Last night’s episode was an excellent exercise in personal failure, which is one of the most important reoccurring themes at the very heart of the show. I don’t care to recap too much, but the failings of each character merit a close examination.
Rusty: This man has utterly failed his children. He has cut every possible corner in their rearing. It’s a serious indicator that you aren’t ready for a world beyond the super-science compound on which you’ve been raised when even Billy Quizboy lacks faith in your coping abilities. His greatest failure, however, is that he has become to his children exactly what he resented about his own father (without any of his father’s scientific achievements) and has also failed to notice this about himself. He continues onward, pompously oblivious.
The Guild of Calamitous Intent: FAIL. Like any hierarchical institution that’s been around for more than a few centuries without significant change or upheaval, you’re going to have some grand failure. What we have here is a (seemingly) royally wealthy, heavily gunned, highly secret society…where the people in charge are doddering and ancient and spend their top-secret meetings farting around about trivial bullshit while their prisoners escape. (As an aside: I am always pleased by the presence of Watch and Ward, who FAILED to notice Phantom Limb’s escape.) Later in the episode when attempting to either kill or recapture Phantom Limb, the Guild fails yet again, even with all their rapid-fire artillery, Diamond Dogs and laser-equipped robots.
Hank and Dean: Dean continues to fail at having a backbone. We’ve seen him have a few bold and heroic moments, and we’ve seen him express his feelings with charming honesty, but tonight’s installment had him failing to stand up to his father, or really say anything at all in concerns to his own future. Hank, on the other hand, is totally inspiring in his attitude in this episode, right up until we see him crying into his pillow over his rejection from S.P.H.I.N.X. My heart was heavy for him, truly.
Brock: His failure lies within his inability to alter his life’s course now that his attitude is so changed. Ditching the O.S.I. for S.P.H.I.N.X. has brought him a different picnic with the same damn ants. It is apparent that his new organization is going to be just as frustrating as his old outfit. It was his role as guardian to the Venture boys (and possibly also his time hiding out with Steve Summers and Sasquatch) that softened the knife-happy super-spy and showed him the idea that there was perhaps more to life than being an unstoppable murder-machine. As such, when we see Brock attempting to comfort and mollify Hank at the end of the episode, we are left with a saddened feeling that Brock may be leading an empty life. Will he ever build that canoe he mentions? S.P.H.I.N.X gets a big old F from this teacher as well for not accepting an applicant as qualified as my man Hank Venture. Whether or not it would be ultimately good for Hank to follow in Brock’s footsteps, he is at least passionate, and has an obvious talent for the
game—very few other characters can boast a similar claim.
This Episode: Not to be overly harsh toward my greatest love, but this episode, just like last week’s installment, failed to provide the quick-attack barrage of laughter that I’ve come to expect from the Venture Brothers. It seems that this half of the season is more focused on propelling the story forward as fast as possible, rather than dallying in the overly hilarious. I want to laugh till my tummy hurts. I want to jump up and say “Oh, damn!” but I am seeing a flatness here, as though the sharply nuanced writing and layering of past episodes has been sacrificed somehow in the name of plot progression. The only winner in this whole episode is Phantom Limb. His continued prowess at escaping and evading imprisonment and/or death at the hands of the Guild is totally Batman. The animation of the show has been steadily evolving and improving from the get-go, but I found the action sequences involving Phantom Limb to be superlatively impressive. An insane, crippled man who uses a shoe, a cracked coffee cup and his own cunning to do so much damage is, in my opinion, a total success. To balance this out, however, he has surrounded himself with fail-buddies. Professor Impossible and Baron Underbheit, both obvious failures, have now joined forces with Phantom Limb to form a new league of evil-doers, specifically for the rejected, fallen and disenfranchised. I think things are about to get pretty messy for everyone in the VentureVerse.
Review by Lola Wickerman, Junior Writer – The Venture Bros. Blog