Rick and Morty: Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender
August 14, 2017 1:08 PM - Season 3, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Morty Smith invokes his right to choose one in every 10 Rick and Morty adventures, and chooses to answer a literal call to adventure when the Vindibeacon signals that the Vindicators need Rick and Morty (but let's be honest, mostly Rick). And then Rick pulls a Rick ....

... and the a “Guardians of the Galaxy”-style adventure turns into a “Saw”-bstacle course.

(RIP Lady Katana, Calypso, and Diablo Verde)
posted by filthy light thief (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was the weakest episode of the season for me so far, in large part because the concept of a beloved team of superheroes being revealed to the audience as being a bunch of self-obsessed monsters is at this point beyond tired. The Venture Bros. did it. Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Mark Millar have all built their tedious careers on it. I’m fairly certain there was an episode of Darkwing Duck about it twenty-five years ago. At this point it’s a boring idea that just doesn’t have anything interesting to say.

Having said that, there were some good laughs in this episode and I appreciated that blackout Rick immediately outed slightly-less-drunk Rick for being the hack that he is.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:03 PM on August 14 [10 favorites]


I've seen people saying that Dan Harmon himself (somewhere?) self-deprecatingly called this the weakest episode of the season, probably for the reason you said. But I have to say while it had a weaker concept and emotional punch than "Pickle Rick" I think it had more funny jokes? And it's not really exactly about deconstructing superheroes as we know them, so much as it's about Rick's compulsion to ruin superheroes for Morty. That just also happens not to be super new territory for the show.

My favorite part was probably the whole bit of Morty casually, resignedly cleaning up after Rick's drunken schemes for the nth time. Another one of those sad-funny-true character things.
posted by atoxyl at 6:50 PM on August 14 [5 favorites]


I think the best part of the episode was Morty's slow realization that the whole fun house ride wasn't intended for him. That held an important message for Morty, Rick, and maybe Noob Noob and Stańczyk. You might think it's about you, but it's probably not.
posted by Stanczyk at 7:07 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


I think that the staleness of taking the piss out of super-hero-team movies might obscure the real meat of this episode which is the relationship between Morty and Rick. Or even Rick's relationship with Rick.

In short, we have seen Sober(ish) Rick on many occasions take actions that hint at affection for his family. To me, the most striking of these as been "I'm okay with this" during S2E1, but we've seen Rick express sentimentality many times- if never acknowledging it.

Morty's unabashed love of the Vindicators hurts Rick enough that he goes and gets blackout drunk. We learn over the course of the rest of the episode that he has passed his drunken fugue by creating a death maze/moral lesson. When Rick and Morty try to imagine what Drunk Rick is thinking, they realize correctly that all of this is coming from Rick's anger and insecurity. Despite his earlier claim that he's "complex," Drunk Rick is actually pretty basic. He's powered by jealousy, sure, but he addresses it by trying to kill all the folks that Morty loves out of spite. (Although he hides that behind his drunk self)

But Drunk Rick isn't powered by emotional truths. He and Morty are not even supposed to *be* there! It only goes down that way because Rick forgets his portal gun. (Being undermined by 'Drunk Self' is a theme) Morty's - and later Rick's - entire puzzle solving paradigm is flawed from the get go. The answer to the final puzzle isn't "Morty" but the one person in the entire group that showed any enthusiasm at all for Rick's nonsense.

The fact that Morty ends up being hurt by this ends up being just another level of Rick's interpersonal tragedy. Morty is able to solve the entire maze because he knows his grandfather better than anyone in the world, so of course Morty thinks the maze is all about him. But - it's not - it's about Rick. Morty wasn't even on his mind. This means the horrible pain he's just inflicted on Morty is incidental or even accidental, but that's the price we pay when we let Drunk Self try to address our issues for us.

The idea that getting blackout drunk is somehow cathartic is a narrative fiction. To Rick as well as the audience. Rick thinks - or hopes - that he has taken a shortcut through emotional work and so, at the end of the death maze, assumes the best about his drunk self. He hopes that - powered by shame and humiliation and remorse - that his Booze Wraith will shoulder the weight of confronting his emotional truths by proxy. But, that's not how it works. There are no shortcuts, you dumb fucking pickle.

"Why are you acting like that's not you?"

"Which part of 'Blackout' don't you understand? I thought you drank."


