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Gruesome Rick and Morty Season 4 Easter egg hints at 1 character's return

Did you catch this clue from the Season 4 premiere?

In the overwhelming Rick and Morty Season 4 premiere, "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat," we see a myriad of potential deaths for both Morty and Rick. But one such vision may have been a huge hint at what's to come in the back-half of Season 4 while also referencing one of the series' most devastating earlier episodes. Could one beloved character long thought dead make their tragic return as a villain?

The main conceit in "Edge of Tomorty" involves "Death Crystals" that form naturally on Forbodulon Prime, minerals that when touched, allow the user to see possible deaths stemming from that moment. Morty becomes obsessed with one potential death where he dies in the arms of his longtime crush, and that obsession leads him on a destructive path towards becoming an Akira-level threat to the planet. Rick and Morty uses this premise to showcase a ton of different visual jokes, like one where Morty dies after getting his head stuck in some closet doors, or another where he's sucked into a toilet and ejected out into the vacuum of space covered in his own excrement.

Several of the possible futures involve other characters, references, or callbacks to the series at large, but none feels more important than one death where a hulked-out Squanchy rips Rick in half.

Is this a grim prelude of things to come in the back-half of Season 4 or just a throwaway joke? Does this mean that Squanchy lived, or could this be another member of his species?

Is that THE Squanchy, or just a volatile member of his species?Adult Swim

The last time we saw Squanchy was in the Season 2 finale, "The Wedding Squanchers," when Tammy and the Galactic Federation tried to murder Rick, Birdperson, and Squanchy in a surprise attack. The tiny orange cat creature swallowed some kind of liquid hidden in a tooth and hulked out into a beast form to combat the various soldiers, and we're left to assume that he died fighting. Rick seems to think both his friends are dead when he surrenders at the end of the episode, and we were led for years to assume the same.

The Season 3 premiere's post-credits scene, however, revealed that Tammy had scientists transform a near-dead Birdperson into a Terminator-like Phoenixperson. We all assumed this might have lasting implications for the rest of Season 3 ... but it didn't. To this day, we haven't seen anything more from these characters.

Like many of Rick and Morty's more dramatic plotlines, this thread was left dangling.

It feels possible that this flash-forward to Rick's potential death is yet another similarly dramatic moment that might never play out, but it's definitely reminiscent of Phoenixperson's transformation in one way: The Squanchy in the Rick death sequence is wearing some kind of metal collar. If this is the real Squanchy, then maybe this collar is how the remnants of the Galactic Federation are controlling him, causing the feline to turn against his former friend.

We've never met any other members of Squanchy's species, but it is definitely possible that this is simply someone else entirely. The markings on most of the cat's body are identical to Squanchy's with orange on the arms and sides with tan on the chest, shoulders, and most of the face. From what I know about cats (and that's a lot), it would be pretty rare for two different cats to look this similar.

The original Squanchy, however, has a much darker orange chin beard that makes this other cat seem different from the one in Rick's death vision.

Squanchy has a dark orange chin beard, but Rick's murderer does not.Adult Swim

While we all wait for any news about Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 6, hints from earlier in the season like this one might be our only clues as to what could happen next in the series. But knowing Rick and Morty, it's equally as possible that these self-referential Easter eggs might not mean anything in particular. I guess we'll just have to wait and see when the rest of Season 4 finally airs.

Rick and Morty Season 4 will resume sometime in 2020.