There’s always some danger going into an episode like “The Better Man”, which fanboys like me knew in advance would mark the triumphant return of Dr. Orpheus and the Order of the Triad. The Triad is sort of like the Boba Fett of the Ventureverse – they don’t get a lot of screen time but are basically awesome every second you see them, and as a result fans have grown intensely fond of them. So the danger is that when you know they’re going to get a spotlight episode, it will be a letdown.
“The Better Man” felt very much like an old school Venture Bros. episode, and for good reason. The main plot, obviously, involved the Triad. In the beginning of the episode they had a chance to demonstrate something that few of the good guys in the show have (Brock notwithstanding) – balls. Even after witnessing some sort of cthulhu from the Second World dispatch Torrid, the Triad gets over their fears (ranging from 8 to 10) and does battle with the great beast. They proceed to get their asses handed to them and only make it out alive thanks to the intervention of a smartly dressed man on horseback, who Orpheus identifies as the Outrider – a former student and the man who STOLE HIS WIIIIIIIFE.
By the way, Dana Snyder (The Alchemist) is one of the best voice actors in the business today, so there.
Humbled by the experience, the Triad seeks to improve themselves. Jefferson Twilight kicks his training up a notch (watch out Matthew Lesko!), while Orpheus constructs a ramshackle portal to the Second World out of household junk. When Orpheus fails at that, he calls upon his Master for guidance once again. And in the cruelest twist of all, the Master takes on the (disturbingly hot) form of Byron’s ex-wife, Tatiana. While the Orpheus/Master interactions are usually pretty funny, this one fell a bit flat for me.
When Torrid returns from Hell and sends the Outrider there, Orpheus realizes that his anger has been misplaced all this time. The Triad tries to help the Outrider, which leads to the awesome scene with them recalling their worst memories. And why do I get the sense that the Alchemist’s “shit cotton” story really happened to someone? Gross, and awesome at once. But in the end, it’s the non-magic Jefferson who saves the day.
In the midst of all this, the boys take yet another step into their post-clone world. Dean is finally realizing that his future with Triana Orpheus is anything but assured, and so Hank takes him babe hunting at Girl Island. Or as we know it, the mall. Hank’s desperate attempts to look educated (consisting of nothing more than catch phrases from “The Game”) with the ladies reeked of his pal Dermott, who turns in a surprisingly decent cameo and tries to help Dean.
About the only character who really got anywhere was Triana, who gets a clear picture of where she doesn’t want her life to go, thanks to the master. He confronts her in the guise of future Dean, who looks a bit like an animated Harvey Pekar to me. In a change of pace he outright tells her what to do and she exits the episode to live with her mother and possibly find her calling as a sorceress, which is a convenient way of getting her off the show.
“The Better Man” was certainly understated in the grand scheme of the show, but it was a very enjoyable entry. But what really got me excited was the preview for the Season 4.5 finale – Brock versus 21!!!!!!!!!!
Final grade: B+
- “Torrid’s a dick. Who does that? Who opens up Hell?”
- “Let’s not die being goofy!”
- “Is it illegal to look good?” “Yeah, in this house, it kinda is.”
- “He was wearing punctuation on his suit. That’s a total bad guy suit.” “He helps people get free money from the government.
- “Hank, aren’t you just a little ashamed of your ignorance?” “Yeah, constantly!”
- “Oooh, he’s in hell alright!”
- “We’d love to stay and bail ourselves out, but…”
- “Triad!!! Be unseen!!” “Was something supposed to happen? Are we invisible?”
- “That was 100% bad ass!”
- “Maybe we should strip him down and rub him with magic unctions.”
- “It’s always the guy that opens up Hell that gets killed first. That is basic. That is like first-year villain stuff.”
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