[WARNING – This Venture Bros. review contains some minor spoilers.]
Whatever else may be said about “Arrears in Science,” it does answer a lot of questions regarding the classic mythology of The Venture Bros. while simultaneously setting up a whole host of new questions. That is about the only thing that can safely be said about the episode without spoiling a tightly-woven and brilliantly scripted story.
I shall not go into details upon these points, beyond saying that Jackson Publick went all the way back to the earliest episodes of Season One (including, as one might guess from the pun on the name, “Careers In Science”) to take what had seemed like simple throw-away gags and use them as the basis for tying together multiple subplots. It’s unclear to what degree Publick and his writing partner Doc Hammer had planned out the mythology of the series, but the writing of The Morpho Trilogy was fantastic regardless of whether it was intensely planned or largely made-up on the fly.
Okay. So, the writing is technically accomplished. That’s a given for this show at this point. The big question is “Is it funny?” Yes, but there’s not as much outright craziness as you would expect in a story involving a possessed building, a horde of justice-seeking super-villains and enough subplots that even Hank Venture says “This is too much.” Officinados of dark comedy will enjoy this episode immensely, however, as it is once again made clear just how grand a bastard Jonas Venture Sr. was and how far he’d go in the name of Science!
Those who enjoy a good parody or pop culture reference will be pleased as well, particularly by one flashback sequence that confirmed that Freddie Mercury was among the pop legends who was secretly a super-villain in The Guild of Calamitous Intent (Naturally he was Mr. Fahrenheit – The Supersonic Man.) along with a punk Joker/Harley Quinn duo dubbed Laugh Riot and Stab Girl.
The voice-acting is top-notch as always, though the core cast has surprisingly little to do in this episode. I didn’t do an exact second-by-second breakdown but I suspect there’s more flashbacks and scenes of people talking about the past in this episode than there was action in the modern-day. I may have to do that the next time I rewatch this episode and you can be certain I will rewatch it. Like all the great episodes of The Venture Bros. there’s too much in “Arrears In Science” to be caught in one viewing and this is a great episode.