Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Venture Bros. 3-11 -- ORB


There was lot to this episode. This season, they've expanded the Venture Universe into a bona-fide mythology. It's reaching Lost levels, with the introduction of the Orb and the early incarnation of the Guild. We're only starting to learn just how much we don't know about the structure of their world, and I love it.

This doesn't specifically relate to this episode, but I had thought recently. In the Venture universe, time travel is almost always portrayed as an invention of the past. Recently, Hank made a reference to "Time travel guys from the past showing up to yell at my dad". In Season Two, the cultists in "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part 2" had an ancient time machine, and Season One's "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean" featured Grover Cleveland's time machine. Other than Brainulo, we've never seen a time traveler from the future. That's weird, isn't it?

Now, to the episode:

--The opening scene from the Rusty Venture cartoon was fantastic. I loved the animation style they used, which perfectly evoked Hanna-Barbera animation, even considering it was a cartoon on a cartoon.

--Oh yeah, Billy Quizboy! Kind of cool that he uses a toilet paper roll to crack Jonas' code, considering that the injury that made him remember his past was caused by reaching for a toilet paper roll. Ah, symmetry.

--Did Jonas Venture invent the Internet? He hid a URL in a 70's cartoon, for Pete's sake.

--Brock's especially angry in this episode. Killing a henchman did not mellow him out, after all.

--Doc's Mocho-coolers sound like the worst drink ever, and I will have to serve them at a Venture Bros. party one day.

--Aw, Scamp. Between last week's reference to Speedy and now Scamp, we're getting a lot of early episode references lately.

--OK, we've got a flashback to the early days of the Guild. Now, it's pretty clear that this Guild evolved into the Guild of Calamitous Intent, but at this point, their intentions are seemingly more benevolent. Members include Colonel Venture (Presumably Rusty's grandfather, since he was also a super-scientist. His great-grandfather was a milliner.), Fantomas (A French villain from pre-WWI novels. Also apparently an ancestor of Phantom Limb), Eugen Sandow (Yes, Venture's bodyguard is a real person. He's the "father of modern bodybuilding.") Mark Twain, Aleister Crowley, Oscar Wilde, and a number of unidentifiable members.

Also, their enemy is Nikola Tesla. Hey, do you remember who played Tesla in The Prestige? None other than the modern day Guild's Sovereign, David Bowie!

--The promo for Rusty Venture cracks me up. Nothing more to say there. Oh, wait: "The Rusty Venture Show is brought to you by... smoking!"Ha!

--"Do they have a bedtime, or any dietary concerns? I've noticed Hank eats a lot of refined sugars." Pete White -- Babysitter Extraordinaire!

--Bizzy Bee is back! Everybody's favorite Walt Disney stand-in is all over those shots of Times Square. Doc and Billy in their costumes? Fantastic sight gag!

--Brock loves that car, you know. It should not be trying to murder him.

--Holy crap, Hunter Gathers is a stripper! With a fantastic body, too. And now we know why Brock was assigned to bodyguard Doc. It seems there's a schism between OSI proper and some of the old-school agents, and the OSI is willing to kill Brock to make sure that the Orb is used. So both the Guild and OSI have significantly strayed from their original mission statements. I wonder if we'll see how that happened.

--Kano can talk, and is apparently a Stern fan. Also, he's got something to atone for. (And both he and Brock watch Top Chef. Hee.)

--Yay, the Alchemeist! This is going to prove to be the first time he's ever been useful.

--The Orb is either a weapon or an engine, according to Colonel Venture. (Should I find it significant that he uses the word "alchemists" immediately after a scene featuring "the" Alchemist?) Sandow kills Venture, and draws the conclusion that Kano killed Jonas. Kano doesn't answer, but he doesn't deny it. And earlier he said he'd taken a great man from the world. Damn, I think we've got our answer as to how Jonas died. Anybody predict that one? Didn't think so.

--You know, they constructed a darn good riddle for this episode.

--I like seeing Doc actually feeling positive for once. "Rusty's back" indeed.

--I'm really stunned that Brock was ready to kill Doc. But I think he wouldn't even have considered it if OSI hadn't tried to kill him. If somebody wants to make sure the Orb is used that badly, Brock's going to make damn sure it isn't. But boy, did Brock look happy when Doc decided not to use it. He's got a heart.

--Finally, somebody called Jonas "a crappy father"! And isn't it weird to see Rusty making the right choice? Between this and rejecting Killinger's offer to turn to evil, Doc actually acted ethically a couple of times this season.

--Never thought Doc and Billy would do the "Go Team Venture", but I loved it.

--OK, not cool to end the episode with Brock in mortal danger -- OSI wants him dead, all right.

And now we just have the two-part season finale. I'm a little worried. Relationships are fraying all over the place, and with all the references to immortality, I can't help but think that somebody in the main cast is going to die before all is said and done. Frankly, that idea horrifies me. I just don't think the season finale is going to end on a happy note.

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