The Venture Bros. just keeps getting better this season, and last night it dropped easily one of the funniest episodes yet. And also one of the more bittersweet, under the surface. It’s as much an episode about children longing for their parents and parents longing to be needed as it is a rip on Batman mythology and teenage quirks.
The episode kicks off with showing us how Hank and Dermott get off the compound: They call Rusty on a burner phone and use a Teddy Ruxpin doll to trick him into going into a personal monologue. Unfortunately, Rusty gets a wee bit… obsessed. Dean, meanwhile, is talking with a mysterious woman on the phone.
Rusty, after not getting a call from “Ted” in a while, decides to find the guy because obviously he’s in trouble. The fact that Rusty is so profoundly deluded that he thinks there’s a petty criminal named Ted who floats in a honey river among the gumdrop trees is arguably a bit out of character, but it’s not the first time this season Rusty has shown a willingness to cling to delusion.
Hank and Dermott, to their credit, realize that they’ve screwed up and they need to make it right. Unfortunately, instead of just owning up, they decide to find the voice actor. Unfortunately, he went insane when the plant making his doll burned to the ground, so it’s off to what turns out to be the Ventureverse’s equivalent of Arkham Asylum.
Dean, meanwhile, has turned out to be chatting with Myra, who you might remember is insane and convinced she’s the mother of the Venture Bros. It turns out she’s running a cult of crazy people called the Momma’s Boys… and she wants to turn back time and… well… let’s just say her plans for Dean are fairly disturbing. Needless to say, everything goes wrong, although Hank and Gary turn out to be in the right place at the right time.
This also might be the funniest episode of the season, not least thanks to Hank, who largely gets the spotlight. There’s a moment where Hank goes on for a solid minute detailing what has to be the single stupidest supervillain identity ever conceived, and he commits to every word. As much as Dean is showing outward change, Hank is also growing, and in fact arguably maturing better than Dean.
The episode ends with Hank and Dean getting a little closer, Dermott realizing who his father really is, and Rusty admitting that, no, Myra is not their mother. So, in its own way, the Venture family is getting a little closer. It just took an asylum riot and an abduction to do it.
A few notes:
- Apparently Gary has taken to dressing like a Jedi crossed with a ninja now that SPHINX is no more.
- Hank shows a lot of insight into why his father is a screwed-up mess.
- Once again, the show displays a deep knowledge of comic-book trivia; the Arkham Asylum parody has versions of Two-Face, False Face, Calendar Man, and what I’m pretty sure is the Clock King.
- Hatred is becoming increasingly desperate to connect with Dean, and the show’s playing that gag for all it’s worth.
- And Gary continues to be a bad-ass. The guy starts a riot with five lines of dialogue and a raised fist, while saving both Venture brothers. If this were any other show, I’d say he’s going to become the bodyguard… instead I’m wondering how it’ll go horribly wrong.
- Dr. Orpheus gets along with Dermott surprisingly well.