“You have HUGE balls, a deadly partner, armed headquarters, a huge henchmen army and a flying car? You’re like a level 9 or 10. If you just have a sidekick and enough change to ride the New Jersey Path Train, you’re a 4.” – The Monarch
Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about this week’s episode of The Venture Bros, “A Party For Tarzan”. The Council begins to act on their suspicions of the Blue Morpho’s identity as Rusty throws a party for a certain immortal new friend.
The episode opens with the “Blue Morpho” on the roof of the Ven-Tech building covered in blood as Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is observing him through a sniper rifle from Wide Wale’s apartment. She aims carefully and fires, striking her target who turns out to be… Dr. Venture?!
The episode then cuts to a flashback explaining how Gary came to join the Monarch’s ranks. During his 8th grade Washington field trip, Gary was kidnapped by the Monarch’s henchmen while presenting an award to Senator Ben “Night Horse” Camel, unaware that Gary was not who they were meant to target. This was part of a ploy to make Dr. Venture’s name illegal, ensuring that he would get arrested any time he performed any activity such as bank deposits. Instead of letting him go, the henchmen took Gary in to train him.
At the Monarch’s house, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch informs the Monarch that he has a potential hero to thwart in the form of Dr. Heinie and that doing so will bump him up to a rank 5 villain. Later, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch goes to a Council meeting where everyone debates what to do about the Blue Morpho. The original Morpho was evidently also a vigilante that the Guild considered a threat, putting a bounty on his head that was claimed 40 years prior. Unfortunately, the Sovereign destroyed all information related to the bounty and who collected it, so the Council’s stuck at the moment. Dr. Z does manage to inform them that the Blue Morpho was a hired gun for Jonas Venture, reminiscing on an … awkward sexual encounter he had with him in ’73. He determines that they need to go after Rusty Venture if they want to find out anything about this new vigilante.
Meanwhile, Rusty is preparing everyone for an important event which he relays the details of in another flashback. Rusty, Billy, and Peter all snuck into a high-profile upper class party some time before to form useful connections. During the party, Rusty manages to make the acquaintance of none other than Connor MacLeod himself, Christopher Lambert, whom Rusty invited to his lunar eclipse party.
Down in the Morpho Lair, Gary and the Monarch are suiting up when the Monarch notices the Blue Morpho costume is missing and instead finds his normal supervillain garb. Gary took the suit to be cleaned at the tailor that Rusty visited at the beginning of the season, and he needs the Monarch suit in order to successfully thwart Dr. Heinie. Thankfully Gary’s agreed to take on the next villain in line to arch Dr. Venture, the Wandering Spider. However, the Monarch demands that he kills this villain, something Gary has stated multiple times he’s not comfortable doing.
Rusty and Dean visit the tailor where Enzo greets them with great enthusiasm, and Rusty demands the finest suit he can make: “The Patriarch”. Enzo suddenly begins to freak out at the prospect of making this suit, instead offering to make him a midnight blue tuxedo, but that will take about 2-3 weeks so Rusty just decides to steal the blue tuxedo that’s conveniently sitting near the counter.
Gary is spying on the Wandering Spider just outside Battleaxe’s tavern (she’s still alive, somehow) and stages a plan to kidnap him, pretending to struggle getting a couch into his car to lure him into the vehicle. Meanwhile The Monarch leaves his house to go arching, running into Dr. Z just outside the door. Taking the subway to his destination, the Monarch begins yet another flashback explaining how the concept of Guild rankings came into place. It started with an old-time boxer-themed villain named Turnbuckle kidnapping Rusty once day and trying to pick a fight with their bodyguard, the Action Man. He obliges and pistol whips the fuck out of this villain, who tells him “Kiss my ass” before Action Man fires a bullet in his skull. Due to this unequal matchup, the Guild initiated their ranking system to pair villains with appropriate targets.
