Solar Opposites Season 3 Review: This Animated Comedy Continues To Succeed By Doubling Down On Compelling B-Plot And Gay Leads

The third season of a television show is often when things start to drag, if they're going to drag at all. When I think of legacy third seasons that were tough to pull through, I think of some of my favorite shows, "Lost" and "Breaking Bad," where I had to really kick myself into high gear and power through to the other side, where I knew things would pick back up. Season 3 of "Solar Opposites" thankfully has the complete opposite effect; The new season of the Hulu comedy is bright, bold, and, frankly, bananas in the best way. It follows in its own exciting footsteps and compounds on the tactics that made it great in the first place, which is something every good show should do — and at no point does it crawl, even in its most deliberately slow moments. The series continues to be a powerful voice in animated adult comedy pushing through the saturated streaming landscape to showcase bigger and better with each season. It's heartfelt, genuine, genuinely funny, and totally raucous whenever it feels the need to be. What more could you ask for from your animated streaming comedy?

Picking up where we left off from season 2, the wall (yes, the one a bunch of humans who were shrunk down live inside) is as dangerous as ever in the Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan comedy, but the Opposites may finally get to leave that behind by getting their spaceship back into orbit for the first time. But as the shenanigans on this series usually go, it's gonna be more complicated than that.

From there, the season diverts again, as it has for each prior season — which, let's be real, is a major part of the show's appeal. The adjacent wall plot this season is as compelling as ever, mixing in action, adventure, a bit of tension and romance, and tons of twists and turns. There is a lot of meaningful progression for the walk folks, to the point where their society faces major upheaval. It's a great juxtaposition to what's happening in the show's other main timeline. On the Opposites' side, the focus throughout the season is more on the family unit and what that can mean for four aliens who have no foundational sense of what family truly means. The five extraterrestrials — Terry, Korvo, "daughter" Jesse, "son" Yumyulack, and, of course, the little pupa — spend 11 episodes adapting to and embracing how to be human in all of its complexities. They're slowing down, by their standards, while the wall folks are speeding up.

Solar Opposites is back and as good as ever

This third season, where the show is reinforcing its identity and capability as a comedy, smartly and succinctly tackles so many important concepts. The list is long: existentialism, bravery, difficult choices, jealousy, modern consumerism and online culture, redemption, liberation, and post-traumatic stress. Similar to its older brother "Rick and Morty," the series shines a light on the difficult ideas via pop culture, an always-palatable way to streamline the path to audience catharsis. Reusing the "Princess Bride" storytelling concept framing device, quote-unquote "ripping off Thanos," namedropping Green Lantern, bringing Malcolm Gladwell in as a guest star, even the ever-pervasive stereotype that Taco Bell makes you crap your pants all night. All of these set pieces are used in service of a greater concept, a bigger-picture idea that the show is forcing you to confront, even if it's just your agreement that Taco Bell can be rough on the tummy. No matter how silly the joke, this show continues to be good at proving that it can use topical moments to cement its emotional motive into the viewer's mind. No surprises there, since the show comes from some of the brains on "Rick and Morty," which also does a great job performing the same type of emotional legwork.

By the end of the season, the family has truly become a human unit, ditching all their sci-fi ways out of necessity — and, actually, out of love (you'll see why when you give it a watch). It's a fun way to leave these characters after eleven episodes of hijinks, or really, three full seasons of hijinks. It's not reinventing the wheel, but it certainly will hook fans for the next season. But speaking of love, that is perhaps the overarching concept that the season is anchored on, one that it explores the best and most fully. The fivesome has to build true familial love and bond with one another over the course of the season, and the slow burn there is really rewarding. But the show is finally leaning into Korvo and Terry's romantic relationship, and that is even more satisfying. "Solar Opposites" was big on lightly hinting and alluding to a gay relationship between the two patriarchal aliens, but wasn't too keen on confirming any speculation with canonical evidence of the pairing throughout the first two seasons. This season, however, is a bit of a gay bonanza, with many direct references to Kerry/Torvo (pick your poison, I like Torvo) and generally wild gay set pieces scattered throughout. Aside from being ridiculously fulfilling after a bunch of are-they-aren't-they, it also adds to the human element of this season. Not only are these characters coming into the less exciting parts of humanity, but they're also finally opening to experiencing one of the best things being human has to offer.

"Solar Opposites" has established itself as a spicy animated situational comedy that pulls from the best parts of its predecessor, "Rick and Morty," yet doesn't get stuck looking for its place outside of the Adult Swim hit's shadow. The show is self-assured with a unique vibe and tone all its own, and that continues to shine in the third season. By leaning into the more human elements of what the series has to offer — both the base exploration of those concepts with the aliens and the desperate attempt at a reclamation from the wall people — season 3 of "Solar Opposites" reminds us that clever structure can give way to everything else you love about a story: clever writing, brash jokes, and pure cathartic connective tissue.

"Solar Opposites" season 3 hits Hulu on July 13, 2022.