Love hurts. It's complicated, messy, ugly, near impossible to find and even harder to hold on to, like a song you can't get out of your head until you remember the words, except the only way to remember the words is if somebody tells you what they are, and nobody will ever return your calls because you've got breathing problems and sometimes you chew with your mouth open, but that isn't your fault, right? Just 'cause Mom and Dad wouldn't spring for speech therapy, that doesn't mean you should spend every weekend until the end of time eating Cheetoes and listening to your neighbors scream at each other about the damn dog and who can out-drink whom.
Nobody wants to be lonely. "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman," has the Venture clan in the rain forest looking for love (or lust) in all the wrong places. The cold open, a not-achingly-obvious nod to Raiders Of The Lost Ark, has Doc on the run from a bunch of natives understandably miffed by Rusty's theft of their (awesomely phallic) fertility idol; Doc doesn't have Indy's mad skills when it comes to escape, but he gets rescued by Dr. Quymn, a beautiful friend out of his troubled past. Brock and the boys are busy training Clyde the orangutan to box (Every Which Way But awesome), when they get invited to the Quymn camp to meet the good lady doctor, her uber-butch body guard Virginia, and Quymn's twin daughters, Nancy and Drew. Hank immediately falls for the twins, but they only have eyes for Dean, while Rusty thinks he's got an in with Dr. Quymn (whose devotion to the rain forest comes from a cancer cure reminiscent of the Sean Connery/Lorraine Bracco vehicle Medicine Man), although Virginia isn't about to stand aside quietly.
Oh, and did I mention the were-o-dile? Half-man, half-croc, and covered in fur. All the romance shenanigans and a monster to boot equals hardcore quality, friends and neighbors.
"Medicine Woman" is a return to old school Venture; without any real changes I can think of, it could've fit nicely in either of the previous two seasons as a stand alone. Even the flashback to Daddy Venture's key-party, where the young Rusty and Quymn meet and (nearly) kiss for the first time, only re-works familiar themes. As always, Rusty seems like a nice kid who got thoroughly screwed over by his dad–seen here drunkenly making out with Quymn's (married) mom before collapsing on his son's fort and interrupting him mid-woo.
The thing is, the series needed an ep like this now. After the non-stop continuity wanks and the semi-"Tag Sale" redux of last week, it's a smart move to go back to basics. Strip away the mythology and the meta here, and you end up with a consistently entertaining parody that manages to out-do its main source, both in writing and in sheer chutzpah. Just spending some solid face time with the main characters, without the constant butting in of the secondary cast, was great. Brock's ongoing contempt for Doc, and the way he assumed Hank would be the one to sneak up on him while on guard duty; Hank and Dean talking about girls, and their mutual freak-out in the forest; Dean's struggles to solve a mystery that nobody seems to give a damn about; Rusty's as-always pathetic yet sort of pitiable attempts to get his groove on; all of these moments represent a kind of characterization that's been a little lacking this season, and while I respect Publick and Hammer's desire to expand the Venture-verse, I also appreciate a return to smaller moments.
So here's a question for you. First time through, I was a tad unclear on the ending; there was a lot of lesbian subtext going around, as well as the whole were-o-dile thing (having Dean list all the possible red-herrings was brilliant ), but while I get the were-o-dile gag–possible the best bumper ending this year–I wasn't completely sure what was up with Dr. Quymn. Watching again, it seems like she was epileptic and possibly has some issues with men, but more interestingly was the subtle indication that Quymn and Rusty actually share a father. After all, same hair color, both have glasses, and both apparently have a predilection for bringing twins into the world. Plus, given what we see in the flashback, Quymn's so-called real dad, Colonel Gentlemen, is far more interested in shtupping male mods than he is in his so-called wife, an error Jonas Venture is more than happy to rectify. It's all there, really.
