It’s been, what, six seasons, and I’m still not exactly sure how the Guild of Calamitous Intent works when it comes to “good guys.” Dr. Mrs. The Monarch labels Rusty as a “level 10 protagonist” early on in tonight’s episode, which makes sense; these folks are obsessed with rules and rankings and procedure, and I’m sure they have files and organizational charts for everything. Hell, we even learn later on that Wide Wale is essentially outsourcing his arching to lesser villains because he’s such a big shot. This is a weird system.
And that’s fine—great, really. The persnickety nerdiness of much of the show’s worldbuilding has always been one of its charms. But when Rusty places a call into the Guild to complain about his latest villain attack, things get fuzzy to me. The guild guys give him the runaround, laughing the whole time, but this whole thing raises a weird issue, considering how chummy the Doc is with the Guild. Well, not “chummy,” but Dr. Mrs. was in his lobby earlier that day cleaning out Haranguetan’s body. In a way, it’s the same commentary the show’s always done on the eternal struggle of comic books and kid’s cartoon shows, where conflict exists less as a means to an end than as an end in and of itself. Everything’s ossified, and while the guild guys laugh at Rusty’s cluelessness, what the hell else do they expect?
Maybe that’s designed to contrast against this season’s modest body count; presuming Battleaxe and Think Tank both perish in the car crash at the end of the half hour, that’s three dead in two episodes, and all of them die while around Dr. Venture. It’s like some sort of bizarre riff on The Ladykillers, with Rusty standing in for the indestructible Mrs. Wilberforce. If this keeps up, the Monarch will have his old job back soon enough, because there won’t be anyone else to take his place. The blackly comic nature of all three deaths, each one a kind of an accident that ends in catastrophe, is a different vibe for the series, and comes the closest to recapturing that lack of abrasiveness I mentioned last week. Everything’s fun and games until multiple people get killed; and while the show has certainly had its share of death before, this seems like something new.
“Tanks For Nuthin’” does a decent job pulling various characters into each other’s orbits, most notably giving Dr. Mrs. The Monarch a chance to face off against Blue Morpho without realizing he’s her husband in disguise. The Monarch’s marital tensions and his struggles to stay true to his destiny without completely destroying his marriage continue to be a major plot thread, and Dr. Mrs. is turning out to be a central figure this time around, a woman trying her damndest to do her (absolutely ridiculous) job with some degree of dignity. It’s hard to say where any of this goes, but it does feel like everything will have to blow up at some point, which at least gives us some stakes to hold on to.
Less interesting is the slow collapse of Ventech Industries. Having already fallen victim to Rusty’s over-confident ineptitude, the company takes another hit when a video of Billy on god gas goes viral. The Ventures have become minor recurring figures on their own series at this point, and while that’s understandable, it is a little disappointing when Hank and Dean get treated like afterthoughts. At least Hank has that date looming—poor Dean is just moping his way through college.
Not to sound disappointed; this is another funny episode, and Professor Think Tank and Battleaxe are well-realized enough to be memorable for their brief time on the show. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed to see Think Tank go, but seeing as how his death was one of the only times the half hour had any real bite to it, I guess I’ll take what I can get. Brock’s burgeoning relationship with Warriana is certainly a think that continues to happen, and that I don’t exactly object to. Things have settled into a groove. Not a bad one, but there difference between a groove and a rut is pretty thin.
- “I married the Monarch. I don’t even know who this person is.” Ouch.
- Rusty hits on Dr. Mrs., because he’s just that kind of classy.
- Everyone keeps mistaking Blue Morpho for Rusty. Was that shot of Dr. Mrs. looking at Rusty on the top of his building indicating that she’s making the same mistake? (Her “I know who my enemy is” comment at the end of the episode seems to confirm this.)