The third season of the popular animated show Rick and Mortyfinally hit the air this summer after an almost two-year hiatus. It has managed to put together the most cohesive, and dark, season to date.For those unfamiliar with Rick and Morty, the premise is a simple one: Rick Sanchez, an alcoholic, nihilistic supergenius and his grandson, Morty, along with Morty’s sister Summer and their parents, embark on various zany and often twisted sci-fi adventures. The show has a bit of an “adventure of the week” feel about it, with episodes covering everything from alien marriage counseling to a series of microverses hidden inside Rick’s car battery.
Season three steers away from that old mentality, choosing instead to focus in on the dysfunction of the family, much of which is actively caused or even encouraged by Rick. As he tells his daughter in the most recent episode, “Here’s some things an adventure needs, Beth: conflict, stakes, a way for me to benefit, and clearly, Morty.” Rick’s actions have always been motivated by self-interest and his conviction that nothing in the universe matters. As morbid as that may seem, it actually constitutes one of the greatest parts of the show. Throughout the seasons, we have seen Rick grow and come to show genuine care and affection for his family. While he has never lost his inherent nihilism, Rick has begun to realize that even though he and his family may not be important in the grand scheme of things, they’re still important to each other. In the words of Dan Harmon, the co-creator of Rick and Morty: “Once you accept that nothing matters, then every place is the center of the universe, and every moment is the most important moment, and everything is the meaning of life.”
But with only a single episode left in the third season, there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up. Knowing the tendency of the show to steer away from any sort of generically happy ending, it’s unlikely that the sort of peace the family has begun to acquire will last. We’ll find out when the final episode of the season airs Sunday, Oct. 1. If you like your science fiction with a little existentialism (or a bit of dark humor) it’s never too late to start watching.