The old latin saw (*cough*) has it that in vino veritas. "In wine there is truth." I'm generally mistrustful of cliches, even in latin, but if there's a truth here it is *not* that we let our true *feelings* show when we are drunk, as lazy screenwriters would have us believe, but rather that we let our true *selves* show. These particular writers are doing a good job with that, I think.
posted by absalom at 7:15 PM on August 14 [43 favorites]


You might think it's about you, but it's probably not.

Very much this!

Like, Crocobot's double-cold-blooded circuits decide it's about the great shame of the Vindicators - the genocide they had to perpetrate because they didn't want to deal with Rick. But, Rick didn't even give enough of a shit about the Vindicators to even KNOW about that genocide. If he had, he probably would have rubbed their noses in it back at the war room.

(Also, Crocobot is clearly awesome. The cold blood is used as heat sink for the very hot cyborg parts, while the cyborg excess heat gives crocodile a mechanically stable blood temperature. I mean, come on, it's obvious!)
posted by absalom at 7:24 PM on August 14 [17 favorites]


The cold blood is used as heat sink for the very hot cyborg parts,

But cold blood isn't actually cold. It's just not heated internally.
posted by kenko at 7:45 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does this season feel a bit more scripted in the vocal performances than the past two? Like it's missing a bit of the improvisational quality it had before.
posted by Pyry at 8:52 PM on August 14


This season is really not pulling any punches about just how messed up Rick is.
posted by potrzebie at 9:20 PM on August 14


Rick needs to be killed.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:33 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Uh he HAS been once already.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:58 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does this season feel a bit more scripted in the vocal performances than the past two? Like it's missing a bit of the improvisational quality it had before.

Part of what delayed this season so much was them agonizing in the writers' room because they were really scared of making a third season that wouldn't live up to the first two. From what I've seen so far this season, they have nothing to worry about, but yeah, there's not as much interdimensional cable happening when you're overthinking things.

Rick needs to be killed.

One of the things I really really like about this show with portal guns and Cronenberg monsters and gaseous killer aliens named Fart is its realism. The only people learning anything of value are the kids, who want to learn something, and even then, half of what they're learning is how to survive in the world their family has built around them. The Ricks and Beths of the world don't change because they don't have to, because they can use their strengths and their perfectly-honed avoidance techniques to keep from confronting the worst truths about themselves. People do this in real life, and most of them get away with it enough to keep going.

We're almost a week and a half since it aired, and I'm still thinking about Pickle Rick, specifically the car ride home when the kids watch in horror as the adults straight-up ignore their pleas to continue therapy and plan right in front of them to dump them at the house and go drink their feelings away. Poor Jerry wasn't so much as mentioned by name in that episode, IIRC.

A classic TV redemption arc would ring hollow on this show, but the thing is, I don't know how you end this. I don't think you kill Rick, either, because they've done an excellent, excellent job of giving us the tiniest of peeks into Rick's pain and insecurity, and it shows someone who is at least partially redeemable. It reminds me a lot of "The World's End", when Simon Pegg was telling us boatloads about himself by trying to obscure the truth of what was going on in his head. And oh, hey, what a coincidence: Both characters are functioning alcoholics.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:12 AM on August 15 [13 favorites]


The only people learning anything of value are the kids, who want to learn something, and even then, half of what they're learning is how to survive in the world their family has built around them. The Ricks and Beths of the world don't change because they don't have to, because they can use their strengths and their perfectly-honed avoidance techniques to keep from confronting the worst truths about themselves. People do this in real life, and most of them get away with it enough to keep going.

When you get to adulthood, and you're getting by O.K., there's really not much pressure to change anymore. Your dysfunctions, however deep, just settle in the absence of external pressure (marriage, divorce, children) to improve or fix yourself. Most folks who WANT to deal with their issues ALREADY HAVE by early adulthood. The rest, who don't think anything is wrong with them or how they interact with the world, just keep on living with them.

Damn. And this was one of the weaker episodes. There's really an arc with Rick and Beth going on this season, isn't there?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:32 AM on August 15 [10 favorites]


Is it just me or does this season feel a bit more scripted in the vocal performances than the past two? Like it's missing a bit of the improvisational quality it had before.

Justin Roiland actually got shitfaced to perform the drunken Rick lines.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:47 AM on August 15


I was personally attached to this because as a young comic book writer I had an internship at Darkhorse comics (like a dumb almost summer camp thing you could win your way into via the Oregon TAG program) and one of the characters in the dumb comics I made up while there was that million ants character. I didn't call him Million Ants but it was otherwise identical.

