Rick And Morty Season 3 Finale Is 'Rick Vs. The United States'

  • Comedy
  • Science Fiction

Based on the aggregate coverage, the main takeaway from Entertainment Weekly’s new interview of Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon seems to be the possibility of a 14-episode Season 4. I’ll believe it when I see it. More relevant is what Harmon reveals about the upcoming Season 3 finale, “The Rickchurian Mortydate.”

“It’s Rick in a conflict with the president of the United States. Keith David returns to reprise his role. And that’s the main story of that episode: Rick vs. the United States,” Harmon told EW.

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Rick takes on President Keith David in the Rick and Morty Season 3 finale. Photo: Adult Swim

Keith David (The Thing, They Live, Adventure Time) previously voiced the U.S. president in Season 2 episode “Get Schwifty,” in which Rick and Morty avert the destruction of Earth by winning a galaxy-scale American Idol knockoff. David’s president proves an unlikely ally, even siding with Rick and Morty over his nuke-happy general, voiced by Kurtwood Smith, another genre movie legend (Robocop, Fortress). Though the president was an ally in “Get Schwifty,” there were also indications of a sinister, amoral side to the Rick and Morty POTUS, particularly his apparent glee at Rick’s murderous snake watch trick.

Harmon’s description suggests the episode preview (up top) is a bit deceptive. The advertised episode premise has the president asking Rick and Morty to clear “some kind of alien googah” from the “Kennedy sex tunnels.” But the quick look at the unintimidating beastie at the preview’s end suggests an Aliens bug hunt will be more of a launching point than the main thrust of the episode.

However conflict erupts between Rick and the president, the episode is likely to tackle America more conceptually and historically, rather than narrowly focusing on the politics of 2017 (like South Park). “I’m speaking for myself,” Harmon told EW, “I don’t want the show to have a political stance.”

But it wouldn’t be the first time the show leveled implicit critiques against the United States, such as Rick’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks: “an excuse to strip away our freedoms.” The recent “Tales from the Citadel” episode synthesizes the political moment as well, reskinning American class and racial conflict as a battle between Ricks and Mortys, while a populist fascist comes to power (President Evil Morty’s plans aren’t yet clear, but there’s no mistaking those red banners).

And, as fans have come to expect, the Rick and Morty Season 3 finale will add to the serial mythology of the show. “The finale is a great episode that we finale-ified when we realized we weren’t going to be able to make 14,” Harmon said.

While Rick and Morty isn’t predominantly a serial narrative — “we still consider Rick and Morty a largely modular, timeless show and you can pick up and watch any episode and that crack rock will get you just as high as any other crack rock,” Harmon said — the season finale has so far been an exception. The Season 2 premiere proceeded directly from the aftermath of the last episode in Season 1. After Season 2 ended with Rick in Galactic Federation prison, Season 3 opened on his escape (and subsequent obliteration of the Galactic Federation government). Harmon’s description of the Season 3 finale indicates we can expect serial elements, even if the originally conceived premise was a standalone episode.

Here are some other quick takeaways from the Harmon interview:

  • Despite the analysis of minutiae behind most fan theories, Rick and Morty writers never plot out the show’s future: “The way we see it, until something [is revealed in the show], it’s just one of a million possibilities. Our viewers are in the millions and they’re able to analyze the show even better than people who are paid to do so for nine hours a day. I don’t consider it my job to outthink and out-plan the audience.”

  • Some passed-over Season 3 ideas might make it into Rick and Morty Season 4: “ We have a pretty hefty shoebox from Season 3 of ideas that are ready to go. Some are fully written, in fact.”

  • Rick’s meta comments don’t suggest he’s so smart he’s aware he’s in a TV show: “I hesitate to say to you … I guess I will … that yeah, we largely figured Rick is just being like Daffy Duck. He’s allowed to mug to the camera like Bruce Willis did sometimes in Moonlighting.”

  • McDonald’s Szechuan sauce sucks: “I personally thought it was a sauce that was trying too hard in a world where with McNuggets sauce you just want something to taste like honey or like a BBQ sauce.”

The Rick and Morty Season 3 finale, “ The Rickchurian Mortydate” airs this Sunday on Adult Swim.

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