It's 2018 and the television gods have decided to bless the world with a new season of The Venture Bros. The show - which just recently became Adult Swim's longest running original program, surpassing Aqua Teen Hunger Force in the process - is an extended Johnny Quest parody that prides itself on long-con reveals and continuity more knotty and twisted than three different games of thrones. Even with a dense story to keep track of, the Venture universe still finds ways to make failure wacky.
Last week's season premiere "The Venture Bros. and The Curse of The Haunted Problem" and last night's second episode "The Rorqual Affair" are the first two parts of a trilogy that will end next week and it's hit the ground running in a real way. Ventures Rusty, Hank, and Dean and their bodyguard Brock are still adjusting to New York City after moving from their destroyed compound in Colorado and The Monarch/Blue Morpho is still out there after the events of the season six finale led the Guild of Calamitous Intent and the OSI on a desperate mission for his head. Things are as stable as they've been for the Venture family for a while, which means that everything is still chaotic. Let's dive in and see just how chaotic.
The beginning of this episode was the reminder of Jonas Venture Jr.'s death that I didn't need. We begin with a flashback to JJ finding the ProBLEM computer within the remains of the crashed Gargantua-1 space station built by he and Rusty's father Jonas Sr. Two years later, the ProBLEM is sitting in the lobby of VenTech Tower in New York City and is causing all the tech to wig out, ghostly hands to pop out of control panels, and play the theme song from the Burt Reynolds movie Sharky's Machine. Dean, convinced that the building is possessed, immediately calls Dr. Orpehous and the Order of The Triad for a quick seance while Rusty and a newly contracted Billy Quizboy and Pete White are convinced hackers have uploaded a virus to the building's computer's mainframe. Of course, everyone is wrong. After the original Team Venture (Colonel Gentleman, Action Man, Kano) show up, they explain that ProBLEM actually houses the decaying remains of Jonas Sr., which explains the glitches but doesn't explain why this cockroach-sucking machine needs Jonas's semi-dead brain to keep the building running. Pete figures this out too, but not before hitting ProBLEM/Jonas with an ax, causing the whole building to jolt and jump.
Meanwhile, Hank's relationship with Sirena - daughter of Venture's arch Wide Wale - is still blossoming, despite her overprotective bodyguards beating up his boss to get him fired from his pizza delivery job. But Hank is nothing if not confident, donning a disguise and trying to join Wide Wale's syndicate to be close to Sirena. Wale (somehow) doesn't realize this is Hank and accepts on one condition: he must kill the Blue Morpho, who he has tied to a chair.
As far as season premieres go, this one was loaded with more questions than answers. How and why is Jonas' brain powering an entire building? How did The Monarch get captured by Wide Wale? Why does anyone remember the Burt Reynolds movie Sharky's Machine?
- The ProBLEM was first introduced in the second episode "Careers In Science," where it caused problems for Colonel Bud Manstrong and Lieutenant Anna Baldavich on the uncrashed Gargantua-1. This was before anyone realized that it was housing a decaying head.
- After all this time, Billy still thinks that Rusty is the Blue Morpho, even though he sounds nothing like him.
The Monarch/Henchman 21 spent most of the last season killing damn near every new arch that the Guild assigned to Dr. Venture as The Blue Morpho/Kato, and this episode opens with them going after their biggest job yet: Wide Wale. If only 21 could get there fast enough. After a dream where he's wallowing in his insecurities in a classroom, he rushes to meet Monarch/Morpho, who attempts to make his move on Wide Wale but is easily overpowered (but hey, he's got that cool knife kickflip going for him). Monarch/Morpho is held in Wale's pool room and tortured by Wale and one of his bodyguards, who easily figure out his true identity as The Monarch. As it turns out, Wale is the brother of Douglas Dugong aka Dr. Dugong, who Monarch decapitated all the way back in season 3's "Tears of a Sea Cow," and there's hell and many jokes about Italians to pay.
Meanwhile, 21/Kato meets with Dr. Ms. The Monarch, newly minted member of the Guild's Council of 13, and tells her what she already knows: her husband is the Blue Morpho and has been making her job incredibly hard. After some negotiation with the wholesomely psychotic (psychotically wholesome?) Red Death, they figure out a plan to get Monarch/Morpho out of there...until Hank shows up and is forced to shoot Morpho to earn Wale's respect. Before anyone dies, Red Death flys in with a very not dead Dr. Dugong in tow; the starfish DNA inside of him helped him regenerate his head and he's been under OSI protection ever since because his brother was now a villain. As everyone comes to their senses, the VenTech building goes on the fritz after Pete's action in "The Curse of the Haunted ProBLEM" and a figure driving Blue Morpho's car shows up looking an awful lot like the Blue Morpho. Uhh...
This so-called "Morpho Trilogy" is apparently coming to a close next week, so does this mean that the Morpho and Kato (personas) won't live to see the end of season 7? Is The Monarch's father also still alive? WIll Hank and Sirena ever be able to just date in peace?
- So Dugong really was mutated this whole time.
- Red Death mentions being onboard the Gargantua-1 when it crashed, along with a gaggle of other Guild members. Something tells me we're bound to find out the whole story before this season's over.
- The panel/investigation/intervention at the beginning of the episode is full of lesser villains from earlier, including fan favorites like Brick Frog and Radical Left.