Early April 2017 saw a lot of surprises for the beloved sci-fi animated series Rick and Morty, chief among them being the April Fool’s Day debut of Season 3’s first episode. In addition to Rick successfully breaking out of prison to destroy the Citadel of Ricks and dismantle the Galactic Federation, he also revealed his passion for McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan Sauce and acted a catalyst for a much-needed divorce between Jerry and Beth Smith.
Though in some universes, Beth and Jerry wind up happy together (mainly the Cronenberged Universe), the Smith couple in dimension C-137 have had a relationship fraught with mutual frustration and bitter feelings of resentment going in both directions. Jerry consistently under-appreciates Beth and doesn’t understand or respect her career. He’s needy, and especially when Beth is lacking the patience to pander to his whiny ways, he just gets upset and frustrated with her.
When Jerry gives Beth the stereotypical ultimatum of “It’s either him or me,” with regard to Rick, Beth quickly chooses to side with her father and announces a divorce:
But what could otherwise be a sad and traumatic moment for the Smith children might just be a relief to them. Beth and Jerry’s relationship has been troubled since the show’s very beginning. Divorce is difficult for entire families, but in some relationships, it’s the best option.
Here are TK scenes to remember from Rick and Morty that prove that Beth and Jerry’s divorce was much-needed.
Beth’s Mr. Meeseeks request and results
In “Meeseeks and Destroy,” Rick tries to distract Beth, Jerry, and Summer with the Meeseeks Box, an item that summons Mr. Meeseeks to complete whatever request the user might make. Whereas Jerry wants to improve his golf game and Summer wants to become more popular at school, Beth requests, “I want to be a more complete woman!”
What that entails is a therapy session over some wine on an outdoor patio with her shrill, blue companion in which she comes to the conclusion that Jerry sort of ruined her life. The final note, just before her Mr. Meeseeks evaporates in a puff of smoke, is that it might be best for her to leave Jerry. Though it takes her more than a full season to finally get there, that’s exactly what she eventually does. If this realization makes her a more complete woman, what does that say about their relationship?
When Rick says that Jerry’s “marriage is Hanging from a thread.”
In the episode in which Rick and Morty destroy their home universe (“Rick Potion #9”), the beginning shows Morty pining over his long-time crush Jessica to his dad. As Jerry tries to offer some fatherly wisdom, Rick barges in and berates Jerry for “knocking [his daughter] up.” He also says, “I think a blind man can see that Beth is looking for the door.”
It’s this scene that also offers up one of Rick’s greatest quotes: “What people call ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed. It hits hard, Morty. Then it slowly fades, leaving you stranded in a failing marriage. I did it. Your parents are going to do it. Break the cycle. Rise above. Focus on science.”
Viewers learn that Summer wasn’t an intended pregnancy for Beth and Jerry, but they stuck together and got married for her.
When Beth calls loving Jerry hard “work”
Before the apocalypse hits dimension C-137, resulting in a Cronenberg World in which Beth and Jerry survive as feral people in the apocalypse (they were briefly featured in the Season 3 premiere), Jerry confronts Beth about whether or not she actually still loves him.
Rather than take this request seriously, she belittles and berates him. She says that relationships are “work” which is certainly true in most cases, but it’s the way she compares loving him to the difficult task of building a homeless shelter that can make viewers cringe.
When alternate realities make Beth and Jerry fight over what they’re missing
When “Rixty Minutes” introduced the world to interdimensional cable, it also showed Beth and Jerry what their lives might be like without each other. If Summer exists at all — meaning, if Beth and Jerry get together and Beth doesn’t get an abortion — then life remains pretty boring for everyone. But in realities where Summer was never born, Beth is a successful surgeon and Jerry, a famous actor.
“When two people create a life together,” Beth says to Summer, “they set aside their previous lives as individuals.” This echoes the problematic sentiment Beth learned with Mr. Meeseeks and what she said to Jerry about love being “work.”
The exercise peeking at alternate realities is fun for a short time for everyone, but it also stirs up the simmering, unresolved resentment that Beth and Jerry have for one another.
