This The Venture Bros. review contains spoilers
The Venture Bros. Season 7 Episode 5
“Stop with this fairness crap and go make some compromises.”
When the Venture family moved to New York City in its sixth season, it wasn’t on some random whim. The Ventures literally watched their roots burn to the ground in “All That and Gargantua-2” and the characters were pushed into a new and challenging chapter in their lives. “The Inamorata Consequence” decides that enough time has passed to return to the old Venture compound and the nostalgia that comes along with it.
This familiar nostalgia establishes itself in a number of ways here, whether it’s through the literal homecoming that happens for the Venture family or the number of reunions that also take place in this installment. Much of this season has already seen the show’s characters have to confront their pasts, whether it’s been in a psychological sense or in the decisions that they make for the future. However, “The Inamorata Consequence” continues to explore this idea, but in a rather literal sense, as these characters return to their own stomping grounds and revel in the changes that have taken place during the interim time.
After some incredibly plot-heavy episodes during the first half of this season, it’s fun to get an entry that kind of just revels in the show’s silliness and governing rules. There isa story here and there are still plenty of revelations that get dropped in this episode, but the pacing is a lot more casual this time around and there’s absolutely a reduced sense of urgency. This episode’s conflict is a debate, not a bank heist.
The circumstances that bring Dr. Venture and his family back to their old home is that a summit between the OSI and the Guild of Calamitous Intent is taking place there for the Second Treaty of Tolerance. Rusty is chosen as the impartial mediator between these two super organizations as he carries out the same duties that his father enforced decades ago. There are a number of responsibilities that Rusty has inherited from his father, but this is a role that he fills quite well, even if he may be bored out of his mind. Rusty has seen so much through his life and it’s wonderful to get his unbiased opinion on both of these factions. He doesn’t hold back on either of them and gives zero fucks on the manner. It’s why he’s such a perfect figure for this mediation.
While there’s actual work to get done at this summit, the meeting also makes for an excellent excuse to throw a number of extraordinary characters together and watch the magic. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch gives Dean insightful tips for how to navigate through college and its Greek life, Phantom Limb gets to complain about handgun models with Shore Leave and Brock, and Hank awkwardly mingles with Hunter Gathers. It’s a very fun environment to set an episode. The installment underscores how rare these “civil” mediation sessions are for these characters so it’s sure to make the most out of this unique setting.
Rusty’s summit technique starts off rather dry. He proudly recites coalition boilerplate as he acts as the intermediary between these two groups. The discussions may begin quite slowly, but it’s actually kind of fascinating to see how these organizations come to terms with the nitty-gritty laws that govern them. The Guild and the OSI argue over arching minutiae like how many OSI agents should be allowed for various levels of villainy. The two groups trade examples of precedent and lay into former heroes and villains who are now long gone as they attempt to negotiate what is “fair.” Even the intrinsic nature of who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are in these hyperbolized situations gets broken down.
“The Inamorata Consequences” also touches on the other extreme of ceremonial traditions that are endlessly steeped in the past. At one point Phantom Limb and Shore Leave have to resolve a dispute in ridiculous “pool battle” fashion because it ties back to some old charter custom whose significance no one can quite remember. The Venture Bros. is smart enough to understand that an episode that’s purely set within the arguing summit meeting would be too much, so it knows when to shy away from the bureaucracy and only features the most worthwhile talking points. The running joke where everyone’s debate language launches from lame idioms like, “you’re pissing on my shoe and telling me it’s raining,” also works surprisingly well. It only continues to get funnier with its overuse.
Dr. Venture is occupied with assuring that the summit remains on course, but Hank and Dean manage to break away and are able to inject the installment with some broader absurdity. Both of the Venture boys meet some unexpected faces from their past that allow for some important realizations to be made. In Hank’s case, he finally gets to hang out with Dermott again and the Shallow Gravy reunion couldn’t be sweeter. These two haven’t missed a beat and Hank could really use a close friend like this over in New York City, especially with all of the change that’s been going on lately.
The news that Dermott is now a budding OSI agent is actually pretty fitting for his character and it also perfectly tracks with the idea that he’s Brock offspring. There may have previously been animosity between these two, but Brock might actually be proud of the kid now. It’s appreciated to get an update on Dermott, but it’s even more satisfying that the path that he’s headed down acts as a welcome parallel to what the rest of the characters are experiencing this season.
