Here’s why Rick And Morty season 3 episode 3’s “Pickle Rick” is one of the smartest episodes of the entire series. Rick And Morty fans had to endure a long wait between season 2 and 3, but “Pickle Rick” was one of the earliest episodes teased and the most anticipated. The premise finds Rick turning himself into a pickle to avoid going to family therapy with his daughter Beth and grandkids Summer and Morty. Rick soon finds himself knocked into a sewer where he has to construct limbs out of dead rats and fight his way through an embassy just to survive.
Rick And Morty season 3 episode 3 became an instant classic just from the introduction, where Rick dramatically reveals he’s transformed himself into a pickle. Promotional toys and tie-ins soon followed and it helped the episode was easily one of the funniest of season 3. Pickle Rick is caught in increasingly ridiculous situations, including fighting through a swarm of hungry rats and taking on a Rambo-inspired freedom fighter named Jaguar (Danny Trejo), and he does all this just to avoid talking about his issues.
The hyper-gory and hilarious scenes of Pickle Rick fighting to stay alive are in contrast to the Smith family therapy. The family talks to a therapist named Dr. Wong, voiced by Susan Sarandon, and while they’re there ostensibly to talk about Beth’s troubles with her children since the split from Jerry, the conversation is soon dominated by Rick. Beth wants to avoid admitting to herself Rick intentionally avoided therapy, even though she knows it’s true. She admires Rick for his mind but also feels like he could just leave her again at any moment, like when she was a child, so she refuses to face it.
That’s what Rick And Morty season 3 episode 3 is really about. It’s about the emotional issues Rick is inflicting on his family, and his own desperate efforts to avoid engaging in emotion or taking a long, hard look at his own issues. In spite of slicing through rats and surviving a Die Hard-inspired siege, he’s still forced to go to therapy to save his own life anyway. While he tries to rationalize that he’s above therapy, Dr. Wong’s monologue gets to the core of his problems.
Of course, he’d never admit that so by the end of the episode, Rick and Beth try to ignore that potential emotional breakthrough to go drinking, to the unspoken horror of Morty and Summer. In the same way neither Rick nor Beth really wants him to get better, neither does the audience, since that would also mean the end of his wacky sci-fi adventures. Still, the fact Pickle Rick showed up for therapy is small progress, which is why Rick And Morty season 3 episode 3 is one of the smartest episodes of the show.