Warning: Contains SPOILERS for the Rick and Morty season 5 finale.
The Rick and Morty season 5 finale finally explains Rick’s full origins and backstory, confirming some fan theories and revealing new details about his past. For years, fans have called for a more complete explanation of what happened to Rick’s wife, why he abandoned Beth, and why he eventually came back home. Rick and Morty season 5 has dropped big hints about the arc throughout, but the last episode, “Rickmurai Jack”, finally puts all the remaining pieces in place.
Prior to Rick and Morty season 5, only bits and pieces of Rick C-137’s past were known. He fought for some time in the resistance movement against the Galactic Federation, alongside Birdperson and Squanchy. He abandoned his wife and daughter when he was younger and only returned years later. He has various allies and enemies across the cosmos and in many different dimensions, and he is viewed by other Ricks as a renegade, sometimes called the “Rickest Rick.” A scene of Rick’s wife, Diane, and a young Beth being murdered by another Rick is shown in the first episode of season 3, but Rick C-137 later claims that memory was entirely fabricated, leaving his actual origins shrouded in mystery.
Then as Rick and Morty season 5 began to air, more details were revealed. Rick’s trying to save Birdperson’s brain revealed that his wife really did die tragically, as did his young daughter, meaning that the Smith family Rick stays with at the beginning of season 1 wasn’t actually his original family. Rick’s time in the resistance was also elaborated on, revealing that he abandoned the cause after becoming disillusioned with the frivolity of a conflict he never fully believed in. Now, in the season 5 finale, lots more has been unveiled about Rick’s past. After Evil Morty creates a full scan of his brain, Rick C-137 gives Morty the device, allowing him and the audience to view a montage of Rick’s whole life up until the start of the show.
What Happened To Rick’s Wife, Diane?
According to the memories produced by Evil Morty’s brain scan, the season 3 scene of Diane being murdered was actually true. While still a young scientist working on teleportation technology, Rick C-137 is approached by another more callous Rick and is encouraged to develop his own trans-dimensional portal gun and join the other Ricks in traveling the universe. He declines, however, presumably for the same reason shown in season 3 – he’s content in his family life. In retaliation, the other Rick bombs C-137’s house and kills Diane and Beth, sending the main Rick down a dark spiral that leads to him developing his own portal gun to hunt down the killer.
Why exactly the evil Rick kills Rick C-137’s Beth and Diane isn’t entirely clear. In the season 3 memory, he simply seems offended that Rick doesn’t want to leave his family to travel the multiverse. It isn’t explained why the killer Rick originally introduced himself to C-137 in the first place or why he was so intent on making the main Rick create his own portal gun. Because the season 5 memory doesn’t have any dialogue, it’s also possible the season 3 scene was somewhat altered, and that the actual confrontation between the two Ricks went down a little differently. Hopefully, those questions will be explored in future seasons of Rick and Morty.
Rick’s Hunt For His Wife’s Killer Explained
After his family is murdered, Rick goes on a brutal vengeance quest to find the Rick responsible. He creates his own portal gun, devises a way to create a genetic ID of some sort for the killer, and starts hunting down Ricks he thinks might have performed the killings. The montage shows him killing dozens, possibly hundreds, or even thousands of other Ricks, but none of them end up matching the Rick who murdered Beth and Diane. Eventually, Rick C-137’s rampage through the other Ricks of the multiverse draws their united ire. The other Ricks join forces and start sending teams after C-137 to kill him, but he continues to evade them and kills countless more in the process.
The Rick and Morty season 5 finale shows a clear decline in Rick C-137 over the course of his vengeance quest. He starts off passionate and determined to find the man who killed his family, but after repeated failures and red herrings, he starts to lose faith. He starts drinking, walks out on the few friends he’s made during his adventures (Birdperson, Squanchy, and the rest of the resistance), and generally lets himself go. He keeps killing Ricks, but he doesn’t seem to have any real hope of finding the real killer in the end. All the violence and infinity of the cosmos defeat him in the end, draining the drive that originally sent him on his mission and falling into a cycle of violent nihilism.
How Rick Created The Citadel And The Central Finite Curve
When they repeatedly fail to kill him, the other Ricks of the universe seem to offer C-137 a sort of peace treaty in Rick and Morty. The montage shows the members of the council of Ricks pitching him plans for the Citadel, which he apparently ends up helping them build. It’s at this point, though, that things start to become less clear. The Rick and Morty season 5 finale doesn’t reveal the extent to which Rick was involved in the creation of the Citadel or the modern Council. For all its talk about the Central Finite Curve – the subset of dimensions in which Rick is the smartest person in the universe – it doesn’t explain how that system was established or by whom. Because Evil Morty has to scan Rick C-137’s brain to understand how to break the Central Finite Curve, it’s implied that he’s the one who came up with the idea. But why? Did he devise it to narrow down the places where his wife and Beth’s killer could be hiding? Or was he persuaded into creating it by the Council of Ricks? All that’s clear is that Rick C-137 was instrumental in creating both the Citadel and the Central Finite Curve, but he never really cared about either. In time, he abandons the Citadel, and the Council as well.
Why Rick Returned To Beth And Morty
After years of failed vengeance, empty creations, and an even further descent into drinking and self-loathing, Rick finally hit rock bottom. He traveled to a universe where Beth and Diane survived and in which their Rick had abandoned them, crashed his ship into the garage, and started living with the family. That’s the universe where Morty is from — the universe that was destroyed by the Cronenberg disaster in season 1 and subsequently abandoned. Maybe the Rick of that universe was killed by Rick C-137. Or maybe he just picked a random dimension to crash in.
The most powerful revelation about Rick in the Rick and Morty season 5 finale is how returning to Beth and finding Morty ultimately saved him. The show’s early seasons are littered with hints that Rick frequently considers killing himself, and he even tries to once or twice. But he eventually finds enough motivation to keep going through his relationship with the family he himself was robbed of. He often seems callous, because he’s seen so many Ricks, and Beths, and everything else, and because no other version of his family will ever be the same as his. But maybe, after all they go through together in the Rick and Morty season 5 finale, the two characters can help each other develop a slightly more positive and less abusive relationship as the show moves forward.
How Rick’s Backstory Sets Up Season 6
The final episode of Rick and Morty season 5 dropped a bombshell on people with the revelation of Rick’s backstory, and it will have a huge effect on season 6. While some have theorized that Rick’s backstory might not be visited again in the context of the show, the advent of the story not only explains the majority of Rick’s outlandish behavior but also sheds light on his growth as a character. The key question is whether or not Rick C-137 will continue hunting down his wife’s killer or if he’s given up for good. As evidenced by Rick and Morty season 4, episode 2, “The Old Man and the Seat,” Rick doesn’t take kindly to being slighted or bamboozled in any shape or form, even if it’s someone else using his sacred toilet. Rick has proven himself to be a worthy hunter when it comes to finding his target, and he doesn’t easily back down.
It’s in Rick’s fruitless hunt for his wife and Beth’s killer that he turns to drink and loses all motivation. However, with his memory now jogged, perhaps he will find the motivation he so desperately needs to keep the hunt going. Rick and Morty season 6 could see a reinvigorated Rick, fresh for seeking revenge, which the backstory revealed was his primary motivation all along. All of that said, the biggest change will be seen in Rick and Morty’s relationship. In the final episode of season 5, Rick shows tremendous growth in choosing to save Morty. It appears that some of Morty’s optimism has rubbed off on his grandfather, and it’s possible that the two might see a revolution in their relationship. Either way, Rick C-137’s backstory is sure to affect Rick and Morty season 6.
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