The end of the “Morphic Trilogy” (who knew, right?), tonight’s episode of The Venture Bros. seemed more like the end of a season than the third episode in a new one. You’ve really got to hand it to this show for committing to its world-building tendencies, even when those worlds can sometimes start to, well, look a little similar. This especially becomes apparent when they all converge in one location, as they do to finish the business that was started decades before, and may ultimately be the darkest Black Mirror-esque conceit the show has put out since the Dean/Hank clone thing: that both Jonas Venture and his secret frenemy Blue Morpho are both still technically alive, though living in separate A.I. entities. Jonas, as revealed previously, is actually inside the Problem machine, or at least his head is, having been preserved after the Gargantua 1 Movie Night Massacre by Vendata, who is revealed to be none other than Morpho himself, and thus, the Monarch’s father.
Or was/is he?
Now, I know this show packs in a lot, and it’s sometimes criticized that the emotional payout can be on the low-yield side, but the seeming confirmation that Jonas fathered both Rusty and the Monarch, making the two of them half-brothers and creating a Shakespearean-level blood feud that would eventually arch brother against brother? As Gary might say, that’s pretty sweet. Especially when you consider how much else the show manages to pack in during a dense half-hour, like why the theme song from Sharky’s Machine is haunting the Ventech Towers, and why, if Vendata and the Blue Morpho were the same entity, had one already been established as having a robo-voice and the other gifted with sonorous pipes of Paul F. Tompkins? (An especially glaring continuity issue considering how much the voice actors on this show usually double, triple and quadruple up on roles.)
I also love that this season seems to be about exploring the stories we tell ourselves about where we came from and how that shapes who we become. Sure, any good clone story is going to have multiple perspectives and possible versions, but I’m talking about the same event, as seen through the (ew, but yet) Rashomon lens of different narrators. Such as Jonas Venture being perhaps the biggest villain of the entire series, or the Sovereign’s attempt to paint the events of the Gargantua 1 to be an explosion, courtesy of The Sphinx, just to get some great press for The Guild of Calamitous Intent. Now that the Monarch is claiming to have killed both the Vendata/Blue Morpho (believing it was his father) as well as Problem/Jonas Venture (his actual father), he’ll probably be bumped up to an arching level that will put him right back on a trajectory with his half-brother, Dr. Venture. But now that’s he’s gotten a taste of the vigilante lifestyle, will he be as interested? As much world-building as I like in my Venture Bros., I’ve also really been digging this extensive development in the Monarch’s character over the course of season six and seven. If Rusty himself is a subversion of Johnny Quest by being a failure as an adult man, then wouldn’t it make sense in a perfect kind of way that his nemesis would ultimately be an outshining beacon of reformation? A former villain, who, after seeing the errors of his ways, became a Green Hornet/Rorschach-esque vigilante superhero? I mean, at the very least, Rusty would hate that so much. The gloating would never stop.
But now the Monarch is at a crossroads: Having claimed the two kills, he can either choose to tell the world and himself that he’s the good guy who rid the world of the vigilante Blue Morpho (ironically winning him points with the baddies over at the Guild), or the bad guy who killed what was left of Jonas Venture. It’s honestly a coin toss, since the Monarch, like Rusty, has always worked predominantly out of self-interest, but see above, re: gloating rights.
- I loved Red Death’s flashback of the diner scene, where we got to see the original Watchman/Suicide Squad-inspired gang of baddies that somehow also included a Freddie Mercury knockoff. Amazing that the show hasn’t mined its Queen references before it got to Sharky Machine, considering how Bowie and Warhol-y baddies are already established in Guild canon.
- The Monarch’s real name in Malcolm Fitzcarlado. I just can’t.
- Though it’s easy to complain about the vastness of the Venture Bros. mythology at this point, it is really cool to see everyone come together like this, even if we didn’t have time to discuss them all. All the good guys and bad guys turning out for one fight that essentially boiled down to “two robots sliding down an escalator and an old man having a stroke and riding off on a giant cockroach.” So yeah, basically The Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
- I’m on the West Coast so I know there’s a time difference, but can someone let me know: Is it already Thanksgiving in New York?