Last night's Venture Bros. was a Freudian maze of sex, lies, and Clint Howard

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Sunday's Venture Bros., "Assisted Suicide," was a kaleidoscopic journey through the recesses of Rusty's mind. There was a creepy child harem master, encounters with Doc's ego and superego, and lusty game-changing moment with Dr. Girlfriend and Henchman 21.

Even though I liked last week's "Dean gets an internship" episode, it didn't entirely satisfy my cravings for all things Venture. Sure, there was Nathan Fillion, a cadre of crap villains, and Doc's attempts to reinvent Starlight Express, but it seemed too straightforward. There weren't any off-kilter asides or three or four subplots demanding that the viewer keep up.


Thankfully, "Assisted Suicide" satisfied VB's surrealism quota for at least a month. The Monarch attempts to assassinate Doc using a highly unstable "Mind Infractor,"a mind-control assassination device that's against Guild policy. Orpheus believes Doc is possessed and plumbs the depths of his subconscious alongside Doc's Eros (who's represented by Billy Quizboy) and Thanatos (Pete White). While Doc and the Monarch are incommunicado, Brock and Hatred bicker about raising the boys and Sheila and Agent 21 (a.k.a. Gary) share an unexpectedly intimate moment*.


Let's address the Sheila-Gary subplot first, as it could yield the biggest long-term ramifications. In the midst of yet another one of the Monarch's monomaniacal schemes to kill Dr. Venture, we learn that Sheila's taken a backseat to her husband's interests; she puts up with his plots out of love. Heck, Mr. and Mrs. Monarch don't have a couple's song:

Season 4 has been about 21's ascendancy as a henchman, whereas the Monarch's stagnated. He's arguably become more incompetent (see: "Handsome Ransom," "The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider"). Even though we've seen Dr. Girlfriend leave the Monarch before, it would make sense that she'd leave him in light of 21's wish fulfillment.


Will we see 21 usurp the Monarch by season's end? Methinks this is where things are going. Also, big ups on 21's name-drop of "attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion" and "The Corbomite Maneuver."

As for Dr. Orpheus' journey into the annals of Doc's Freudian subconscious, that furnished plenty of good scenes. The best bits included the dead clone leviathan running loose in his mind and his Id's pleasure den, which also echoed Clint Howard's turn as a child-like despot.

These scenes offered further insight into why Rusty is such damaged goods; he's got no happy memories to draw from, only squandered potential and illusory success. Indeed, his most prized possession is a box of memorabilia from his boy adventuring days (which were terrifying). His final speech also illustrated that his father wasn't a saint; Jonas Venture Sr. has gotten scant characterization throughout the show (most of it bad), so it's good to see Rusty admit he's not a preternatural screw-up. Behold:

*Also, Doc Hammer voices both Dr. Girlfriend and 21. A dangerous liaison all by his lonesome!