After a year-long hiatus (and the early leak of the season 2 premiere), Rick and Morty finally returned on April Fool’s Day with its unannounced Season 3 premiere. With the amount of references to episodes past, it’s clear this season will be further building on the universe created in the first two.
We start with Rick and the family enjoying family dinner at Shoney’s. Rick doesn’t want to discuss how he escaped space prison with sci-fi gadgets, instead preferring to enjoy his home away from home. Jerry sarcastically remarks it’s not hard to step up from prison, and Rick orders him to get out of the booth, remove his clothes, and fold himself over 12 times, which Jerry tries but only makes it to 6 folds.
Unimpressed, Rick asks if he’s in a series 9000 and lambastes the federation insect interrogator for using cheap equipment. Soon the bug takes a seat with Rick and has a frank conversation about how he’ll either break or his brain will turn to mush.
In response, Rick makes a butt appear in his coffee, which continues to fart and interrupt as he mocks the cop. In the control room, the Federation officers watch the data on the screen trying to figure out what’s happening.
Meanwhile, Jerry is happy about being a big wig in the Galactic Federation. He got 6 promotions even though he doesn’t know what he does. Summer is mad at the situation, but since he pulls in a 6-chewable figure income. Soon a robot named Conroy comes to feed Morty his pills, and Summer starts arguing with Beth over Rick being gone.
Back in the Shoney’s in Rick’s mind, the bug continues to grill Rick until he offers to take him either to the time he had his first boner or when he discovered interdimensional travel. His flappy doodles start twitching to show arousal, and he explains to Rick he’ll die along with all his memories unless he takes him where he wants to go.
Rick concedes and takes him to the portal gun conception.
Summer is frantically searching Rick’s garage for a way to open the secret door to his lab, rearranging flies on the table to see if it works. Morty talks sense into her and explains that everything is better without Rick because he bails on everyone, including them, their mom, and tiny planet. Morty tells Summer to grab a shovel and unearth the dead Rick from her dimension in ghoulish overkill. Unfortunately for Morty, she agrees and they go dig up his corpse in the backyard.
Rick drives the interrogator to the day it all began and ended. In 1998, McDonald’s had a Mulan promotion and gave out Szechuan sauce with the nuggets. Rick stops at the drive through to order as much as he can get before it’s all gone then heads to his garage to find a younger him working on the portal gun.
Then another Rick shows up from the future and shows him the portal gun just as Summer reaches into Rick’s corpse to pull out his portal gun. Morty tries to talk sense into her, but after grabbing the portal gun, Conroy appears out back and turns into a weaponized drone. To save them, Morty shoots a portal under Conroy, which he falls into, pulling them in with him.
They find themselves in Morty’s original dimension, C137, which is all Cronenberged from S1E6 – Rick Potion #9. Hunger Games Summer saves them, and Morty introduces her to his original family.
Rick and the bug watch as Rick explains Infinite Rick to Rick, but he passes because he’s a different kind of Rick. Beth’s mom Diane enters the garage after hearing sci fi noises, and Rick gives up science to be with her.
Summer is trying to enjoy a meal of Cronenberged meat with her savage family while Morty explains this is the part of Rick’s adventures she never gets to see because it’s left behind. Morty tries to leave, but Jerry (who for once is actually a real man) took the portal gun and cuts it with his machete because it stinks of Rick.
As they’re about to kill the kids, a portal opens and Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks freeze everyone. Morty explains he’s Morty C137, and the Ricks stop. Summer explains he’s in prison, so Rick dispatches Seal Team Ricks to assassinate Rick C137 in prison.
Diane and Beth (as a little girl) are about to join Rick in the car when a bomb drops from a portal and blows everyone up. Rick watches as young Rick discovers the portal gun, the bug snaps a pic and uploads it to mission control. To thank him, the bug tries to remember to shut off the brainalyzer though it may shut off automatically when his brain turns to liquid.
He tries to leave but discovers the portal gun code was actually a virus Rick wanted him to upload. It gave him full control of the brainalyzer, and they’re actually in the Shoney’s still. Rick takes over the bug’s brain, but since there’s not enough room for his genius, he leaves him with his fear of wicker furniture, desire to play trumpet, tentative plans to purchase a hat, and six years of comedy workshops before escaping into his brain.
