The Venture Bros. season 5 finale review: The Devil's Grip

Review Kaci Ferrell 23 Jul 2013 - 07:00

Kaci feels somewhat cheated by the Venture Bros. season finale. Here's her review of The Devil's Grip...

This review contains spoilers.

5.8 The Devil's Grip

Well, Venturoos, we waited for three years for the fifth season of The Venture Bros., and now it has come and gone. This week's episode is a good episode of television, but I'm not so sure it's a very good finale. I guess I'm used to there being high stakes at the end of each season, to being given a huge "gasp!" moment to go out on and hold me captivated until the next season picks up. This show has never shied away from huge stake-finales or leaving us with major cliffhangers. This episode didn't do that. But it's still a pretty great episode of the show, so I have to admit to you that I'm completely torn. I both love and am disappointed by it. You'll have to tell me which side you come down on in the comments, because I honestly don't know how to feel. 

We pick up shortly after we left off: Doc is presumed dead and Sgt. Hatred ships the boys off to their godfathers — Dean is sent to live with Colonel Gentleman and Hank is shipped to stay with Action Man. Neither of the boys is very happy about their new living situation; Hank is stuck hanging out in Boca Roton and mostly just wants to head back to the compound, while Dean is forced to write out Colonel Gentleman's life story and deal with his ex-boyfriend drama. (It appears that things have taken a turn to the south with Kiki.) Finally, after returning home to the compound with their guardians, Dean 'fesses up to Hank about their status as clones. And, as probably could've been predicted, Hank thinks it's cool, which allows Dean to relax for the first time all season. 

Doc, however, is doing pretty okay, which makes last week's cliffhanger feel cheap. He's not even that badly injured; Sheila gets him fixed up pretty quickly and hands him over to The Monarch for torture. Only The Monarch isn't as good at torturing Doc as he'd like to believe. Either that or he's too good. See, The Monarch completely fails at physically torturing Doc Venture and the two commiserate over their failures. The Monarch eventually asks Doc to go, and Doc dejectedly heads for home. When confronted by his wife, however, The Monarch says that it was his plan all along — not to break Doc down physically, but mentally. And the thing that's so great about this show and these characters is that I honestly don't know if he's lying. I like to think he is, since it's always seemed like Sheila and Gary (let's be real: mostly Sheila) were the brains behind the operation, but considering this show's love affair with failure, I'd believe it if you told me it was his intent all along. 

Meanwhile, Hatred recruits Gary to storm his former boss's cocoon, but the Moppets catch wind of what's happening and turn the two of them against each other. Gary, it seems, has decided to go back to The Monarch (hands in the air like you just don't care if you're upset about the loss of all the potential Gary had to join the O.S.I. and hang out with Brock and Shore Leave, be bros and save the world) and in retaliation, Hatred blasts the cocoon out of the sky and destroys The Monarch's home, leaving the villains to head off to the house The Monarch grew up in. What this has to do with The Monarch's parents being friends with Jonas Venture and the possibility that his father was Vendata is anyone's guess, but there are probably clues in that house. We'll have to wait for next season to find out, though. 

I guess that's where my problem with the episode lies: it feels like all the cool stuff is happening next season, but there aren't any cliffhangers or clues to tide us over until then. It feels like seasons five and six were written to instead be one long season, so Doc and Jackson didn't bother to write a finale for this far in. Later, when I look back and am able to take the two seasons together, I'm sure my slight disappointment with this episode will fade. But right now, I just feel like a season finale deserves more, and we didn't get it. 

Geekiest Moments of the Week! 

"Are all these tapes Sabrina the Teenage Witch?" "Well, obviously, son. It's the only show that starred Salem the cat!" - Dean and Colonel Gentleman, giving a shoutout to the 90s kids. 

"This is a toy chest." "That's a display cabinet for collectibles." - Hatred and Gary, getting something straight. They're not toys; they're collectibles. 

