People are often divided when it comes to Rick and Morty — either you’re a die-hard fan or you don’t get it. This is understandable too. On the surface, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s animated sci-fi comedy series is weird. It looks like another Adult Swim stoner cartoon for post-pubescent boys with pre-pubescent minds. Which, in fairness, it sort of is. And, it isn’t.
So, when your friends start telling you, you’ve got to see this show, it’s ah-mazing, the dense and scientific-sounding plots and complex universe can prove challenging to just jump in and start binge-watching right away. To help you see the Rick and Morty light, here are the five episodes you need to watch that will help ease you into the vast and wonderful Rickstaverse.
Start with the Season 2 episode, “Get Schwifty.” It’s an easy entry point, each character has a role to play in the A or B story, and it doesn’t get so bonkers that your head explodes. “Get Schwifty” strikes a good balance of dumb and smart, which is really one of Rick and Morty’s greatest assets.
The battle of the bands plot is fun and silly and the song “Get Schwifty” is strangely catchy despite the clearly improvised lyrics. But it’s the secondary story that shows the sheer brilliance of its writing team. It’s little more than the seed of an idea that addresses the nature of religion, but it masterfully plays in a moral gray-area and hints at the kind of depth you can expect from other, more intense episodes.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy”
To get a good grasp of the often meta nature of Rick and Morty, your next step should be “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” from Season 2. This episode is also another good example of a minor secondary story going in weird, unexpected, and sometimes deep and darkly comedic directions.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is a little Inception-y, though it doesn’t get so deep that it’s impenetrable. But, as is often the case with Rick and Morty, the secondary story is just as funny and entertaining as the main story. It also has a couple of great guest voice appearances from Stephen Colbert and comedian Nathan Fielder.
“Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate”
Interdimensional cable is a true thing of beauty. If you enjoy nonsensical, absurdist comedy, then either of the interdimensional cable episodes are a great watch. However, “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” is by far the superior of the two with its ridiculous plot that barely holds together and one of the greatest surprise WTF walk-on cameo moments you’ll see.
At its core, “Interdimensional Cable 2,” like most episodes, asks you to think about yourself and your beliefs from a totally different perspective. Beyond the tee-hee giggles at Jerry’s penis conundrum, the story asks you to consider what’s important — the life of someone who may help millions of others or you as an individual.
If you’re on board with the bizarre randomness of the improv’ed interdimensional cable TV shows and ads intercut with a slightly juvenile but still hilarious plot, then you’re starting to get what makes Rick and Morty so much fun. Fans may come for the juvenile humor, but they stay for the depth.
“Rick Potion #9”
“Rick Potion #9” is on the list this time for the plot development. Knowing what happens at the end of the sixth episode changes the characters and their responses to the world in very fundamental ways. The end of this episode deeply affects Morty and is referenced in other later episodes too.
Stick around for the post credits sting too because it reveals a lot about the family dynamic that’s still in question in Season 3. Would Beth and Jerry be better without Rick and Morty? Is that their actual key to happiness?
“Meeseeks and Destroy”
Things get unexpectedly dark in the Season 1 episode, “Meeseeks and Destroy.” In fact, it wasn’t until later viewings that I properly grasped the gravity of what happens. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment that, again, really shapes the dynamic between the grandfather/grandson adventurers. And while it doesn’t get mentioned in later episodes, it’s hard not to notice Morty’s changing mental state following the events of his story.
The memorable Meeseeks are fan favorites, but they’re just a distraction for what is another brilliantly crafted episode.
So, you got this far and hung in there? Great! If you’re not ready to binge-watch the full seasons yet, the next episodes on your list should be “Look Who’s Purging Now,” “Total Rickall,” and “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez.” Each of these episodes develops the characters further, builds on the incredible universe, and has equal measures of dumb laughs and great depth.