"Dethsources" comes perilously close to showing us more about Ofdensen, but without actually doing it. While Dethklok's manager once again tries to bring sanity to Crazy Town, the band ignores him in favor of maybe the worst knock-knock joke ever ("Knock-knock." "Who's there?" "Nathan." "Nathan Explosion." It's not a joke, it's a radio drama.), before questioning him on his tendency to give common sense career advice. Murderface in particular is suspicious, telling the others, "It's a very deadly weapon to know what you're doing." In their infinite wisdom, the group decides to hire a new manager, Melmort Fjordslord, who will let them do exactly what they want without all those boring lectures on "recording." Melmort delivers as promised, but Ofdensen is not to be denied, and it all ends as usual with some metal and swordplay, and Melmort's gory demise.
Melmort is voiced by comedian and metal-freak Brian Posehn, in a cameo that's so pitch-perfect it nearly proves the existence of God. (Of course, any direct proof of God would mean God couldn't exist, ref. Douglas Adams.) Dethklok are their usual whiny, easily amused selves–the conversation about "metal" with the health inspector was awesome–but while this is another good ep, I can't help but wish the writers would try for a bit more. As others have noted in the comments, Metalocalypse has promised a larger story before but doesn't seem to have any intention of delivering on that promise. Which is a shame, really. If the series is going to ever live up to its full potential, it needs to start taking some risks; Nathan and the others are likeable enough characters that I wouldn't mind seeing them go off the reservation, so to speak.
But really, I'd watch the same Metalocalypse structure till the end of time over Fat Guy Stuck In The Internet, which with "Scrote of Trials" continues to adhere to its basic holding pattern of crapitude. Gemberling wanders the Internet looking for Bit and Byte, who are now in the clutches of the evil C.E.O. He meets a new friend in Hard Drive (Seriously? Hard Drive? It's like if my mother wrote a skit about computers for a sixth grade scout troop), who takes him to an Internet bar where Gemberling learns his fame is growing. They manage to find Chains the Bounty Hunter, there's a chase and a crash landing back on the planet we started on (which is just a lot of packing peanuts, maybe the worst planet ever), and then Hard Drive leaves.
Okay, let's be nice. Be nice… Well, Hard Drive's Insulto-Bot's constant cries of "You're a homo" were worth a snicker, and the Star Wars nods were a nice affirmation that a.) I've seen the movie and b.) remembered some parts of it. But that's it, really. The lee-way I was willing to cut is rapidly wearing out. Fat Guy's worst crime is that it can't seem to decide what it is. A parody of tech-parodies? A parody of adventures? A way to keep its cast out of Dad's basement for one more summer? Any of these would at least give us in the audience something to go on. As is, it's smirking, unfunny, and, worst of all, dull.
Looks like we're bidding good-bye to Assy McGee for a while. "Squirrels" is the last ep of the season, and as such, it was pretty representative of everything else. After a cold open with a squirrel drugger getting his just desserts, Assy and Sanchez are out hunting and drinking urine. They successfully gun down every bird in the state, but their high spirits are soon cut-short when they discover a bunch of hanged squirrels. Assy freaks out because of a squirrel phobia, but he and Sanchez take the case anyway (there's a case?), eventually tracking down the hideout of the USF–Underground Squirrel Fighting. After a complicated sting operation involving a stuffed squirrel corpse, Assy machine guns the whole group of gambling sport enthusiasts before facing the ultimate battle against Monroe, the 'roid crazy squirrel from the cold open.
Damn that's a lot of times to type squirrel. I mean, usually, I can come up with some goofy ass pun to cover but this time–I got nothing.
For Assy, this wasn't terrible. Assy's phobia was funny, and the mano-a-squirrel fight (would that be ass-a-squirrel?) that ended the show made it feel like a complete story in a way that the series doesn't always bother with. There was a call back to Sanchez firebugging ways, and seeing the Chief at home in all his tattooed glory wasn't the worst thing ever. It's not a show I'm going to think about tomorrow, but for the eleven minutes it took to watch, well, it wasn't as bad as it could've been.
Venture Bros, "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman": A
Metalocalypse, "Dethsource": A-
Fat Guy Stuck In Internet, "Scrote Of Trials": C-
Assy McGee, "Squirrels": B+
—Dean's comment on the chimp boxing: "This has to be the saddest thing ever."
— Poor Hank. Poor, poor "Broken Arrow" Hank.
—Man, Brock's patience with Doc is running really thin. Wonder if he'll crack?