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Since Pickle Rick was revealed in promotional material, he quickly became a fan favorite, with fans waiting to see him in action. This week, their hopes were answered.
After a couple of incidents at school, the Smith family have been ordered to go family therapy. To avoid going, Rick turns himself into a pickle, but his plans are foiled when he is accidentally washed into the sewers. Rick has to use all his ingenuity to get back get back home.
“Pickle Rick” has some similarities to the season 2 episode “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” – both episodes have Rick changing his form in some way, whilst some family members are going through therapy (in the season 2 episode it was Beth and Jerry going through extraterrestrial marriage counseling). Like Tiny Rick, Pickle Rick has become popular with fans, with both versions of the character having been printed on T-shirts. At their hearts, both characters are more excitable versions of Rick Sanchez.
The bulk of the episode focuses on Rick and his struggles to survive. He stated to his family that turning into a pickle was a way to give himself a challenge, but he has to eat his words. From his immobile position Rick has to turn cockroaches and rats into his limbs and, in a short space of time, Rick is able to make jet packs and laser cannons from junk.
The surprising turn of the episode was when it turned into a parody of violent action films. Promotional material already showed Pickle Rick brutally killing a horde of sewer rats, where the scientist showed off his agility and inventions – like robot hands and drills. The twist within the episode comes when Rick gets out of the sewer and finds himself in a black site and has to fight off 34 Eastern European henchmen. The stories the guards come up with about The Pickle are similar to how John Wick was described in his films and Pickle Rick sets up traps like Bryan Mills in the Taken movies. The agency even recruits a prisoner known as Jaguar (B-Movie legend Danny Trejo) and Rick points out the prisoner’s backstory and motivations were clichéd. Rick’s anti-authority tendencies also make an appearance and, despite him claiming he only thinks of himself, Rick does have some moral standards. He sets out to get revenge against the Agency Director (Peter Serafinowicz) and mentally spar with therapist Dr. Wong (Susan Sarandon).
“Pickle Rick” marks a rare occasion when no other member of the Smith family go on the adventure with Rick. The episode starts with Rick calling Morty and, because of the teenager’s experience with his grandfather, Morty is understandably apprehensive regarding what Rick’s planning to show him. Rick is a man who has taken down governments and the Council of Rick, yet it is his family that put Rick in his dilemma. As Rick put it he “****ed up.”
The therapy session allowed for Beth’s character to develop. Throughout the series, Beth is shown to have daddy issues and is too willing to defend him – she even chooses Rick over her husband at the end of “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” and during the session she continues to give Rick the benefit of the doubt, despite Morty and Summer knowing what he is really like. The therapy session also allows for jokes about people eating feces, and marks the third time I can think of when Rick and Morty have used coprophagy for humor.
There has been a vocal minority complaining that “Pickle Rick” and the previous episode “Rickmancing the Stone” were written by women and, because of this, Rick and Morty is forcing through an “SJW” agenda. This is clearly not the opinion of real fans of the show because Rick and Morty is not just wacky sci-fi adventures and crass jokes – it is also about character growth and moments. Some of the series highlights were the heartfelt moments, like when Morty admits to Summer he is from another universe and Rick’s suicide attempt. Beth’s defense of her father has been established in previous episodes and it partly leads to her divorce, so her relationship will play a part of any counseling.
As a piece of animated action, “Pickle Rick” is a mighty entertaining episode. It also funny episode showing Rick at his best, even though Morty and Summer are non-entities in this episode.