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Rick and Morty - Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender - Roundtable Review

This article was co-written by Louis Rabinowitz, Laura Markus, Milo M-J, Abi & Justin.

Overall Thoughts

Louis: Rick and Morty season three has turned out to be a bit of a Marmite season. For those unacquainted with Marmite, it’s delicious, healthy sandwich spread that some people inexplicably hate, but very few people like or dislike. As you can tell, you can tell where I stand on Marmite. It’s also where I stand on this season of Rick and Morty.

Was that too convoluted?

Vindicators 3 is a fascinatingly subversive episode. On the surface, it conforms to the season one and two formula of Rick and Morty going on adventures around the world and meeting crazy people in scenarios that would be wrapped up by the half hour. Below that, though, it’s a very explicit sequel to the events of The Rickshank Redemption, once again putting the million-dollar question under the microscope - does Rick care? The answer this episode provides is complicated, and doesn’t rest easy on the mind. Are we following a man so incapable of doing good that he chooses instead to be a monster?

Also, this is a fun superhero parody with plenty of good jokes and a hilariously cynical skewering of the genre. But somehow the sad stuff feels more pertinent these days.

Laura: I would agree with Abi here, there are elements of this episode that are not sitting right with me. But then there were parts of it I truly enjoyed. There was a ton of amazing character development and moments that tugged on my heartstrings, moments I wished were fleshed out a bit more, and moments that just made me sad. But I did like this episode.

Especially its parodies, and there were two huge ones! I love what this episode had to say re: the superhero fatigue and oversaturation of franchises and the need to have a billion sequels. The fact that Rick and Morty weren’t invited to the 2nd Vindicators’ outing and yet they missed nothing was hilarious. And Rick being able to defeat Worldender in like two seconds while he was blackout drunk was pretty wild. Of course, the guest stars were great. I can’t wait to see who else the season will bring on.

Milo: I enjoyed this episode, it wasn’t the best Rick and Morty has ever been, but it was a pretty fun outing that explored the concept of superhero parodies pretty well, poking fun at them with an episode that allowed for some awesome guest stars including Community’s Gillian Jacobs and The Wire’s Lance Reddick, which was very cool, alongside Christian Slater. The A-List talent that the show keeps bringing to the series really helps add quality to even the otherwise forgettable supporting cast that only show up for one or two episodes.

Abi: Hmmm, I think this is actually my least favourite episode of season 3 so far. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s not up there with the episodes they’ve aired already this season. But also it had Christian Slater, so that’s definitely a few points in its favour. One thing, however, that this show is always great at is somehow making the really sad and disheartening family elements somewhat comedic. Is it because we’re all laughing a little at how truly despicable Rick can be? I’m not sure. Either way, Rick and Morty is always a show that can truly mine dark moments and find a funny quality in them. I thought it was a pretty good superhero parody, and there were definitely moments that were a little shocking yet still hilarious, like when Vance is killed by Rick’s drunken booby trap.

Justin: To be honest, after last week’s masterpiece of Pickle Rick the quality in this episode dropped significantly but it still managed to hold out on its own. The parody of superhero teams like GOTG and the Avengers was brilliant to explore and I had a lot of fun with the Vindicators. Also, THAT guest cast list!

From Christian Slater, to Lance Reddick, to Gillian Jacobs, etc. It was truly a sight to behold hearing those amazing actors lending their voices in this episode. The plot was super unique have the Vindicators (plus Rick and Morty) being challenged by drunk!Rick himself in Saw-esque trials. This method really made the episode unpredictable and shocking and so much fun. Ex. Vance Maximus Renegade Star Soldier being the first Vindicator to die (and almost all of them after that).

Character development

Louis: It’s a classic Rick and Morty episode! So much for all of the angry fans complaining about actual female characters in their show.

The show’s central relationship between grandfather and grandson has been in a constant state of flux, varying from awe to anger to conflict and back, but here, it was definitely not a positive relationship. It felt like the show was revisiting the idea of Morty’s growing frustration with Rick’s callousness from the premiere - he’s barely even surprised or disappointed by Rick’s misanthropic behaviour and has simply accepted the fact that, if his grandfather does love him, he’ll almost certainly never tell him that. The manner in which the episode deepened that resentment only seems to strengthen the theory that we’re on the way to seeing him get some evil eyewear on soon enough.

As for Rick… well, this season has been a tough one for the more sentimental viewers of the show who watch for evidence that Rick cares.

After all, during these four episodes, every hint of genuine emotional attachment has been ruthlessly undermined and mocked by Rick himself, and the evidence we’ve been left of is a violent man only capable of building emotionally toxic relationships with his family. Okay, that’s not the extent of Rick’s character. He’s capable of a lot more - just look at how much he cares for poor Noop Noop. But being capable of something and actually doing it are two separate things, and right now, Rick is stuck in the former.

Laura: Oh my god, the moment when Morty is going on and on about how the Vindicators are his heroes now and then the sad music kicks in and Rick has a genuine look/feeling of sadness on his face. Good lord, just incinerate me now. There was certainly a lot of development between these two characters and I especially loved how they were both managing to joke with each other when they were being choked. What’s more is trying to figure drunk!Rick out -- did he really mean to dedicate that video for Noob Noob or was it really for Morty? Well we’d just have to ask drunk!Rick now wouldn’t we? Morty coming to the conclusion that anyone can be a hero so you don’t need a special jacket was great. Earlier on when Morty said, “Drunk Rick’s point is that none of you are very special or different. That’s always his point.” gave me CHILLS! I mean, jeez!

