'Rick And Morty' Season 3 Had A Surprise Premiere On Adult Swim Last Night (Or Did It?)

Even though the internet was full of April Fools Day shenanigans yesterday, there was one surprise that wasn't a stupid joke. The third season of Rick and Morty had a surprise premiere on Adult Swim last night, airing on a loop for a few hours before the channel went back to their regularly scheduled programming. If you missed it, you still have a chance to see it later today on the Adult Swim website (or you can seek it out yourself online where fans are posting links all over the place). However, there's a theory that this might not be the real season premiere, and there is actually some evidence to support that theory.

Let's take a closer look.

For those who missed the third season premiere of Rick and Morty, you'll have at least one more official chance to catch the episode. Right now, the Adult Swim streaming website is airing a marathon of every single episode leading up to the third season premiere. But you'll have to wait patiently for the episode to debut after sitting through the two season run (so far). As we're publishing this, the marathon is in the middle of the second season, so you may still have time to catch it. Otherwise, you'll have to watch it through other means elsewhere online. We won't link to any of those episodes since they're pirated, but you won't have to look too far to find a good stream of the episode.

The season premiere is called "The Rickshank Redemption", and while we don't want to spoil anything that happens in the episode, in order to discuss the details of the theory that this episode wasn't the real season premiere, we have to dive into some details. So if you'd rather not know anything about the season premiere of Rick and Morty, don't read beyond the image below. But if you've already seen the episode or don't care about spoilers, we'll explain.

Rick and Morty

Where Was the Pickle Escape?

The season premiere picks up where the second season finale left off and we find Rick imprisoned by the Galactic Federation. Nathan Fillion voices an alien from the Galactic Federation sent into a virtual reality prison in which Rick's mind is being kept with the intention of learning the secret of Rick's portal gun. However, as we saw in the episode "M. Night Shaym-Aliens!", Rick is an expert in manipulating virtual reality, and he uses the prison to create a fake origin story of the portal gun in order to escape.

The escape of the Galactic Federation prison is what has some fans thinking that this season premiere, although it appears to be a real episode, is actually an elaborate April Fools' Day joke. Why? Well, at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, this early animatic was shown as a sneak preview of the third season:

The clip features Rick as a pickle escaping some kind of imprisonment. Some people believed that this was how Rick would escape the Galactic Federation prison, and when none of this sequence showed up in the season premiere, that's what got fans wondering if all of this was how Rick escaped in another dimension but not the "real" timeline.

However, Occam's Razor tells us that the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one, and it seems clear that the pickle escape is actually in an episode that we haven't seen yet. Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland explained as much when they talk about the above clip during their panel from Comic-Con, starting at the 17:57 mark in this video:

In addition, Adult Swim teased that pickle episode arriving this summer on their Facebook page yesterday with this clip:

So while the pickle escape may not be an indicator that the season premiere of Rick and Morty takes place in an alternate dimension (which we've seen several times before in the show), there is one other cue that could indicate it's in another dimension. Check out how the ending of the third season premiere (left) compares to the end of the pilot of the show (via Heavy.com):

There's plenty of parallels between the two scenes, enough that this could easily be taking place in another dimension. But there's another theory that actually makes a little more sense and could make for an interesting twist in the show.

Rick and Morty

Could Rick Still Be in Prison?

Some fans on Reddit think that this episode is all part of Rick's virtual reality prison. Perhaps everything that's happening is all an elaborate ruse to still get Rick to divulge the secret of the portal gun. Making Rick think he got away with tricking the Galactic Federation would be the best way to turn Rick's smarts around on him.

This theory comes from the fact that some fans think that the ending of the season premiere doesn't have any character development for Rick and basically undoes everything that happened by the end of the second season. The ending of the episode actually almost acts as a reboot that allows Rick and Morty to go on wild adventures again, with Rick revealing that he's on a never-ending quest to get back McDonald's Mulan-inspired promotional Szechuan dipping sauce, scaring his grandson all over again.

The case for Rick still being in prison makes even more sense when you consider the fact that everything in this episode went in Rick's favor a little too easily, right down to getting rid of Jerry in the form of a divorce from his daughter Beth in addition to getting to go on adventures with Morty.

Then again, it could just be a way of showing us that Rick really is still just a selfish man who has been doing everything he can to fuel his love of that Szechuan dipping sauce, which works as another layer to Rick's alcoholism. After all, in that Comic-Con video above, Dan Harmon indicates that they have an episode that's entirely about alcoholism though booze isn't mentioned once. Could this be that episode?

Either way, what matters is that we got a new episode of Rick and Morty last night, and we'll be getting even more at some point this summer.