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The Ending Of Rick And Morty Season 4 Explained

Contains spoilers for Rick and Morty season 4, episode 10, "Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri"

Rick and Morty season 4 has reached its end, and wubba lubba dub dub, what an ending "Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri" was. 

Our favorite not-quite-evil genius and his increasingly jaded and independent grandson faced one of their biggest challenges yet — in the form of a Star Wars-level galactic battle, and a number of past actions and decisions coming back to haunt Rick Sanchez (voiced by series co-creator Justin Roiland) in particular.

The season 4 finale opens with a cool, space hero version of Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke) and her "Defiance" squad battling the Galactic Federation, which has rebuilt its forces after Rick incapacitated them on the season 3 premiere, "The Rickshank Rickdemption." After stealing the plans of this new Federation's version of a Death Star, a Wrangler Jeans-sponsored "planet remover," Space Beth discovers a bomb inside her, deduces that Rick put it there, and heads back to Earth to get rid of her dad once and for all. Meanwhile, Morty (Roiland) and his sister Summer (Spencer Grammer) feud over an invisibility belt, and their father Jerry (Chris Parnell) messes about with puppetry. 

As you'd expect, all of this comes to a head in a twisting, turning tale — along with some dark TV moments only this show can bring youHere's the ending of Rick and Morty season 4 explained.

Rick and Morty season 4 finale goes galactic

The Rick and Morty season 4 finale goes all out on space-set warfare. It revisits a couple of fun concepts from the season 2 finale, "The Wedding Squanchers (which is arguably the most important episode of the first two seasons) as well as the aforementioned first episode of season 3, "Rickshank Rickdemption." The pair of episodes revolved around Rick turning himself in to the Galactic Federation and subsequently escaping. During their events, Rick's longtime friend Birdperson (series co-creator Dan Harmon) died and was resurrected as a cyborg known as Phoenixperson. Meanwhile, Bird/Phoenixperson's fiancée Tammy (Cassie Steele) turned out to be an agent for the Federation and eventually took over the whole operation after Rick left it in ruins. 

On "Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri," all of this came back to bite Rick and the Smith family in a huge way, when the Tammy-led new Federation turned its gaze to Earth upon learning where Space Beth had gone. This led them to abduct both her and regular Beth (yes, there are two Beths — more on that in a bit). During the ensuing high-stakes rescue mission, Rick also has to face Phoenixperson in combat — only to discover that his old friend is more than a match for him.  

After Tammy's evil has been vanquished — and Jerry's puppetry skills have managed to save the day in a way that frankly needs to be seen to be believed — the galactic parts of the plot are put to rest. However, things aren't any less hectic on a smaller scale.

The Rick and Morty season 4 finale and the Beth dilemma

While it would be easy to write the space-faring version of Beth off as an alternate universe situation like the show has done so many times, Harmon and Roiland take things to the next level by making her a clone of Beth — or the real thing, which would make the Beth we've known lately a clone. This dates back to the season 3 episode "The ABCs of Beth," which explored the oddball daughter-father relationship between Beth and Rick. Ultimately, Rick gave his daughter two options: either live her dream life by becoming a space traveller, in which case Rick would construct a clone Beth to continue her family life, or to go on with her life as normal. 

That episode deliberately left Beth's choice ambiguous, but the season 4 finale of Rick and Morty makes it perfectly clear that a cloning took place. But which Beth is the clone — the space hero, or the one who we've seen during the last ten episodes? 

Refreshingly, we never find out the answer. After the initial problems, the two Beths get along like a house on fire, and both they and the rest of the Smith family refuse to find out the truth. Only Rick, who muddied the waters with his meddling and then purged the knowledge of the events from his memory, ends up reacquiring the information. 

This leaves Rick and Morty in a delicious situation, where there are two equally significant Beths walking around the show's current main universe — and, as usual, Rick knows significantly more than everyone else.

On the Rick and Morty season 4 finale, there are a ton of callbacks to classic episodes

"Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri" is the best kind of season finale. It tells us a fresh, new story that disturbs the status quo and gives us an amazing cliffhanger for future episodes, but it also features numerous nods to the show's past. While the return of clone Beth (whichever one she is), Tammy and her Galactic Federation and Bird– sorry, Phoenixperson are significant highlights, they're far from the only ones.

For instance, Rick's attempt to once again avoid family therapy introduces us to his invisibility belt, and it's also a fun callback to the classic season 3 episode "Pickle Rick," where the mad scientist did the same by turning himself into the titular pickle. Susan Sarandon's therapist character, Dr. Wong, also makes a quick cameo on the season 4 finale that includes the deliciously fourth wall-breaking line, "I'm better than this job." Major alien races such as the Gromflomites and Squanchies also make a comeback — and, of course, the episode is absolutely rife with Star Trek and Star Wars jokes. 

What does it all mean to the future of Rick and Morty?

The season 4 finale of Rick and Morty ends with most immediate threats vanquished, but the Smith family chemistry has been completely upended in the process. The often-at-odds siblings Morty and Summer have fused into a surprisingly effective tag team after their initial squabbling for the invisibility belt. Both Beths are happy to coexist, and Jerry isn't exactly complaining about his new situation. The show makes it extremely clear that every one of them has completed a character arc.

As for Rick, his role as the family's de facto head is at a greater risk than it's ever been before. Apart from his previous clashes with the rest of the family, we now know that on "The ABC's of Beth," Beth never decided to be cloned. Instead, she asked her father to decide if he wanted her to be in his life or not. Rick dodged the difficult decision by simply not making it, resulting in the "Who's the original?" clone roulette we see on "Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri." If Rick got around the question of whether to keep his daughter close or set her free by cloning, how many other times has he made similar decisions? How many clones of the Smith family are there running around — or, for that matter, sitting in their dinner table, after the original wandered away to have hitherto unseen adventures?

Thus, the big question arises: Where does Rick and Morty go from here? Most likely, the answer is the same as always: anywhere it pleases. With season 4 consisting of just the first 10 episodes of the show's massive 70-episode renewal deal, things are probably going to get a whole lot more schwifty in the future.