There Are Spoilers Through This Portal
“Holy shit I’m a terrible father.”
We already knew that about Rick Sanchez. But Rick and Morty‘s season four finale did teach us he is also a cowardly one. His daughter asked him to decide if he wanted her in his life. Instead of taking on that responsibility, Rick punted. He absolved himself of making a choice and tried to guarantee he wouldn’t face any consequences for refusing to do so. Yet by taking the coward’s way out he also revealed how much he loves and respects Beth.
In season three’s “The ABC’s of Beth” Rick gave his daughter the option to leave her life and kids behind so she could travel the galaxy. Meanwhile, a perfect clone would stay behind with her family while she was having space adventures. We didn’t know for sure what Beth had decided until now. It turns out she didn’t. She had asked her father to make the choice for her.
“I know what I want to do. I want you to decide. For once in my life I want you to decide, dad,” she said. “Do you want me to stay here and be part of your life, or do you want me to leave?”
Beth didn’t frame the decision as being about what was best for her. She framed it in terms of their relationship. Did Rick want her to be a part of her life or not? For years he didn’t. Rick abandoned Beth as a child, only returning when she had a life of her own.
But his cowardly reluctance to make that choice didn’t come from a place of indifference. This wasn’t a case of Rick being an uncaring asshole. It came from a place of love. He couldn’t deny Beth the same freedom to abandon her kids and explore the universe that he had. However, he couldn’t bear to be away from her anymore either. He’d be holding her back from reaching her potential if he told her to stay. And yet if he told her to go, she wouldn’t be a part of his life. Instead he’d have a clone who he would know was not really his daughter.
By letting her do both, and more importantly by not knowing which was which, he didn’t have to live with either choice. Ignorance would be bliss, at least for him. That was selfish, but that’s who Rick has always been. He’s an awful dad and a selfish person. But in a twisted way this non-choice shows how much he loves his daughter.
Beth was desperate for her father’s love and approval for four seasons on Rick and Morty. That unquestioned commitment to an absentee father who doesn’t deserve such fidelity nearly destroyed her own marriage. It has also threatened the safety of her children and planet. Now both Beths hate him. The irony is that they only hate Rick because he did something that proves he loves his daughter.
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