Now a bug, Rick explains he likely turned himself in to get into the building with their most sensitive data. Anyone with level 9 access could collapse the government then asks for the level 9 passcode so he can use the level 9 bathroom.
Just then, Seal Team Ricks appears and assassinates Rick’s body, forcing bug Rick to shoot his consciousness into Rick D99. He then shoots and kills two of the Ricks before lamenting that he didn’t get a chance to give the insect dick a test drive. Before killing the last Rick, he learns Morty and Summer are being held in the Citadel of Ricks.
He then leaves the prison, while Summer and Morty are brought as prisoners to the Citadel of Ricks. As Morty explains the citadel, Summer questions why, if they hate the government so much, they hate grandpa. Morty replies because Ricks hate themselves the most and his Rick is the most himself.
Rick D99 returns to the citadel alone and asks for the highest ranking officer to switch consciousness with.
Morty and Summer stand before the Council of Ricks to hear their charges (which includes radicalizing a Summer and stealing the portal gun). Morty protests because their lawyer is a Morty only to find out it’s not a fair trial and the Morty is just there for entertainment. They’re offered leniency if they renounce their Rick, but Summer refuses, passing the floor to Morty, who explains he hasn’t either.
Morty was trying to protect Summer and give her a normal life. He explains Rick isn’t a villain, but he shouldn’t be a hero either – he’s a demon or fucked up God. He then tells the council he’s coming for them.
Rick gets into the citadel control room and plays with the dials that can teleport the whole thing. He then teleports it directly on top of the Galactic Federation prison with a smile and goes to take a shit. Ricks and Mortys find themselves being attacked by prisoners and guards alike as a space battle happens outside.
C137 Rick then kills several members of the Council of Ricks and throws Morty a gun. Summer is held hostage by the head Rick, to which Rick explains he has infinite grandkids and he’s trying to use Disney bucks in Caesar’s Palace. Rick explains it’s not even his original Summer and at 20 yards, his 9 gauge plasma pistol would destroy him.
During the standoff, Morty gets mad and points his own gun at Rick. Everyone calls Morty a moron until he finally shoots Rick in the head. It turns out to be a ploy and he gets a headshot off on the head Rick. After showing Summer the note on the gun that says “Fake Gun Shoot Me in Standoff,” we learn Morty had no idea.
As the battle rages on, Rick, Summer, and Morty head to the level 9 control room. He then destroys the Galactic Federation, not by launching nukes or reprogramming the portals, but by changing the value of their currency (the blamflark) from $1 to $0. The President tries to declare martial law, but his cabinet collapses without payment. He then assassinates himself and all hell breaks loose.
Everyone in the federation fights over clothes and control over the galaxy while Jerry crawls home in fear. Giant spaceships (the first one looks exactly like a veiny penis) start launching from earth, signalling the end of the Galactic Federation’s occupation. Mr. Goldenfold emerges from a sewer grate to declare the streets of the surface world the domain of humans.
Jerry tells Beth the government collapsed, and she promises to never let him go, as they have only each other left to lose. Just then, Rick, Morty, and Summer appear from a portal, and Beth runs to embrace her father, begging him to never leave her again. Rick asks for a light beer, but Jerry puts his foot down and gives her an ultimatum.
The entire family is silent and everyone realizes the choice is obvious, except Jerry.
Rick returns to his garage and places the flies in the right order to unlock his secret lab. Beth walks in to explain she and Jerry got divorced and Rick/Beth reconcile as the kids come in. Summer is too busy on her phone to care, while Morty is depressed about his parents’ divorce.
As he tries to leave, Rick grabs him to explain Jerry’s gone because he crossed him. He then explains season 3 is going to get much darker, and he replaced Jerry on purpose and only rescued him as a power grab. He goes on to say the entire 9 season arc is all about the Szechuan McNugget dipping sauce.
After the credits, we see Tammy in a Galactic Federation uniform overseeing the operation to revive Birdperson as Phoenixperson.