This The Venture Bros. review contains spoilers.
The Venture Bros. Season 7 Episode 3
“Can someone tell me what the fuck just happened?”
Well, that was honestly worth the 12-year wait.
The opening two minutes of “Arrears in Science” is a dazzling sequence of events that takes seven seasons of Venture Bros. backstory and has it play out in twisted Rube Goldbergian fashion. Everything from the first two installments of this “Morphic Trilogy” comes together, but so does everything that’s been in motion over the past season and beyond. It’s an insanely cathartic and awesome way to begin the episode, but it also solidifies the fact that after years of coyness The Venture Bros. is finally ready to dish out some big answers and close the door on a lot of its past.
The big mystery heading into this installment is the new Blue Morpho that waltzes into the currently Jonas-possessed Venture compound because Blue Morpho is supposed to be dead. Very quickly it’s revealed that it’s Vendata who’s in the Blue Morpho garb and that many of these events were actually set in motion fourth months earlier during the events of season five’s “Bot Seeks Bot” when Brock evidently scrambles his mainframe. This shock to the system essentially reminds Vendata that he is in fact Blue Morpho because the human parts that are inside of him belong to the original Blue Morpho, who’s the father of the Monarch.
“Arrears in Science” examines the families of the Ventures and the Fitzcarraldos (the Blue Morpho’s family), but frames it all through the unbelievable journey that Vendata has gone through. Much of Vendata’s past is explained, a lot of which has been hinted at and explored before through the exploits of the original Team Venture. However, whereas other entries have discarded Vendata when he’s become irrelevant, “Arrears in Science” focuses on those periods of abandonment and attempts to explain his trauma.
It’s confirmed that after the Blue Morpho’s plane crash that Jonas saves parts of his body and turns him into Venturion. However, after the painful events of his life cause him to malfunction, he’s once again deemed expendable. The episode then digs deeper to fill in the details behind how Venturion transitioned into Vendata, as well as Dr. Z’s role in reconfiguring this figure from Jonas’ past into a new villain to use against him.
The episode gets a few good riffs on The Matrix in as Vendata is able to plug himself into Jonas Venture and have a long overdue conversation with him. What’s beautiful here is that this ancient history between Jonas and the Blue Morpho is really what the entire series has been about. These two characters who are relative strangers to the audience interface together as the actual main characters like Rusty and the Monarch are turned into gawking spectators. All of the ancient history that has supposedly defined these characters literally comes back to life to finally settle the score.
More time gets spent on the original Blue Morpho’s history with Jonas Venture and the series finally pulls the trigger on what some fans have started to speculate over the last few seasons. The series throws back to the uncomfortable orgy between the Blue Morpho and Jonas that was set up back in “Rapacity in Blue,” but what follows officially confirms to the audience that Rusty and the Monarch (or Malcolm Fitzcarraldo, which we learn is his real name here) are half-brothers. Jonas is father to both of them.
These drastic revelations also act as a helpful reminder to just how terrible of a person Jonas Sr. was. This is the sort of individual that would manipulate and blackmail his closest friends with absolutely no disregard. It’s curious to note that in this relationship between the “fathers” of Rusty and the Monarch, Rusty’s father is absolutely the villain whereas Blue Morpho/Venturion is just a manipulated pawn.
Back when Rusty briefly flirts with the idea of becoming a supervillain and ditching his super scientist ways, Henry Killinger even ominously comments, “Now ze son has become ze father.” It seems safe to say that quite a few people actually saw Jonas for the villain that he truly was. Even his final actions in this episode are to ultimately stab his friend in the back one last time for his own gain. Funnily enough, if Jonas had been the one to raise the Monarch then maybe he might have turned out to be an even more successful supervillain.
This is all bonkers information and if Rusty and the Monarch didn’t already have a complicated relationship, then this certainly isn’t going to make anything easier. Furthermore, Jonas essentially saves the Blue Morpho’s life, which means that the Monarch should be indebted to his family to some degree.