Dermott and Hank’s antics (which take place on a mountain of jackets, no less) inadvertently bring them in the orbit of the two star-crossed sniper lovers from “Red Means Stop.” A bizarre romance between Agent Kimberly McManus and Guild Stranger S-464 unspools in front of Hank and Dermott and even though they misunderstand the pivotal detail from this exchange, they’re still able to alert the Guild to the fact that they have a mole. A secret agent within the ranks of the Guild (or really any of the show’s organizations) holds a ton of story potential and it’s almost surprising that the series hasn’t gone down this route before. The fact that this news comes to light in an episode that’s all about rules, policy, and compromises is even more fitting.
Much like his brother, Dean also stumbles onto some seismic information, only he’s a lot more aware of the significance of his discovery. Dean finds himself paired up with a renegade HELPeR 2.0 model that’s been living a life of solitary on the outskirts of the old Venture compound. HELPeR 2.0 is an oddly fun partner for Dean to play off of, a lot of which has to due with Rhys Darby’s performance in the role (the shiny crimson red color palette doesn’t hurt either). HELPeR 2.0 finally fills the audience in on the history behind how Jonas Sr. brought HELPeR technology into the world as glorified super butlers, as well as the considerable fallout and backlash that the invention experienced.
HELPeR 2.0’s story helps explain why there aren’t mass-produced HELPeRs out there any longer. Additionally, the news of the great HELPeR revolt also probably explains the extremely brief clip of Dr. Z’s evil HELPeR army that was seen previously this season. I’m sure no one was exactly looking for answers in response to that flashback, but it’s quite logical that Z would have taken advantage of the recalled HELPeR models and repurposed them for his own villainous needs. It’s that degree of thought and attention to detail that makeThe Venture Bros. such a rich experience.
Dean’s conversation with his new HELPeR friend heads in a rather poignant direction. The two contemplate the higher purpose of life, starting over, and how everyone hopes to be better than those that came before them. The two find a strange camaraderie from the fact that they are both “modified inventions” of their creator, whether that’s an android or a clone. There’s an incredible amount of power to when HELPeR 2.0 tells Dean that they are both “second chances.” Dean may finally be ready to do something about that, but unfortunately HELPeR 2.0 isn’t strong enough to push himself into the future. That being said, he makes a valid case for how staying in your cage doesn’t always mean that life if is a prison. Sometimes you just don’t need anything else.
Dean’s conversation with HELPeR 2.0 is touching stuff, but the real surprise comes during their goodbye with the brilliant reveal that HELPeR thought Dean was Rusty the entire time. This opens the door to the much bigger revelation that this essentially confirms that Rusty is also a clone, just like his children. Rusty has died and been reproduced with cloning technology like the boys have countless times over. It’s been stated before that Jonas was the one originally responsible for the “learning beds,” so it’s not hard to imagine that Rusty died on one of their misadventures and that he went through a very similar experience that he’s put his children through.
“Now Museum, Now You Don’t” even features a video clip of Jonas that now feels particularly important. Jonas is asked by an interviewer, “What is your greatest adventure, and therefore, invention?” Jonas responds, “Both are great questions, but there is only one answer: my son.” The show continues to spin Jonas into this twisted, evil version of Marvel’s Howard Stark and this latest development is far from surprising. Furthermore, let’s not rule out the theory that the Monarch might have actually died in that plane crash and that he has been a clone all along, too (lest we forget that excessive eyebrow growth is a causal symptom of the cloning procedure and we’ve seen that the Monarch/Malcolm had unruly brows present in his infantile years). As much as I hate the idea that everyone on this show is some variation on a clone, there’s plenty of evidence to support these theories at this point.
Clones and piles of jackets aside, the mediation process devolves into an increasingly petty disaster and a strong reminder of why these summits are so rare in the first place. As the behavior of the Guild and OSI members gets more immature, Rusty finally has enough and is able to bring all of this arguing and peacocking to a close. It’s nice to finally see Rusty do something right for once and if the episode has a de facto hero, it’s him. He actually saves the day here by treating everyone like children and his reluctance to not try to please everybody. Compromises are necessary. It’s also genuinely sweet to see Dean and his father share a heartwarming hug, even if a robot with Stockholm Syndrome is the one that causes him to understand the tough childhood that his father had and how they’re more alike than he thought.
“The Inamorata Consequence” is another strong installment from The Venture Bros.’ increasingly bulletproof seventh season. This seriously may be the show’s most rewarding season to date. This episode splits its cast up in order to properly balance the tone of the installment, but common ground is found between all of the characters in a way that helps tie everything together. The events of the entry don’t disappoint and clearly this Guild mole storyline is only going to intensify as the season progresses. The news that the Peril Partnership is involved likely means that a trip over to Canada (and a reappearance of Tiger Shark) is also probably in the cards. With our luck the season may conclude with a syrup-soaked showdown between the three major arching organizations.
And more Hank dream sequences, please. At least one per episode.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem and his perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.