Image via Adult Swim
Wubalubadubdub! After a few years of skirting around the edges of the Internet, Rick And Morty finally broke into the mainstream with its third season, which concluded last week. It's harder than ever to avoid the animated sci-fi comedy series from Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland.
But, for newcomers who might be understandably bewildered by a show featuring the likes of Krombopulos Michael, Blim Blam the Klorblok, or Mr. Poopybutthole, here are 10 episodes to ease you in.
What Happens: Rick forces his grandson Morty to smuggle 'Mega Tree' seeds in his rectum – the first of their many intergalactic and interdimensional adventures.
Why You Should Watch It: Always best to start at the beginning. Like a lot of first episodes, Rick and Morty’s pilot sees the show still finding its feet and settling into its tone – but it’s a good acclimatiser, establishing the show’s distinctly ambitious plotlines, bonkers alien designs, twisted family dynamics, and dark-as-the-night humour.
Best Quote: “You’re a monster! You’re like Hitler. But even Hitler cared about Germany or something.” — Morty
What Happens: Rick is placed under arrest for crimes against Alternate Ricks by the authority of the Transdimensional Council Of Ricks.
Why You Should Watch It: Rick and Morty frequently plays with the concept of infinite timelines in an infinite multiverse. This episode it introduces a key element: a clubhouse of infinite Ricks, and one Rick in particular accused of a ‘Rickicidal epidemic’. It also reveals the characteristically fucked-up reason that Rick keeps Morty around the entire time.
Best Quote: “The council of Ricks sentences you to the machine of unspeakable doom, which swaps your conscious and unconscious minds, rendering your fantasies pointless. Also, every 10 seconds, it stabs your balls.” — Rick
What Happens: After freezing time in the Season 1 finale, Rick finally unfreezes time — only to cause a split in the space-time continuum, and two alternative timelines (presented in split-screen).
Why You Should Watch It: Another quixotically brilliant dalliance into alternative timelines, taking Schrodinger’s quantum theory and somehow wringing some mind-bending comedy out of it.
Best Quote: “Uncertainty is inherently unsustainable. Eventually, everything either is or isn't. And we’ve got about four hours to be ‘is’.” — Rick
What Happens: An alien parasite sneaks its way into the family, infecting each of them with false memories about a cavalcade of increasingly zany characters.
Why You Should Watch It: Writer/creator Dan Harmon played with the convention of fake flashbacks in Community, but this simple premise allows for some exponentially more inventive new characters, from Photography Raptor to Ghost In A Jar. A great example of the show’s imagination running surreally wild.
Best Quote: “We've got a lot of friends and family to exterminate.” — Rick
What Happens: The wedding of Tammy and Birdperson goes horribly wrong when the Galactic Federation demands that Rick serve time for his crimes.
Why You Should Watch It: With its eye-raising cliffhanger ending, set to Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, this episode was the first demonstration that the show could — in addition to dick jokes and gross-out alien character design — handle genuine emotion.
Best Quote: “Fuck Earth. You realise our planet's name means dirt, right?” – Rick
What Happens: Rick sells a gun to an alien assassin so he can play video games at Blips and Chitz, an intergalactic arcade, much to Morty’s chagrin.
Why You Should Watch It: There’s so much good stuff in this episode (including a video game entitled “Roy”, which allows the player to live an entire life), but for our money the B-plot, featuring a creche of infinite Jerrys, is worth the admission alone.
Best Quote: “Oh, good job, Morty. You killed my best customer, but you saved a mind-reading fart.” — Rick
What Happens: Morty takes the lead on their adventuring, only for the pair to find themselves murder suspects in a giant world. Meanwhile, a species of aliens known as Meeseeks attempt to help the Smith family.
Why You Should Watch It: The Meeseeks are an ingenious alien premise: they exist only to serve the purpose they were created for. When that purpose is served, they cheerfully cease to exist. Jerry — the ultimate beta male — struggles to improve his golf swing, even with the help of thousands of Meeseeks; cue textbook Rick and Morty insanity.
Best Quote: “Have you ever tried to relax? It's a paradox.” — Jerry
What Happens: Rick, Morty and Summer visit a planet completely overtaken by Unity, a hive-mind alien that controls an entire species — and who also happens to be Rick’s ex.
Why You Should Watch It: Rick and Morty doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for tackling mad, humongous science-fiction concepts with just as much zeal as your Treks or your Twilight Zones. This one — could a universe populated by a hive mind be a better universe overall? — offers a funny, and ultimately bleak, rumination.
Best Quote: “We need a hang glider, and a crotchless Uncle Sam costume, and I want the entire field of your largest stadium covered end to end with naked redheads, and I want the stands packed with every man that remotely resembles my father.” — Rick
What Happens: Rick installs an interdimensional cable TV, and the family watch TV shows from across the multiverse.
Why You Should Watch It: Another simple, relatively basic premise stretched to ludicrous degrees. The partially-improvised clip bonanza of utterly demented TV shows is sublime (take a bow, Ants In My Eyes Johnson); the nihilist epilogue (see quote below) serves as the show’s unofficial anthem.
Best Quote: “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die. ...Come watch TV?” — Morty
What Happens: Rick turns himself into a pickle.
Why You Should Watch It: Pickle Rick became an immediate internet sensation upon airing, and it’s easy to see why. It boasts one of the most out-there sci-fi premises for a show not short on out-there sci-fi premises, and in the scenes where the family undergo therapy, also demonstrates an uncanny self-awareness and emotional depth. It is, arguably, one of the best things the show has ever done.
Best Quote: “To the extent that love is an expression of familiarity over time, my access to infinite timelines precludes the necessity of attachment.” — Rick
Rick and Morty airs on Adult Swim in the US and Netflix in the UK.
This post was written by John Nugent. It originally appeared on our sister site, Empire.
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Lead image via Adult Swim.