Review: The Venture Bros. - The Better Man
by Annie Wu, posted Dec 7th 2009 11:46AM
(S04E07) Wow. And wow again. Not only did we actually get closure on a few issues that had the potential to drag on forever (Archie and Betty/Veronica style), but we got one the best episodes of the season. I carefully considered whether my love for the Order of the Triad was making me a bit biased, but I honestly think this episode was a perfect example of advancing characters without sacrificing the comedy that made us fall in love with The Venture Bros. in the first place.
Also, they introduced the hottest VB lady yet, and I dare anyone to try and convince me otherwise.
The episode started with some sorely missed characters, Dr. Orpheus, Jefferson Twilight and The Alchemist, battling the Torrid-summoned Cthulhu, so, right there, it's already obvious a fantastic episode is about to unravel. Then, introducing the ever-dreamy Outrider (Al: "He's adorable! I panicked") in a sweeping heroic movement only to reveal he was the man that stole Orpheus's wife set my brain and my heart alight. Considering how much backstory for every other character there was in the last season, we've waited too long for some sort of development on Orpheus's background story.
Of course, Orpheus's Master got involved, taking on the form of Orpheus's ex-wife to teach him a lesson. The ex, Tatiana, is a ridiculously attractive sorceress and the Master makes sure Orpheus doesn't forget her natural C-cups or her ass that still thinks it's 1992, so that entire conversation was perfection. Now, let's take a second to thank whatever supernatural entity is responsible for H. Jon Benjamin, and thank Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick for getting him to play the Master. Perfect casting and guaranteed gold whenever he is onscreen.
The later talk between the Master (looking like adult Dean) and Triana was unexpected but really well done, opening up some feelings about the inevitably doomed Dean/Triana relationship and Triana's own potential, which was never addressed in previous episodes. It added some much needed dimension to Triana's character, showing her as possibly the most level-headed person in the entire VB universe (only reason I can think of as to why she didn't immediately go nuts upon finding out her dad has been erasing her memory); I hope this isn't the last we see of her, now that she's going off to live with her mother. Also, I really wish someone had told me that training to become a sorceress was an option, before I went to art school. Thanks for nothing, guidance counselor.
Reviving the Outrider was also an interesting moment. The Alchemist's cotton ball story was way too oddly specific and I don't think I want to know the inspiration for it, but I liked that it was the final bit of horror that pushed the Triad into hell. It was also nice seeing Jefferson feel useful and not just standing around a kitchen with urine-soaked pants. By the way, that score for Jefferson slicing the hell out of cardboard cut-outs was pretty sweet. Can we get a second VB soundtrack soon-ish so I can pretend I'm bad-ass in traffic again?
The other plot involved Hank taking Dean out to look for some lady-action. That incredible amount of confidence that Hank has developed since hanging out with Dermott (who also made a brief appearance) is starting to rub off on Dean, giving him enough edge to cut the nonexistent romantic ties between himself and Triana before going through something long-distance. Thinking back, I don't think this could have been handled in a better way; the final peck of a kiss and good-bye was great.
Dean and Triana have been a "thing" since the beginning of the show, just like the Venture family plus Brock or the boys' renewable clone lives. All of these massive changes have taken place this season, and I can't tell if it's the show's way of pushing characters into a new chapter or if it's a sign that the creative minds are ready to bring the show to its final, core-shaking climax and wind it down. Perhaps it's too early to tell. And it's also kind of scary to think about. So maybe I won't.
My brain can't make me.