What Rick himself dubbed the “darkest year” of his adventures with grandson Morty has finally continued with the second episode in Rick and Morty’s Season 3: “Rickmancing the Stone.”
This hilariously brutal takedown of a Mad Max-style apocalyptic wasteland pokes fun at the BDSM-fueled cannibalism and insane car chases through the desert while also somehow helping the Smith kids deal with their parents’ divorce.
Rick and Morty has long been known for its characters dealing with trauma in pretty fucked-up ways. After Beth divorced Jerry in the Season 3 premiere, every major character on the show is reacting in totally unhealthy ways. Rick’s lust for booze and danger is nothing new, but when Summer doubles down on the violence, things get pretty dark. Beth second-guesses herself and dives right into a bottle of red wine. And until Morty gets temporarily possessed by a ride-along Hulked-out arm, he’s meekly just sort of in denial. Meanwhile, Jerry literally hears the wind whisper “looooser” everywhere he goes.
The thing is, these are all deeply human reactions that one might expect under these circumstances, except this is Rick and Morty, and the show brings Rick, Morty, and Summer to a Mad Max rip-off for an ultra-violent adventure.
The many bondage-clad Death Stalkers in the irradiated desert of “Rickmancing the Stone” represent the best parts of this episode, which paints a pretty thorough picture of Wasteland culture with gimps, chrome, and even spitting gasoline (or in this case, Rick’s liquor) directly into the engine for a speed boost. Raiders say things like “Death Stalkers: Bring me his flesh leather!” (Their language has devolved to needless repetition since the Boom-Boom.)
Perhaps the episode’s funniest moment comes from a promo: When Rick uses a portal to cause a pileup, a mad and chubby road warrior shrieks, “My body is chrome! My blood is gasoline!” But after the dude’s body gets crushed, Rick’s there to remind us, “Nope. Just blood.”
Things thunder along at a pretty breakneck pace from the very beginning of the episode. In lieu of giving Jerry a proper goodbye as he moves out, the kids quickly dash off on this new adventure with Rick. At first, Rick and his grandchildren are pursued by the raiders of the Wasteland until Rick finds the samples of Isotope 322 that he’s looking for. When Summer unnecessarily and brutally murders the leader of the Death Stalkers, it’s made explicit that she’s acting out because of her parents’ divorce.
The episode comes to focus entirely on Summer and Morty, who respond differently to the separation of their parents. Summer embraces Wasteland culture, even becoming its new ultra-violent and badass queen for a stretch — and yeah, we see her get married to and divorced from an emotionally impotent man by the episode’s end, echoing her mother’s own mistakes.
Morty, of course, represses his anger until it explodes in the Blood Dome, a Thunderdome-style battle arena. Thankfully, Rick injects one of Morty’s arms with the “muscle memory” of a dead body, transforming Morty into a bizarre, lopsided badass. For some reason, the arm is able to control itself, and it flies into a rage, also trying to process its subdued anger. It takes the closure of proper revenge to make things right.
Because Rick’s the Rickest Rick, he has to steal the giant 20-pound ore of Isotope 322 that the Death Stalkers loosely worship, and it mucks everything up. The three of them are playing out a longer con that involves giving Wasteland society modern comforts of new electricity that makes life virtually indistinguishable from pre-apocalypse boredom after only three weeks. Rick, of course, takes all the loot in the end.
During their hiatus, Rick installed robot versions of himself, Morty, and Summer back at the house to keep Beth busy. So while everyone else is off dealing with their feelings, poor Beth is left alone with three robots and no Meeseeks to help her out.
Next week will see Rick turned into a Pickle, for some weird as hell reason. But it’s bound to be an insane ride.
The next episode of Rick and Morty, “Pickle Rick,” airs next Sunday, August 7 on Adult Swim at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.