Venture Bros. Wrapup: “Operation: P.R.O.M.”

I know from reading Jackson Publick’s LiveJournal that producing The Venture Bros. this season has been an arduous task.  He, Doc Hammer, and the rest of the AstroBase crew have been working on season 4 since at least summer 2008, and even at that there was a lengthy break in the middle and a shorter break before the season finale.  While I give the guys all the credit in the world for busting their ass to produce one of my favorite shows, I can’t help but wonder when burnout will start to set in.  There’s already talk in fan circles that “Operation: P.R.O.M.” could just as easily be a series finale as a season finale.

But speculation over the fate of the show can wait for another day.  Let’s first take a look back at the first-ever one-hour Venture Bros. episode and try to figure out where things now stand in the Ventureverse.

The main storyline of the finale concerns, as the title suggests, a prom.  But not just any prom – a $500 home-school prom held in the Venture garage/motor pool!  I’ll give Rusty credit for at least making an attempt to do something nice for the boys, even if he did cheap out and even if it was partially motivated by a desire to wipe clean the horrible memories of his own prom.  In any case, the scene had some snappy dialogue and I loved watching The Alchemist and Jefferson Twilight act all indignant over being typecast as a decorator and a custodian, respectively.

As expected, the prom quickly jumps the tracks.  Dean is heartbroken to discover that Triana Orpheus, now living with her mother and the OutRider, has a boyfriend (a Twilight-style cripster).  He clearly inherited his father’s sense of resilience, and spends the rest of the episode alternately sulking and throwing fits.  Hank, meanwhile, tries unsuccessfully to woo the postal carrier of his dreams, but handles his rejection much better.

Capping it all off is a classic bit of Rusty Venture lameness.  First, he hires “escorts” for his guests.  Second, those “escorts” turn out to be members of Molotov Cocktease’s Blackhearts and are there to kill everyone.  Last, he unintentionally saves the day by turning them into real Spanish flies.  Awesome.

The B plot brings to a conclusion some long-simmering elements that I had honestly not spent a lot of time thinking about.  Col. Gathers heads back to OSI to negotiate a truce with (blackmail?) his former employers using the nearly dead Monstroso as a bargaining chip.  It occurred to me watching this story that season 4 really was pretty light on the whole inter-agency politicking and backstabbing thing.  The Guild itself was barely felt as a presence, and Phantom Limb’s revenge campaign against them seems to have fizzled out.

The interplay between Gathers and Gen. Treister was a joy to watch, and it’s a damn shame that Treister decided to turn himself into a space rocket.  I would loved to have seen more with those two.

Another story arc draws to a close in this episode, as Henchman 21 tries to bring closure to 24’s death by burying his skull at the Venture Compound.  He’s finally ready to let go of his best friend, so he can finally masturbate in peace.  But while there he gets an unexpected glimpse into the world of the good guys, and starts to question his loyalties.  After all, what has being the Monarch’s henchman gotten him?  He gets shot at, his best friend dies, and he has to watch his boss be married to the one woman he genuinely likes and respects.

But the best of all was saved for last.  The final 10 minutes were all (mostly) about action.  It was totally exhilarating to see Brock kicking ass once again.  It speaks to the show’s willingness to dispatch major characters that Brock’s desperate run back to the Compound to save everyone was infused with real drama.  I could totally see Jackson and Doc wiping out the cast and just ending the series.  But I’m sure glad they didn’t.

So season 4 is at long last in the books.  And although I said I wouldn’t speculate on the future, I can’t help it.  “Operation: P.R.O.M.” tied up a lot of loose ends for many of the main characters.  The boys are grown up now (chronologically anyway), Doc is back to his old lame super-scientist self, Sgt. Hatred has his woman back, Shore Leave and the Alchemist finally hooked up, Brock can move on from Mol, and 21 has closure over 24’s death and has found his true calling as a good guy.

It sure feels to me like this could be the natural stopping point for the series.  And I wouldn’t blame Jackson and Doc one bit if they decided to say goodbye to their beautiful creation.  But until that becomes official, I will eagerly await the day they drop a Season 5 trailer on us.

Final grade: A

Notes:

  • I totally missed Brock slipping and calling himself Doc’s bodyguard during the first viewing, but he did.
  • I did in fact Google Andrea Dworkin, just not on an empty stomach.  Enjoy.
  • I don’t care what anyone thinks, I loves me some Murderous Moppets/Pupae Twins.
  • I also loves me some Shore Leave.  Best supporting character of the season.
  • Nice to see Sgt. Hatred reunited with Princess Tinyfeet.  I wasn’t sure if she really was into bondage or just scared out of her mind, but I think I’m leaning toward the former.
  • The whole bit with trying to figure out what a “Rusty Venture” sex move is was the first time one of those extended sex talk bits really stuck the landing all season.  Well done, Doc and Jackson.
  • Another catch on the second viewing – Col. Gentleman’s model is a re-enactment of the USS Indianapolis tragedy.  Wow.
  • Secret president?
  • Put me down for a Shallow Gravy CD and t-shirt.

Best lines/moments:

  • “The time is now…Tetris?”
  • “Maybe you could hit the gigantic orange wings if he wasn’t wearing them.”
  • “I thought I’d drop a little New Hank on you.  New Hank cusses.”
  • “Place smells like out-of-work OSI d-bags.”
  • “Love the hoods, guys, very Slipknot.”
  • Brock casually running the limo over one of the dead Associates was subtle and hilarious.
  • “Nice shot Queen Midas, now she’s got money for tolls.”
  • Fix it!

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