic, philosophically-dense headtrip sci-fi. And a masterpiece of comedy – thanks in no small part to Stephen Colbert. He is, bar none, the greatest guest star they’ve ever had. His delivery is simultaneously both creamy rich and stingingly sardonic. Moreover, Zeep is a perfect foil for Rick, and finally an adversary worthy of our great protagonist.
Their rivalry feels earned and their conflict has end of the world stakes. Plus it’s really funny. I don’t know what words I can use to convey how funny it is. So I won’t even try. Fuck you.
In short, the Mini Universe Episode is a wonder… and evidently they spent all their time working on that episode and ignoring the next two.
First, the Tiny Rick Episode. It’s distressing. The writers had appeared to fully understand why the show worked: amazing sci-fi adventures and moral questions up the yin yang. And at the heart of everything Rick himself: a crotchety old genius with incredible anger, arrogance, drunkenness and lack of moral judgement.
But the Tiny Rick Episode brazenly ignores all that by turning Rick into a teenager, for no obvious reason, thus neutering the whole show. To turn Rick into a teenager is tacky and just plain bad. We’re in cliched sitcom territory here. But the real offence is to take away the funniest thing about Rick. His Rickness. Teenage and non-grumpy is way less funny. It just is. I have a calculator that told me so.
Plus they gave Tiny Rick no coherent storyline at all. Saying “Tiny Rick” 20 times is not a storyline.
There followed the TV Shows Episode, Part Two. I love the first episode. I love it. It’s my heroin.
In a certain state of consciousness, Rick and Morty – and the TV Episode, Part 1 in particular – is about as funny as anything I’ve ever seen. When sober it’s funny, when medicated it’s incredibly funny, an avalanche of endorphins.
I got none of that from the second tv episode. It’s the worst Rick and Morty episode, by far. The Jerry storyline wasn’t broken properly in the writer’s room. This was a chance to develop a patently under-developed character: Jerry. He should have got the world’s biggest and most impressive cock and then become monstrously confident. In other words, it should have become a storyline about Jerry’s lack of confidence and self-worth instead of a cheap penis joke that went nowhere.
They also wasted Werner Herzog’s funny voice, an unforgivable crime.
That said, I loved the plumbus sketch. I love that sketch. It’s the best. Plumbus. Tell your friends.
Then came the Purging Episode, episode 9. It was violent, intense, troubling and not particularly funny. But, honestly, after the penis for a heart story I was relieved it wasn’t flat-out bad.
Then came the Finale.
Masterpiece #3 appeared right when it was needed most.
I’ve seen this episode 3 times so far this week. It reminds me at moments of the season 1 finale with the cavalcade of weird and funny minor characters, but is overall a much stronger episode. While it will become famous for the serious stuff in the last 5 minutes, it also has one of the funniest things they’ve ever done: the 3 planets montage. The “on a cob” planet followed by the screaming sun kills me.
And then it has several genuine gasps of shock, followed by a pile driving emotional kick to the balls. And Nine Inch Nails not sucking. It has it all.
And it all comes down to Rick, when all is said and done. He’s the instigator, the anarchist, the flaming wreckage at the heart of everything. In hindsight, Rick’s doomed character arc is clear to see. He was crashing and burning this whole time, we were just laughing too hard to notice.
This episode is revelatory stuff that adds layers to the character of Rick (and Beth) and adds heart and nuance to the whole show.
So that’s my ramble through season 2 of Rick and Morty. Undoubtedly less consistent than season 1 but with enough greatness to justify itself, and with a stunning finale that elevates everything that came before, even Tiny fucking Rick.
- Stephen Colbert
- Rick's character arc
- Parasites episode
- TIny Rick
- TV Episode