Review: The Venture Bros. - Pinstripes & Poltergeists (mid-season finale)
by Annie Wu, posted Dec 14th 2009 1:16PM
(S04E08) My heart is all aflutter. Talk about ending on a high note (Venture Bros. will return to finish the season in a few months, Lost-style). Just like "The Better Man," this Doc Hammer-penned episode was the perfect balance of great story and VB's signature comedy. There were so many great moments, quotable lines, and much-missed familiar faces, this quickly turned into one of my favorite episodes from any season, right up there with "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II" and "Twenty Years to Midnight."
First things first, it was amazing to see 24 return, even in a sort of ghost form. Opening the episode with yet another mindless 21/24 exchange was precious and raised some interesting points. All those secret tips seem to have played an integral part in 21's transformation into a legitimately effective henchman.
However, 24's presence still doesn't answer the question of who crossed the name off the list at the super-end of "Return to Malice." He mentioned that he can't move things because he's a not poltergeist, and that's information we can trust only after we believe that 24's ghost isn't just a figment of 21's desperate, lonely imagination. Whatever, I'm just thrilled to see 21 and 24 saying stupid things to each other again, so I can wait for answers.
Secondly, Brock's back! Brockness Monster! Brock Lobster! He's full-on with SPHINX now, which has been a secret good guy operation since the Pyramid Wars (I assume that was shortly after the time "The Invisible Hand of Fate" happened). It wasn't until the SPHINX intro started rolling that I realized just how much I've missed Brock.
I've been in the less popular camp of people who are really open-minded about Hatred but, damn, nothing compares to Mr. Samson. I loved all his interactions with ShoreLeave, who is endlessly amusing and marvelously animated (all his hip-popping body language is sass-perfection). Also, I was surprised to see in the credits that the old-school spy-sexy SPHINX theme wasn't another JG Thirlwell piece but a song composed/performed by Doc Hammer's band, Weep.
Brock's scarily well-matched fight with 21 was fantastic, if only to bring back some fond memories of season one's "Tag Sale! You're It" and to hear 21 say, "This is like Christmas, my first BMX bike and meeting the cast of Firefly all in one." By the way, are Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick still doing that thing where whoever makes a Star Wars reference in a script has to get their eighth grade haircut? I don't want to think about what needs to happen for putting 21 in an actual Jedi outfit.
I also loved revisiting Billy and Pete White (has he ever been referred to as the Pink Phantom before?), Speedy (who chills with Woodrow Wilson, I guess), Hunter Gathers, and the outrageously well-oiled Sky Pilot.
Shore Leave: I pretended to be a religious fanatic.
Sky Pilot: And I pretended to be in love with Shore Leave.
Shore Leave: Oh!? And I pretended I liked having sex with him every night.
All this talk and I still haven't covered The Monarch's story with Monstroso (who contributed the "Pinstripes" part of the title). Is something going to happen between Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and 21? Not that I could ever imagine her falling for him, but there was a definite emphasis on 21's infatuation with her in this episode (Special Software!).
Also, it seems like both husband and wife are now annoyed with the Moppets (way to finally catch up with the viewing audience, fictional characters), so maybe there will be a falling out when the season starts up again. We haven't seen a lot of the Moppets in this season, so they could be plotting all sorts of things behind closed doors.
The post-credits clip couldn't have closed things better, with Brock back at home, blood-stained and eating cereal real casual-like. I hope this means Brock is the bodyguard again, though I'm also curious to see what happens to Hatred now.
Other little moments I enjoyed: Sloppy Monarchmobile action on the heliport, Brock plunging his fists straight into the heads of two henchmen, HENCH 4 LIFE, the amusement in Brock's voice while describing ShoreLeave's Chippendale's-y tendencies, tiny 21, Dr. Venture's tech knowledge, ShoreLeave's "There's a ladder right there!" and SPHINX's creepy intruder alert.
Seriously, there was so much goodness, I'm feeling the need to watch this episode on loop for the rest of the day. God, season 4.2 needs to happen right now.