This The Venture Bros. contains spoilers.
The Venture Bros. Season 7 Episode 9
“And now I steal YOU from the Guild…”
In many ways this season of The Venture Bros. has seen these characters come into their own, get past their fears and personal baggage, and push forward into the future and whatever that may bring. There have arguably been more scenes in this season where Dr. Venture and the Monarch succeed than there have been in the entirety of the series.
“The Forecast Manufacturer” continues to explore that idea, as it lets both Rusty and the Monarch out into the world with important tasks to fulfill, but this more so an episode that’s concerned about obligations. Both the Monarch and Rusty are stuck with their missions, not because they volunteer for them, but because they’re forced into them as career-related expectations. These are things that they have to do, even if they’re good at them.
Even Hank’s plot in this episode explores the obsessive obligations of being in a relationship and what he expects from Sirena. “The Forecast Manufacturer” effectively connects these obligations, all through a massive blizzard, which makes for an entertaining environment for this busy episode.
Since this unseasonal blizzard is such a focal point of this episode, let’s just take a minute to single out how beautiful the animation is in this installment. All of the portals in the sky off on the Creep’s base are just pure eye candy, especially when played in tandem with all of the snow effects. They add so much to the overall quality of whatever is going on and it’s always a little startling to take in how much the quality and ambition of the animation has improved through the years.
“The Forecast Manufacturer” begins with this raging blizzard already in full effect and Rusty is the one that inevitably gets a call to action on the matter (although the emergency call is a fairly foreign process for him—he initially perceives it to be a bomb). It’s exciting to see how much Rusty’s attitude has changed this season. He’s more confident, independent, and actually a capable individual. It’s a refreshing fit for the character and it wouldn’t be surprising if his recent encounter with his father allowed him some closure to move on in a lot of respects.
Rusty’s blizzard-squashing storyline feels a little more light-hearted and non-essential than the material that the bulk of this season has turned out. It’s a nice look for the episode and it’s fun to get more of a breezy story from him in this installment. There is a more sinister side to this storm, but it completely evades Rusty’s mission. Rusty is willing to be the hero here, but he still needs a partner to help pull this off. When Hank and Brock are less than enthusiastic about this, Rusty isn’t left with many options.
Even though Billy is beyond eager to contribute his skills and be Rusty’s number two, Dr. Venture would rather have anyone else on his side. This combative character dynamic is a steady well to draw from through the first part of the episode. Even though Rusty rebukes Billy’s offers, he does end up as his de facto partner throughout the episode, which makes for an interesting Team Venture. There’s a great energy between the two of them, but what’s even better is that the episode juxtaposes their adventures with the Monarch and Gary’s caper. In doing so it really becomes clear how much of a mirror they are to each other. I would have never thought of Billy and Gary as comparable characters, but they’re both really perfect counterpoints and fulfill the same purposes here.
On the topic of the Monarch and Gary, the two of them find themselves sent off to a secret island fortress to help execute a deadly mission. The Peril Partnership has cordially worked in tandem with the Guild, but as earlier events in this season have implied, this amicable relationship has taken a turn for the worse. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and Dr. Z inform the Monarch that a villain known as the Creep operates a rogue sect of the Peril Partnership that has been infringing on both Guild and OSI territory. Both organizations have had enough and want to exterminate the problem and the Monarch and Gary are their solution. Also, all secret meetings should deliver their information through chicken finger sculptures. It just makes sense.
“The Forecast Manufacturer” impressively dovetails Rusty’s venture with the Monarch’s task. It turns out that the Creep is the one responsible for the spontaneous blizzard (and he’s causing it with the Guild’s tech, at that!), which results in both the Monarch and Rusty trying to complete the same task. They’re actually working together here to end the Creep’s reign, even if they’re not aware of it. Rusty’s portion of the plan sees him entering the eye of the storm and putting his science skills to work, but the Monarch’s mission is much more blunt. Their plan involves the Monarch and Gary pretending that they want to defect and join the Creep’s rogue Peril Partnership cell. Then, once they’ve properly gained the Creep’s trust, they’ll assassinate him.
