The Venture Bros. return (finally) and it's like they never left

If you didn’t know that the season 4 finale of The Venture Bros. aired back in 2010, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it aired just last week, based on the season 5 premiere “What Color Is Your Cleansuit?” Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick haven’t missed a beat in these past three years, and The Venture Bros. is just as amazing as when it left.

While the episode figuratively seems to have been made immediately after season 4 ended, it literally begins there, the morning after Hank and Dean’s homeschool prom. Brock investigates Molotov’s car crash, where neither she nor Monstroso are to be seen. Sgt. Hatred returns home with Princess Tinyfeet, only to discover she has another man waiting there. Gary, nee Henchman 21, having quit the Monarch’s employ, joins Sphinx — only to be left with the whole organization after everyone else quits to rejoin the restored OSI. Hank narrowly avoids sleeping with Dermott’s mom again. Dean is still pissed off at everything. And Doc Venture wakes up next to a fly-woman and a phone call from his brother Jonas Junior asking if this heat shield for the Gargantua-1 space station will be ready in three months as promised.

It’s the last thing that sets the hour-long episode in motion, as Dco grabs Billy and Pete and hires a bunch of nerds from the local university as interns in hopes of finishing the massive project in time. Of course, Doc divvies them into three groups, all color-coordinated by their cleansuits: The white are the developers, the orange are the manufacturers, and the “special” greens are basically Doc’s servants, as of course he won’t be doing any work himself. Also of course, the building the oranges and whites work and live (and aren’t allowed to leave) is insanely full of radiation.

Meanwhile, an angry, troubled Dean has learned about being a clone and gone goth in response, dying his hair black as his new cleansuit (as seen in the Halloween special). He not only burns the bed who taught him countless facts but not how to live, and decides to move into the attic, which is an overt act of rebellion as Dean can probably imagine. He’s still partially conscripted into Doc’s scheme, but mostly because of a cute intern named Talia.

In order to fund the heat shield (Doc having already spent the advance, obviously), he enlists the financial help of one Augustus St. Cloud, who is basically a combination of Lex Luthor and the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons (he drives the ’89 Batmobile). He and Billy have a past, in that St. Cloud hates Billy for beating him at Quizboys long ago, and even after he buys a few things from Dr. Venture he joins the Guild of Calamitous Intent in order to arch his former nemesis.

The radiation, of course, mutates the heck out of the interns. The whites to grow extra arms, large brains and telepathic powers, while the orange get giant, their bodies become as hard as rock, and horrible fanged teeth (also, they start eating the green interns, enabling a lot of great “Student Green is people!” screams from Sgt. Hatred). Also, because they’re nerds, they very quickly create an elaborate mythology for themselves that includes prophecies and a savior. Oh, and Martin, the leader of the whites, is also going to use the heat shield to mutate the entire planet and rule the world.

This culminates in a massive, multitiered plan that involves Doc creating a releasing a serum to unmutate the interns, Billy and Pete breaking into St. Cloud’s house to steal a floating disc that is somehow necessary for the plan, Dean challenging Martin for leadership of the whites, and all of it coordinated by Gary, who’s just been hanging out at the former Sphinx HQ and policing the Venture compound. That, of course, makes it sound far simpler than it is: Doc’s “cure” is basically just a gas that contains penicillin and roofies, Billy and Pete are caught by St. Cloud (now in a silly, vaguely cloud-themed supervillain costume) and Billy has a quiz showdown with what is an impressively nerdy question with an even nerdier answer, Dean chooses a contest of Indian-themed events like Indian burns, and not only becomes leader but gets Talia as his queen. Suffice it to say Dean is not at all deterred from making out with her by her extra arms and giant head. Oh, and then the Monarch attacks, because he’s mad that Dr. Venture seems to have an army of mutant supermen and he doesn’t.

Somehow, pretty much everybody wins. Dr. Girlfriend manages to de-mutate all of the interns with special butterflies, the interns are saved, Billy defeats St. Cloud, Doc gets his heat shield and impresses his brother, and Dean gets to make out with a girl before Doc’s otherwise useless gas knocks everybody out and causes him to forget it (welcome to the club, Dean).

It’s an hour of Venture Bros. that never once lags, despite its massive run time, one that might not have the massive insanity of last night’s Game of Thrones, but one that continues to change the status quo of the series and watch these characters grow, and one that feels just as comfortable and wonderful and entertaining as if it had aired three years ago. Welcome back.

Assorted Musings:

• Is Gary going to end up part of Team Venture? God I hope so.

• Doc and Jackson discussed how they had to change their production for season 5, but it completely paid off — the art and animation is better than ever.

• Some great voice-casting of Aziz Ansari and Wyatt Cenac

• The way the Monarch poison darted the taxi driver without any thought, just as if he was tipping him, made me laugh forever.

• I love the hell out of Augustus St. Cloud.

• Tim Tom and Kevin as Mickey and Mr. T from the Rocky movies are absolutely amazing. Of course the Monarchs’ love-making would include one guy belittling/praising him from the sidelines and one presumably beating the shit out of him.