'Rick and Morty' Season 3 Finale: The Show Goes Fully Meta, Hits Reset Button
The "Rick and Morty" season 3 finale offers a series of escalating conflicts between Rick and everyone else, leading viewers to expect global-scale disaster. But after sowing chaos, the season 3 finale wraps things with a not-so-neatly tied bow. Also, Mr. Poopybutthole shows up. Spoilers for "Rick and Morty" season 3 episode 10 ahead.
The episode "The Rickchurian Mortydate" begins with Rick and Morty ditching an assignment given by the President of the United States. The President calls them to remind them who's boss, but Rick is defiant and won't budge. Morty tells the President not to worry, coz they'll keep saving the world. Rick adds that it's not for the sake of America, but because having to move to another Earth would be too great of a hassle.
Rick's reason for why they keep saving the world will later help explain the episode's ending. For Rick's conflict with the President keeps escalating within the episode until the President's staff is getting slaughtered and all of America's secret weapons are being used to attack Rick.
While that conflict is blowing up, Beth is having a crisis over whether she is actually a clone. She goes to Jerry to help her figure out what she is, and she ends up reconciling with her ex.
Of all the things the "Rick and Morty" season 3 finale could have focused on, the Beth-clone mystery comes as something of a surprise. While it was the subject of the previous episode, the continued attention to Beth's personal journey is unprecedented.
Rick does say several times that this Beth is the real Beth, but he's not very convincing, and Beth certainly does seem changed. By the end of the episode, it's clear that the truth about Beth doesn't matter. Rick basically says that nothing that happens on the show matters.
As if to highlight this, the show hits the reset button, reverting to a status quo that's very "Rick and Morty" season 1. Beth says as much in an instance of the show going fully meta. Rick's conflict with the President also gets a reset just so he can stay on this Earth. It feels like the show telling the audience not to expect true long-form serialization in the vein of "Game of Thrones."
As co-creator Dan Harmon has told Entertainment Weekly, the showrunners view "Rick and Morty" as modular and timeless. "Unlike a truly serialized show like Game of Thrones, there's a backbone to the show where it's Rick and Morty going on adventures and it's fun, like Doctor Who," said Harmon.
Oddly, the reset may not apply to Mr. Poopybutthole, who appears after the season 3 finale credits. He's now married and has a baby, new developments that may come into play in season 4, who knows?