Monarch and Gary have to prove their worth to the Creep before he will accept them, which is really just one big aggravation for the two. It’s pretty damn wonderful that the Creep’s major test is an intense match of lawn darts, “dive bomb” style. It adds an appreciated visual component to their discussion and it’s a lot more creative than some typical assassination attempt that’s heavy on the action. This undercuts the seriousness of all of this, but still culminates in a gruesome finish.
The Creep makes for an interesting enough one-off character. He’s someone that dreams for an organization that’s not ruled by regulations and red tape. While that’s admirable to some degree, we also learn that the Creep has a fairly checkered past and his aversion to rules may have a lot more to do with his own psychoses. Despite his trauma, it’s a strong idea to have all of the Creep’s powers come from stolen Guild tech. It’s a lot of fun to see a bunch of old weaponry make appearances. It’s even more fitting that this horde of goods is ultimately what marks his undoing.
The brief appearance of time-travelling Rusty and Billy is also some wonderful madness. The Venture Bros. actually makes reference to Grover Cleveland’s Presidential time machine all the way back in season two’s, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean.” Whether this diversion gets more development in the future or is never referenced again, it makes for an entertaining non sequitur.
Time-travelling Rusty also refers to the Monarch as the much more colloquial, “Malcolm,” so perhaps this is a hint that down the road these two become much more of friends than enemies. Or maybe it’s just an unexpected solution to the Creep problem. Either way, it’s still a stronger resolution than the juvenile way in which Rusty and Billy solve their problem. They essentially take a shit in the storm, but there’s thankfully enough hard science and problem solving around the rest of their efforts that it’s an acceptable solution to this grand problem.
“The Forecast Manufacturer” also features a shorter C-story that revolves around Hank’s relationship with Sirena and his inability to reach her through the storm. Initially it seems like the blizzard may just be causing interference in their phone service, but Hank gets progressively paranoid on the matter. He compulsively chooses to brave the storm and go on a sweet but stalker-y voyage to check in on his girlfriend.
Hank’s dedication to Sirena is definitely vintage Hank, but Sirena’s silence should tell the guy to tone down his actions. Unfortunately, Hank has to figure this out in the harshest way possible when he catches Sirena with another guy, and not just any other guy, but Dean. This is a shocking blow that the show surely isn’t finished with, but kudos to The Venture Bros. for actually following through with this Dean and Sirena decision. This will definitely be a major turning point in Hank and Dean’s relationship and it may finally push one of them to go over board and begin to embrace their darker tendencies.
Finally, it’s kind of insane that Scare Bear seems to have been elevated from a creepy, ridiculous sight gag character into an actual plot point. It’s entirely unclear why he decides to help Hank or how he knows the whereabouts of Dean’s dorm. Is he actually a time-travelling Future Hank who’s determined to push his past self into a harsh new trajectory? Is this his complicated origin story or should we just accept Scare Bear as an all-knowing agent of chaos and move on? Of the many questions that linger as the show heads into its season finale, answers on Scare Bear are of the highest priority to me.
“The Forecast Manufacturer” very fittingly feels like the calm before the storm of next week’s season finale. This penultimate offering crams a lot into its runtime and tells three complete stories, none of which feel rushed. Sometimes episodes before the end of a season can get swamped in properly setting up what’s to come, but the more relaxed approach in “The Forecast Manufacturer” does it plenty of favors.
The episode does leave some breadcrumbs for what’s to come, but it doesn’t get consumed by them. The episode is entirely content to revel in buddy comedy antics and character dynamics. The Venture Bros. is surely trying to have as much fun as possible before the season finale shakes up the status quo and throws everyone for a loop.
And I guess that’s the tragic end to Kimberly McManus and Guild Stranger S-464’s relationship! Young love. So fleeting…
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.