[WARNING – This Venture Bros. review contains some minor spoilers.]
It’s the quinquagenary (i.e. 50th) anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tolerance – the official set of bylaws that governs the rules of engagement between the Office of Secret Intelligence (O.S.I.) and the Guild of Calamitous Intent (The Guild) – and given recent events, it has been decided that the rules are due for a rewriting. This leads to the second summit of its kind – a grand meeting between the animosity coalitions of the world’s largest super-spy network and organized villainy collective.
A neutral party must host this grand event, and who better than Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture? Well, pretty much anybody, but he was the first one to volunteer and the old Venture compound does have plenty of room. Besides, The O.S.I. and The Guild both eat up that whole “honoring traditions” thing and speeches that start with “On this very ground, so many years ago…”
Unfortunately, pomp and circumstance is about the only thing The O.S.I. and The Guild do agree upon. Soon Dr. Venture finds himself neck-deep in the kind of petty semantics and nit-picking that dominate any office meeting involving redefining procedures and he’s remembering why he hates dealing with all this O.S.I. / The Guild nonsense in the first place. Meanwhile, Dean and Hank sensibly take this opportunity to catch up with old friends. Though in Dean’s case he winds up making a new friend and another startling discovery about his father…
“The Inamorata Consequence” is the first real dud of Venture Bros. seventh season. Of course even mediocre Venture Bros. is usually pretty good but few of the jokes in this episode manage to land. These jokes all tie in to the ridiculous traditions dictated by The Treaty of Tolerance and reactions to off-screen events. This is how we wind up with Phantom Limb and Shore-Leave donning inner-tubes and flippers on their hands to settle a matter of honor with a slap-fight, with no indication as to what prompted this beyond it involving a comment about Phantom Limb’s grandfather.
The irony is that we couldn’t have gotten these moments without cutting away to something else and the other bits are largely more driven by plot than comedy. In the case of Dean’s seeking out Ben – the scientist who lives in the woods behind The Venture Compound, who told him that he was a clone – this works pretty well, with Dean meeting a repurposed H.E.L.P.E.R. robot. In the case of Hank, it doesn’t, though I grant that may be due to my antipathy for the character of Dermott, who returns here as an O.S.I. Private.
Much as I would have loved to have seen more of Watch and Ward reading off the rather ludicrous accomplishments of the Guild leaders in attendance (“Defender of The Guild! Vanquisher of The Sovereign!“) and Shore-Leave’s sarcastically adding ridiculous titles as his O.S.I. colleagues are introduced (“Owner of a Toyota Camry, in stunning Blizzard Pearl!”), this too would likely have grown tiresome were it not providing relief from the more lackluster parts of Doc Hammer’s script.
Much as in past episodes this season, the guest actors don’t seem to add much. John Hodgman has little to do this time around as Corporal Snoopy and Flight of the Conchords‘ Rhys Darby is similarly wasted as H.E.L.P.E.R. though his voice does lend the robot a tone that comes off as a mix of Baymax from Big Hero 6 and Anthony Daniels’ C-3PO, which fits the character well. In the end though, there’s little to recommend this episode beyond a few good jokes and the post-credits stinger, which promises big things in the episodes to come.