This post contains spoilers for the new third-season episode of Rick and Morty.
On October 4, 2015, the Adult Swim animated sci-fi series Rick and Morty aired its second-season finale. The episode, “The Wedding Squanchers,” built to a Red Wedding-esque massacre on a planet 6,000 light-years away from Earth, and an interstellar manhunt that drove the dysfunctional central family, the Smiths, and their mad-scientist patriarch Rick Sanchez into hiding. But the episode ended with Rick, an alleged terrorist, secretly turning himself over to the Galactic Federation police to protect his daughter, Beth, and his grandkids Morty and Summer. For a comedy that could be so silly and surreal (characters often have names like “Mr. Poopybutthole” and “King Flippy Nips”), locking up a repentant Rick to the soundtrack of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” was a decidedly dispirited, yet moving, way to end the season.
Since then, fans had been clamoring for official news of when Season 3 would start; in response, they’d been getting little more than teaser clips and coy tweets from the show’s creators, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. But on Saturday, amid this growing impatience, Adult Swim dropped a terrific and outrageous new episode titled “The Rickshank Redemption,” effectively kicking off Season 3 on April Fool’s Day. Since there was no real advance notice, most fans didn’t see it coming, but maybe they should have: In the epilogue to the second-season finale, viewers were told to expect Season 3 “in, like, a year and a half.” Sure enough, as some keen observers noted, the new episode arrived a year and a half later, almost to the day. It was hard to tell, though, whether the episode’s release was a supreme act of trolling or a genuine gift—and whether, in fact, it had been precisely planned this way all along.