I’ve watched the season four premiere of The Venture Bros. three times now, and it’s probably the best half hour of television I’ve seen this year. I’ve raved about this show before, and I really didn’t expect them to top the finale of season three, but I am amazed. Chock full of twists, turns and surprisingly sophisticated character work, “Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel” is a strong start to a very promising season.
When last we left the Venture family, the compound was under siege by both OSI troops and the Monarch‘s henchmen. Brock had just dispatched the top three assassins in the world, thinking OSI had plans to terminate him. In truth, he was being played by Molotov Cocktease and inadvertently cleared the way for her to take the top assassin title. Positioning OSI against the Monarch, Brock hoped they’d cancel each other out. What he didn’t expect was a last-minute charge by Sgt. Hatred and an entire army of the Venture Bros. clones. In the final moments, Brock called it quits, the Monarch wiped out the clones and Henchman 24 met a grisly end that shocked the world.
Got all that? Good. The new season opens just seconds after the battle, but that will be the last of any traditional chronological storytelling in this episode. Immediately after, the story jumps around to various important events over the next nine months, going backwards and forwards in time. Helping the audience keep track of what is happening and when, the writers use a clever device involving the condition of an issue of Marvel Comics #1. You know where you are in the story based on its grading. The fact that the book features into the story and how it’s told is genius. Multiple viewings lead to some fun “aha” moments, as the journey of the book, as well as the journey of the characters over the course of the episode, become clearer. Strangely enough, the Monarch is nowhere to be seen in this episode. Instead, we follow Hank, Dean, Dr. Venture, Henchman 21, Orpheus and Sgt. Hatred as they come to grips with Brock’s departure, 24’s death and the sudden appearance of Nazis determined to use the Venture clone farm to resurrect Hitler. Dean retreats further into cowardice and psychosis, perhaps subconsciously realizing he’s aging beyond any of the previous Dean clones. Meanwhile, Hank does his best to transform himself into his lost mentor Brock. But Brock is on a journey of his own, to find himself and bring those who betrayed him to justice. In the midst of all this, someone has to kill Hitler!
“Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel” is an action-packed, layered and consistently hilarious springboard for the new season. I can’t wait for more. Below is an extended preview of the upcoming season. Get on board, folks! I have no doubt I’ll be talking about this all season long. The Venture Bros. airs on Adult Swim, Sundays at midnight, or you can watch full episodes online at AdultSwim.com.