‘Rick and Morty’ brings the darkness it promised with ‘Mad Max’-style therapy

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Warning: This story contains spoilers for Rick and Morty season 3, episode 2, “Rickmancing the Stone.”

Rick and Morty is finally, officially back in action after a two-year hiatus that ended April 1 with the surprise release of the season’s first episode.

Now, as we start the rest of season 3, Rick gently coaches his grandkids Summer and Morty on how to cope with their parents’ separation and impending divorce. Just kidding! This is Rick and Morty we’re talking about here, so while the episode certainly follows those themes, Rick takes Summer and Morty to a Mad Max: Fury Road-style planet where they can work out their issues the old-fashioned way—with lots of blood and violence.

For Summer, that means falling in love with post-apocalyptic raiders after taking out their version of Immortan Joe. Morty is more reluctant to join the carnage, until Rick gives him a muscle-memory concoction (don’t sweat how it works) that swells his arm into a killing machine. After a few rounds in the Blood Dome (cough, Thunder Dome, cough), Morty starts to let some of his divorce-related frustrations loose.

While Rick certainly facilitates this adventuring—he even builds robot versions of Summer and Morty to cover for them at home—it feels like he’s seriously at a loss for what to do about all of the emotions pouring out of this dissolving family. Previously, the family unit has stayed stubbornly intact for all of its flaws, making it easier for one or two straying characters to be brought back into the fold. But, as promised in episode 1 of the season, we’ve moved into a new, darker timeline. Rick, typically a freewheeling force of instability, is suddenly put in the awkward position of having to hold things together. He continues to hang out on the Mad Max planet under the pretext of getting his hands on an energy source called isotope 322, but the effort feels half-hearted. In previous seasons, we’d expect gives-no-shits Rick to take off for Blips and Chitz at the first sign of strife. But here Rick doesn’t just stick around—he seems to actually care.

But don’t worry about it becoming a bummer. The episode wraps up rather neatly, with Morty and Summer returning home in better spirits. Summer even gifts her dad, Jerry—now living at a grungy motel—the skull of a mutant she killed as a way of saying it’s OK to move forward. Awwww, right?

While the divorce will likely continue to come up the rest of the season, the resolution of the episode makes it likely that we’ll move on next week to a new slate of wacky high jinks. According to a preview, Pickle Rick will make his debut—and we can hardly wait.

Sarah Weber

Sarah Weber

Sarah Weber is the former editor of Daily Dot’s Parsec section, where she wrote about geek culture. She previously worked as a reporter and editor at community newspapers in the Midwest and was recognized by the Ohio Associated Press for news reporting.