Back at the Monarch’s house, Dr. Z is trying to convince Dr. Mrs. The Monarch that Rusty is the Blue Morpho, even showing off his grapple gun with the Venture Industries logo. She fails to believe this theory, citing Rusty’s general tendency towards cowardice, but Dr. Z is desperate to avoid further casualties, forcing her to go along with him to stop the Blue Morpho. Meanwhile, Gary is flying the Wandering Spider out to the woods while reminiscing on how he got his wings: the Monarch was arching a hero named Professor Vibrations when Gary decided to escape the battlefield, running into the professor of all people. The professor then suddenly died of unknown causes, believed to be overexcitement. Once back in the present, he drags the Wandering Spider’s body out of the vehicle, accidentally triggering his mechanical spider legs in the process. Once deeper into the woods, Gary wakes up the Spider and forces him to make a call to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch informing her of the Blue Morpho’s activities.
At Dr. Heinie’s office, the Monarch has knocked out the receptionist and has the doctor right where he wants him. He ties him to the table with his pants down and a laser aimed at his bare behind, and the Monarch tries to get a good selfie as both proof of his successful thwarting and a solid alibi in relation to the Wandering Spider case.
Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and Dr. Z are in a limo headed to Wide Wale’s apartment while Rusty is just moments away from his eclipse party, having dressed in the blue tuxedo and hat he stole earlier. He’s getting worried waiting for the guest of honor to show up, and as this is going on, Wide Wale is setting up a sniper rifle to take out Rusty just as Dr. Z and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch arrive. As the lunar eclipse settles in, Rusty prepares to take a look, but not before a drunk Billy spills some grenadine on his suit. The villains are all in place to take out the “Blue Morpho” (the Spider’s call goes straight to voicemail so Dr. Mrs. doesn’t notice) as Rusty walks out to observe the eclipse. Dr. Mrs. is told to take the shot, which she’s hesitant to do at first until Wide Wale successfully pressures her into doing so, taking us to where the episode started with Rusty “dead.”
Or so we think.
Luckily, the Blue Morpho jacket has a bulletproof lining so he wasn’t hurt, and after the incident, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch receives the voicemail of the Wandering Spider as well as the Monarch’s selfie from Dr. Heinie’s office. Rusty later returns the suit to Enzo and is forced to pay for the damages, and Gary kills and buries the Wandering Spider before flying away in the Morpho Mobile.
In the post-credits, the Council members head to the limousine in shame after their misjudgment of Rusty. As they prepare to leave, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch catches sight of Christopher Lambert struggling to get in the Ven-Tech building.
Easily the most plot-heavy episode of the season to date, “A Party For Tarzan” spends much of its time in flashbacks explaining present plot details and delving into various characters’ pasts for some good ol’ fashioned world building. Many of the details explained ultimately pay off in the episode’s end, but one can reasonably speculate some of these plot points will crop up in future seasons, and possibly at least once more before the season’s over. The absolute highlight of the episode is the climax and its prior build-up, reinforcing the over-dramatic film noir tone that many of the characters speak in with their inner monologues. The events of the season up to now have clearly been taking their toll on much of the main cast, all coming to a head in the episode’s final minutes. The tension and build-up to Dr. Mrs. shooting Rusty is as masterful as anything I’ve ever seen in television: the ominous choir, the overlapping monologues, the framing of shots throughout, especially the slow-motion scene of the bullet flying across the sky in front of the lunar eclipse, the moon stained a deep bloody red much like the grenadine on Rusty’s suit. God, I love the animation on this show. It’s all masterfully well done and incredibly engaging, proving that The Venture Bros is a series that’s just as effective at drama and tension as it is at action and comedy. The season finale is next week, but who knows how many more plot shakeups can occur before the season’s fully over? All we can really know for sure is that we have one more supervillain left to get through before season 6 wraps up. At this point, it’s a certainty that the flaming Red Skull horseman of the apocalypse will be the final villain of the season, so I can’t wait to see how he figures into all of this and how this run of episodes will wrap up.