"The Moppets have broken our most sacred law! They killed Henchman 24! Hench has killed hench!" - Gary, proving that even bumbling mercenaries have a code of honour. 

"Attention, Gary! It's your old pal, Sgt. Hatred! Come out with your hands up or I will — oh, that is a missile. Oh, boy. That is on all kinds of fire. It's headed for the house and it is on fire! Gary, I still hate ya, but you gotta get out of there! You gotta evacuate, man! Oh, the humanity! I'm just gonna go now and uh, pick this up another time." - Sgt. Hatred, because let's be real, this is a far more accurate take on super villainy than anything seen in mainstream comics. 

"Dean, that is awesome!" "You're not upset?" "About what? That I'm like, some kind of super cool, probably magic, highlander cyborg clone? Uh, no." - Hank and Dean, neatly side-stepping all the moral and identity-related complications of being a clone.

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, Bot Seeks Bot, here.

Please, if you can, buy our charity horror stories ebook, Den Of Eek!, raising money for Geeks Vs Cancer. Details here.

Disqus - noscript

Good review. I felt much the same, I'd have liked more closure at the end of the season. I'm commenting out of pity because no one else left one :(

Spot on review, feels like we've kinda been cheated after several episodes this season that were finale quality, we've ended on a quiet and calm episode. That said, perhaps that was the intention all along? To not only leave Doc with a sense of failure but the viewers as well, putting us firmly in Doc's shoes. Must say also throughout the final minutes I was expecting Gary or Sheila to be crushed by that flaming cocoon and felt a huge relief at seeing them okay. Gotta agree with you in that it looks as though seasons 5 and 6 will fit into one long season and looking forward to finding out about the Monarch's parents, Gary vs Hatred and OSI operations with a wild card like Molotov thrown into the mix.

As a relevant point, Publick and Hammer have said that they basically miscalculated the number of episodes they had and as a result they're one behind, meaning the opener for season 6 is really what was intended to finish season 5. So like you say, a lacklustre finale that will probably be seen in much better light when you can put seasons 5 and 6 together. Still a good episode though! "Who the f*** is Gary?"

Great episode, bad season-ender. Feels like the midterm break from last season. The question now is: will we have to wait another 2+ years for more? THAT would be unfair, considering the brevity of this year's offering.

Second review I've read that make no mention of the ambiguous look into Billy and Pete's relationship at the end of the episode. Pete is upset Billy's mom thinks he's gay, but is then flattered to find out Billy said he is handsome. Is there more to delve into here?

Agree with most of the review, I thought it was great episode, but certainly missing some of the climax of past finales. No edge of your seat cliffhangers, but still left wondering how Doc's and the Monarch's parents knew each other. And on the whole, very solid season, some of their best work in my opinion.

Additions for geek moments... Monarch's old house was very reminiscent of the fight club house to me. Another one you missed from Momma's Boys, the large Indian tossing the sink through the window like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... or are you too young for that reference?

I did notice that in the episode, but since it wasn't really a plot, just a brief moment, I had trouble finding a way to mention it that fit in with the flow of the review. If you're interested in my personal opinion, I think there's something there, especially since this isn't the first time they've brought it up in the show (their time in Rusty's brain comes to mind off the top of my head), but hell if I know if they'll actually do anything with it, or just have it be a recurring gag. They've never shied away from having a gay relationship on the show, but since Billy and Pete have always been presented as straight, that's a whole different ball game.

As for the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest reference, yeah, I am a little young for that (I'm twenty-six) but also I didn't bring up that moment in my previous review because of the stereotypical appearance of the Native American man. If I had, I would've had to go into why it was problematic and honestly, that neither fit with the tone of the review nor would've endeared me to commenters, so I didn't mention it at all.

That said, I agree with you that, barring Momma's Boys, there hasn't been a single bad episode this season. This one was a great episode, I just felt like it wasn't meant to be a finale.

I think one of the Adult Swim commercials said the wait for the next season wouldn't be as long as the wait between four and five was. I seriously hope not. Especially not with so many mysteries up in the air.