At the same time, Jonas makes sure that Morpho’s continued existence as Venturion is rather miserable, so it’s not so cut and dry. Additionally, now that Rusty is actually family with the Monarch, his ultimate goal of killing him becomes that much more difficult. It seems like the Monarch wouldn’t be able to murder his half-brother, even with a considerable grudge against the character, but at the same time the answers given in “Arrears in Science” also largely reframe the Monarch and Dr. Venture’s past.
On that note, the fact that Kano’s vow of silence is a result of him killing Venturion is a nice piece of continuity, considering Kano was the original Blue Morpho’s partner. Rodney’s sudden stroke is also an insane callback to a moment in season one where Orpheus reads Action Man’s future and predicts his fate. The show is seriously killing it lately when it comes to connecting dots and tying up loose ends. Even the minor detail that Rusty’s toy cowboys and Indians that were last seen in “Careers in Science,” played a major role in Jonas’ fate. This episode is clearly meant to be a companion piece to that season one installment in many ways.
This steady outpouring of news eventually makes its way over to Brock and he figures out that he’s more or less been lied to for his entire career and that all of his motivations have been misguided because Sphinx wasn’t actually responsible for Jonas’ death. It’s heavily implied that Vendata gets his ultimate revenge against Jonas (and honestly this would be fitting), but the episode leaves enough doubt in the air that there still may be another big reveal here.
The fact that Bud Manstrong is the paperboy on Guargantua-1 during the Movie Night Massacre certainly feels like a clue, as does the fact that Jonas and Blue Morpho’s swingers tape was also conveniently left in the same room as Sharky’s Machine for movie night. The decision to filter all of this information through Red Death’s Suicide Squad-esque team flashback makes for another excellent piece of world building and it’s just a fun way to frame this piece of the story. Also, a Freddie Mercury-themed villain, Mr. Fahrenheit, the Supersonic Man, is the best ancillary character to come along in a while.
The episode’s final few minutes are just as poignant as the installment’s introduction. Two generations of Ventures and Fitzcarraldos launch through the sky and just as Jonas attempts to betray Blue Morpho one final time, his own hubris gets in the way and ruins everything. The results of this episode are huge, but what’s important to note is that they’re still largely a mystery to Rusty and the Monarch. Vendata and the audience are aware of the incestuous history between these families, but the surviving players aren’t. They receive no closure.
It’s a smart way for The Venture Bros. to effectively put all of this longstanding baggage behind itself and get the audience off their backs, but it still allows them some wiggle room to continually tease the Rusty/Monarch family tree when it sees fit. It’s also rather grim to see the Monarch bragging over ostensibly killing his father. If he does figure out the truth he might have a much harder time coming to terms with this loss and his actions. Mark my words though, that visual of Rusty and the Monarch frantically grabbing each other as they plummet from the air is going to be a metaphor for season seven as a whole.
“Arrears in Science” is another exceptional episode of The Venture Bros. that should satisfy every longtime fan of the show. Season seven is off to an amazing start and it looks like this could easily be the show’s best season yet and a tremendous return to form for the series. Seismic plot developments aside, there’s also plenty to laugh at in this episode and there is a ton of great dialogue.
White’s “Is that SCSI?” or Dr. Z’s “We figured we’d just throw some garbage on his lawn and call it an arch,” are two standout lines that almost get lost in the sheer amount of plot and revelations that take place in this episode. Also, how incredible is it that the thing that derails the Guild of Calamitous Intent, OSI, and the entire Venture compound is the freaking Thanksgiving Day Parade! Nothing beats a national holiday.
Now that the heavy lifting is out of the way, it should be exciting to see the series pump the breaks a little on the greater mythology and muck around with some random standalone weirdness for the next few episodes. I’m just glad that regardless of whatever types of stories that it chooses to tell, that the strongest version of the show is what’s moving forward.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den ofGeek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem and his perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.