The Venture Bros.: The Unicorn in Captivity
September 17, 2018 8:08 AM - Season 7, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Dr. Venture's latest invention is a real game-changer. And the new game is deadly!

A new invention leads to old jokes on The Venture Bros. (Zack Handlen for TV/AV Club)
Tonight’s Venture Bros. asks a simple but unexpected question: what happens if Doctor Venture actually came up with something good? One of the core principles of the series has always been Rusty’s basic ineptitude. He may walk the walk and wear the speedsuits of super science, but he’s never been able to live up the legacy of his father; that failure, and the way he’s refused to acknowledge it and try and build some kind of new life, is one of the character’s defining traits. And yet he’s never been hopeless, either. In some ways, his inability to follow in Dad’s footsteps has been more blessing than curse—at the very least, he’s done less damage to the world than Jonas managed, and his relationship with Hank and Dean has some small chance of being not entirely awful.

Putting that aside, “The Unicorn In Captivity” takes into account the fact that Rusty still occasionally knows what he’s doing; brings in Billy and Pete, who have their moments of brilliance; and lets them make a breakthrough that could theoretically revolutionize the world.
The Venture Bros. Season 7 Episode 7 Recap (Blair Marnell for Coming Soon.net)
posted by filthy light thief (33 comments total)
 
The Hunt of the Unicorn on Wikipedia, with the panels and theories on its meaning, clearly showing the unicorn in captivity and no longer dead being injured*, but apparently happy.

* Except Google's Arts and Culture page on the tapestry states that those are juices from ripe fruit, so what do I know?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:09 AM on September 17, 2018


I was ready to be so mad- with them name-dropping the Rothschild banks during the red room Illuminati thing. Like yeah- in this political climate reference the whole "Jews run the world" bullshit, nice job assholes.

And then it was all a simulation. And I can't believe I lost faith in Doc and Publick. Season 1 venture bros might have fucked up like that, but this is season 7 and 2018, they've learned!

But it's not just Rusty who won this time, by actually building something cool- its the Monarch who through some bumbling- ACTUALLY STOLE THE PRIZE!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Rusty's still standing on the shoulders of JJ. From S02E01:
JJ: I've got most of them complete. I think there are two left. Yeah.The sound that kills and a teleporter. Dibs on the killing sound.
Rusty: Dibs? Screw you! Those are my contracts!
JJ: They were addressed to Dr. Venture, and since you've been gone I've received two doctorates. So I'm a Dr. Venture, too.
Rusty: I was only gone a month.
JJ: You can have the teleporter.
Rusty: Fine. I'll clean up your mess.
JJ: Great! I'm half done with it. It's in the manufacturing wing. I put your staff on the job.
posted by fings at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2018 [14 favorites]


fings, thanks!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 AM on September 17, 2018


I will give Rusty credit for perfecting it, though. As we saw in season 2, JJ's teleporter teleported different parts of Rusty to three different places, though he managed to (somehow) reverse it.
posted by fings at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


But it's not just Rusty who won this time, by actually building something cool- its the Monarch who through some bumbling- ACTUALLY STOLE THE PRIZE!

You mean the prize of being hunted down by an army of Copy Cat and Big Oil? Woo hoo.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2018


But the guild was giving a level upgrade to whoever pulled off the heist! All he has to do is give the teleporter to guild hq and he’s a level 7!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:20 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Would you believe that I didn't get the "Copy Cat" pun last season. Would you believe that.
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:41 PM on September 17, 2018


I sure had a different take than Handlen's AV Club review. I thought this one was absolutely inspired, with lots of fun weirdo supervillains and teleportation hijinks. Just the glimpse of the Brundlefly-ified apple was so, so hilarious and gross and awesome. "Driver X" sounded familiar, but Googling it just turns up a Discovery Channel show and a 2017 indie drama, and neither of those seem like what they were referencing. It pings something in my head, something punk or anime maybe. What the heck was "Driver X"?!

Mark Hamill got to do a fun dual role as the spooky head of the Cabal and the springy goofy shapeshifter guy. (Now that's range! He should be in everything.) I hope the shapeshifter isn't actually dead because he was such a creepy hoot. Last we saw he was writhing on the ground with Brock's knife in his head, but he wasn't dead so I'm holding out hope!

They had me totally fooled with the virtual reality stuff. This show's "reality" is so screwy that nothing in the simulation seemed impossible. But I have to wonder how the OSI's plan works with regard to Venture. Once they shut off the machine, won't he realize it was all fake? It seems that SOMEBODY doesn't want teleportation tech to go public, so who knows, maybe the cabal IS a real thing of some kind.

It occurs to me that both Rusty and the Monarch are currently on this weird razor's edge between hitting it big and total ruin. They're both having serious money troubles and badly need a break, and at the same time they're both having major breakthroughs and leveling up. The way this crazy show works I can't help but root for both of them, but it wouldn't surprise me if they both end the season in failure... or if they get exactly what they want and it only makes them more miserable.

