I was traveling last night and intentionally booked a flight that would get me to my destination with plenty of time before midnight. So naturally, my flight was delayed and I didn’t get to my destination until 12:10. Which means last night’s episode was the first new Venture episode I haven’t watched live since season 4.
And what an episode to miss.
Last night’s “A Party for Tarzan” has already been described as “the best episode ever” by many fans online. It was different, it was riveting, and it was just damn good.
The episode opens on a lunar eclipse. Dr. Venture stands on his roof in the Blue Morpho suit. (You can see that it is Doc and not Monarch by the bald head peaking out of the bottom of the fedora.) He is covered in what looks like blood.
We see Dr. Venture through the crosshairs. Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is on the other end of the gun, finger on the trigger. Wide Wale tells her to take the shot.
She shoots Dr. Venture. He falls backwards onto the ground and is still. The Morpho mask falls off, revealing his glasses.
“What?! I know! Crazy! How did this even happen?” says the omniscient voice of 21 as the bloody Venture logo appears and the five theme notes play.
21’s voice-over narration continues as he tells us his Henchman origin story. During a class trip to Washington DC, the Monarch’s henchmen confused him for the Senator they were assigned to kidnap and bring him to the cocoon. There, the Monarch makes him sign a law that makes the Venture surname illegal, so that when Dr. Venture does anything involving his name (such as cashing a check or ordering a pizza), he will be arrested.
21 signs it, and the Monarch yells “Who the hell is Gary Fisher?!” This is awesome both because it is a callback to the “Who the fuck is Gary?” line from Season 5 finale and because Gary’s name is clearly a homage to the great Carrie Fisher, adding to the show’s long list of 21/Star Wars crossovers.
After realizing that they’ve kidnapped the wrong guy, they recruit 21 as a henchman. He never finished the 8th grade, but got his GED later, just in case henching didn’t work out.
“I WILL GET YOU…” yells the fluffy-costumed Monarch of the past. “…DR. HINEY!” finishes modern-day Monarch in a yellow and red tracksuit.
It is a lame threat, and the Monarch’s heart isn’t in it. In their living room, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch and 21 convince the Monarch to “thwart” Dr. Hiney to work on bumping up his Guild level.
Dr. Mrs. warns her husband to be careful, because the Blue Morpho is still on the loose.
Her voice-over begins, and we see that this isn’t just Gary’s story, but everyone’s. This voice-over narration style seems to be a reference to the classic movie Goodfellas.
Dr. Mrs. the Monarch talks about how the new Council of 13 was making a lot of progress until the Blue Morpho appeared on the scene. Watch and Ward are forced to sit at a kiddie table during Council meetings because they are not technically members.
Phantom Limb says that the Blue Morpho was killed in 1976, which many fans online have been quick to point out is the same year that Vendetta’s file lists as his creation date. This fact seems to further support the theory that the Monarch’s father/the original Blue Morpho became Vendetta.
Dr. Z tells a story of “performing every known sexual act” with tennis star Billie Jean King in 1973, only to watch her take off her mask to reveal the Blue Morpho’s face underneath. The Morpho was sent there by Jonas Venture. Venture would send Morpho to do his dirty work so he could preserve his good name.
At the Venture penthouse, Dr. Venture has his two bodyguards, two sons, and two Venture Industries employees (Pete and Billy) lined up. He tells them they have to help him with his special guest.
Doc starts to narrate the episode. He tells a story about sneaking into a swanky party full of wealthy people with Pete and Billy to try to make some connections. Dr. Venture manages to introduce himself to Christopher Lambert, who is the the most important person at the party.
The Monarch and 21 suit up for their arching plans. The Monarch is disappointed when he realizes he has to wear his classic Monarch attire instead of his Blue Morpho suit. 21 tells him that he sent the Morpho suit to get cleaned at a place that specializes in antagonist/protagonist costumes.
Their plan is for 21 to kill the next villain on their list, Wandering Spider, at the same time as Monarch arches Dr. Hiney. That way, the Monarch will increase his arching level and end any suspicion that he has anything to do with the Blue Morpho.
Dr. Venture and Dean go to Enzo’s shop in Little Italy, where Doc requests a speedsuit called “The Patriarch”, the same one Christopher Lambert was wearing at the party. Enzo refuses to make one for Doc, because it is “a bitch” to make, and says he will make him a custom tuxedo instead.
Enzo goes into the back room to get started, and when he is gone Doc steals the freshly-cleaned Blue Morpho suit off of the rack next to the desk and runs out with it.
21 is watching a man as he drinks at Battleaxe’s bar. After he leaves the bar, 21 asks the man to help him get a couch into his car. His arm is in a fake sling. He makes the man get in the car to pull the couch inside. “You’re like what, a Wandering Spider or something?” 21 asks in a low voice. He knocks the man out with blue gas from a Morpho gun. I loved this Silence of the Lambs reference. It is SO like 21 to use a classic movie scene for henching inspiration.
The Monarch’s voice-over begins as he sits on the subway in full costume on the way to arch Dr. Hiney. He explains the Guild levels. The Guild-assigned EMA level means “Equally Matched Aggression” level, and it was created after an altercation with the original Dr. Venture.
As Team Venture was supervising construction on the front lawn of the original Venture Compound, a villain named Turnbuckle appears with Rusty, asking for a fight. It is obvious that Turnbuckle wants a classic hand-to-hand fight, but the Action Man is incredibly aggressive and pistol whips him into the ground with the butt of his gun, blood spraying everywhere, before shooting him in the brain.