That's interesting. I was actually guessing sort of the opposite, that 5x07 was meant to be a finale (what with the cliffhanger of Doc being "dead" and Vendata possibly being The Monarch's father) and 5x08 was meant to be 6x01, especially since 5x01 was a two-parter (so 5x08 would've technically been the ninth episode in this production block).

I'm sure any disappointment I have will fade once we have season six and I can just sort of imagine them as one long super season, especially since it was such a good episode. The Monarch's attempts at physical torture were CLASSIC.

I was totally expecting them to die, too! I knew the episode was winding down, but nothing major had happened, so I became convinced that they were about to die. Thank goodness they didn't. It'd have broken my heart if they had.

I like your idea about leaving us with Doc's sense of failure. That totally seems like something they'd do.

Aw, thank you. No need for pity, though! We've got a good discussion going on now!

Hank and Dean Venture really need to have a nice sit down with Sarah, Alison, and Cosmia. Is it to early to ship Felix and Shoreleave? Seriously. Love Venture Bros. So nice to have 8 new episodes.

I guess if shorter seasons = less downtime, then I'll take it.

Same here.

I hope hey don't delve any deeper into the Billy & Pete thing, mostly because little moments like that sometimes work better as nuance than major plot points. It allows for subtle character evolution in the face of everything else that's going on front-and-center.

I remember liking Momma's Boys, but it's the only one I accidentally erased from my DVR, so I haven't been able to revisit it. GAH!!!

Ha, not to early, I don't think, but just remember that Shore Leave is still with Al and apparently a fan of webcams.

It's funny you mention Orphan Black in conjunction with this, since I'll be reviewing S2 for this site. I wonder what the Venn diagram of people who like VB and people who like OB looks like.

It's sort of that thing where any episode of Venture Bros is better than anything else on TV, so it's almost false to call it a "bad episode" but it definitely didn't live up to the high bar every other episode this season set, in my opinion. But I probably should've thought more carefully before using the word "bad" because...well. Let's be real, the absolute worst episode of Venture Bros. is twice as good as 75% of anything else on television.

Agreed- this show is so damned awesome that anything less than perfection just feels... off.

That said, I thought "Spanakopita!" wasn't so great... until I watched it again. This show, more than any other, is so chock full of genius, seasons-spanning subplots and brilliant, throwaway one-liners that you HAVE to watch each episode (and season) multiple times to fully appreciate them. One viewing is enough to know what you're seeing is great. Two or more viewings are for complete immersive appreciation.

Yeah... I'm a lifer.

Yeah. I actually watch every episode twice before I post these reviews (watch it once, write most of the review, watch it a second time to check that I didn't overlook anything major and transcribe the "geekiest moments" segment, then send it off to be posted), plus I usually end up rewatching them off my DVR later just for fun, and of course I end up marathonning the DVDs at least a few times a year. Sometimes when I'm busy doing something and would normally put on music to listen to while I work, I throw on the commentaries instead and just let Doc and Jackson talk about this beautiful creation of theirs for a few hours.

To say I have an unhealthy dedication to this show is kind of an understatement.

It definitely gets better with rewatchings, especially when you look at how many little details come up later. Like I'm pretty sure that in the Tag Sale You're It! episode, Billy and Pete keep trying to convince people to be their arch villains, and that's also the first episode in which the then-unnamed St. Cloud appears. Doc and Jackson are mad geniuses.

I love that type of stuff. Like the recurring background characters. Remember "Skye," Doc's rave-girlfriend from the Season 2 opener? She's an "extra" in a couple of episodes. Can't remember them all, but I do remember seeing her on the streets of NY in "Bright Lights, Dean City" (I think it's when Doc & Dean are sitting outside the Impossitower). And there's another guy... I think he's on the jury in "Trial Of The Monarch" (balding guy, wearing a sort-of Captain Kirk yellowish shirt) that appears in the background a couple more times throughout the first season or two. And, yeah, St. Cloud was in a couple before he showed up as a speaking role. Sgt. Hatred, too.