One of those many, "Oh shit I'm Morty" moments.
posted by French Fry at 9:09 AM on August 15 [16 favorites]


if there's a truth here it is *not* that we let our true *feelings* show when we are drunk, as lazy screenwriters would have us believe, but rather that we let our true *selves* show.

Who's to say which is more true? The sober restraint is part of us too.
posted by amtho at 8:05 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I've really liked any episode so far this season. There are individual moments in some episodes that I've liked, but as the extended grinding sequence kicked in with yet more gratuitous violence, I thought to myself, "I'm not enjoying this show. Why am I watching?" Which is too bad, I had high hopes after the cliffhanger in season 2.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:07 AM on August 16


I'm not sure I've really liked any episode so far this season.

Not even the first one (i.e. the one that came out in April?) I'm also not really a fan of the "extended OTT action instead of funny dialog and super-clever high-concept stuff" thing - in previous seasons or now - but the only episode I thought really got bogged down was Rick's part of "Pickle Rick." (Which I did like the concept and end of, like most people here, but which was susceptible to what I described and had a few jokes I thought just missed.)
posted by atoxyl at 11:59 AM on August 16


This is some amazing discussion.

Going to have to agree to disagree on getting blackout drunk not being cathartic, though.

No, really. Not joking.

posted by booooooze at 4:11 PM on August 16 [4 favorites]


"Going to have to agree to disagree on getting blackout drunk not being cathartic, though"

That's why I drank during adolescence and early adulthood. I'm introverted, overly self-aware, emotionally controlled -- getting wasted was cathartic, it definitely met some need. But, I mean, that's why people abuse drugs and alcohol and become addicts. It actually helps them feel better in some way, though in the bigger picture it's pathological. After possibly the most embarrassing, out-of-control night (as in, say, trying to throw a restaurant patio table over a wall) in a decade-long string of such nights, I was like, okaaay... I don't think I'm going to do this anymore.

I've been genuinely drunk four times in the thirty years since and each time I've done things I've regretted and was reminded that my decision to stop drinking like that (or, really, almost at all) was the right one.

But ... pretty much all the time for these thirty years I've felt some background desire for that catharsis. I think about it explicitly quite often. It was cathartic for me in every sense -- all of my supressed feelings would come out. Chiefly sentimentality (for about thirty minutes), then anger and rage, then despair. It certainly relieved some kind of pressure. But it was definitely bad for me in the larger sense. I don't know if I've dealt with those issues in the lack of that catharsis, but it was certainly doing me more harm than good.

I dunno. Parts of Europe, especially the UK and, I think, Finland (?) have a strong culture of regular binge, blackout-drunk drinking. They think we Americans have a puritanical hang-up against what is mostly healthy behavior. I'm mostly skeptical, though I am not a person who needs absolutes and prefers categorical statements, so I'm pretty sure that for a fair portion of people, this is functional and perhaps, arguably, healthy. I know it wasn't for me.

I don't think it is for Rick. But, for example, even though Beth now usually don't overdrink, she is arguably a dry-drunk. If Rick stopped drinking, there would be less overt chaos and destruction in his life, but he'd most likely just end up being like Beth in Pickle Rick (also, BTW, the colloquial "being pickled"). Rick is not only not close to dealing with his shit, he's a super-smart guy and knows exactly what shit he needs to deal with and is absolutely determined to avoid doing so for as long as possible, hopefully until he dies. Which may or may not be hastened by this, but, whatever, who has time to worry about that crap?

It's very interesting what a conflicted portrayal of addiction and narcissism this show is. Which is pretty much par for the course for addicts and narcissists. Their bigger-than-life, boundary-violating life is amazing and exciting but also destructive and despairing. Rick is this self-image and self-criticism writ large.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:45 AM on August 17 [11 favorites]


I had a longer response typed out, but it was getting a little dark, so I'll just point to Dan Harmon's Rick and Morty and the meaning of life video in case anyone hasn't seen it yet.
posted by booooooze at 1:50 PM on August 17 [4 favorites]


ha! genius police.
posted by numaner at 12:22 PM on August 18


I don't think it was the strongest episode but damn if I didn't completely lose it at the Israel bit.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:04 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


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