The following recap contains spoilers for Rick and Morty S7E3 “Air Force Wong.”
Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Rick and Morty S7E3 “Air Force Wong” opens with Rick in therapy with Dr. Wong. Considering the lengths to which Rick has gone in the past to avoid therapy, it’s good to see that he’s still attending his sessions, even if he’s not fully invested. Hey, progress is progress!
Rick’s phone rings, and it’s the President, demanding Rick’s help. Rick declines the call, and the President immediately shows up outside Dr. Wong’s office to compel Rick’s help. The therapist and the President immediately hit it off, to Rick’s deep irritation.
On the Chinook, in under a minute we get a great stream of dialogue in which the President describes the current predicament (which we don’t actually see play out) involving the Loch Ness Monster getting titanium bones, being bitten by werewolves, but then having its bones turned to silver by a Soviet leprechaun resulting in “the were-version of AIDS.” In response to all of that, Rick reiterates that the President cannot date Dr. Wong and gets into a brief verbal altercation with the President’s Scientologist Secret Service agent.
Post-opening title sequence, Rick is summoned again to assist the President with a new predicament: Virginia has declared itself exclusively for lovers. To boot, it has no crime, no poverty, and its governor has a 100% approval rating—all things that point to a cult according to the President: “There’s no such thing as 100% of anything!” I love how much of an idiot the show makes the President out to be, and Keith David’s performance is just perfect. The President introduces his team to infiltrate Virginia, missing only a psychologist expert, which Rick immediately detects is the President’s roundabout way to ask permission to see Dr. Wong, and he leaves in a huff.
As the President, Dr. Wong and the rest of his team, minus Rick, tour utopian Virginia, a number of the citizens grab them and vomit into their mouths, turning them into green-eyed citizens. The Scientologist agent deduces they’re all part of a hivemind, leading the President to praise his religion for finally being useful. Rick suddenly shows up, and it’s revealed that Virginia has been taken over by Unity, the hivemind entity Rick dated way back in S2E3. Having heard that Rick is back to hunting Rick Prime, Unity is worried about Rick and has taken Virginia to get his attention. Rick, for his part, is still bitter over Unity breaking his heart.
The President, Rick and Dr. Wong escape from Virginia, and the President seals the state in a dome which appears to cut Unity’s bond with its citizens to leave them in a frozen state. One of my favorite exchanges in the episode comes here, when Dr. Wong asks the President if he has a dome the size of every state. He chuckles and responds, “You’ll need a second date for that answer.”
In the War Room, Rick makes is clear how upset it makes him that the President and Dr. Wong have the potential to be romantically involved. His surprising defensiveness and imminent fight with the President is interrupted by Unity, who calls in to tell Rick that while the events of the past hours make it clear they can’t even be friends, the millions of minds left in limbo underneath the dome in Virginia need to be released, otherwise another mind could connect to them to create a new hivemind. Rick assures Unity that the spray he’s developed will restore them just fine, breaks ties with Dr. Wong, and departs, and Dr. Wong breaks up with a distraught President.
Back at home, Summer quickly deduces that the news involves Rick’s ex, but the alcoholic scientist is so defensive that things devolve into a screaming match, and after Summer storms out, Rick quietly apologizes to his granddaughter in a surprising move. It’s clear that Unity is still a raw nerve for Rick, and it won’t heal any time soon.
Speaking of raw, the President is still hurting from Dr. Wong’s rejection, and instead of releasing the spray, thinks of that 100% approval rating and decides to assimilate Virginia himself. The President muttering “Mother forgive me…I need it” before gulping down a Virginian’s vomit to assimilate has to be one of the grossest moments in the episode. With the dome dispelled, the President and his new hivemind spread across the country to assimilate more people to sing his praises and validate him.
Rick rehires Dr. Wong and goes to visit Unity to assimilate Earth before the President can do it first. Dr. Wong once again drops a withering and completely accurate analysis of Rick: he got dumped by Unity and decided to act like a child and dig his heels in to ignore any phone calls, and Unity’s only recourse to prove they were worried about him was to assimilate Virginia to get his attention, essentially making this whole mess his fault. Even so, Unity agrees to take Virginia back from the President (in another hilariously gross vomit-fueled sequence) and then release everyone from assimilation, causing the hivemind being great pain.
The ordeal causes Rick to warm back up on Unity a little bit, stating how nice it was to work together again. But Unity’s credit, they push back, stating a distrust of Rick. Rick returns home and decides to play the messages Unity left for him over a pack of beer, learning that had he just been an adult and listened to the messages, it could have prevented everything that happened this week.
I wasn’t quite as hot on “Air Force Wong” as the previous two, mainly because the Unity storyline doesn’t feel like one that needed revisiting, but I did really enjoy the interactions between Dr. Wong and the President. I also appreciate that there is still forward progress for Rick as a character, and the show is unafraid to help him move on from being the irredeemable alcoholic lunatic, even if, as Dr. Wong said, is very slow progress (and I have no problem with that). One thing I’m hoping to see more of in the coming season is Morty actually spending significant time with Rick. Morty’s been kind of relegated to being a background character for these first few episodes, and some of the show’s best content is how the two interact. I’m confident that we’ll be seeing more of them together in the coming weeks, but either way, I’m still really enjoying the season overall.