You’re no doubt bummed out that Rick and Morty is over again, that we may have to wait nearly two years for another all too brief run of episodes. The show also ended on a seeming down note. After all the crazy developments in “The Ricklantis Mixup,” many were convinced we’d get another Evil Morty episode or something equally grand. Instead we got another “Pickle Rick”-style beat-em-up while Beth struggles with whether or not she’s a clone, pushing her to get back together with Jerry.
Get back together with Jerry? What the hell is Beth thinking! Fans reacted just as violently to that move as Rick did. And because we focused so much on that decision alone and the joke that things will return to how they were in season 1, many of us missed the important growth that went on with the entire Smith family and maybe even Rick himself.
Season 3 kicked off with Rick returning from Galactic Federation and kicking Jerry to the curb, taking over the family. He has finally won what he wants, but a world with Rick in charge is not a healthy place. It’s dark. Season 3 dark. By the end of this latest run of episodes, everyone’s dysfunction has turned up to 11 and the family is barely hanging together until Beth steps up to take control and fix things.
And while Beth may never know for sure whether she’s a clone or not, the question centers her and lets her “luxuriate in a life she knows she’s chosen.” She’s no longer the Beth that’s pissed off over being trapped by pregnancy and marriage. This Beth knows she’s smart and knows she could be a dimension-hopping nihilist just like her father, but instead she (or at the very least this clone version of her) has decided to stick with her family.
As for Rick, he takes a serious hit to his power, but it may be for the better. His obsession with “winning” kept him so preoccupied battling the president of the United States that he almost lost his family. Beth doesn’t need him, Morty doesn’t want to go on his adventures anymore. Everyone is sick of his shit, and he’s one step away from just noping out of this dimension and finding another version of his family.
“Nothing you think matters matters,” he says at the end of the finale. “This isn’t special, this is happening infinite times across infinite realities. There’s infinite timelines, why would I stay in the one where I trashed the White House, became an enemy of America, and the lowest status character in my idiot family?”
But he does stay, taking the time and effort to fix things with the United States so he can remain in this dimension with this version of his family. Was it for the fart? Or was it because for all his claims that nothing is special and no one matters, he’s still become attached to this family. Subjectively, the fart was funny. And subjectively, the things this Rick experienced with this family in this dimension just matter more.
Rick stuck around at the end and accepted that his family has grown to a place where he can no longer railroad them into doing whatever he wants. That’s some pretty serious character growth, and it sets up a fourth season where everything may be similar to season 1 on the surface, but everyone is in a better, less dark place.