Abi: God I was so hoping that I could’ve put Rick under this, but nope, this show just loves giving us touching moments between Rick and his family and then snatching it away by making Rick absolutely not care. Sure, it’s kind of funny, but it’s also really really mean. Morty had a lot of development this episode though, and not in a good way. He’s more mature in that he’s now more cynical; he’s swearing, he’s caring less because the people around him are skewing his world view and making him think nothing matters, people are ordinary, and everything will disappoint you. I honestly would not be surprised if somewhere down the line Morty becomes a villain, even if it’s just for an episode, or if he actually turns out to be worse than Rick and does something truly despicable.

Milo: The way they developed Rick in this episode was certainly an interesting one. Here the benefits of having a character play the villain as often as he can play the hero allow for some really interesting potential in regards to drama, especially as it avoids falling into the trap of making him the outright villain, painting him as someone who designed the traps for the superheroes whilst drunk, that led to the deaths of two of the heroes. This way it can still keep the character in check even if at the same time Rick at this point is also pretty much invincible in regards to his opponents, there’s few left who he hasn’t taken on already. As proven here the biggest danger to Rick is actually Rick himself.  

Justin: The development of the Rick/Morty relationship in this ep was really interesting to see go down. Especially when Morty was watching drunk!Rick’s video and hearing how much Rick cares about Morty and then realizing that the video was all for Noob-Noob. Or was it? Was drunk!Rick actually telling the truth or just saying whatever he wants to say with no care in the world? Rick has truly turned himself into his own literal enemy.

Funniest moments

Louis: I love the weird, offbeat nature of the Vindicators’ powers, especially One Million Ants, the no-nonsense hero we all needed in our lives. Drunk Rick was also this, when he wasn’t terrifying. Noop Noop, all of him, and how I still cannot figure out how to spell his name correctly. The gratuitously bloody death of animated Christian Slater. Summer at the end, who’s figured it all out. And Morty’s coffee-shop ‘buy nine adventures, get the tenth free’ card.

Laura: Every single damn thing Rick had to say about the Ghost Train, especially, “Hey, everybody, the Ghost Train guy would’ve used a ghost train!” Morty’s adventure card. Morty solving all of drunk!Rick’s Saw puzzles. Noob Noob’s existence. Rick forgetting his portal gun.

Abi: “I refuse to answer a literal call to adventure, Morty. Let it go to voicemail.” Pretty much everything that Million Ants said. Rick not having any clue who Noob Noob was and Morty’s face afterwards.

Milo: “Uh, I was also late due to my drinking and mentioned it to zero applause,” was a good line from Rick. And this exchange played out effectively, with Morty asking Rick: “Are you seriously sawing the Vindicators?”, to which Morty replied: “Morty, I’m Drunk. Not a hack.”

Justin: The whole Noob-Noob schtick was hilarious to see. God damn! Rick: “Really you don’t say? You would’ve used a ghost train? Hey everybody the ghost train guy would’ve used a ghost train.” Ghost Train: “Man, f*ck you”. Also, Rick: “So, your origin is what, you fell into a vat of redundancy?” The last shot of the ep with the face Morty makes when Rick has no idea who Noob-Noob is.

Easter eggs

Laura: You’ve gotta start with the end, oddly enough. That huge party Rick threw featured a lot of returning guests. You’ve got Gearhead prominently featured, there’s a grey blob with a Plumbus inside of him, Nancy was there, and countless more people that I am forgetting.

Also, the Vindicators that were there at the start of the episode kind of looked like the cast from Ball Fondlers, in a way. Go back and have a look and compare. It’s shocking, right? And Noob Noob could be a weirder version of Mr. Poopy Butthole. Who knows.

Abi: I can’t have been the only one that was thinking that Noob Noob was related to Mr Poopy Butthole in some way right? Justin was definitely using a similar voice to the one he uses for Mr Poopy Butthole and they even looked kind of similar too.

Justin: Noob-Noob looking eerily similar to Mr. Poopy Butthole. The concert end scene with some familiar faces showing up like Gearhead, Nancy, MC Haps, and Stair Goblins.

What comes next

Louis: It was about time we caught up with Jerry. I’ve missed that utterly pathetic loser.

Laura: A Rick and Jerry episode, you say? Yeesh. I’m already nervous for it. But on the bright side, there’s a roller coaster involved somewhere in there. So you’ve already got my money.

Abi: “It’s a Rick and Jerry adventure. Rick and Jerry episode.” Oh boy I am really interested to see how this one pans out because we all know Rick’s utter disdain for Jerry so what would cause him to go to him for an adventure? He’s probably going to be really mean to him and it’ll be an entire episode of Jerry jokes, but hey, with Jerry looking at a picture of his family in the promo maybe it’ll be something to advance the plot between him and Beth. Either way I’m excited.

Rick and Jerry? I’m sold. Jerry isn’t someone who hasn’t received much attention over the course of the season so far so I’m interested to see how this develops, especially when both characters don’t get on especially well in the first place.

Justin: A Rick/Jerry centric ep!!! Oh my god I never knew how much I wanted this till I heard about it. This ep is definitely going to be so much fun and interesting, especially after the Beth/Jerry divorce. I’m already preparing myself for my heart to get ripped out.

Thanks for reading our fourth roundtable review! Rick and Morty season three continues this Sunday at 11.30pm ET on Adult Swim. We'll have a review of episode five, The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy, for you next week.

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