This Rick and Morty review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty: Season 2, Episode 10
This finale decided to go all somber in a way the rest of season 2 has mostly shied away from. I’d say the darkest it got was way back in the third episode, “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” which ended with Rick attempting suicide. Other than that, season 2 seemed mostly content to goof off. Sure, there’s a dark undercurrent to every episode of Rick and Morty, a sad emptiness behind all their adventures (largely because Rick is the embodiment of sad emptiness), but even the really disturbing “keep Summer safe” plot from “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (which is probably the second most unsettling episode of the season) was presented as shocking rather than tragic.
Compare this to season 1, which has numerous moments you can directly point to where the show gave you chills and/or punched you right in the heart: Rick and Morty burying their own dead bodies, Rick taking care of King Jellybean after Morty’s run-in with him, like all of the Evil Morty episode, Jerry and Beth realizing they belong together in “Rixty Minutes.” Hell, even Snuffles/Snowball departing for his own dog dimension was pretty touching.
“The Wedding Squanchers” crams in a lot of somber, sad stuff that this season hasn’t obviously been building up to. After an explosion of violence, it becomes a sort of meditative episode where Rick has to face how his presence is affecting the lives of his family and decide what’s best for them now.
It’s honestly not a very funny episode; I’ll briefly list the stuff that got a chuckle out of me. There was the planet with the screaming sun, Rick’s wedding toast notes that end “(trail off), (crumple up notes), (adlib),” “I’m Jerry Smith and I love suckin’ big sweaty *BEEP* and licking disgusting, furry testicle sacks,” and I loved how happy Jerry was when a Galactic Federation robot assigned him a job. I also liked how the tiny planet’s core was directly under the cabin where the family was staying, but all the tiny planet stuff was more clever than laugh-out-loud funny.
But where were we? Ah, yes, sadness! In the end, Rick chooses the ultimate sacrifice (for him, anyway): his freedom. On second thought, maybe the season has been building up to this, but it’s not been too obvious. Season 1 had some very evident character-building for Morty as his grandfather exposed him to horrific multiversal truth after horrific multiversal truth. He became more jaded, but also stronger and more willing to stand up to Rick. If season 2 has any notable character arc, perhaps it’s meant to be Rick opening himself up to people more (props to commenter Biran53 for bringing up this theory on my last review). After all, he’s been hanging out with both his grandkids a lot more, he brought Jerry and Beth to marriage counseling (though he said that was so they’d stop annoying him), and the season premiere started with him choosing to sacrifice his life for Morty’s (however briefly).
Still, it’s undeniable that character development has been less of a focus in season 2. If you want to view Rick’s character as developing over the past 10 episodes, you have to wring a lot out of a little because, again, it’s all been tucked away behind things blowing up, aliens dying, and lots of silly characters like Mr. Poopy Butthole or flying elemental Ice-T or a mind-reading fart. I know, I know. Season 1 had many of the same elements, but I do feel that season 2 has been tonally quite different and it’s been harder to take any of it too seriously (as the show hasn’t seemed too interested in being taken very seriously).
So while I think “The Wedding Squanchers” is properly tragic and all, I also think the road here could have built to it a lot more meaningfully. I felt badly for Rick and the rest of the family, but if I could have truly felt Rick opening up to his family over the past nine episodes — rather than it mostly just being a by-the-way sort of thing — this finale could have obliterated my heart as it should have. As it is, it more just left me hopeful for the third season. With Rick locked up in space prison and the Earth now under the control of the Galactic Federation, this finale echoes season 1 in how brave it is in upending the show’s status quo. The Rick and Morty of season 1 that regularly put knots in my chest and frequently flung itself outside of its comfort zone — taking the fans along with it for the ride — is the show I hope to see when it returns in “like a year and a half… or longer.”
The best I can say for this finale is that it lived up to Rick and Morty’s “I don’t give a fuuuuuuuck!” doctrine and hopefully that means the third season will do the same.