RICK & MORTY: Morty’s Mind Blowers (S03E08)
Starring: Justin Roiland, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke, Chris Parnell
Creators: Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland

Review by Mike Hein

In the context of Rick & Morty, things like character growth and progression are rarely as linear and reliable as they seem. In one episode, our fourth-wall-shattering hero may flip-flop a dozen times between honest exploration of his inner self, and underhanded tricks and manipulation, and we know that no matter what, we’ll always end on a fart joke. After all, McNugget sauce is the series arc. That’s why it’s so important to remark on the threshold that this past weekend’s episode (S03E08) crossed.

The episode opens at the climactic moment of an adventure, as many have this season. The creators are stressing the fact that for every adventure we see in the show, Rick and Morty have a hundred more offscreen. They’re commonplace. In this episode, they drive that fact home. Morty begs Rick to remove his traumatic memories of the day’s events. Rick reveals a chamber filled with memories that Morty doesn’t even remember being purged of. What follows is a new take on the conventional Rick & Morty clip show.

There’s no subtext here. Rick tells the camera right in the beginning that “Morty’s Mindblowers” is a stand-in for the “Interdimensional Cable” bit that the show has fallen back on twice now. However, “Mindblowers” takes the quick cuts and sketch format quite a bit further. Gone are the long improvised scenes. The comically simplistic alien names and the childish parodies. In their place are — there’s no other way to put it — whole episodes of Rick & Morty. Episodes which my heart cries out to see. Where the “Interdimensional Cable” episodes are a roller coaster of free-form, chaotic comedy. “Mindblowers” is, essentially, the opposite. It’s overstuffed with concepts and conceits, thoughtful love-letters to science fiction and icy jabs at the industry which makes it.

It’s fair to speculate that this episode comes a little more from the Dan Harmon playbook than that of Justin Roiland. Fans of Harmontown may recall that Harmon made no secret about the toll writing took on him this season. In “Mindblowers,” we see the fruits of his labor. This week, we saw the clearest articulation of the difference between this season and the two that preceded it. It becomes indisputable. This show has thrown away more great stories, and characters in thirty-second clips than most shows get in a season. Rick & Morty walk a fine line. A show that reserves the right to go anywhere it wants at any time but reserves the right to return where its been. “Mindblowers” showed us the power of this duality. How there are different ways to do clip shows and self-referential meta-humor.

Verdict: Watch it! This show has demonstrated incredible staying power, especially considering how open-ended it was in the beginning. So far, the third season proves there are many stones unturned in this universe. This latest episode encapsulates the season’s development perfectly. Catch up on AdultSwim.com in time for the final two episodes!

Rick & Morty airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim.

Mike Hein

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