In possibly the most anticipated moment of Rick and Morty season 3, Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of going to family therapy.
Although Rick claims to have just turned himself into a pickle for the fun of it, he strategically positions a syringe above him, set to fall into him as soon as the family leaves for counseling, restoring him to his human form and giving him an excuse to miss the session. However, his plans go awry when Beth takes the syringe.
This sends him on an adventure through the sewers where he regains control of his body by using the brains of animals to control their limbs which he attaches to himself. He eventually ends up in a top-secret government facility, befriends a criminal who longs to see his daughter again and murders many government agents; all culminating in his return to the very therapy session he wanted to avoid in the first place.
This episode reveals Rick in his truest form. We see him, the genius with unlimited brainpower, using his vast knowledge to turn himself into a pickle rather than just tell his daughter he doesn’t want to go to counseling.
Rick will do anything to avoid confrontation of situations that explore emotions, something he wholeheartedly shuns.
In past seasons, Rick rarely shows any desire to connect with the family outside of Morty or occasionally Beth, if only to keep her from preventing Morty to go on their missions.
He has no desire to be a part of the family; he wants to use their house as his base in which he can center his missions and experiment as he pleases.
However, in this episode we see a change in Rick. What he had to go through to avoid therapy ended up being more than he bargained for, and he goes to his family at the counselor’s office, still in pickle form.
While Rick has been on his adventure, the therapist has been helping the family dissect their dysfunctional relationship with each other and especially with Rick. Beth doesn’t want to believe Rick’s syringe had a serum in it to turn him human again.
Rather than continue to pretend turning himself into a pickle was just because he could, Rick admits to Beth he did it to avoid therapy and even apologizes after the session.
This is a different side of Rick. He never apologizes for anything, and he’s done much worse things than try and avoid therapy. Remember when he turned the entire population into mindless mutants and left his original Beth, Summer and Jerry there? No apologies then.
But he does apologize now, which is why I think Rick is changing in a very small way. He’s slowly becoming a better person, a more emotional person. He feels bad for bailing on his family in the midst of their divorce, when they need his support most.
So after doing everything possible to avoid therapy, after fighting off sewer rats and government agents, after quite literally turning himself into a pickle, he goes back.
So, was his return to therapy just for the serum? Somehow, I don’t think so.
Rick and Morty airs every Sunday at 11:30 on Cartoon Network.