NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Rick and Morty” are present in this review
Rick and Morty has delivered some especially big swings throughout Season Four, sometimes with mixed success. In a season that’s all about self-aware popularity and satirical fan service (and anti-service) however, it feels strangely fitting that Rick and Morty would try to aggressively subvert fan expectations with this week’s season finale. Sure enough, “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri” doesn’t go in the direction that viewers may initially expect, though it does nonetheless provide a huge payoff to a long-speculated question that sprang from last season; Whether Rick cloned his daughter, Beth, when Rick offered her the chance to live out her dreams as a spacefaring hero.
While the answer to this question has been undetermined since the Season Three finale from 2017 (boy, Mr. Poopybutthole sure was right about the long wait between Season Three and Season Four!), it’s finally answered here, and to many Rick Sanchez enthusiasts, the answer won’t be the least bit surprising– Yes, Rick did clone Beth after the events of Season Three episode, “The ABC’s of Beth.” As it turns out, Beth has indeed become an infamous spacefaring hero in the time since Season Three’s conclusion as well, one that’s doing battle for the Defiance against the Galactic Federation, who now have a Wrangler jeans-sponsored super-weapon that’s capable of destroying a planet. The Star Wars parodies are laid pretty thick onto this core storyline, something that the dialogue itself seems to point out, but rather than take away from this episode, the kooky melodrama being layered around the question surrounding the respective origin of both Beth’s makes for an especially impactful, downbeat season finale in the end, even with all of the humour and action occurring throughout much of this episode’s runtime.
Even better is that this season finale finally gives Beth another chance to occupy the spotlight on Rick and Morty, even if it once again comes at the expense of Morty, who, like last week, ends up pushed into the background within a less consequential subplot, alongside Summer. Beth has been strangely neglected throughout most of Season Four, possibly in service to preserving the big reveal with Beth’s identity towards the end of this season, something that was only moderately addressed last week. Fortunately, the question of which Beth is which makes for an awesome hook here, especially when the two Beth’s inevitably meet each other, and find out that Rick told both of them that they’re the real Beth, and the other Beth is the clone.
In a weird, yet undeniably clever way, the rest of this episode’s storytelling doesn’t even end up mattering that much as a result of this question surrounding Beth. Things like Morty and Summer fighting over an invisibility belt so they can perv on people, while Jerry attends therapy with Dr. Wong alongside the Beth that stayed in the Smith house (Dr. Wong’s return is another welcome throwback to Season Three!), are quickly pushed into the background against a Galactic Federation fight that also seemingly goes through the motions. This episode is very aware that the only thing Rick and Morty fans likely care about at this point is the question of which Beth is real, and that makes this episode’s fight against the Galactic Federation feel over-the-top and distracting, but also weirdly unimportant, just as Rick loves to point out. It’s an ambitious, absurd idea for a climactic storyline about bombastic distraction, one that ends up working astonishingly well, even with the returns of Birdperson and Tammy, with Birdperson now being restored as a super-powered cyborg called ‘Phoenixperson’.
So, with the Galactic Federation’s planet-annihilating weapon eventually being destroyed by a pair of jeans (because corporate sponsorship will always trump government agendas, in another awesome slice of Rick and Morty satire!), Birdperson/Phoenixperson simply being switched off by one of the Beth’s (in a humourously anti-climactic defeat), and Tammy being killed by Rick after she inadvertently forces him to attend family therapy, what does all of this madness lead to? More questions, naturally. Not only did Rick mindblow himself to prevent himself from actually knowing which Beth is which, but worse still, even the memory that Rick alone experiences reveals that, right from the start of the cloning process, Rick deliberately obfuscated the details from himself. Thus, we, along with this show’s characters, truly have no way of knowing which Beth is real, and which Beth is the clone. None of the Smith family members are ultimately fussed about this however, since they’re simply happy to now have two different, equally appealing Beth’s in their lives. Rick, meanwhile, is left to wind down Season Four being alone and rejected, even by his best friend, Birdperson, whose remains he secretly salvaged during the season’s final battle.
This leaves Rick in a very different position than he ended Season Three on. Whereas Season Four begins with an empowered, triumphant Rick, Season Four has ended with Rick having lost more than ever, including his credibility as a father, his best friend, and likely even the interest of his grandson. The idea of having two Beth’s on Rick and Morty going forward is an exciting one, but, “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri” still inevitably returns Rick to the same broken, dispassionate failure state that he’ll inevitably always find himself in. As much as this season appears to have a happy ending for the Smith family, who have now been blessed with the addition of another member, Rick once again stands alone, having accomplished nothing but his own self-destruction, even after Earth has once again been saved from obliteration. Sadly, it may once again be a while before we see Rick and Morty’s fifth season, since Adult Swim is still facing production complications due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the show’s fourth season finale nonetheless capped the season off wonderfully, presenting a lot of excitement and laughs, while also delivering a highly satisfying story payoff that none of us could have anticipated in advance.
- Fantastic new status quo for Beth and Rick
- Extended, humourous battle against the Galactic Federation
- Surprisingly funny asides with Morty, Summer and Jerry