Rick And Morty Season 6 Is Making Rick Do The Unthinkable: Learning To Change

Sitcoms rarely serve as character studies. They have memorable and likable characters, sure, but not necessarily ones that evolve and change over time. "Rick and Morty" has struggled with this, showing us a slow progression for the characters like Jerry and Beth separating, or Beth meeting her space clone. More often than not, however, these become temporary changes to the status quo that disappear after a while.

Then there's Rick, a man who has gone through a lot, a man who engineered his entire family rather than coping with grief, a man who manipulated the separation of his daughter and her husband because he couldn't take not being the dominant male of the family, a man who hasn't significantly changed — at least not for longer than a handful of episodes. And yet, some of the bigger changes to the status quo have related to Rick, from his stint in prison, to Beth forcing him to ask Morty permission to go on adventures.

This season has thrown yet another obstacle in Rick's way that has forced him to behave differently. The loss of the portal gun has turned the season into one giant bottle episode where Rick cannot simply go to another universe when things get difficult for him. Now, the season has made Rick do something that was unthinkable before: learn to change.

Rick goes to therapy

In the latest episode, "Analyze Piss," Rick takes a huge step forward towards self-betterment by voluntarily going to therapy without even turning himself into something else. It starts out as just an inquiry about dealing with a random assortment of villains wanting to fight Rick, but rather than mock Dr. Wong or try to one-up her suggestions, Rick actually goes through with it. First, he starts ignoring the would-be fighters because Dr. Wong said so, which leaves room for Jerry to fight someone named Pissmaster and become an unlikely galactic hero.

When Rick goes back to Dr. Wong ready to prove her wrong, he realizes that Jerry's actions have made the galaxy better, and Rick ignoring the villains actually made him slightly happier and less busy. Rick continues to follow Dr. Wong's advice, this time not out of spite, but because he recognizes that she is right. It is a small thing, but it shows that Rick inadvertently is willing to accept therapy as a valid method for improving his mental health. 

Granted, things hit a roadblock when Rick, jealous of Jerry's increased popularity, goes to a bar and gets drunk — the first time we've seen him drunk all season — and stumble his way to Pissmaster's house, where he discovers the villain committed suicide. Feeling guilty because Pissmaster blamed Jerry in his suicide note, Rick decides to put on his suit, pretend to be the deceased villain, and redeem his name by doing good deeds.

A long road ahead

What is more incredible than Rick going around in a suit full of pee like a gross Iron Man is the fact that he genuinely does good things, without telling anyone. He is going to give Pissmaster a worthy and heroic death, and even Dr. Wong seems impressed, as she shows pride over Rick's compassion towards a former enemy and his selfless action. In a single episode, Rick took advice from others, worked towards making himself better, and even scheduled more appointments with Dr. Wong to further his improvement.

One of the reasons Zuko in "The Last Airbender" has one of the best redemption stories in an animated series is because it feels earned. Zuko doesn't just wake up one day and become good, he has to work for it. He stumbles, he messes up, he goes back to square one and has to repeat the process before he can start earning the heroes' trust.

Likewise, Rick's transformation isn't smooth. He is making a lot of mistakes, like hiding the fact that Pissmaster blamed Jerry for his death, then telling Morty the secret just to kind of brag about being able to hold one, which of course blows up in his face when Morty tells everyone. Morty has also grown up the past couple of seasons, becoming more independent, and realizing he doesn't have to be Rick's personal assistant and secret holder.

For Rick, he realizes what he did is wrong, and that he should have withheld the information, but now he knows, and hopefully, he will take the lesson to heart. What is important is that he is doing something very rare in the show, he is changing. Seeds planted in earlier seasons are now paying off, and all the small and temporary changes we saw Rick go through in previous seasons are finally starting to come to fruition here. Let's hope they are not just swept under the rug by season seven.