So the Monarch and his blushing baritone bride have a new home; per the Guild's instructions in "Shadowman 9," they've taken over the former residence of the AWOL Phantom Limb, located in the stylish super-villain town of Malice. But Monarch is having a hard time adjusting–not only is he a bit tweaked to be crashing in the lair of a former romantic rival, he's also not completely on board with the whole "gated community thing." Plus there's a party at Sgt. Hatred's tonight that Dr. Used-To-Be-Girlfriend is dead set on going to, when all the Bastardly Butterfly wants is to hang out in the den and pine for his long-lost arch.
But wait, there's more! Doctor Venture has a new arch-enemy, the surprisingly pleasant Sgt. Hatred; the Soldier of Fury makes an appearance at the compound with a gift basket and promises of a brand new future in villainy. So that night, at Brock's urging, Doc goes to the soirée at Hatred's place–and Monarch catches wind of this, and desperate for some face time with his Most Wanted, he decides to get social as well. With Hank and Dean safely ensconced in the Cocoon (the Sgt. isn't allowed within fifteen feet of such beautiful, "sixteen, going on seventeen" boys), it's time for some bad charades, revealed secrets, and pissed off Moppets.
Before anything else, let's just bow our heads for a moment at the Venture team's ability to get this much plot into the standard issue twenty minutes–"Home Is Where The Hate Is" has three distinct storylines, and while they don't come together here quite as perfectly at the climax as they have in some eps, none of them feel shortchanged. It's a treat to see so many plates balanced so expertly.
It's also nice to have the Venture family back as a focus, and what we do see of them is great: Dean's Patch Adams impersonation, Brock's fascination with a crossbow documentary, Hank's, ah, Hank-ish-ness. Doc snipes at his boys for ruining his fun, and in that brief moment, you realize that while he cares for the two of them (at least, as much as he can), he hates 'em because they represent a part of his life he can never escape–Hank and Dean are the eternally optimistic boy adventurers that Rusty himself made so popular, but that he can never live up to no matter how much he snarks. It's a tossed off piece of dialogue that just stands as proof of the series ongoing thematic depth.
Still, there are few nagging bits. Doc's constant macking on Dr. Girlfriend is getting tedious, as is the show's level of uber-self-awareness; having Monarch comment on 24's "Ray Romano voice," and getting yet another gag about Dr. G's masculine tones is too on the nose, less a joke than a flat out description. (Still on the fence about directly referencing G's Jackie O outfit.) Which is a matter of taste, admittedly. "Hate"'s biggest misstep is the fizzling of the micro-device Monarch attaches to Venture's back; I'm curious as to what the change was between Doc's "pierce-able by rubber bullets" skin to his ability to shrug off a hard charge aimed at the small of his back. Maybe it's a plot twist that will get explained later on, but until then, it's a let-down.
But hey, the show is largely on its game. I hope we'll get some more stylistically risky eps in the future, but for right now, I'm willing to luxuriate in plain old fashioned excellence.
Competency seemed to be a theme for all of tonight's line-up. In "The Revengencers," we actually get some recurring, non-Tribunal related villains, and in the world of Metalocalypse, survival is a feat of no mean skill. Edgar Jomfru, first seen running a Dethklok website in "Mordland," is back, along with the skin off his brother's face, and another failed assassin; they've formed a terrorist group called "The Revengencers," and they've devoted themselves to destroying the 'Klok, one blown-up coffee shop at a time.
Unfortunately, Nathan can't really work up the energy to care, because he's suffering the horrors of a summer cold–and when one member of Dethklok gets sick, every member of Dethklok gets sick. The gang doesn't trust the ministrations of modern science, so during a sauna stay, they practice first leaching and then bloodletting. Which doesn't help at all, although it is pretty metal. P.R. manager Ofdensen convinces them to give a benefit concert for the people injured in the coffee shop bombings, but Nathan worries that the band won't be up to snuff.
But it's pretty awesome, anyway. Amazingly, the Revengencers manage to walk away with most of their limbs intact; we get a bitchin' song; and we discover that, unsurprisingly, Ofdensen is basically unkillable. I loved having Nathan apologize to the injured about how the upcoming concert wasn't going to be any good, like a bashful teenager turning in a paper two or three days late.
You know what? "Beast and Breakfast," the second episode of assumed abortion in the making, Fat Gut Stuck In The Internet, wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen. In fact, it was kind of okay. Bit and Byte lead Gemberling to the Order of the Blue Smoke in order that he can prove himself the Chosen One and get his true Internet name. His task: to kill the great Everbeast. And that's gonna be a problem, because the Beast is frackin' huge. The trio manage to grab hold of the thing's hair while it's passing by, and climb as high as its ass, where they discover a hotel run by a flea named Scrimshaw.
I'm not saying I loved it, but I laughed a couple times. There was a plot worth following, and the characters were moderately amusing. Even more importantly, there was a slight tonal shift from episode one–you can actually tell that the show's creators are at least trying to tell a story, even if it is goofy as hell. It's not just a big put-on to waste the audience's time, and that gets it extra points from me. And hell, I'm always up for a Shining reference.
Oh man, "Johnny Arson" was classic Assy. See, there's this arsonist going around, and Assy and Sanchez are on the case. At least Sanchez is, because while he's interrogating a mystical bum on the true nature of burnening, Assy has a date at the Exeter Aquarium with a sexy, confident, woman who has a moustache and talks like a dude but has a pair of tunas on her you just wouldn't even believe. But then, tragedy strikes when Assy's "girl" gets taken in on suspicion of arson, so in a rage, he pours gasoline on her–she gets cleared, but not before she, um, explodes.
Where to begin? Or rather, where to end? You don't comment on Assy McGee, you simply endure it. It was nice to have the classic, non-singing opening back, and Assy's grief montage (or as I like to call it, "mourntage")(Ha!) was funny. But good lord, the ass make-out sessions? Yeuucccch. I gotta use these eyes the rest of my life, y'know?
Venture Bros, "Home Is Where The Hate Is": A-
Metalocalypse, "The Revengencers": A
Fat Gut Stuck In The Internet, "Beast and Breakfast": C+
Assy McGee, "Johnny Arson": C+
—I don't want to give anything away, but in the interest of full-disclosure: I haven't been getting much sleep lately, and that might have influenced my grading on Fat Guy Stuck In The Internet. It's either that or my copious drug use, because hey, when has sniffing glue not made things better?
—"Town Called Malice" is a song by The Jam. Never heard it before, but the line sounded familiar, so I googled it.