After this incident, the Guild created the EMA levels to ensure a fairer arching hierarchy. Now that the Monarch no longer has his cocoon, army of henchmen, or even his number 2, he is only a level 4 arch because he is not a significant threat.
Dr. Z tries to convince Dr. Mrs. to throw out the Guild protocol and go rogue on Dr. Venture. He has figured out that the Morpho is specifically going after the villains in line to hench Venture.
21 takes back the narrator position and talks about “earning his wings”, which is henchmen slang for your first kill. He talks about coming face-to-face with an arch who could have killed him on the spot, but who instead died of happiness at that exact moment.
In Dr. Hiney’s waiting room, Dr. Hiney sees that his secretary was shot with a dart gun. He spots the Monarch in one of the chairs, and the Monarch says menacingly, “I have a huge pain in my ass, Doctor.”
Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is taking the Guild limo to Wide Wale’s place. Her voice-over talks about how the old-time villains love to scrap protocol and go crazy every time something goes wrong, and she can’t help but want to do the same.
Pete and Billy have decorated the Venture penthouse for the eclipse party Doc is throwing for Christopher Lambert. Dr. Venture complains that the decorations “look like a baby shower for a teen mom.”
Deep in the woods, 21 drags a passed-out Wandering Spider out of the car and accidentally deploys his robot spider legs. He pokes him to see if he is awake, and by doing so accidentally shoots himself in the crotch with a dart.
Christopher Lambert does not show up to the party. Pete and Billy are getting drunk at the bar where Hank is bartending. As always, Hank has embraced this new job wholeheartedly, wearing an old-school bartending outfit and a fake mustache. Doc shows him how to make one of his disgusting “Doc-tails”, the Ruddy Bottom (grenadine, tomato juice, and rum).
Dr. Hiney is lying on his stomach, strapped to his patient table. He struggles against his restraints as a laser beam slowly moves towards his ass. The Monarch tries to take a selfie with the setup to send to his wife. He complains that the Doctor doesn’t look scared enough in the photos.
At the Venture penthouse, Billy is very drunk. He falls off of his stool and spills a Ruddy Bottom onto Doc, soaking him in red liquid (remember the blood from the beginning of the episode?) Dr. Venture goes outside to watch the eclipse alone.
21 wakes up Wandering Spider and hands him his phone. He tells Spider to call the Guild and tell them that he’s about to be executed by the Blue Morpho. Dr. Mrs. the Monarch’s compact phone is on vibrate and she does not answer. 21 forces his hostage to leave her a message.
At the exact same time, as they planned, Monarch sends his wife his henching selfie.
Across the street, Wide Wale, Dragoon, Red Mantle, Dr. Z, and Dr. Mrs. the Monarch watch as Doc walks across his roof. They see the spilled Doc-tail and assume he has killed again and that they are catching him literally red-handed.
Wide Wale pressures Dr. Mrs. the Monarch to shoot Dr. Venture, telling her to stop being a coward, begging her to end the madness. She does.
The camera follows the bullet in slow motion as it leaves the gun and crosses between the rooftops. It flies in front of the red moon.
As we follow the bullet, the voice-overs continue.
Dr. Mrs.: “Sometimes you do something and you know that second you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
21: “But you had to make that choice! You saw no other way! You’re a tiny part of a big machine.”
Dr. Venture: “And you feel.. small. Like you don’t matter. But its so beautiful, you’re okay with it.”
The bullet hits Dr. Venture in the chest. He lays motionless on the ground.
The Monarch’s voice-over narrates to end our story. He tells us that Dr. Venture died, and no one cared; not his friends, family, bodyguard, or even his robot.
Dr. Venture’s eyes open. He leaps up and throws off the suit jacket. The Monarch’s omniscient voice laughs. “Please! I’m kidding!” The Blue Morpho jacket has a bulletproof lining. Doc is unharmed. He assumes that the jacket pocket blew up, and because he stole the jacket from a supervillain tailor, he was too ashamed to tell anyone what happened.
Dr. Venture ended up paying for the Monarch’s dry cleaning. Dr. Mrs. received both her husband’s selfie and Wandering Spider’s call for help. 21 did his job and killed Wandering Spider. The Monarch ends with “This.. This is a happy ending!”
In the post-credit scene, the Council of 13 is getting into the limo outside Wide Wale’s building. She pauses. “Did you see that? Right over there!” She motions to the Venture building across the circle. “Is that Christopher Lambert?” Indeed, Doc’s guest of honor is trying to get into the locked Venture building. I guess he showed up after all.
Bonus: I grabbed this screenshot in case any of you out there are as Warriana/Brock obsessed as I am:
That was quite an episode. Doc and Jackson have really mastered how to pack in the action while maintaining comfortable pacing. This episode was a prime example of that balance. Not only was our current story advanced, but we also got 21 and Guild backstory and a brand-new narration style all in the same episode. It was really such a joy to watch.
Doc and Jackson recently revealed that “A Party for Tarzan” is the more action-packed of the final two episodes of season 6. They even considered switching the order of the two, but realized it would mess up continuity. So remember that there isn’t going to be a big dramatic finale next week. It will be more like the ending we got in season 5.
I got this information from an interview with Doc and Jackson over at ScreenCrush that was published a few days ago. We also learned from that interview that there may be another mid-season special à la Gargantua 2 before season 7 premieres, which reveals most importantly that THERE WILL BE A SEASON 7. I’m pretty sure that this is the first confirmation we’ve had that season 7 will actually exist. Get excited, Venturoos.
And as always, here is your weekly Shirt Club plug. This week pays homage to Enzo, tailor to the stars (and by stars I mean supervillains).
See you next week for our SEASON FINALE!!