The confusing existence of Sleepy Gary
In one of the show’s best episodes — “Totall Rickall” — an alien parasite creates fake people and inserts false memories into everyone’s heads making them believe the characters were there all along. As the real Smith family tries to discover who’s who after Rick puts the house on lockdown, the family points fingers at each other and at bizarre new additions like Pencilvester, Photography Raptor, and one peculiar guy named “Sleepy Gary.” Sleepy Gary is hilariously remembered by everyone as Beth’s husband, leaving Jerry to just sort be a creepy addition to the family.
Partially due to the bizarreness of that dynamic, Jerry begins to doubt that he himself is real. Sleepy Gary (remember, he’s very much a parasite) creates a memory in which he and Jerry are secret, supportive lovers in a relationship far happier than Jerry has ever been with Beth. Gary becomes a sort of twisted manifestation of Jerry’s subconscious needs: a delicate, supportive lover that’s willing to go above and beyond in reassuring Jerry and easing his fears.
It’s hard to say whether Beth’s severe approach to dealing with Jerry makes her a bad match for him or if it’s their relationship that conditioned Jerry to be so needy. Perhaps it’s a little of both? But if Jerry needed a fake male lover to make himself feel better, that says just as much about Beth and Jerry’s relationship as it does about Jerry’s needs.
When Blim Blam escapes just to tell Beth and Jerry how terrible they are
Beth and Jerry stumble into Rick’s secret lair at some point and discover a horrific creature chained up: Blim Blam, who eats babies and has Space AIDS. Jerry assumes the worst of Rick and uses the prisoner as an excuse to complain about his selfish, insane father-in-law. Beth gives her father the benefit of the doubt and assumes that Rick might have noble intentions.
As it turns out, they’re both right … and very wrong. In the middle of one of the worst fights between the two that the show has depicted, Blim Blam rips out of the chains holding him to retrieve a voice transcoder just to scream about how terrible their relationship is and how annoying they are as people. He then vows to leave the planet forever.
When Beth is unnervingly okay with Jerry donating his penis to get a prosthetic
When Jerry is accidentally infected with a virulent bacteria that Rick was storing in a pint of ice cream, the family takes Jerry to an alien hospital for treatment.
There, it’s discovered that Jerry’s incredibly small penis is a perfect fit to save what’s essentially the alien equivalent of an intergalactic Gandhi-like figure named Shrimply Pibbles. Jerry’s penis could be used to replace the heart of Shrimply Pibbles, and Jerry could get a free prosthetic that — based on Beth’s facial expressions in reaction to a handy catalogue — would essentially be a high-tech alien sex toy.
What unfolds is a fight in which Jerry struggles to keep his penis while trying to appear noble and willing to sacrifice his genitals; meanwhile, Beth tries to argue in favor of its removal, seemingly as a direct insult to Jerry and for more selfishly practical reasons.
Beth and Jerry’s subconscious visions of each other
At an intergalactic marriage counseling session on Nuptia 4, a machine produces physical manifestations of each partner’s subconscious vision of their spouse. It’s Rick and Morty at its most profoundly fucked-up when Beth’s subconscious vision of Jerry is a spineless, subservient slug that farts nervously and puckers its butt out of submissive fear when threatened.
Jerry’s vision of Beth, on the other hand, is some kind of vicious monster that resembles a xenomorph, you know, those soulless alien monsters that are said to be the perfect killing machines from Alien? As things get progressively crazier and the visions project their visions into reality, a super-Jerry gives birth to a horrifyingly powerful Beth goddess that functions like a literal manifestation of a deus ex machina.
Actually, make that everything that happens at Nuptia 4
Beth and Jerry’s co-dependency is so toxic and destructive that it literally destroys the best marriage counseling center in the universe. Glaxo Slimslom, the head counselor there, yells frantically at the couple when their mutual manifestations work together to destroy the station:
“Your demonized mythologizations of each other are cooperating! You have the single worst marriage I have ever witnessed. It shouldn’t exit. You should never ever ever have gotten together and I do not understand how or why you would ever stay together.”
Their response mutually agreeing that this is “just bad couple’s therapy” represents Beth and Jerry in a nutshell.
Though there’s only so much we know about the rest of Rick and Morty’s Season 3, it looks like Beth and Jerry’s divorce will have a lasting impact on the show.
It’s too bad that that Council of Ricks had to go and freeze the Beth and Jerry happily living in Cronenberg World.