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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Venture Bros.: "Revenge Society"

Illustration for article titled The Venture Bros.: "Revenge Society"
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I got to interview Jackson Publick last May to promote the release of the third season of Venture Bros. on DVD and Blu-Ray—and yeah, it was pretty freakin' sweet. Nice guy, really smart, and very polite about my mumble-mouthed interrogatives. (It was my first interview ever. I was just happy I didn't spend the whole half hour sucking my thumb.) Anyway, after we got through the big questions, we talked a little about how, much as I loved S3 overall, I thought it had gotten a little exposition happy in places. He asked me where I thought they'd gone off track, and I said, "ORB."

I kind of regret that, now. I mean, it was all super friendly, and I wasn't being a dick or anything when I said it, but while I still think "ORB" was a little too expository for its own good, the pay-off in tonight's "Revenge Society," justified a lot of that build-up. "Society" was a mythology episode, first one in a couple weeks, and a very strong piece of work, managing to re-connect with some characters we haven't seen in a while, giving us some cool back-story pieces, and, most importantly, balancing it all out with the character-based humor that gives the show its, well, I don't want to say heart because that would be sappy. Spleen? Gall bladder? Nah, you know what, heart is fine.

Phantom Limb is back! Last seen forcibly outed from the Guild by leader David Bowie, Limb, forced to using robotic attachments in place of his missing, er, spectral appendages, has taken to calling himself Revenge. At the start of the episode, he takes two Guild Councilmen, Red Mantle and Dragoon, hostage, and in the ensuing struggle, is forced to bring on Billy Quiz-Boy, who's limited doctoring skills manage to graft Dragoon's head onto Red Mantle's body. Limbless has kidnapped the two for one reason: as the two eldest members of the Guild, he assumes they know where the ORB is. They don't, but Billy does—the Venture Compound, where Rusty stowed in a wall safe last season.

The Guild, also knowing the location of the ORB (not sure how), arrives at the Venture Compound in full force. This gives Hank and a bottoming-out Sgt. Hatred some time to bond, as well as allow Rusty a chance to explain to Dean the glorious, wet-nap cleaning properties of his speed suit. Revenge, with his crack team of mug, toaster, and lady's shoe, prepares to make his own play for the ORB, with the help of Red Mantle-Dragoon. Will anyone survive the carnage?

Okay, not so much with the carnage. But lots of great lines tonight, from Billy's constant, desperate pleas to detach himself from the action ("I can't hear that. And if I did, I have a bad memory,"), to the return of David Bowie as the Guild's top man. (His henchmen reassure him, "And may I say Hours was a totally underrated album.") I can't decide which was funnier, Limb's reveal of his precious Revenge Society—Wisdom, Chuck, and Lady Nightshade, inanimate objects all—or the Amazing Two-Headed Transplant comic stylings of Mantle and Dragoon. ("Well, maybe it's because you made us into a hackneyed premise!") The post-credits gag of Billy waking up next to Sgt. Hatred felt too obvious, but Hatred's attempts to explain his pedophilia to Hank via an increasingly complicated bird/egg metaphor were great.

Plot-wise, the reveal that Sandor destroyed the ORB wasn't bad, although Dean's brief time as the Sovereign of the Guild seemed random and pointless. Really, though, this was all about the journey, not the destination. Nice to see Phantom Limb is still operating, even if he does have more than a few broken mugs in the cupboard, and Hated is a lot more interesting to me when he's trying to bond with Hank, mainly because Hank is just this side of completely oblivious. Another solid entry all around.

Stray Observations:

  • "I was accidentally creating hip-hop!"
  • "Apparently Rhode Island is in our driveway."
  • "Why can't I hear them?" "Because you are sane."
  • "We are two heads on one body, and that was never, ever hip."
  • "And I removed the locks because Hank locked himself in the research lab after he saw Dog Day Afternoon."
  • "What is this, an episode of Gilligan's Island? Everybody gets hit once, and they are instantly unconscious?"
    "Good one. Six bucks says he has amnesia when he wakes up."