Let’s start this off with a question: What is better than a profane 30 minute sitcom about the misadventures of a genius old scientist and his grandson through infinite realities and timelines, one that is also wildy sarcastic, gut-slashingly violent, represents fantastic science fiction concepts effortlessly, has the balls to ridicule or parody anybody and anything the makers feel like and make it feel relevant, questions existence, and is also insanely funny while pulling off all of that? The answer: an animated one.
It’s true. I had to watch it to actually believe the hype around it, and Rick and Morty absolutely deserves all the hype built around it, all the praise showered upon it, and needless to say, how slowly it is building its way into today’s pop culture at only three seasons young, albeit the pilot aired close to 5 years ago. I’m yet to put into a single word the feeling one is left with while one is still guffawing, eager for the credits to roll so that you can binge upon the next one, admiring the brilliance of it all, questioning your place in the universe (that’s right!) and actually processing all the concepts it dabbles with. In fact, I’m pretty convinced you can’t come up with such weird, brilliant stuff unless you are high as a kite.
So wubba lubba dub dub! Here goes the list of ten best Rick and Morty episodes. Needless to say, everything following this contains spoilers and will make little to no sense if you haven’t watched the show.
“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. We’re all going to die. Come watch TV!”
10. Meeseeks and Destroy (S01E05)
The Meeseeks are among the most hilarious and memorable characters created for the show, and believe me when I say, there are a lot of them except for the main characters. The Meeseeks exist for only one purpose, and that is fulfilling the current wish of the person who summons them, following which they vanish and cease existing. Pretty easy in the Rick and Morty multiverse, except this time they are summoned by Jerry who needs help correcting his golf game.
While this makes for most of the funny bits, since the meeseeks eventually end up summoning more meeseeks to help them, the episode really comes into its own when Beth discusses issues in her marriage to Jerry with one of the Meeseeks, and when following a foiled molestation attempt on Morty by Mr. Jellybeans on Morty’s “safe” adventure, Rick actually displays a fair bit of understanding and affection.
Funny, twisted, dark and filled with really good character moments.
9. Big Trouble in Little Sanchez (S02 E07)
“I’m LIIITTLEEE RICCKKK!” was an instantaneously funny catchphrase, one that belongs to another lovable character from a long list of ingenious character creations. In the episode, Rick transfers his consciousness into a tinier version of himself, and helps Summer and Morty through school, beginning with helping them kill coach Feratu, who happens to be a vampire. What follows is Tiny Rick trying to signal Morty and Summer that he may be trapped inside tiny Rick’s body and wishes to escape lest he lose control.
A parallel plot follows Beth and Jerry as they go for off planet therapy, beginning with manifesting beings projecting what each thought of their partner, which results in some hilarious exchanges and revelations about their marriage that is on the brink of collapse. However, uninhibitedly, the best part of the episode is this absolutely golden piece of dialogue that Morty utters to Summer, in one of the most hilarious moments of the show.
“Get your shit together, get it all together and put it in a backpack, all your shit, so it’s together. [pause]
And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the shit store and sell it, or put it in the shit museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together. [pause]
Get your shit together!”
8. Rick Potion #9 (S01E0)
“Boy, Morty, I really Cronenberged the world up, didn’t I? You got a whole planet of Cronenbergs walking around down there, Morty!”
Well, this line cracked me up like no other. Being well aware of David Cronenberg’s work, one couldn’t possibly think of a better name for the world Rick and Morty end up creating after accidentally infesting the world with a love potion intended to attract Jessica towards Morty. In an attempt to make an antidote, Rick uses the DNA of praying mantis with the original formula, and later, the DNAs of a cactus, a golden retriever, a shark and a dinosaur, Cronenberging the entire world eventually. Seeing the situation beyond control, Rick and Morty teleport to another dimension where that dimension’s Rick was able to counteract the love potion, and died just in time for Rick and Morty from C-137 to take their place.
In the end, Rick and Morty, in what is a truly twisted scene, bury their own dead bodies in their backyard. Luckily for us, Cronenberg World does make a comeback in one of the better episodes of the series, but that does not, for one moment, take away from the darkly funny genius of this episode. An instant favourite.
