Why Beth Chose Jerry – Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 10 Breakdown
In the season three finale Beth renounces her dependence on Rick and falls back into the arms of the still mediocre Jerry. What inspires her to do this? And how does this inform our thoughts on Beth as a clone? We squanch it out in this Wisecrack QuickTake on The Rickchurian Mortydate.
Directed by: Robert Tiemstra
Written by: Alec Opperman
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Produced by: Emily Dunbar & Jacob Salamon
Why Beth Chose Jerry – Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 10 Breakdown
Hey Wisecrack, not-a-pickle Jared here, and today we’re breaking down the season finale of Rick and Morty Season 3. In this season especially, Rick and Morty continues to flaunt the meaninglessness of our existence. Every time the show’s teased us with a authentic moment of love, or emotion, it’s ripped it right out from under us. This leaves an interesting challenge for creating a tv show: how do you have characters grow when there is no meaning? Well, the show gives an novel solution, that’s a little better than just spiraling deeper into nihilism. And that growth isn’t from the titular protagonist, but the Matriarch of the Smith family. Welcome to this Wisecrack Quicktake on The Rickchurian Mortydate. And, of course, spoilers ahead.
Ok, so first a quick recap: Rick and Morty are called in to help the president with some X-Files shenanigans, but soon bore of helping out the leader of the free world. Rick and the president begin an ever-escalating dick-waving contest, the two unleash their vast arsenals against each other, before Rick has a more pressing matter to attend to: Jerry. The more interesting subplot, however, is Beth’s. Fresh off the events of Episode 9, Beth begins to question whether or not she had taken Rick’s offer to be replaced by a clone, and if she, in fact, is the clone. To settle the matter, she seeks the help of Jerry who recreates one of their first dates and rekindles their love. But still worried she’s gone Blade Runner, Beth runs off to the woods with the family, where Rick shows up to kill Jerry and convince her that she’s not a clone. In our last quicktake, we talked about Rick informing Beth of what her intelligence actually means. “Am I evil?” Rick: “Worse. You’re smart. When you know nothing matters the universe is yours and I’ve never met a universe that was into it.” Rick’s answer to all of this, as we know know, is “Don’t think about it.” Faced with this, Beth is given radical freedom to choose her destiny. And this freedom brings her solace about her choice to stay with, or leave, her family – regardless of which choice she makes.
But this episode SEEMS to suggest that she chose to stay, and has a newfound sense of happiness. She’s being a better mother to Summer, sort of, finally loves Jerry, and has brought her family back together. But for some, it may seem kind of…weird that she just suddenly rekindles her love with the helpless parasite that is Jerry. We could apply some of the philosophical themes we’ve identified in earlier quick takes here: Sartre’s bad faith and radical freedom, alienation vs agency. But I’m going to propose something a little new to explain why Beth reconnects with Jerry and her overall paradigm shift. Amor Fati – the cure for common nihilism. Now, what really made me think of this is this moment: “My memory is of hating that night but now reliving it all I can feel is how lucky I am to be loved by such a simple, honest, simple man”…”this isn’t the woman you married Jerry.”
Beth, worried she’s a clone, must now confront and question her past. Not only is she still thinking about Rick’s original proposition – the ability to flee from her past – but as a possible clone, are those memories even her own, and what does that mean for her future, or her happiness? Amor Fati is a latin phrase Freddy Nietzschmeister used that means “Love of Fate.” Amor Fati is about the affirmation of life, being what Nietzsche called a “Yes-Sayer,” not to be confused with the pervasive corporate “Yes-Man”, and it’s tied to a thought experiment many refer to as “Eternal Recurrence.” To simplify, imagine a demon shows up and says he’s going to groundhog day your whole life. Do you get thrown into an existential despair because you have to infinitely relive questionable life events like the popularity of Smash Mouth and frosting your tips in middle school, or do you, to paraphrase Nietzsche, high-five that demon and say you’ve never heard anything more divine.
To want to relive everything that’s happened in your life for eternity – the good, the bad, and everything in between, is the ultimate affirmation of life, it’s amor fati. And it’s part of Nietzsche’s grand plan to escape the crushing nihilism of existence. Given Beth’s existential crisis and proclivity for Rick-like disillusionment-causing intelligence , Beth has to confront her past. And, with Jerry, she gets to re-live a small part of it.. And while she may have hated her life the first time around, including, her date with Jerry, this time around she’ll be that Nietzschean Yes-Sayer. But I don’t think Beth is rewriting the past, either. She doesn’t deny the years of misery she has endured. Amor Fati isn’t about some kind of “everything is a blessing in disguise,” but it’s more about not to shun the ugly aspects of our lives. As she tells Jerry, she’s no longer the woman he married, And sure, Jerry may be an idiot, but maybe “simplicity” is what a person with a family history of using intelligence to justify sickness needs. We see another amor fati-esque moment when Beth thinks Rick has come to retire her: “I guess I was her which makes me related to her but I don’t relate to her. She left her family and me, which means I relate to them.”
Brushing aside the Blade Runner-yness of it all, Beth is also functionally saying: Yes, a version of Beth may have chosen to leave, but I embrace being left with my family rather than dwell on what could have been. And, if you’ll let me extrapolate a bit, while there might be infinite universes where Rick and Beth have made infinitely different choices, she wants to stay in this one. As Nietzsche says “My formula for greatness is amor fati, that one wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past, not for all eternity. While Nietzsche didn’t necessarily philosophize about infinite realities, he did write about the impossible task of “knowing oneself.” Beth doesn’t know who she is, but desperately wants to. For Nietzsche, the logic of why we actually do anything is impenetrable. And, if we want to apply this Nietzschean framing to Rick, we the fans almost never know what actually drives him. So while Beth can fret about whether or not she chose to be cloned, or whether or not any of it matters in the infinite versions of herself, Nietzsche would say it really doesn’t matter – all we can do is love our fate. And that seems to be the choice Beth has made.
And to me, this is really interesting, because while the show has often portrayed Rick as a kind of Nietzschean ubermensch at war with the meaningless cosmos, But Rick, in a quite un-Ubermenschy way, doesn’t really create his own new meaning as much as he just kind of dicks around in the most self destructive way possible. Beth, on the other hand, when faced with the meaninglessness of the cosmos, finds happiness. And that’s pretty ubermenschy, if you ask me. Now, if you’re like me and don’t know what to do with yourself now that you have to wait a really long time for season 4, consider checking out some of our Wisecrack podcasts. There’s the Squanch, where we broke down every episode of season 3. Over the break, we’ll be breaking down older episodes, engaging a lot more with your questions, and trying desperately to interview anyone who works on the show.