Doctor Venture's tossed-off line about testing the teleporter on Hank seemed especially callous, even for him. He's building bridges and trying to do some actual fathering with Dean, at the same time he's totally given up on Hank. Sometimes you just wanna grab these people and give 'em a shake!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:05 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Driver X was a cross between the Stig from Top Gear and Racer X from Speed Racer.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:02 AM on September 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


And until the Copy Cat reveal, I was wondering if Driver X would turn out to be Hank.
posted by fings at 5:56 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think that Rusty is so vain and gullible that it would be easy to convince him that the illuminati exists and has taken an interest in him. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes the rest of the season thinking he's taking orders from the Illuminati.

Gotta give props though. This teleporter may be based on the stuff his brother built a few seasons back but it's a huge improvement over what they showed it as then.

The orphan sushi was a nice bit of foreshadowing/callback to the joy can
posted by Query at 8:23 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Great catch that the teleporter goers all the way back to S2 with JJ. They're really digging into their own continuity to come up with new ideas which is fun while at the same time coming up with new stuff like the new villains.

Also, why does anyone trust Copy Cat? Does the Monarch not remember when he basically got roofied by him?
posted by GuyZero at 10:55 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: They're really digging into their own continuity to come up with new ideas which is fun while at the same time coming up with new stuff like the new villains.

Deep cuts and pulling up random threads from the archives is their jam, and they do it so well. Another example from this season: Dr. Douglas Ong, or Dr. Dugong, was back earlier this season (702, "The Rorqual Affair" -- FanFare) from a brief appearance at the beginning of Season 3 Episode 8 ("Tears of a Sea Cow"), when he was presumed dead. But thanks to his sea star DNA, he's fine!

I can imagine a white board or five, or index cards strewn across a huge desk, with various characters and references from prior seasons that weren't concluded, or could be regenerated with sea star DNA.


Doctor Venture's tossed-off line about testing the teleporter on Hank seemed especially callous, even for him. He's building bridges and trying to do some actual fathering with Dean, at the same time he's totally given up on Hank. Sometimes you just wanna grab these people and give 'em a shake!

But they're clones, right? One dies and they can be replaced. This Dean is in college, he has direction. This Hank, though? He's floundering. So what if he dies, Doc can try again, right? /snarky reply
posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on September 18, 2018


It occurs to me that both Rusty and the Monarch are currently on this weird razor's edge between hitting it big and total ruin. They're both having serious money troubles and badly need a break, and at the same time they're both having major breakthroughs and leveling up.

It's hard to believe some days that this is the same show as in season 1! This is completely accurate, but these sentences could never have been arranged in this order early on. Doc and Jackson have built up a whole world, with plausible stakes and consequences, out of compacted sedimentary layers of in-jokes and parodies. Characters who started out as walking gags are now people whose success or failure I'm really invested in. (And it's almost impossible to believe that they weren't setting Rusty's relationship with the Monarch up as a family epic from the beginning -- that the Monarch was once just another villain in the lineup, between Underbeit and Girl Hitler.)

I've particularly enjoyed watching them develop the idea of costumed aggression as a lifestyle, and the contrast between the heroes (who all see themselves as impersonal altruists, in it for the abstract good) and the villains (who are in it out of personal hatred and the sheer love of kayfabe). I've really enjoyed watching the Monarch get better at villainy because he's gotten better at recognizing the line between hatred and kayfabe. His story is actually about, like, boundaries.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:45 PM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


That AV Club review missed the reference - Presto Chango is basically Impossible Man + Mr. Mxyzptlk, not Plastic Man. It's always the more ridiculous reference with this show!
posted by jason_steakums at 2:01 PM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


But they're clones, right? One dies and they can be replaced. This Dean is in college, he has direction. This Hank, though? He's floundering. So what if he dies, Doc can try again, right? /snarky reply

All their reserve clones were killed off a decade ago.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:28 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Plus they don't sleep in the training beds anymore which were probably destroyed anyway when the Venture compound got totalled. Also, geez, you can't kill Hank!
posted by GuyZero at 2:37 PM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


The sleep learning beds were destroyed in "What Color is Your Cleansuit?" (S5E01). Dean dragged his out to the yard and lit it on fire, and Hank followed suit.
posted by fings at 5:06 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else find it really weird that one of the virtual sexy sex ladies was Dr Mrs The Monarch? Before it was revealed to be virtual, that really raised some of my eyebrows.
posted by Marticus at 6:11 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think the VR system draws on the user's mind, hence Roy Brisby being in the Illuminati and DMTM, who Rusty's had a thing for for years, being the model for the sex worker he talks to.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:18 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wish that Brisby had shown up more over the seasons, it was a fun callback to see him roll by in one scene.
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2018


Did anyone else find it really weird that one of the virtual sexy sex ladies was Dr Mrs The Monarch?

