3. "The Rickshank Redemption"
Season 3, Episode 1
The Season 3 premiere finds Rick breaking out of Galactic prison to reclaim his family. Using a modified Brainalyzer, the smartest man in the universe annihilates his captors, the Council of Ricks, and the Galactic government in no more than 20 minutes, returning home to find Jerry giving Beth an ultimatum: Rick, a parasite, leaves... or I, a good guy, leave. Well?
Ricky aims his response to the break-up at Morty: "We've got adventures to go on, Morty. Just you and me. And sometimes your sister. And sometimes your mom, but never your dad. You wanna know why, Morty? Because he crossed me. Welcome to the darkest year of our adventures. First thing that's different: No more Dad, Morty. He threatened to turn me into the government, so I made him and the government go away. I've replaced them both as the de facto patriarch of your family and your universe. Your mom wouldn't have accepted me if I came home without you and your sister. So now you know the real reason I rescued you: I just took over the family, Morty."
Did Rick really turn himself in at the end of Season 2 just so he could dismantle the Galactic government? Does he really want to become Morty's main male influence? Or is this all a ploy to get more of McDonald's delicious Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce, Rick's one-armed man, his nine-season goal? Probably all of these and none of these, because Rick's an untrustworthy, unpredictable madman. And this is Rick at his most brutal and cunning. Our sociopathic hero, our unfeeling emissary of delicious depravity, is back, darker than ever. Touching, hilarious, subversive, this episode undoes the poignant brilliance of the Season 2 finale with just as much, if not more, heft and fun. It's a true masterclass in how to start a season with a bang.