The Venture Bros. S07E02
“The Rorqual Affair”
Director: Juno Lee
Starring: Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer, James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton, Michael Sinterniklaas
Writer: Doc Hammer
Review by Michael Walls-Kelly
“My only skills are brick-throwing and frog-being!“
The second part of season seven’s opening trilogy is interesting. This isn’t the first time that The Venture Bros. has gone back and filled in what’s been happening with other characters. With the amount of regulars on the show — aided by the fact that the majority of pairs are voiced by show creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer — it’s no wonder that they felt the need to open the season with two episodes that run concurrently. While “The Rorqual Affair” is very entertaining, it also feels a little like treading water, which kind of can’t be helped with a scenario like this.
The episode focuses on Gary (Doc Hammer) — formerly Henchman 21 and currently Kano — and Sheila AKA Dr. Mrs. The Monarch while they deal with their respective issues. Gary has to worry about The Monarch (Jackson Publick) being captured by Wide Wale. Sheila has to worry about running the Guild of Calamitous Intent while an anti-hero like The Blue Morpho — a Green Hornet pastiche — is running amok and killing arches.
Mostly “The Rorqual Affair” plays catch-up with Sheila, Gary, Wide Wale, The Monarch and Red Death. Red Death was a new addition to the Venture-verse last season. He’s voiced by Clancy Brown — of Spongebob Squarepants and Highlander fame — and is a combination of Marvel’s Red Skull and the kind of guy looking for the best retirement package. He gets two of the Jaws references of the episode: he drags his nails on a chalkboard and promises to catch the Blue Morpho and later he gets to give a version of the U.S.S. Indianapolis monologue. It also helps that it ties to the Phantom Spaceman and the T.R.O.U.B.L.E. light from the premiere episode.
Meanwhile, The Monarch has been held captive. He’s always been pretty cunning, but he’s no match for catching a knife in a cool way but throwing it, so the handle hits first against a waiting henchman. Rocco (Mark Gagliardi), one of Wide Wale’s goons, who is way too protective of Sirena (Cristin Milioti), subdues The Monarch. There is an entire subplot where Wide Wale tries to get Hank (Jackson Publick) to shoot The Monarch. Eventually it ends with Dr. Dugong, a character we thought had been killed in season three, coming back and revealing himself as Wide Wale’s brother.
Overall it’s a little inert, but it’s not bad. There are a lot of great little moments in the episode, not even including the Jaws references. The continued evolution of Rocco as a creep, Gary’s sniff-filled opening, everything with Monarch’s version of The Blue Morpho. There are also a ton of great Jaws references. There’s Red Death saying “Anyway, got to see a little Sharky’s Machine” instead of Quint’s “Anyway, we delivered the bomb.” Gary’s costume, Sheila getting slapped at the pier, Phantom Limb giving a version of “Amity means friendship.” It’s all great, but it doesn’t necessarily coalesce perfectly.
Red Death is a great to this season from the previous season’s finale. Obviously, Clancy Brown is a voice acting God with his work on Spongebob Squarepants, but he represents more than that. He is a combination of the Biblical Death, Red Skull and any retired supervillain they want to throw at him. He is the MVP of the episode. I hope he gets a lot to do in the next eight episodes.
“The Rorqual Affair” wraps up a little too neatly. Dr. Dugong turns out to be alive and reunites with his brother, Wide Wale. The Monarch proves he isn’t the “real” Blue Morpho and it’s still not sure whether Sheila buys it. The best part about the show is I legitimately care whether Sirena and Hank still have a healthy relationship.
Even if a completely different Blue Morpho didn’t show up at the Venture Building, currently freaking out due to the P.R.O.B.L.E.M. light, I’d be excited to see what episode three brings.
Verdict: Watch it! Or at least the next episode. The Blue Morpho trilogy will be wrapped up next week — which will basically be the finale for season six –, and it’s worth keeping up-to-date with this stuff. Even episodes that seem to dead-end storylines have a way of coming back. While this was a parallel story full of seemingly inconsequential references, it’s still absolutely worth a watch. I can’t imagine anyone who is into The Venture Bros. not seeing this episode and absolutely anticipating the next one.