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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Venture Bros.: "The Better Man"

Illustration for article titled The Venture Bros.: "The Better Man"
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Ah, Triana. Venture Bros may be a show about failure, but Orpheus's daughter seems to be doing okay for herself. Sure, her dad's a dork and he has a tendency to wipe her memory if she gets too close to the portal to the other side that lives in her bedroom closet, but she's basically cool. Which means we don't really know her that well. While it's not an across the board certainty, women in shows like this are usually sharper, more reasonable, and just much better put-together than their male counter-parts. Because this is a playground for writers like Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, and in the playground, the girls always seem to know something the boys don't.

"The Better Man" had the return of Triana, as well as the Order of the Triad, and Orpheus's shape-shifting occult boss. Good to see all of them again, because of all the dysfunctional family groups on the show, the Order has always seemed the healthiest. Orpheus is a bit of a stick in the mud, and he gets mocked for it (to great effect, usually), but he's also the closest thing to a sane person we have now that Brock's gone. And even with Brock around, Orpheus is easily the most reasonable character. He starts "Man" jealous of his wife's current lover, but he gets over it quickly enough. We've had other characters behave suspiciously close to maturity in the past, but with Orpheus, it always seems like a return to form. Basically, he's just a different flavor of loser, a less dramatic and embarrassing kind that, minus the magic, probably isn't that rare in the real world.

With Triana back, Dean's ready to make his move—eventually. Hank points out it may be too late, and decides to take Dean to the mall to try and pick up some ladies. This could've been squirm-inducing, but was pretty low-key, apart from Hank's creepily programmed strategies for mating. (I think this is riffing on The Game, but I haven't actually read it. Anybody?) They run into Dermott outside, and Dean even manages to have a good conversation (that we don't hear) with one of the girls. So far this season, the biggest fall-out of Dean and Hank losing their clones has been to take a few steps away from the parody-Hardy Boy personae they started the series with. Obviously the two already had some depth before now, but what I'm really enjoying is that we're seeing them grow up in a way that manages to not completely lose sight of their essential spazziness. It must be a difficult line to walk, as Hank and Dean can't ever just be normal kids. The naivete is always there, but the comedy works best when they're just smart enough to suspect they're missing something, but not quite able to figure it out.

The Order got a lot of solid screen-time here too, with Jefferson Twilight dealing with his insecurities about his position on the team, and Al just being generally delightful. The scene where they each describe the worst thing they can think of in order to move into Hell was a highlight, but in general, I dig the banter between the three team-members because, again, it's weirdly wholesome, at least by comparison. I'm not complaining about any of the other characters, but seeing the Order every now and again helps to put in better light the clear affection the writing team has for everyone in this particular universe.

And then there's Triana. I'm a little on the fence about her conversation with the Master (who, as a grown-up Dean, looked like an animated Daniel Clowes character). Not that it wasn't a fine chat, but it was weird to bust out this sort of big emotional transition for a character we haven't really spent any time with. I think it worked, but it's one in the morning, so my standards are even easier than usual. I'm not sure I care, exactly, about Triana leaving, especially since I suspect we're not going to see her training or have her be relevant to the plot for a while. But it makes sense to have her get some forward progress in her life, since she really doesn't belong with this gang of misfits. The problem with having somebody sane in your game of make believe is that they keep pointing out things like "You can't really fly" and "Mud doesn't taste good no matter how often you chew it." Triana might actually grow up someday, and we just can't have that around here.

Stray Observations:

  • "Can I pet your pussy?" "There's no irony in that, is there."
  • Dean on his mussed up hair: "I look like Rufio." (And I was just thinking of Hook earlier today.)
  • "Wait, did you just give good advice?" "I gotta go check the temperature in hell."