"Tears Of A Sea Cow/Atonement With A Bucket"

"Tears Of A Sea Cow/Atonement With A Bucket"

Letting go is never easy. The end of a relationship is the death of the life you thought you had, and even under the best circumstances, it's a rough time. You can fill the void with drinking, with friends, with sitting in the dark in your apartment watching The Usual Suspects till three a.m. because it has nothing to do with anything, but whatever way you choose, the hole is still going to be there. The only way to get through it is to move on, and the worse you feel, the harder it gets.

The Monarch is feeling pretty terrible in this week's Venture Bros, "Tears Of A Sea Cow." At Dr. Mrs. The Monarch's urgings (from now on, she's Dr. Mrs.), he's accepted the Guild's reassignment for new arching, but his heart just isn't into it. Doesn't help that the arch, Dr. Dugong, is about as lame as they come; a human sized marine mammal devoted to discovering the "secrets of love and caring." Desperate to get her husband to commit, Dr. Mrs. tells him to pretend Dugong is Dr. Venture–but that only makes things worse, when Monarch snaps and blows the inoffensive bloviater away.

At the Venture Compound, Hank and Dermot are hanging out and making (terrible, terrible) music together. Dean interviews them for his newspaper, Venture Home News, before bragging that the paper has a circulation well "into the teens." Turns out, Monarch and Henchman 21 count themselves as loyal fans, 21 for Dean's advice on romance and the Monarch for the teen's naïve willingness to give up hard data on the compound's layout and security system. When the Monarch learns that the Ventures will be out of town for a science conference, he decides to re-ignite the flame of his hatred and return to doing what he does best; creating minor inconveniences and icky moments for the man he loves to loathe.

After last week's plot acrobatics, "Tears" is straightforward enough; most of the episode takes place over one night, centering on the Venture brothers, the Monarch and henchmen, and their eventual interactions. For all the debaters out there, Dermot is (sort of) claiming that Brock is his father–there's still the possibility he's lying or misinformed, but it's fuel for the fire at least. Dr. Mrs.'s moppets (the "Pupa Twins") continue to be nasty, leering little monsters, a fact even she notices when they offer to stick around in her bedroom while she changes (back into her Jackie O. outfit!), and the conversation between the three of them where she manages to dodge at least three direct questions about the Monarch's motivations managed to wink at fans without being too precious.

But back to the Monarch et al. Hank's conversation with 21, where 21 tells him he can't be killed ("I'm like the Highlander?"), managed to be both funny as hell and somewhat disturbing, especially during those brief moments when you think 21 actually killed Hank again. I think another Venture brother death at this point in the series wouldn't really work, as it would seem too mean-spirited even if the Doc can just re-clone them, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility. Especially considering that Hank now thinks he's invincible.

And what in the hell is up with Monarch? His vast rage at Rusty has been well-charted on the series (favorite episode quote: "I wanted to build an empire to house the machine to kick his ass!"), but it always danced at the edge of stalker-dom, and in "Tears" it seems to go over the frickin' cliff. Dean catches him screwing Rusty's guard robot–a robot with a monitor that displays the Doc's face–and while the Palpatine-inspired fake-out that follows was great, I couldn't get the image of the Butterfly Man's naked ass pounding away at his supposed worst enemy. Is Monarch's obsession tipping over into something else? Or is he just so mucked up that he can't even be a reasonable super villain anymore?

In "Atonement With A Bucket," Fat Guy Stuck In Internet actually has an A and B plot this week: in former, Gemberling meets with the mysterious webmaster Linux at the urgings of a phantom, decapitated Bit, while Chains meets a bunch of really small people with the misfortune to mistake him for a Chosen One. Things go about as you'd expect on both sides, as Linux turns out to be a thoroughly gross Yoda knock-off, leading to some not-entirely-unpleasant Empire Strikes Back nods, and Chains behaves like his usual self by being lazy and easily led.

Picking on this show at this point just seems cruel. The usual complaints hold–the writing is cheap, and Gemberling himself is a terrible, terrible actor (smirking does not equal staying in character)–but I did like some of the production design here inside Linux's house of garbage. Oh, and the sequence where Byte rips off Bit's head wasn't bad. But it's still lazy and flat, and only funny in that after-midnight, my expectations are so low that I'd even laugh at Becker kind of way. Ah well, at least the light show was fun.

Grades:

Venture Bros, "Tears Of A Sea Cow": A

Fat Guy Stuck In Internet, "Atonement With A Bucket": C

Stray Observations:

--Sorry this is so late. We lost power for a few hours last night, and I missed my usual posting window.

--I know I mentioned doing some classic Venture this week, but I just didn't have the time. We'll get there, though.

--Almost forgot; saddest moment of "Tears"? Hank and Dean's desperation to go to public school.

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