Spanakopita! SPAN-A-KO-PIT-A! Learn how to spell it, learn how to pronounce it, because the imaginary island community of Spanakopita was uttered more times in this week’s episode of The Venture Bros. than I could possibly count. Ever since he was a boy, Dr. Venture has made a yearly getaway to the idealistic nation of Spanakopita to partake in some much-needed R&R. And since Hank and Dean have prior engagements this year, Dr. Venture and Sergeant Hatred make the trip with Billy Quizboy and Pete White instead, in what easily becomes The Venture Bros.’ weakest showing of the season so far.
Whether you actually find this episode enjoyable or not will squarely depend on how much you like the new character Augustus St. Cloud, who was introduced earlier this season as Billy Quizboy’s punctual and overly-prudent archrival. Personally, I find St. Cloud to be extremely annoying and lacking any sort of depth that we have come to expect from the rest of the Venture clan, and so centering an entire episode on St. Cloud’s attempts to weasel his way into winning the “Spanakopita Games” (the bizarre outdoor decathlon of sorts that Dr. Venture partakes in every year) was not only strange, but fell flat on its face as a result.
The whole idea of the “Spanakopita Games” is based on old Greek mythology and epics like The Odyssey. At one point, Billy even has a dream that highlights a few of these ancient Greek tropes like Icarus flying too close to the sun, but the weird and totally strange use of claymation in this scene for Dr. Venture and St. Cloud’s Greek counterparts managed to bring the whole thing down even more. The Venture Bros. usually isn’t the type of show to experiment with drastically different art styles in this manner, besides the occasional foggy flashback or black-and-white effect here and there, so when you have a giant four-armed St. Cloud made out of clay stomping around in the water, I don’t think that I’m the only one who will tell you that something certainly felt “off.”
There were very few standout moments in this week’s showing, like Sergeant Hatred discovering the truth behind how Spanakopita really came about, and the fact that Brock Sampson has allegedly fathered numerous children throughout his years accompanying Dr. Venture to the event, as alluded to by the many little tykes that run around the island while sporting Brock’s signature curly blonde mullet head of hair. But overall, the entire experience was incredibly underwhelming: not only did the episode not allow the season plotline to progress one iota, but even as a standalone diversion, “Spanakopita!” was far from something great.
I’ll admit, I was way more interested to see what Hank and Emo Dean had been up to while the remainder of the cast was screaming “Spanakopita!” at the top of their lungs. At the start of the episode, Emo Dean had been getting ready to go to a rock concert, and Hank had other undisclosed “plans” involving his newly acquired female SPHINX suit. Luckily, given Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer’s tendency to jump around in time and feature out-of-order parallel episodes, this might very well come back into play later on in the season. Let’s just hope that whatever untold adventures the Venture brothers wound up getting into, that they’ll be inherently more interesting and fun to watch than everything that went down at Spanakopita this week.