Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 3 “Pickle Rick” Recap


Turning yourself into a pickle to get out of family counseling is considered a dick move in most cultures. Pickle Rick was absurd, violent, and a lot of fun. But what the heck is wrong with Beth?

One of the things that really sets Rick and Morty apart from other animated shows is their constant push forward in character development. In less than 3 seasons, the Smith family has evolved into a broken, depressing unit of people who can’t seem to turn the corner into functionality.

“Pickle Rick” juxtaposes the very human element of family tension and the damages coming from Beth and Jerry’s impending divorce, with a mini-action movie starring a humanoid pickle that starts out fighting cockroaches and ends up taking down an entire embassy.


The episode starts with Morty in his Sunday best clothes, as the family is getting ready to leave for group therapy. Morty comes to the garage to find Rick has turned himself into a pickle. Morty immediately knows that Rick did it to get out of therapy, as does everyone else once Morty points out that there is a timer set to drop a syringe full of liquid directly onto Rick about 10 minutes after they leave.

Beth takes the syringe with her but is completely in denial about what it is. Deep down, she knows that Rick has concocted this whole pickle persona to get out of going to therapy, but she immediately blocks it out. When they get to the therapist’s office, Dr. Wong (voiced by Susan Sarandon) immediately brings up the missing grandfather, and Rick’s actions become the focus of the session, and Beth immediately goes on the defense.

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Rick has an incredibly silly, bloody, and awesome episode, that includes everything from creating limbs for himself out of dead rats to creating death lasers out of office supplies, to befriending and teaming up with “Jaguar”, a political prisoner/mercenary voiced by Danny Trejo.

Is this the most ridiculous story to take place in the Rick and Morty universe? It’s definitely in the top 5. But what makes this episode so good isn’t the pickleyness of it, but the way that the rest of the family begins to come to terms with their current situation in a healthy way…except for Beth.

Both Morty and Summer have breakthrough type moments in their session with Dr. Wong. Beth, however, spends the entire time being defensive, defending her father’s actions and her own. Beth’s development over the series, and especially this season, has revealed a woman with some serious dependency and self-esteem issues.

These all, of course, stem from her father. When you’re the daughter of the smartest man in the universe and beyond, that could leave you feeling a little intimidated. And as we’ve seen on the show in the past, Beth is not satisfied with her career as a horse surgeon, or with her life with Jerry and the kids.

In fact, she blames her pregnancy with Summer on a lot of her problems. Like she could have achieved so much more if she hadn’t of kept the baby. She probably wouldn’t have married Jerry (although they might have gotten together down the line) and she could maybe be good enough to keep her father around.

The entire family, Jerry included, has suffered because of Beth’s inability to process her emotions and feelings about her father and his abandonment. While Morty and Summer agree that Rick’s behavior is problematic (to say the least), Beth argues with everyone (and drops of eff you’s to her kids) that they don’t know the full story about why Rick pickled himself.

Of course, Rick shows up to the session in the last few minutes because he needs the serum in the syringe to survive. He confirms for everyone that the serum will turn him human and that he did all of this to get out of therapy. Then Dr. Wong drops a truth bomb on Rick and the Smith family. Here’s her entire monologue.

"Rick, the only connection between your unquestionable intelligence and the sickness destroying your family is that everyone in your family, you included, use intelligence to justify sickness. You seem to alternate between viewing your own mind as an unstoppable force and as an inescapable curse, and I think its because the only truly unapproachable concept for you is that it’s your mind within your control. You chose to come here you chose to talk, to belittle my vocation, just as you chose to become a pickle. You are the master of your universe, and yet you are dripping in rat blood and feces. Your enormous mind literally vegetating by your own hand. I have no doubt that you would be bored senseless by therapy. The same way i’m bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining and cleaning is… it’s not an adventure. There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s just… Work; and the bottom line is some people are OK going to work, and some people… well some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose."

Rick’s face during Dr. Wong’s monologue.

That was a very hard hitting moment for us viewers, and for Summer and Morty. Rick views his intelligence as a curse and uses it to justify his depression. He uses his intelligence as an excuse to keep everyone — his daughter included — an arm’s length away. Which therefore gives him free reign to be a murdering, nihilistic, universe hopping sociopath. It’s what he wants to do. He wants to be drunk and ruin stability all across the universe based off his own made up excuses that it’s justified. Just like Walter White in Breaking Bad, Rick needs to admit to himself and his family that his excuses are simply that: excuses. He wants to be a criminal, he likes the danger, and he is a bad person.

The same can be said for Beth. She probably over-estimates her intelligence and uses her perceived untapped potential as a reason to be a bad person. Don’t forget, she shot Mr. Poopy Butthole, and in that same episode, we saw a flashback where Beth was too drunk to drive Summer to school. Beth also shows signs of potential alcoholism, which seems to maybe run in the family. She created a universe in her brain where dumb Jerry and the kids had held her back from her true potential. If she wants to succeed in life, she needs to be more like Rick and push people away. Except she’s not like Rick because at least Rick is a genius.

Now that Jerry is gone, Beth has to find someone else to be dependent toward for her “I was always really smart but I never applied myself in school” narrative she’s created. Jerry, in my opinion, has turned into an incredibly sympathetic character on the show. Which, if we’re going to stick with the Breaking Bad comparisons, would mean he’s Rick and Morty’s Skyler White. He’s boring, and his whole purpose on the show is to ground the high concept sci-fi epic adventures with real world eyes. Everyone hates Skyler because she didn’t want her family torn apart by Walt’s drug empire and narcissism. Everyone thinks Jerry is lame because he doesn’t want his kids hopping through parallel universes and being in constant danger.

Jerry may be cowardly, but he stood up to Rick, and he would do anything for his children. He’s not wrong that the dynamic in his household was toxic with Rick and Beth constantly teaming up to tear him down. And now that Rick has forced him out (and Beth is going along with it) the family dynamic is off, and Morty and Summer have become the dumb things that Beth snaps at. Which is not the best parenting technique.

The episode ends with un-pickled Rick and Beth ignoring Morty and Summer’s talk about going back to the therapist next week. They don’t fit the narrative that Rick and Beth want to live in, what with their emotions and love for other people. So instead, Rick and Beth are going to drop the kids off at home and go get drunk.

Meanwhile, Jerry is not even in the episode. He’s in his hotel somewhere. It’s not his weekend with the kids. So he does what he’s told to do, which is not be around. We’ll see if Rick pays Jerry the same respect when it’s his turn with the kids next weekend. Spoiler alert…he won’t.