Welcome to Calamitous Intent, Comics Alliance’s weekly reckoning with The Venture Bros, in which Betty Felon and Elle Collins, longtime fans of Adult Swim’s most complicated half hour, discuss and clarify the latest episode.

In this week’s installment, “A Party for Tarzan,” the Ventures throw a party for a Highlander, the Monarch puts on the old black and gold, and everybody gets a flashback. “A Party for Tarzan” was written by Doc Hammer and directed by Jackson Publick.

Elle: Before we dig into the specifics let me just say that I loved this episode. The flashback structure, the narration, the music: It totally worked on me. By the time that bullet was crossing the blood-red moon in slow motion, I was as emotionally involved as I’ve ever been in a Venture Bros episode. This season is firing on all cylinders, and I can’t believe next episode is already the finale.



Betty: This episode was an absolute masterpiece - everything tied together impeccably. The episode starts off with the Blue Morpho getting shot, only to be revealed that it’s Dr. Venture in the suit, and then it jumps into a narrative flashback of the beginning of Gary’s life as a henchman when he was abducted by the Monarch’s henchmen during a middle school trip to Washington D.C.

Gary’s origins has been mentioned a few times in the past, but it was great seeing it happen in action, especially since it was a mistake, as is the case of almost all of The Monarch’s missions.



Elle: Yeah it was great, and of course I was totally misled. When Gary started narrating his own origin, I thought the whole episode was going be about his history, and honestly I was fine with that. But five minutes later we’re hearing Dr. Z’s story about accidently having sex with the original Blue Morpho, who was disguised as tennis legend Billie Jean King at the time.

Z makes a big deal about how amazing Blue Morpho’s disguise must have been for that to happen, but he also mentions being incredibly high at the time. It was 1973, after all. But then again, maybe there was originally a double meaning in the “Morpho” name.

Betty: I wouldn’t be surprised if transformations and disguises were a major part of the Blue Morpho’s M.O., considering that he would play villain for the good guys and all.



Meanwhile, Dr. Venture is planning a Lunar Eclipse party to impress Chris Lambert (of “The Highlander” fame), presumably to get him to invest in VenTech stock. For the occasion (and out of pure jealousy of Chris Lambert’s glitzy speedsuit), Dr. Venture also decides to upgrade his look at Enzo’s Specialty Tailoring, who refuses Dr. Venture’s request and offers to make him a chic midnight blue suit. Of course, Enzo is also the same tailor who was in the midst of repairing Blue Morpho’s suit, which Dr. Venture steals out of convenience and petty vengeance toward Enzo.

Luckily, The Monarch is taking a break from his Blue Morpho adventures tonight for the first time in a long time to arch his current nemesis, Dr. Heinie, while Gary progresses with their elimination of Dr. Venture’s arches by zeroing in on Wandering Spider. During their respective missions, they each take the time to explain the different tiers of villainy and Gary’s start as a henchman.

Elle: I enjoyed the flashback with Turnbuckle, the underpowered boxing-themed villain whose death at the Action Man’s hands led to the Guild’s current rating system.




The thing about the Action Man is that he’s a harmless old dope in the present, but completely horrifying in his heyday. His brutal pistol-whipping of Turnbuckle while blood splatters on Rusty’s face is just another piece in the “why Rusty is such a damaged adult” puzzle. And of course we don’t even see the execution, but I suspect some of that blood ended up on Rusty as well.

And then there’s Gary’s Buffalo Bill impression when he kidnaps the Wandering Spider. I’ve complained before about this show doing easy references when it’s capable of so much more, but I enjoy them when they’re this asynchronous, and when they come from someone like Gary, it also feels like he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Speaking of references, I thought this storyline was going to turn into the Pine Barrens episode of The Sopranos, but that never quite happened. Instead we got a flashback of Gary’s first kill, which turns out to have just a been a hippie randomly dropping dead in front of him. I feel like this explains a lot about who Gary is.



Betty: During all of this, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is conflicted about how to deal with Dr. Venture (who The Guild currently believes is the Blue Morpho), and how the rest of the Guild want to assassinate him from Wide Wale’s property to prevent any further villain deaths. The Monarch and Gary parted ways for this episode in order to preemptively create an alibi for the Monarch and to prove that he was still arching, while simultaneously getting rid of the next villain in line to arch Dr. Venture.

Meanwhile, Dr. Venture (who is really his own worst enemy at the end of the day) is disappointed that his Lunar Eclipse party is a bust and that Chris Lambert hasn’t shown up with any of his glamorous friends. He is, however, wearing The Monarch’s Blue Morpho suit, as well as a fedora and a “lunar eclipse viewer”/party mask that look almost exactly like Blue Morpho’s accessories, because of course. Side note: I love Hank Venture’s Pringles mascot moustache.



Elle: Hank’s costumes are always the best. Also a Ruddy Bottom is a gross name for an even grosser drink. No wonder Billy’s throwing up. Of course the magical combination of tomato juice and grenadine makes the spying Guild members believe that Rusty’s not only the Blue Morpho, but covered in some villain’s blood. And that leads Dr. Mrs. the Monarch, under pressure from Wide Wale, to fire the sniper rifle, which brings us back to where the episode began. The way multiple narrators weave together in that moment is seriously beautiful, and I don’t say that lightly about an Adult Swim cartoon, even the best one ever.

Betty: It really is a poetic moment that concludes not only Rusty’s life, but also Dr. Mrs. the Monarch’s pressures from the Guild and The Monarch’s purpose as a villain, as well as his double-life as the Blue Morpho. As Rusty dies, The Monarch narrates that none of his loved ones cared that he died, only to be punctuated by a suddenly-alive Rusty jumping up in shock, and The Monarch gleefully assuring that Dr. Venture is still alive due to the kevlar lining in Blue Morpho’s suit. Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is free of guilt, while Rusty returns the suit to Enzo for repairs and remorse.

After all these seasons, I still find it interesting that The Monarch’s role as Dr. Venture’s villain is rarely a fatal threat; The Monarch doesn’t necessarily want to kill Dr. Venture as much as he just wants to torment him forever.



Elle: If Rusty did die, I think the Monarch would be as sad as anyone. His relationship with Dr. Venture, hate-based though it may be, is incredibly important to him. That’s what all this deception and supervillain-killing is all about after all --- getting back to his one true purpose in life of arching Rusty Venture. I don’t know that it’s brought him any closer to that, though, it’s just created new and more complicated problems. And after this episode’s climax, I honestly have no idea what next week’s season finale will bring.

Betty: Will Dr. Mrs. the Monarch find out that The Monarch is Blue Morpho? Will Gary be okay after all these villain murders? Will Hank go on another date with Sirena? Will the Brown Widow randomly show up again? I can’t wait to find out!