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September 3, 2015

The Venture Bros: ORB

by Annie Wu, posted Aug 11th 2008 1:41PM
Venture Bros.
We haven't seen the entire Venture family really buckle down and do some hardcore adventuring since last season's "Twenty Years to Midnight". This was more of a Da Vinci Code-esque adventure though, in the sense that it also involved mysterious paintings, secret codes, and weird albinos. This was one of the best episodes of the season, finally setting us on the right path to understanding many of the strange revelations from the flashbacks. Plus, it has set the perfect tone for our inevitably epic two-part season finale, starting next week.

So, Billy Quizboy finally found a useful clue in one of his multiple repeated viewings of the old Rusty Venture cartoons. They gathered some super-secret and super-exciting clues from the cartoons and showed them to the Venture family, trying to kick off an adventure. I'm surprised Brock let them bust up his garden with so little protest. If he was given explicit instructions to watch over that patch of ground, I would have thought he'd put up more of a fight instead of just retreating to his room and listening to some fake Zep.

The way that Doc Venture, Pete, Billy and the boys tumbled into Brock's bedroom after finding some buried clues (and Scamp's remains) was hilarious, but not quite as hilarious as the tense moments before opening the box. Hank must have really thought they were going to die if he risked sounding totally gay with that confession and "I love you, Dean." The box turned out to be another set of clues, which the gang immediately tried to crack. After a surprisingly quick break-down of the code with the help of the Internetz, Billy and Doc went off to NYC to handle the next part of the adventure.

Brock had his own mystery to solve, in the form of an old cylinder phonograph and some documents, Orders Regarding Bodyguard. It was a message from beyond the grave, recorded by Sandow, a Venture bodyguard from the 19th century. This whole sepa-toned story was absolutely amazing, not only because we learned some interesting things about the history of the Guild in a delightfully steampunky way, but because of who was there. The Guild didn't begin as a gang of super-villains, but a group of brilliant minds attempting to better mankind. Notable members included Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, and Nikola Tesla -- freakin' Tesla -- who wasn't onscreen but still exuded awesomeness through mention alone. I should also note that my new (steam)punk band is definitely going to be called Tesla and the Avon Ladies, and we will strike rockin' fear in the hearts of millions. Ahem, anyway...

The Guild tried to figure out what to do with the mysterious orb, the powers of which no one one truly understood. Colonel Venture, his bodyguard Sandow, and old Fantomas (Phantom Limb's grandfather from the painting we saw in his "Invisible Hand of Fate" office) were all original members trying to figure out what to do. Just as the story started getting good, the cylinder cut out and Brock had to hunt down the second part.

After almost getting killed by his talking car, Brock stopped by to seek some advice from Colonel Hunter Gathers, who was working his hot new body at a strip club. Seeing Hunter again was spectacular. I think this was his first post-op appearance. That surgeon did a really good job. A really, really good job. He was just as hilarious as always, and managed to shed some light on Brock's situation. Operation Rusty's Blanket wasn't really about Rusty at all, but a code for ORB, which is what Brock is really protecting. Orders Regarding Bodyguard was another hint towards that. His job is to eliminate Doctor Venture if he gets too close to activating the Orb, which wields unknown powers. He then went on his way to another Venture bodyguard for more clues, leading him to...

Kano! That whole fight, though brief, was totally awesome. I wonder if Brock would have been able to take young Kano, back when he was in his prime. And even though I've always accepted that he was a mute, I never would've imagined his voice sounded like that, nor would I've ever pinned him as a Top Chef lover. The second part of the sepia-toned story from Kano's cylinder explained the death of Colonel Venture, in the hands of Sandow. Despite his bodyguard's repeated pleads for him to stay away from the orb, his well-intentioned curiosity got the best of him and he had to be killed. So, all we know is that the orb might be a self-sustaining super-engine and Kano misses karaoke. I'm not entirely sure what to make of Kano's silence after Brock asked him if he had killed Jonas, Sr. Did Kano's guilt kick in again for having to do to his boss what Sandow did to Colonel Venture? Or is there some greater conspiracy? Drunk Rusty didn't single out Kano in the museum episode, after all.

