The Rick and Morty Season 4 finale immediately grapples with the biggest lingering question from the Season 3 finale: Did Beth decide to go out into the multiverse to experience her own adventures and leave a clone behind? But it also follows through on many of the show's most prevalent lingering plotlines in a way that'll satisfy even the most diehard fans, all the while making Rick Sanchez' very worst fears come true: He's no longer the most important person in the universe.
Rick and Morty has been parodying and celebrating Star Wars throughout the back-half of Season 4, and it should come as no surprise that "Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri" doubles down on that for the heartbreaking and incredibly fun finale.
When the episode opens, we see a rowdy battle where a very cool-looking cyborg version of Beth Smith threatens a Gromflomite, the bug-like alien species we associate with the Galactic Federation. When she's getting some repairs done afterward, she learns that there's some kind of chip planted in her neck, presumably because she's a clone and this will cause her to blow up if she were to ever return to Earth.
That's exactly what she does, and when the new Galactic Federation go to Earth looking for the universe's most wanted criminal, it's this version of Beth and not Rick, the once-dangerous scientist who has since been labeled a non-threat. This humbling moment kind of devastates him.
While Rick's been laying low and avoiding any serious conflict, this version of his daughter has been fighting his battles, leading a slave rebellion called "The Defiance" against the Gromflomites' new and improved Galactic Federation, who acquire a superweapon called the NX-5 Planet Remover that can blow up planets but cannot destroy Wrangler jeans (it's an incredible ongoing joke that is deeply meta and also totally shameless product placement).
Rick comments that this Beth's whole storyline is a little too Star Wars. That's even more so when Tammy appears alonside a Darth Vader-esque Phoenixperson for some epic battles against the Smith family. Even the delightful Dr. Wong makes a triumphant return to the show for a couple scenes, making this the most serialized episode ever that relegates Summer and Morty to a fun and simple B-plot where they bicker over an invisibility belt before uniting to help combat the common threat.
What ensues is a tight series of sci-fi battles against the new Galactic Federation, Tammy, and Phoenixperson. Rick using all of his bionic gadgets against Phoenixperson, a veritable threat that outclasses any Terminator ever, is even more of a delight than Rick versus the President from the Season 3 finale. Seeing his former friend manipulated and mechanized in this way breaks Rick's heart. He might treat his family poorly, but we've always seen Rick be a good friend to Birdperson, at least.
And that's to say nothing with Rick's confusing emotional reactions to the appearance of this other Beth. Which one is really the clone? The short answer is that we'll never know, because Rick doesn't even know. Just to be safe, he used Mind Blower technology to erase the memory, and when we watch it, we see that he removed the labels so there's no way to know. (We also get a little snapshot of Beth's mother holding her as a child, which is a great little Easter egg.)
It's a moment of deep vulnerability for Rick, for him to admit to the audience at least how sentimental he is deep down. He wanted it both ways: To have a Beth that would stay close to give him validation and attention and another one who went out into the universe to become a badass that makes him proud. Except by trying to have it both ways in such a toxic, manipulative way, he alienated not only both versions of his daughter, but the rest of the family as well.
Rick is no longer the most wanted man in the universe, a massive blow to his ego. He's also grappling with the heartbreaking, tortured nature of Phoenixperson, his best friend he thought was dead. And his family likes him less than ever before. Truly, this was basically the worst day of Rick's life as all of his worst fears came to fruition. The episode ends with him vocalizing the realization that he's a terrible father, which means it's probably about time that Rick start working down a long-term arc towards moral redemption. But that's a story for Season 5 (hopefully).
Another important note: Morty wears Wrangler jeans. That's canon.
Rick and Morty Season 5 has no confirmed release date.