[WARNING: The following review contains some minor SPOILERS.]
The Council Of Thirteen – the ruling body of The Guild of Calamitous Intent – has seen better days. For one thing, The Council of Thirteen currently only has eight members, having failed to convince anyone else competent enough to manage a command position in the world’s largest union for costumed villains to take a seat at the table.
To complicate matters, Doctor Mrs. The Monarch has found an old statute in the Guild bylaws which requires that all villains on The Guild’s ruling body retire as active villains and give up all ties to their previous arch-enemies, so as to focus on professionally hating all heroes on behalf of all villains. It’s a requirement that all the Council members are agreeable to fulfilling, but everyone is given one last night to strike at their sworn enemies. A last hurrah, as it were, and a chance to make amends for their greatest failure. And for Doctor Mrs. The Monarch, that means an encounter with Novia – the Spanish bride-themed anti-heroine who beat her to the punch on what was meant to be the greatest diamond theft of all time back in her days as Lady Au Pair.
Meanwhile, Doctor Venture is in the mood for love and for some reason he’s obsessed with the idea of scoring a date with a black widow bride – one of those women who try to seduce rich men by doing anything and everything to get a shot at their money before killing them. Because he figures that any woman who can make a living doing that sort of thing has got to be amazing in bed and now that he’s the richest super-scientist in the world, he’s a perfect target.
“The Terminus Mandate” is unusual in that it lacks the usual twin-plot structure that most episodes of The Venture Bros. have. Technically, everything involving The Council of Thirteen is one subplot, but there are seven separate stories playing out as the various villains go about their final adventure as a solo villain. Most of these bits are briefly handled, such as Phantom Limb confronting his equal and opposite member among the OSI or Radical Left engaging in one final battle with his arch-nemesis, Right-Wing.
It is the longer and more developed scenes among the villains that make the episode, with fans of Doctor Mrs. The Monarch and Number 21 (or Shelia and Gary) sure to love the conversations as Shelia unloads on her husband’s head sidekick about a part of her past she really does not want to deal with. There’s also a surprisingly touching subplot between Dr. Z and Action Johnny along with a hilarious old-school Johnny Quest parody. Then there’s the always welcome Clancy Brown as Red Death, delivering one of the greatest villain monologues of all time as he manages to be both horrifying and darkly hilarious at the same time.
Unfortunately, the Doctor Venture parts of the episode would be insufferable, even if they didn’t distract away from the meatier material set up for The Council of Thirteen. It’s hard to say what is more illogical – Rusty’s sudden unexplained fetish or Brock’s acting as if the black widow is going to try and kill Rusty on the first date. While Doctor Venture has enough of an ego that one can see his lust causing him to dismiss the idea of just hiring an escort (which he’s done before) or doing as Brock suggests and dating a non-murderous gold digger, it beggars belief that Brock would indulge Doc in this regard, particularly after the post-credits conclusion of last week’s episode. It’s enough to sink the episode a point, but not enough to make it merely average.