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Why Rick And Morty's Beth Swap Makes No Sense

The endlessly creative though often confusing science-fiction comedy Rick and Morty plays fast and loose with the rules of its own reality. The show introduces high-concept stakes from episode to episode and then dares the audience to keep up while Rick (Justin Roiland) and Morty (also Justin Roiland) try to find a way out of them.

In an early season 1 episode, one of Rick's many enemies, Prince Nebulon (David Cross), tries to trick Rick into giving up his recipe for dark matter by trapping him inside of a simulation that ends up contained in another simulation. In the opener for the second season, Rick finds himself facing off against himself when the timeline splits over and over again along with the frame of the show itself, eventually displaying dozens of slightly different scenes of Rick's garage at the same time. In season 3, Rick must fight through a secure facility of unspecified villains as a pickle in a powered exoskeleton to reach the serum that can return him to his standard form.

While many of the rules Rick and Morty invents for itself can be discarded as soon as an episode ends, some story arcs play out over extended periods, even if they can be challenging for viewers to wrap their minds around. In the fourth season, the show revisits one of the darker and more complex setups featured on Rick and Morty, the Beth swap, when it introduces Space Beth (Sarah Chalke). Here is why Rick and Morty's Beth swap makes no sense.

The Beth swap is confusing from the moment it is introduced

The Beth swap was introduced as a possibility in the season 3 episode, "The ABCs of Beth," when Rick tells Beth that if she wants, he could create a perfect clone of her to live with her family while she explored the galaxy. Beth chooses not to accept this offer, but the mere possibility of the action leads to consequences down the line.

In the very next episode, "The Rickchurian Mortydate," Beth begins to question her identity. If Rick could create a clone, she reasons, and the clone's purpose was to stay with the family, then she must be the clone, and thus at risk of being eliminated by Rick if the possible real Beth ever comes back. Rick assures her that this is not the case, that there is no clone, and that even if she were the clone, Rick's technology would destroy the clone if it ever became aware of the fact that it was not the original Beth, as it would have compromised its purpose for existing.

Beth and the family are thrilled at the news and convince Rick to rejoin the family for a reasonably happy ending to season 3.

There is a very real chance that neither Beth is the real Beth on Rick and Morty

However, vital parts of Rick's explanation are proven to be untrue in "Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri." In that episode, viewers meet Space Beth, who looks, sounds, and acts like normal Beth but has been involved in some pretty wild adventures. Space Beth returns to Earth to confront Rick upon discovering a bomb implanted in her neck, leading her to believe that she is the clone. However, when she finds Rick, he explains that there is a bomb in Earth Beth's neck as well.

Rick explains that he created the clone to give Beth the option of leaving but became nervous about the idea of losing his real daughter. He shuffled the two bodies and then erased his memory to keep himself from knowing which Beth was which. As far as viewers are concerned, the show has offered no definitive way to determine which Beth is the original, although fans on Reddit and YouTube have tried.

The entire question is ultimately moot, however, as the Beth who was truly Rick's daughter was left behind as one of the only humans not turned into a Cronenberg monster in "Rick Potion No. 9." In that episode, an experiment gone awry forced Rick and Morty to travel to a dimension in which they had died and assume their own place in a new family. As such, Rick's true daughter is presumably still trapped with Summer and Jerry in a world of terrifying monsters.

All that being the case, during a recent Rick and Morty panel, Dan Harmon confirmed that Space Beth was not a "one-off" character and would be returning in season 5. If that is the case, fans may find an answer to the riddle of who is the real Beth when the show returns in the summer of 2021.