The Venture Bros. Review: “The Unicorn in Captivity” (Season 7, Episode 7)

We’re defined both by our failures and by our successes. Doc’s identity is contained by the outside world. Despite being a man in his 40’s, I highly doubt Doc’s ever actually defined himself on his own terms.

In the public eye, Doc’s still living in the shadow of what he was 30 years ago. To the general public (or at least those that remember him), he’s Rusty Venture, Boy Adventurer — an object of kitsch and space-age optimism. To the superscience world, he’s the embarrassment of a son of Jonas Venture Sr, only able to remain above water by leeching off his dead father’s inventions.

On the other hand, Doc’s lucky he’s Jonas Sr.’s son. The Venture Compound, VenTech Tower, the X-1, and moderate fame are all effects of being the scion of the Venture dynasty.  With this string of luck, Doc could make something out of himself if he just makes the choice.

Recap (With the Big Idea)

Doc’s invention of a successful teleportation machine kicks off the discussion of these issues. General Hunter Gathers’s OSI hears about the miraculous device and immediately wants Doc to scrap it. (Of course, it’s pretty easy to spy on VenTech when there’s a Dummy Corp. office in VenTech tower.) With no need for cars, airplanes, the Post Office, etc., what would the world look like? And can people handle the transition from a pre-teleporting world to a post-teleporting one?

A lot of very powerful people want to keep things the way they are; yes, so they can remain rich and powerful by manipulating the forces that keep them in power, but also to maintain the peace. (That may not be in their Top 5 reasons for doing so, but it’s there.) So, in order to placate him, these masked men of power offer the self-hating, desperate for attention, and yet self-absorbed Doc a world where he can drink or fuck whomever he wants.

Surprisingly, Doc’s morally conflicted about the choice. Yes, being the inventor of the first teleporter would give him fame, money, and glory. (These are the first thoughts Doc has.) However, real teleportation would be a boon to mankind. Doc has some serious reservations about becoming one of the orphan-pate eating masters of the universe. He comes so close to making his big decision on whether or not to define himself. However, in the face of anonymous sex, Doc’s will collapses. He’s still willing to define himself by consequences.

In the B-story, Copy-Cat’s goons are stuck with just the illusion of choice. They, along with the Monarch, are set up to fail from the beginning. In the end, it didn’t really matter if they planned the heist out to a “T’.” The decoy heist is botched by design. The real heist is botched due to chaos. The package is gone. Big metahuman ordeals just collapse into normal failures. It’s the status quo that keeps us safe. We don’t know the true danger around us, so it’s pretty comfortable in captivity.


  • “The Unicorn in Captivity” is itself one piece of “The Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestries from the late 14th Century. It’s currently displayed at The Cloisters, an auxiliary building for the New York Met. And yes, The Cloisters building is the inspiration for the Illuminati’s headquarters.
  • The thieves are Copy-Cat, Driver X (aka, a clone of Copy-Cat), Dot Comm, Tunnel Vision, Presto Chango, the Ram-Burglar, and the Monarch (subbing in for Tiny Eagle). Only Dot Comm and the Monarch seem to get out in one piece.
  • How much did Dr. Ms. The Monarch know about Copy Cat’s plans? Did she set up her husband to get captured? Who was Copy Cat planning on delivering The Monarch to?
  • As Kevin Conroy’s Captain Sunshine was merely his Batman voice, Mark Hamil’s Presto Chango was merely his Joker voice. Not that I’m complaining.
  • Of course it’s an apple that shatters the illusions of the way things were to make our heroes’ lives a living hell.
  • While we’ere on symbolism, did anyone else notice how many masks, blindfolds, silhouettes, and mistaken identities there were tonight? It’s easy to be the faceless one that defines others if you don’t run the risk of being exposed yourself.
  • The first sign we’re in Doc’s imagination? Someone else not only knows one of his terrible drinks but is also willing to make one.


Doc: “Save it, Hobbit Oppenheimer.”

Doc: “So who’s gonna volunteer to be our first human subject?”
Billy: “Whoa, what? No way, you’re crazy. We’re nowhere near ready for human testing.”
Doc: “White, go find Hank. He’ll do it for the free apple.”

The Monarch: “If anyone should be taking lead on this thing, it’s the Mighty Monarch. I’ve got decades of hot skinny on Venture! I know how he thinks, how he takes his coffee, I can tell you his Sleep Number!”
Tunnel Vision: “Sure, that sounds super-useful.”
The Monarch: “It’s 25! He’s soft.”

The Monarch: “Your cover story is that I shit myself?”
21: “You make the lie embarrassing enough and nobody questions it.”