Rick and Morty’s April Fools’ Day joke was really a gift to all of its fans: The first episode of season 3 aired early. In the end, Rick promised this would be the darkest year of their adventures yet. Now the complete third season of Adult Swim’s animated sci-fi comedy is finally here.
On a family network, Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) and his grandson Morty’s (also Roiland) inter-dimensional adventures would be heartwarming and come with a moral at the end. Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty isn’t that show.
One planet isn’t enough for Rick to ruin, so he’s got infinite universes to wreck with his inventions and meddling. Sometimes family members like Morty’s mom (and Rick’s daughter) Beth (Sarah Chalke), Beth’s husband Jerry (Chris Parnell), and Morty’s sister Summer (Spencer Grammer) come along.
Creators Roiland and Dan Harmon, along with Chalke, spoke with Rotten Tomatoes in Los Angeles before the third season premieres. Here are 10 things they shared about the wacky new season.
“It would be accurate to say it’s George Miller inspired,” Harmon said. “Everything in that genre that he pioneered, the post-nuclear-apocalyptic-diesel-powered wasteland.”
Rick and Morty arrive at this world already in progress.
“The nice thing about a show like this is you can just cut to that world, and they’re there,” Harmon said. “Rick does have a reason to be there. He’s on the trail of something, but much like Doctor Who, you find out while you’re going why he wanted to be there.”
At the end of their last adventure, Jerry made Beth choose between her father and her husband. She chose Rick, and that means she’s going to get a lot closer to him this season.
“It opens up a whole room for Beth and Rick’s relationship to really get fleshed out,” Chalke said. “You really find out why Beth is like she is, and you find out more about her childhood. My favorite part about the season is getting to know a little bit more about her childhood, because I think it puts it in context. I feel like you see a little bit of the darker side [of Beth].”
Rick’s final rant promised the darkest season yet, but remember this is Rick talking. As soon as he finds something more interesting, he’ll forget all about the darkness. It started out pretty dark though. Rick caused Beth and Jerry’s divorce.
“The show’s been pretty f—ing dark in the past,” Roiland said. “Comparatively speaking, I don’t even know if that’s a true, accurate statement. Maybe more in reference to the new dynamic, the new family structure, ‘I just officially sealed the deal on your parents being separated.’ That’s pretty dark.”
Harmon added, “Rick establishes, ‘I’m more Rick than ever. You’re going to continue to do what I say, and now you really don’t have a choice.’”
Rick may not be rid of his nemesis son-in-law yet. Jerry and Beth are separated, but anyone who’s gone through a divorce knows that’s not the end of things.
“It’s a gray area because you’ve got a mom and a dad,” Harmon said. “The fact that they split up only makes everything more chaotic. It doesn’t make one of them leave or stay. It just makes things more complicated.”
Beth gets to reconnect with her father, and sometimes go on awesome space adventures. She’s not going to let Jerry come between them.
“At the end of the day, she doesn’t want her dad to leave again, and she doesn’t want him to abandon them again,” Chalke said. “I think, at all costs, she will basically do anything she has to do not to rock the boat. Jerry obviously is a hindrance to that. Rick and Jerry don’t get along. If it’s Jerry or Rick, it’s Rick.”
If you thought it couldn’t get weirder than the Meeseeks (who will complete one task for you and then die) or the entire planet on a cob, how about Rick as a pickle for an entire episode? Ever since Roiland and Harmon showed a scene of Pickle Rick at Comic-Con last year, Pickle Rick has become a fan favorite.
“The episode hasn’t even aired, and there’s bootleg Pickle Rick dolls and Pickle Rick T-shirts,” Roiland said. “The people in Raleigh [for Supercon] were screaming ‘Pickle Rick!’ all day. It’s crazy. People love Pickle Rick. That was an example of just tapping into pure joy. It’s awesome to see it come through the other side, at least in a preview form and make that connection already.”
The season 3 trailer above also shows a scene of Giant Beth. Chalke got to do Beth’s giant voice too, but she’ll find out what they used when it airs.
“We tried it a bunch of different ways, and I don’t know which one they went with,” she said.
Also expect to see Beth interact with characters she hasn’t shared scenes with before, including one voiced by guest star Thomas Middleditch.
“They ended up pairing off a lot of different relationships, people we haven’t gotten to see interact too much together,” Chalke said.
A big joke in the season premiere was Rick going back into his memory of 1998 when McDonald’s offered Szechuan sauce for chicken McNuggets, tied in with the movie Mulan. Now eBayers are bidding thousands of dollars for Szechuan sauce memorabilia.
“Our intention was never to be product placement for McDonald’s or be shilling for McDonald’s,” Roiland said. “It was very much a joke that came from a true-life experience of mine.”
It was only written in the script once, but Roiland improvised it again in Rick’s final rant of the episode.
“It’s the callback to it that really drives it home,” Harmon said. “The script just says, ‘It’s going to be the darkest year ever, etc.’ Justin improvised, ‘And I want that Szechuan sauce!’”
Roiland suspects that the seller of a picture of the Szechuan sauce did not actually receive the $99,000 bid on it, but someone really did buy an actual packet of sauce for a small fortune.
“Somebody actually had found a legitimate cup of the Szechuan sauce in their car, they say,” Roiland said. “That sold for $14,000. I wouldn’t eat it because it’s from 1998. Maybe it is still good to eat, I don’t know, but 14 grand someone paid for that. That wasn’t just a photo. That was an actual cup of it.”
During his rant about the Szechuan sauce, Rick said it may take nine seasons to find the sauce. Harmon’s previous show, Community, said #6seasonsandamovie so much they ultimately did last six seasons. Now Harmon isn’t setting any limits.
“I think we can go 1000 seasons and 10 movies at this point,” Harmon said. “Every other day I get an ‘and a movie?’ tweet.”
The new opening credits for season 3 have replaced some of Rick and Morty’s classic adventures with new ones. Some of them will happen in full episodes this season, but you’ll have to guess which ones.
“We do the same thing every year,” Roiland said. “There are some real and some fake, but no one will know until the very last episode airs which ones are real and which ones are fake.”
The struggle is real. Roiland can’t keep up the burps as much as Rick. He waits until the end of a recording session and drinks light beer, but he couldn’t keep up with previous seasons’ belching.
“I do feel like there’s less burps in season 3,” Roiland said. “Huge spoiler, less burps by the minute. Season 1 had the most. Season 2 a little less.”
Rick and Morty returns Sunday, July 30 at 11:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.