7. Total Rickall (S02E04)
Like almost all the other episodes on this list, ‘Total Rickall’ is a winner because of its seemingly innate idea and the crazy, hilarious execution. Responsible for introducing a host of new characters, this episode also goes on to prove why season 2 was the best among the three, taking the story forward and not once losing the essence of what quite made Rick and Morty.
The plot involves the Smith residence infested with a parasite that survives by implanting fake memories inside the host’s head and multiplying. While Rick is smart enough to see it from a distance, the parasites do multiply substantially, introducing zany characters including Pencilvester, cousin Nicky, Mrs. Refrigerator, Ghost in a jar, Sleepy Gary, Frankenstein’s monster. Mr. Beauregard and Mr. Poopybutthole (who turns out to be real) filling up the entire Smith house by the end of it, it is Morty who cracks the key to it all, and realises that the parasites can implant only pleasant memories. The Smith family then goes on a rampage eventually eliminating the parasite, although Mr. Poopybutthole gets injured. A fun-filled episode, also reflecting on the Smith family’s somewhat toxic yet binding relationships with each other.
6. A Rickle in Time (S02E01)
Easily the zaniest, and also possibly the episode with the most confusing plot. You may recall what happened in the finale of the last season, where Beth and Jerry are to return from a Titanic themed getaway and Summer and Rick end up throwing a crazy party at the Smith residence. To avoid repercussions from the party’s mess, Rick freezes time for six months giving all of them enough time to clean up. All well until now, except Rick warns them that time may need to stabilise after being frozen for so long. What happens after is hard to believe and completely, ingeniously brilliant on the show-writers’ part. Due to Morty and Summer’s uncertainty, time fractures into two “equally possible impossibilities” while they stand in a space surrounded by a black void with floating Schrodinger’s cats, a touch that is amazingly funny and smart at the same time.
While time eventually continues to fracture into many alternate implausible realities over rising uncertainty even on Rick’s part, it reaches a pitch at 64 divisions (!), following which Rick, Morty and Summer are able to restore time to its original state with a little bit of help.
Although, hang in there till the credits roll for a mean albeit hilarious Albert Einstein surprise!
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5. Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind (S01E10)
Boy oh boy, the revelation of revelations. This episode is truly special, for it does introduce two of the best things about Rick and Morty for the first time. One, the Citadel of Ricks, that orders the arrest of Rick C-137, accusing him of killing fellow Ricks and kidnapping their Mortys, the plot point that kicks off the episode. Later, Rick escapes custody with his Morty to find out who the real culprit is, and the show gives us an interesting insight when Morty starts reflecting about his role in Rick’s life. Rick and Morty find that the person responsible for the killings is an evil Rick from another dimension, while Morty leads a rebellion and frees fellow Morties from containment. Following this, the holy mother of all revelations on this show, and the second among the best things, it is revealed that evil Rick was actually being mind-controlled by evil morty, the one with the unimpressed demeanour and an eyepatch.
Easily the best antagonist until now, and you would think nothing could top this appearance of evil Morty, but buckle in as you are in for a mean, uber-cool surprise. Till then, play ‘For the Damaged Coda’ by Blonde Redhead on loop.
4. The Wedding Squanchers (S02 E010)
Episodes that bare Rick’s emotional side are the absolute best in the show, for they make for moments having the most gravitas. One wonders whether a man, so narcissistic in his approach and access to all the knowledge and an infinitum of his own lives could be so broken inside, and how! All of this coming from an animated show is what makes me appreciate Rick and Morty even more.
The plot in ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ kicks off with the entire family attending Birdperson’s wedding with Tammy on planet Squanch, much to Rick’s dismay who feels that weddings are just “funerals with cake”. In what seems to be a foreboding of events to come, just as Rick delivers an emotional speech wishing the couple happiness, all blows to hell when Tammy reveals herself to be an undercover agent of the Galactic federation. Birdperson, heartbreakingly, is killed in the ensuing crossfire while the Smith family with Rick escape trying to find a new life (hilariously so) on other Earth-like planets where they can be safe. Realising his folly, and deciding to keep his family out of it, Rick surrenders to the galactic federation allowing himself to be taken prisoner, while the Smith family returns to a federation controlled Earth.