Meanwhile, Billy and Doc put on their adventurin' outfits and made their way to Studio 54, which they thought was the hinted "house that coke built." I'll admit, cocaine was the first thing I thought of with that clue, but I definitely thought of paintings at the mention of "whistlers." I'm not sure if that's because I've been fully brainwashed by the art world or if it's because I knew Doc Hammer would not hesitate to write something like this. Either way, I'm pathetic. Also, also... That Rusty Venture Show (brought to you by... smoking!theme song is yet another reason why we need a soundtrack right now. Rusty's Speed Racer pose was great, too.

It took some help from Doctor Orpheus and the Alchemist to work out the real answers to the clues, leading Billy and Doc in a completely different direction. By this time, Brock knew that he had to follow Doc before he got to the orb, which totally threw me. Never in the entire history of the show have I even considered the possibility of Brock doing anything but protect Doc. When Billy and Doc really did find the orb in the very un-Studio 54 Frick Museum, Brock was fully prepared, knife in hand, to take out Doc. I was genuinely worried when Brock didn't look the least bit sad about what he was about to do. But when Doc stated that he knew his father was a smart man (despite the crappy parenting skills) and decided to keep the orb in hiding the way his Jonas, Sr. did, Brock was visibly relieved to back off.

The post-credits clip was what really made my jaw drop. Is this some effed up Christine-esque death for Brock Samson? Or is something else coming along? I'm pretty sure we'll be reuniting with some old, sexy friends before Brock goes anywhere, but we'll see. That reminds me... Now is the best time to really take a look at the sneak peek images on Jackson Publick's blog. Since all we have left is a two part finale, it's a lot more interesting to try and plug all these seemingly random pictures into some sort of plausible context.

Something else that I noticed was the incredible amount of returning background characters. I mean, they normally recycle old characters instead of designing new ones, but I recognized a lot more than usual this episode. Maybe it was just me? For example, I spotted the lady that turned down Phantom Limb's "PEZ" ("The Trial of the Monarch"), the cell phone woman who thought HELPeR's beeps of terror were someone trying to send her a fax ("Careers in Science"), some food court folks and the mall lady from Doc and Dean's speedsuit shopping ("Hate Floats"). If you're super-bored, see how many other background characters you can identify.

Shirt of the Week: The Rusty Venture Show. Young Rusty Venture! How retro and adorable. Again, since I have a weird distaste for ringer tees and white t-shirts, this combo isn't for me. But I can see this fitting right in with someone with a wardrobe full of fake-vintage t-shirts.

How would you rate this episode?
5 - Awesome!78 (67.2%)
426 (22.4%)
37 (6.0%)
24 (3.4%)
1 - Worse than Top Design.1 (0.9%)

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I don't know about others but while I'm a huge VB fan, the 30 min run time is really getting on my nerves. It seems like just when the episode gets into high gear and I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, the darn credits rolls.

The writing, scripts, plots and action demand more, much much more, this is a show deserving of a full budget and a full hour.

August 14 2008 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment

It's deserving a theatrical release.

August 14 2008 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

*Classic* VB ep - laughed my ass off when Hank & Dean TP'd Orpheus while he was astral-projecting...

Only the finale's left? Damn, just when this season was revving up.

August 12 2008 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Epic episode.

I felt that this one was even animated differently... much more movie-like. A lot of effort. I love this show so much I can hardly wait for sundays.

August 12 2008 at 4:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe a soundtrack is in the works, Thirwell's website said so a little while ago.

August 11 2008 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I need to know what the song was in the flashback

goddamn that was epic

August 11 2008 at 7:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One must wonder how you considered "bi"nary when three numbers were used.

August 11 2008 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Arclight's comment

Because 10 in binary gives 2 which could correspond to B, but that is the only base it works for. And obviously it does not work for the other numbers.

August 11 2008 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kano said his silence was penance for killing a great man, so we are definitely supposed to believe he killed Jonas.

Does anyone understand how Thaddeus got ORB from 221210? He said it was a replacement code and he muttered "the 22nd letter of the alphabet is..." but that would have given him VLJ. What am I missing? I've even considered binary and other bases, but it just doesn't work.

August 11 2008 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Zachary's comment

That was just a fan-fricking-tastic episode. I am speechless.

And the Frick is one of my favorite places in NYC! Sadly, they didn't get the interior right. And there is no Whistler room. But I digress.

Oh, and Fantomas--like the other early GCI members--is an actual historical-fictional character:

August 11 2008 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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