‘The Venture Bros.’ Are Seized In ‘The Devil’s Grip’

The Venture Bros. ended their fifth season with a relatively low-key finale. But it’s so damn funny, on so many levels, that you can’t help but be satisfied.

Just for the record, the only cliffhanger the episode remotely pays off from last week is Rusty’s seeming death. Phantom Limb is a no-show, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch joining the Council is barely mentioned, and the hints about the Monarch’s connection to the Venture family are left almost completely unresolved. Come on, this is The Venture Bros. They never resolve anything.

As the episode opens, Hank and Dean have been dumped with their godfathers… Action Man and Colonel Gentleman, respectively. Action Man promptly uses Hank to score in his nursing home, Colonel Gentleman has Dean watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch episodes and taking down his memoirs, and Hatred is off to save Rusty with Gary. Rusty, meanwhile, is having to fake torture at the hands of the malicious Monarch… and does, as you might expect, a terrible job of it.

What’s most amazing about this episode is how it’s crammed with truly wonderful character moments. Rusty is ultimately hurt not by the Monarch’s various torture methods, but by the fact that nobody came to save him (or even answer any ransom calls), and his theme for the season coheres: He’s having his delusions slowly crushed. The Monarch finds himself struggling with his wife about to become his boss… although he does pull out a minor victory in the end. Colonel Gentleman finds himself faced with the emptiness of his personal life.

And Gary has a tender, sensitive moment where- Just kidding, he beats the Moppets, possibly the characters short of Hatred the fans hate the most, like they’re a side of beef and triumphantly returns to the Monarch in what’s probably the best moment of the entire episode. The season closes with Hank and Dean reconciling, Hank finding the truth about his existence amazing… and Dean being forced to take a dump on Humungaloid’s grave. Did you really expect anything less?

  • Surprisingly this was not an hour-long, but a normal-length episode. It does feel a bit more like a mid-season finale than a proper season finale, but they set up a lot for season six. Which had better not take three years to get here.
  • This is possibly one of the most quotable episodes the show has ever put out, my personal favorite being “He sways in the wind like a piece of sexual grass.”
  • Flying Squid, from the last episode, gets one scene. And it’s fall-down funny.
  • The Monarch is a lot more bothered by that photo he found than he lets on, and the show does close with him deciding to return to the ancestral manse to work out his past. Needless to say, it’s a hellhole.
  • If Gary and Hatred don’t wind up arching each other by the end of season six, that will be a rich vein of comic gold left unmined.
  • Billy is surprisingly cool with Action Man banging his mom. Good for him.