This actually almost makes sense in the canon, since The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch have stated in many repeated episodes that they are swingers, and partake in the swinging lifestyle. And what's more swinging than being a submissive in a huge Illuminati power orgy. Also, if it were 'real', it would be a play on the 'powerful person' trope where they don't get off on dominating someone, and their 'stress relief', sexually, is to be submissive. Since it turned out to be some virtual thing, I don't think this is going to be the case, but I can totally see the logic behind the tropes used in this episode. Also, notice that Rusty seemed to recognize her and wanted to see her face, because he's had a thing for Dr. Girlfriend since before she married The Monarch (the episode where he got turned into a giant caterpillar thing by "Sheila", which is also apparently Dr. Girlfriends actual first name IRL).

Also what everyone else said.
posted by daq at 3:27 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Before the VR thing was revealed, I just figured Dr. Mrs. The Monarch was infiltrating the Illuminati to take them down, and I really want DMTM and Molotov to team up and take down jerks now. Like of course there would be some plan one level even deeper where Hunter and DMTM are actually allies and things are way weirder than just Guild/OSI business. You never quite believe that DMTM could be fully bought in to the Guild life because she's, y'know, actually smart.

Also, really curious what Mol's been doing since she and Hunter and Brock faked her death. I keep thinking she's going to pop up undercover as some costumed villain or something.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:48 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I totally bought she was there and I assumed that she was working her way up the ladder of secret global politics in venture world.

When I watch DMTM it's easy to forget that she is a Bad Person because she's such a stable and reasonable person in a world full of wackadoos and outsize personalities
posted by Query at 6:32 PM on September 20, 2018


Yeah, she's is like a career healer in an RPG/multiplayer shooter. An unrewarding role on the face of it, but a really good player can make or break the team. It's a super gendered situation; as a cis woman surrounded by older cis men, I think they'd treat her as a support class no matter what, but it seems to suit her personality very well and it's given her an interesting path to power. In a room full of serious crackpots, just being reliably observant and clear-headed counts for a lot.

Also, I've always appreciated "Dr. Mrs. The Monarch" as a moniker that's completely unwieldy and stupid and yet, in its way, 100% badass.
posted by thesmallmachine at 7:13 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


IMO she's on her way to being the new Sovereign.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:53 PM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Her biggest hurdle to being Sovereign probably won't even be Phantom Limb's power play or the Peril Partnership business (if those are even separate things), but her husband doing something really stupid in his impatience to climb the ranks and get Rusty.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:33 PM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I purchase Venture Bros episodes through Amazon and it has been so long since this show has done nudity that I had forgotten that the Amazon stream doesn't censor it, so this episode was… uh… kind of a shock.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:01 PM on September 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh! I just assumed the pixilated nudity was baked in to the episode. Weird to think there's an x-rated version available. (Is it really as hardcore as the pixilation made it seem? Showing full-on p-in-v doesn't seem like this show's style!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2018


None of the angles showed that. Certainly thrusting and nudity, but that's it.
posted by ursus_comiter at 4:00 PM on September 21, 2018


Is it really as hardcore as the pixilation made it seem?

It was what I think of as "HBO prestige drama" level explicit. So softcore, but still not something I was expecting to see on a basic cable cartoon show.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:30 PM on September 21, 2018


A week late to be really timely: How Would Teleportation Change Society? (Wired, Sept. 22, 2018)
Peter F. Hamilton, one of Britain’s leading science fiction authors, has been hard at work on his massive seven-volume Commonwealth series since 2003. His new novel Salvation (Amazon), about a world where teleportation is cheap and easy, is a major change of pace.

“It’s something I wanted to do as a writer, just to keep fresh,” Hamilton says in Episode 327 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Therefore, whole new universe, whole new set of characters, whole new problems for people.”

Teleportation is a common theme in science fiction, but most examples, like the transporters in Star Trek, tend to be used in very limited ways. In Salvation, Hamilton wanted to explore the concept fully.

“The fun bit of that was saying, ‘OK, we’ve got this system, how would it actually work on a practical, day-to-day level?” he says. “So much of what we have today revolves around getting from one place to another, getting goods out of factories to shops, it all changes. And that took me about six months to work out the minutiae, the absolute details of how it would change us.”
But does he cover the initial push-back from transportation companies and the myriad of truck, train, boat and plane freight-related industries? ;)
Hamilton envisions a future in which teleportation portals are used for garbage disposal, irrigation, and carbon sequestration, and in which the now-useless bridges and highways have been converted into parks and shopping centers. He also predicts that cheap teleportation would spell the end of the hotel business.
Hmm, I hadn't thought of those impacts.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2018


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