Review: The Venture Bros. “The Unicorn in Captivity”

Yes, the unicorn is a metaphor.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

Rusty has, surprisingly, made an incredibly scientific achievement. With the help of Billy Quizboy and Pete White, Venture Industries has created the world’s first teleporter. This is fantastic news for Dr. Venture, but as he soon learns from the ever-watchful OSI, there are powerful people in charge of the world that would rather he not reveal this technology to the public. Dr. Venture is then faced with a devil’s dead, to join this nefarious Illuminati as one of their own, but at the cost of his own freedom.

Meanwhile, The Monarch and Henchman 21 get a gig helping a group of eccentric thieves steal Dr. Venture’s teleporters in an elaborate heist, ala “Baby Driver.” Naturally, The Monarch’s presence is more of a hindrance than a boon, but the operation proceeds regardless. While things seem to be alright, soon a betrayal from within the group presents The Monarch with the opportunity to take the teleporters for himself. A chance he gladly accepts.

Our Take:

Boy, do we have an episode on our hands here. An instantaneous classic, this week delivered an episode that is both a great story and filled to the brim with funny and clever lines. While it doesn’t end up going anywhere in terms of long-term story development, its story holds up on its own as a nice detour from the main tale. A small episode in the larger plot.

What impressed me the most was that this week’s episode felt more like an action drama than a comedy. While still funny to watch without a doubt, this time around The Venture Bros had me at the edge of my seat. What starts as just typical Monarch and Dr. Venture shenanigans quickly turned into a thrilling heist tale set to the backdrop of a world order conspiracy mystery. Copycat’s betrayal actually gave me a nice slap in the face; a sabotage I should have seen coming, but didn’t notice the first time through. Without a doubt, what separates The Venture Bros from the rest of the animated world is its excellent storytelling behind the jokes.

There is a real sense of “Fun” that accompanies this episode, and I think that exists in large part due to the excellent voice work that accompanied this episode. Copycat, played by Toby Huss, has such a distinctive and fascinating voice, written brilliantly into embodying the 1930’s huckster that he is. This episode also brings us the voice work of Mark Hamill, who voiced both Prest-o Change-o and one of the Illuminati members as well. Leave it Mark Hamill to add a touch of style to your story.

The Monarch and Henchman 21 have warmly solidified as the “Buddy Cop” duo of the show. This represents a development from what’s been the norm for seven seasons, having the actual “Venture Brothers” be the heart of the show. Curiously, the actual “Venture Brothers” were completely absent from this episode. Perhaps its just the changing dynamic of the show, or perhaps there’s been a shift in the story that says “The Monarch and Dr. Venture are just more interesting to watch.”

This episode works really on several levels, providing a charming, witty episode that isn’t afraid to get a little bit serious with itself. No doubt it will keep you guessing though, with the post-credits stinger at the end of the episode pulling out the rug from the entire “Illuminati” subplot the show seemed to be developing. Another great showing from Adult Swim.

Score
8/10

Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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