Attention to detail is definitely Doc & Jackson's bag.

Yeah, it really is. They're very good at rewarding repeat viewers with stuff that a casual viewer wouldn't even notice. I've never seen a show with such tight continuity as this one.

I guess maybe that's why they need so much time between seasons. Maybe I should stop bitching about it.

Ha, maybe! Although three years is kind of unreasonable. Here's to hoping that next time they manage to cut it down to only two.

I have a terrible suspicion that Augustus St. Cloud is going to make some sort of play for Billy's mom.

Gross. Also, genius.

... which would lead up to St. Cloud vs. the Action Man! It writes itself.

I was completely let down immediately after the show. On a second viewing, knowing that the Council of 13 stuff, the Investors, Vendata, and OSI would not be followed up on, and that there was no major cliffhanger, I was able to enjoy it for what it is: a rock solid episode, as good and funny and full of Venture mythology as anything else this season. I think your impression is right ... once it's viewed along with the upcoming 6th season (PLEASE let it broadcast before I turn 40), it'll be regarded properly and easier to enjoy.

Exactly. I think we all just have such high expectations for Venture Bros finales because they've always been so high-stakes that when it came to this relatively low-key episode, we were left scratching our heads. But it's definitely a solid episode on par with the quality of the rest of this season (which has been amazing). It just needs a little context from season six to be put in its proper place.

This season has been fantastic. I can't feel let down by the finale because all the episodes have bought something to the table this year. Highlight for me this season was Augustus St. Cloud and his "Use your Parkour!" line from Spanakopita! Cracks me up everytime. Couple that with the Harryhausen tribute dream of Billy Quizboy and you have an 'A' episode right there. O.S.I. Love You was a superbly written and paced episode and when taken in context with Sphinx Rising felt like a real love letter to Larry Hama's '80s GI Joe stories. The Vendata/Monarchs father thing, Dermot being recognised as a Venture, Hank and Dean realising they're clones, 21 going back to hench, Billy and Pete? So many good things this year. Only thing lacking this season for me on a personal note was Dr.Orpheus. We need more Orpheus. So, yeah, all in all a cracking season and can't wait until 2016 for season 6. Go team Venture.

Jackson ans Doc admitted they made a mistake with episode count and the actual finale is now the season 6 opener. That's why as great as this episode was it lacked the usual flare when it comes to a Venture finale. It totally bums me out though that it's a probable two year wait to see the actual finale.

And people think waiting for new seasons of Sherlock is tough.

At least Sherlock is about two years at most, bloody venture bros. has you half convinced the show was canned just to appear after a three year gap. Why only 8 episodes! I'm still wondering what the finale will bring and its a hell of wait to find out.

Yeah, this has honestly been one of my favorite seasons of the show. And like I said, this is a really good episode. I just don't think it functions well as a finale. But that said, a few people have pointed out that Doc and Jackson revealed they'd miscalculated and this *wasn't* meant to be a finale, so I can't really fault them for that, either. It's just odd placement, the way it all worked out. But still a good episode that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I really want them to sort out the dvd/bluray situation for all seasons. Its really hard to find them in the UK. I'd like the oppertunity to give them my money and reinforce how loved this show is! Blatantly some fat-headed executives somewhere worry they won't make enough profit off of someone else's talent and block a region-free release. Without that blocker the true value of the show would shine and we'd have less time to wait. Damn this capitalist nonsense we're stuck with.

That's awful. I didn't know they were hard to find in the UK! I hope someone gets that sorted out soon.

if you look at the episodes it looks like they did a southpark take a year or 2 off and do all the drawings in a computer instead of hand drawing them like they used to be so maybe they can start puting out episode quicker and with less then 2 years between seasons. but i love this show its so funny.

You realize you can just download them on bittorrent?

This didn't rock like the other season-enders.

I hope they kill off Gary.

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