It seemed to sneak up on us so fast, but we’ve reached the end of the Venture Bros.’ brief eight-episode season with “The Devil’s Grip.” The majority of the episode deals with The Monarch having finally captured Dr. Venture once and for all, after Rusty is crushed by a disco ball and presumed dead at the end of last week’s episode “Bot Seeks Bot.” The highlights of the night were easily The Monarch excitedly figuring out which way he’s going to kill Dr. Venture, and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch completely leveling with Dr. Venture and telling him to play along with her husband’s plan: Everyone knows full well that he isn’t actually going to kill him. Even though this fact has always been well known and implied throughout the years, it’s still nice to hear the characters themselves admit that The Monarch is really harmless.
In the brief seconds after The Monarch decides to let Dr. Venture go, having exhausted all possible means of trying to torture him, we actually see the two men have a normal conversation they might have shared in another life. In their fleeting conversation about their past failures, and how dismal their lives have ended up, we actually realize that The Monarch and Dr. Venture aren’t all that different. The conversation is also enough for The Monarch to revisit that old photograph, in secret, of him and Dr. Venture playing together as children. It is an incredibly cool, if not poignantly touching scene to be had, and just goes to show that a Venture Bros. season finale can be much more low-key, while still delivering that emotional punch that fans have come to expect.
Of course, all of this is intercut with scenes of Sergeant Hatred and Gary teaming up to rescue Dr. Venture from The Monarch (I would go as far to call the pair “frenemies”). But the best line of the night? The Monarch’s exclamation of “Who the f- is Gary?” in Gary’s own presence. Hank and Dean’s segments were a bit dry at times, as Sergeant Hatred sends each boy to a different guardian is the wake of Dr. Venture’s presumed demise. These guardians turn out to be the boys’ godparents, Colonel Gentlemen and Action Man, and while it was nice to see these characters in a returning role again, there seemed to be a lot of time allotted to each Venture’s new living situation, and I think these could have been minutes best used elsewhere.
The final seconds of “The Devil’s Grip” also brings with it a very touching moment between Hank and Dean, which I think is something we’ve been needing ever since Dean went down that dark and lonely emo road in the season four finale. Much of season five finds the Venture brothers heading down separate paths in trying to rediscover who they are without their father or the Venture compound to define them, and in the rare instances when they had a scene together, their brotherly interaction was either extremely abrupt or altogether nonexistent. But here, Hank finally asks Dean what’s been up with him for the last year, and Dean finally shares what’s on his mind. Hank’s excited reaction to learning that he and his brother are actually clones of themselves puts a tiny glimmer of hope in Dean’s eye, and I think we’ll be seeing a much-welcomed change in Dean by the time the next season rolls around.
With his mighty Cocoon now destroyed by Sergeant Hatred, we also see The Monarch, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, and Gary all moving into The Monarch’s childhood home together, which is sure to cause nothing but hilarious and awkward situations down the road. So even though the season five finale was missing a few big things that were set up earlier this season, most notably Brock, Dermott learning he’s actually a Venture, the mysterious Investors, and the ground that was gained on exposing the Council of Thirteen. But we’ll most likely see all of these and more resurface in the eventual season six, and so in that case, “The Devil’s Grip” still serves as a fitting, and even poignant end to this short and sweet season of one of TV’s greatest animated shows.
Score: 4 out 5