RICK AND MORTY Season Two Review
Wubalubadubdub, it’s that time again! Perhaps a different time in an alternate universe, but time nonetheless for another season of RICK AND MORTY. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s excellent animated series following interdimensional hijinks and intrafamilial conflict zorped onto the scene back in 2013, and now we get to sink our teeth into the second course. The bar is set even higher this time around, but with the highest highs also come the lowest lows. Sure, it’s a roller coaster, but this one manages to be a wild and wacky ride despite its dips.
RICK AND MORTY Season Two widens its focus in several areas. Morty’s family is featured more than ever, with Summer and Jerry in particular granted far more screentime than in the previous season. The Smith clan itself is given center stage in several episodes, with their more dysfunctional elements coming into play quite often. It would seem that the showrunners are trying to shift the show’s dynamic from Rick and Morty to Rick and Family, and they pull this off with mixed results.
Lock n’ load, it’s time for my play-by-play
The season opens with “A Rickle in Time,” a decent episode by RICK AND MORTY standards, featuring a neat visual gimmick involving split timelines, as well as a mediocre Beth and Jerry B-plot. At the time that I watched it, I judged it to be one of the weaker episodes of the show I’d seen, which speaks more to the exceptional standard of the first season than the shortcomings of this episode in particular.
Following the premiere are “Mortynight Run” and “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” which pick up the slack as two of the best episodes in the series. “Mortynight Run” has excellent plotlines for the titular characters as well as Jerry, who is stuck in a daycare center with versions of himself from other universes. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” sees Rick hooking back up with Unity, his BODY SNATCHERS-style-hivemind ex, along with Morty and Summer, who end up mussing it up. It features some emotional heights for the series, as well as a unique look into Rick’s life, while still using its premise of superorganisms to its fullest.
Who wants to watch AMERICAN ULTRA with Max Landis twitter-feed commentary?
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” joins the list of Season Two greats with a similarly intriguing premise involving miniverses and a first-time spotlight on Rick’s flying car. Mr. Stephen Colbert lends his voice to Rick’s miniverse counterpart, and cements his place as the best new side character. “Get Schwifty” rounds out the list of stand-outs by supplying plenty of dumb fun, in addition to some catchy songs belched out by Rick. It helps that all of these episodes are some of the most visually distinctive of the series.
While the best parts of Season Two often stem from trying things RICK AND MORTY hasn’t done before, its worst parts usually involve recycling tired content for the lowest common denominator. “Interdimensional Cable 2” is as boring as it is facile, and is an easy pick for worst of show. Lacking any of the drama from the first “Interdimensional Cable,” its highlights are solely drawn from the eponymous TV service.
It’s fitting how little my favorite bits of it are
“Total Rickall” is the other major offender, featuring a series of false memories implanted by alien parasites that take the form of a wide host of personalities. Like “Interdimensional Cable 2,” it’s apparent that the creators had a lot fun drawing and voicing this one, as the artists really cut loose on character designs. But it’s also similarly aimless and derivative. The shtick wears thin a few flashbacks in and is just too random to hold water after that. Both episodes serve little purpose beyond offering up a wealth of non-contextual YouTube clips. It’s a shame, because a lot of great character ideas are wasted on what amounts to filler.
It took the CIA ten years to find Bin Laden, but I spotted the Smiths in twenty seconds
The remainder of Season Two drifts in between the two extremes. They’re not quite at the caliber of Season 1, but they’re by no means awful. “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” is funny, but Beth and Jerry’s sideplot is leagues more fun than its forgettable main arc. Who knew teenage Rick would have so little material? “Look Who’s Purging Now” lampoons THE PURGE a few years past expiration, but if you can get past that, it’s rather gratifying. Neither episode is particularly memorable, but at least manage to carry on the spirit of the show.
Season Two wraps things up by bringing the family back together again for “The Wedding Squanchers.” The finale hits all the right notes, throwing in a lot of the dramatic elements that were absent from the latter half of the season, while also featuring some of the better visual gags in the series. More so than the first season’s finale, the final episode ends on a decisive cliffhanger, one that ties up loose plotlines while opening up a wealth of possibilities for Season Three.
Fan reactions to my criticisms
RICK AND MORTY’s second season certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. Its sweeping ambition is only matched by its bursts of apathy. It plays with serialization-lite in ways few other American animated series dare to, and it is largely successful in this endeavor. Sure, there are a few stinkers in the litter, marred by lazy design and execution, but they are easily outshone by the gems throughout. RICK AND MORTY Season Two is an irreverent, sometimes touching joyride that’s sure to impress returning fans and newcomers alike. Check it out on Adult Swim for a squanchy time.
RICK AND MORTY is available in its entirety on Adult Swim