This week on The Venture Bros., there’s a big change for The Monarch.  Also, mice reenact the history of religion, Hank learns about kissing, a new villain hits the scene, and brainstorming proves surprisingly ineffective.  And the mystery of the Blue Morpho deepens.  Let’s just get right into “Rapacity in Blue”!

Doc’s alarm goes off in the morning, accompanied by a hologram of JJ being all positive and reminding him about an upcoming Science Now! convention. It’s a wakeup call intended for JJ, but, you know.   Also, how far In advance di he record these wakeup calls? He’s been dead for a while, but he’s still current on these. (Doc points this out, and it’s so in character for JJ.)

In the lab, Doc thinks Billy invented the Segway. He tells them about the conference and Pete notes that Doc was banned for showing off a vacuum cleaner that leaked radiation. Hey – back in Season Three’s “Tears of a Sea Cow”, Doc was out of town to show the Boom Broom at that conference. Nice! He asks Billy and Pete for their pitches.

Over in Jersey, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch prepares for a Council meeting, while Monarch and 21 play around in the cave. Monarch wants to rename it “The Egg Sac”, but 21 thinks they should become the Blue Morpho and Kano and take out everybody who’s arching Dr. Venture. Monarch doesn’t want to take the identity of a good guy, so the discussion is over. And in the silliest joke I’ve seen in a long time, they pretend they’re taking tango lessons so Dr. Mrs. doesn’t get suspicious. HA! The Monarch pretends to be upset that she’s skipping date night for her meeting.

Hank, in some amazing old-timey dialogue, asks Dean for advice about girls and Dean’s got nothing. Apparently when he asked his dad, Doc just gave him a pamphlet on the dangers of Chlamydia.

Pete pitches some ideas to Doc and they are awesome but also not really workable. Billy has a drug that can regenerate a liver but then just keeps making livers. There’s also something called “God Gas”. It induces religious visions but is also, sort of, a mind control gas. That’s all Doc need to hear.

21 puts on his Jedi robe and sends the Monarch into the cave by himself to confront something. 24’s ghostly voice makes a return appearance just so they can straight recreate Dagobah dialogue from Empire Strike Back. When Monarch gets down there, there’s a video set to play on the, well, “Crime Computer”. It’s his dad! It looks like maybe the late sixties or early seventies, and he’s explaining to Jonas how he invented the video camera and it’s so small it fits in the trunk of a car. They talk about whether the Blue Morpho is a bad guy. Well, they joke about it because they’re drunk.

I didn’t mention this last week, but the Green Hornet’s whole thing was passing himself off as a villain so he could infiltrate the underworld. It looks like PFT was up to something similar. At least it gives him a chance to say “The Blue Morpho is a bad guy”, which is what the Monarch needs to hear.

Back in the lab, they test the God Gas on some mice, but Billy doesn’t know how to tell if a mouse is more prone to religion. Dean’s also down there to hide from Hank. Upstairs, Brock gives Hank some advice on kissing and then Sgt. Hatred calls in for backup – a supervillain has a gun to his head. (He’s named Harangutan, which is a great name that’s hard to spell.) Basically, he’s a mostly shaven Chewbacca who yells in an Australian accent.

After the commercial, some mice are praying to a golden bull with Billy’s face while another one holds two stone tablets. In Jersey, the Monarch finds himself at a crossroads. Brock heads outside where Harangutan beats the hell out of Hatred and keeps demanding that Brock strike him. Warrriana hears the two screaming at one another and decides to intervene. She knocks out the villain and he berates her for interrupting his fight. They argue and lose track of Harangutan.

The Monarch decides that he and 21 are going to become the Blue Morpho and Kano. They get a Hanna-Barbera style lead-in but then the costumes don’t fit and there’s a dramatic hemming montage, and I am not even kidding.

Back in the lab, the mice are reenacting the Passion. You guys? This episode is amazing. Brock mopes around while Hank asks him for more advice. Brock’s mad at himself for letting Hatred get hospitalized and his inability to tell Warriana that he’s totally into her. While they sit in traffic, 21 tells Monarch he needs to trim his beard or everybody will know it’s really him. (“You look like Monarch going to a Mad Men party.”)

Several of the mice are now coming after their king with lit torches. Billy and Pete report to Doc that the God Gas does make people slightly more susceptible to suggestion. Pete rigged up a gun to shoot it, and as Billy pushes for more testing, the mice immolate themselves. Just then, Brock reports that Harangutan is back and Doc thinks he’d make a great test subject. Billy tries to gas him and the gun explodes – Billy, Harangutan, and Brock all get a face full of gas. The villain sees Billy as a demon and picks him up to throw him into a bit (actually a big hole in the floor – it’s deep enough to be dangerous). Brock runs away, yelling “I’m coming for you!” Blue Morpho (with a trimmed beard) and Kano arrive and go after Harangutan – the goal is to take out everybody who arches Doc until only the Monarch is left. 21 saves Billy and knocks Harangutan into the pit. The drugged Billy tells Monarch “I know who you are”, which sends them running. Billy promises to keep Blue Morpho’s secret.

Brock goes up to Warriana’s room (does everybody live in Wide Wale’s building?), kills a doorman, and tells her that he wants to worship at her altar. She’s into it. Doc returns to the lab and they try to come up with a new plan for the conference. Billy whispers to Doc that his secret is safe with him. Oh yeah. Monarch’s trimmed beard looks like Doc’s, so Billy thinks Dr. Venture is Blue Morpho. Amazing!

End credits! In the tag, 21 and Kano get back home after a night of being superheroes. The car got towed, but everything else was awesome. But Dr. Mrs. is home, waiting for him. But she thinks that he went on a date night with 21 to spite her. That would make her less angry than the real reason, so he goes with it.

And the Monarch gives us the Titmouse “Chirp” this week. He earned it!

–It’s hard to recap comedy, but this episode was exceptionally funny. And it’s a given that Patrick Warburton is going to be great, but he got a lot more emotional range out of Brock this week and I really enjoyed that.

And here’s how good this show is – this is basically a bridge episode to set up the second half of the season, but it’s still full of stuff. The only thing that really happens is Monarch and 21 taking on new identities and maybe Brock having sex with Warriana. There might not be any follow-up on that, but at least he’s getting over Molotov. Much of the episode is people talking about things that are going to happen or introducing and then solving a problem. But because there are so many jokes and so much going on, it one hundred percent works as an episode.

The Sopranos would do this kind of episode all the time, where it was mostly about setting up things for the remainder of the season, but they’d sometimes drop the ball and forget to have something happen. You get a complete story here with God Gas and Harangutan. Am I saying that Jackson and Doc are better at making TV than David Chase? Maybe I am.

I could not be more excited about Blue Morpho and Kano – this show is so good at giving everybody something new to do. I’ve pointed this out before, but what you might think of as being the iconic version of the show only exists in maybe Season One. Take the basics – Doc and the boys, bodyguard Brock, archenemy Monarch. But Season Two is about the Monarch escaping prison and getting his life back, and it takes most of Season Three before he’s allowed to start arching for Doc again. Then Season Four hits and Brock is back with OSI. There’s always this forward momentum, and it always impresses me.

Man, I love this show. I’ll see you next week, but until then, just think of 21.

“Dude, I’m like ninety percent sure I just punched a guy to death.”

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