All things considered, Rick lets his guard down twice in this episode, being terribly let down both times, the latter backed by ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails playing in the background, which is obviously more effective. This is absolute television gold, and hard to come by if you ask me.
3. Pickle Rick (S03 E03)
There are moments after watching a Rick and Morty episode when you feel that the show can’t get any more bizarre or weird. Lo and behold, all such feelings rest easy following this episode that is incidentally also the most violent episode of all of them. In ‘Pickle Rick’, Rick is able to transform himself into a pickle just in order to avoid going to the psychiatrist with his family. While on that, he goes on a murderous rage, literally building an armour for himself from the ribcage of a rat he kills, and later ends up killing all the agents in a high security building. His square-off with Jaguar is graphically and action-animation wise, awesome.
However, as with the best Rick and Morty episodes, the best, heavier bits of the episode come in when the psychiatrist actually exposes and unnerves Beth and Rick’s unhealthy relationship, following some startling insight. A special mention for Susan Sarandon’s voice acting as Dr. Wong. She nails it even as Rick goes on with his trademark banter during his therapy.
2. The Rickshank Rickdemption (S03 E01)
Following the immediate happenings of ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ episode, Rick sets up an elaborate plot to escape the federal prison by manipulating a simulation one of the agents sets up to extract information on how he created his portal gun. Rick, having escaped captivity by transferring his consciousness to other bodies, later teleports the entire Citadel of Ricks into the Federation prison, and eventually is able to overpower both sides, crash the whole economy by converting the galactic currency’s value to zero, and return home safe with Summer and Morty. Jerry confronts Beth and asks her to choose between Rick and him, and needless to say, we all know how that ended. Beth and Jerry ended up separating in a heavy lift off. The stuff up till here is brilliant to say the least, and you can see how far the makers are willing to go in establishing that Rick and Morty truly is, a unique show.
However, nothing beats Rick revealing to a terrified Morty how he had himself captured to take revenge upon the Galactic Federation and Jerry for crossing him and being the only patriarch in the family now. The best is yet to come though, as he also reveals he has been doing all this for McDonald’s Szechuan Chicken McNugget Sauce that was discontinued by McDonald’s years ago. Beat that!
This episode left me with a feeling of awe in how a seemingly complicated story involving humour, action, family drama and science fiction was overpowered by a mundane desire for the Szechuan sauce, and an unsatiated desire to taste it, in vain.
1. The Ricklantis Mix-Up (S03 E07)
Ironically, the one episode that didn’t make me laugh once, yet sits proudly atop the list of best Rick and Morty episodes. Undoubtedly, ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’ or ‘Tales of the Citadel’ is the most complex, dark and serious episode to come out of the show, and that is not necessarily a bad thing if it is handled this well. There is so much going on in this episode, it would seem like an impossible task to list all of it here, but be assured since the episode accomplishes this in 22 odd minutes. Following Rick’s economic assault over the citadel, it flourishes upon being rebuilt, and is rising up again to its former glory, with Ricks and Mortys coexisting.
The primary plotline involves a Morty contesting elections for the President of the citadel. While initially shunned, candidate Morty starts gaining majority by virtue of his impressive speeches. The subplots involving cop Morty, student Mortys, and factory Ricks are all excellent, but the holy mother of all revelations mentioned earlier gives way to an even more jaw dropping moment, when candidate Morty, having won the elections, has non-compliant members of the Shadow council of Ricks assassinated in cold blood, Godfather style, and their dead bodies thrown into the vacuum of space. He then proceeds to make a “cold, calculated speech with sinister overtones” while looking into the beyond, while ‘For the Damaged Coda’ plays in a hair rousing moment, and President Morty is revealed to be none other than Evil Morty.
Talk about ingenuity, about slick, smart writing, about carving an antagonist over only two episodes. Talk about possibilities. This episode is sure to leave you giddy, wide-eyed, numb and dazed in all these respects and always, always coming back for more.
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