Episode: The Venture Bros. 4.10 – “Pomp and Circuitry”
Original Air Date: September 19, 2010
Although The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch fail to make an appearance in Sunday night’s new episode of The Venture Bros., “Pomp & Circuitry” does mark the return of several familiar faces long absent from the show. In order to avoid revealing spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the episode yet, here’s a “quick and dirty” version of what to expect when you do watch “Pomp & Circuitry.”
Quick and Dirty: The Plot
Hank and Dean graduate from their education beds. Dr. Venture makes a misguided attempt to get Dean into college based on his dead father’s altruism. Hank tries to sign up to be a S.P.H.I.N.X. agent alongside Brock and Shore Leave. Col. Gathers threatens to put his boot up Hank’s ass. Phantom Limb escapes from the Guild of Calamitous Intent and enlists the help of a very unlikely character. The Guild debates the addition of a thirteenth council member after the “merger” of Councilman Eight and Councilman Three leaves the council with only twelve bodies. Wisdom, Lady Nightshade, and Chuck make an appearance, along with a fan-favorite member of the Guild who hasn’t been seen on the show in a while. Also, Phantom Limb might not be as crazy as he seems.
“Pomp & Circuitry” serves as an interesting commentary on two of The Venture Bros.’s most important characters: Hank and Dean Venture. Billy Quizboy’s “guidance counseling” session with the boys illustrates the extent to which Dean and Hank are out of touch with the reality of living in the modern world — partially due to their “homeschooling” courtesy of two outdated education beds that Dr. Venture clearly recycled from his own boyhood (and which look to have been teaching somewhat outdated material even back in his day) and partially due to the parental incompetence of their super-scientist father. Alternatively, Hank’s efforts to impress Col. Gathers and Shore Leave in order to become a S.P.H.I.N.X. recruit illustrates some of the unique skills that at least one of the Venture boys possess.
Admittedly, Hank is at as much of a loss as his brother when it comes to brainstorming future careers. But Hank’s inability to distinguish between fiction and reality isn’t entirely his fault, so you can’t blame him entirely for wanting to be both Batman and a drifter like David “The Hulk” Banner. Growing up with a self-centered and emotionally stunted father whose slightly above-average intelligence failed to compensate for the end result of his own warped childhood, Dean and Hank find themselves approaching adulthood with a unique — and undervalued — skill set available to few and bestowed upon them by pure chance.
Although he thinks that “drifters” are paid to walk around doing nothing all day, Hank does make a good point when he dares Col. Gathers to find a more qualified candidate for a S.P.H.I.N.X. agent than him. To date, The Venture Bros. has focused largely on Hank and Dean’s oddities and their penchant for self destruction, but “Pomp & Circuitry” goes a long way towards proving that both of the boys are at least slightly more competent than viewers might’ve previously considered them. Hank displays his various competencies while trying to impress Col. Gathers and Shore Leave, and even the seasoned S.P.H.I.N.X. agents are surprised by Hank’s performance.
Meanwhile, viewers must read between the lines in order to pick up on Dean’s practical skills — there’s something to be said for the fact that Dr. Venture’s favorite son knows enough to be embarrassed by his father’s actions in the Dean of Admissions’s office. Yes, Dean still blurts out things like, “I have an electric grandpa bed that talks to me while I sleep,” but at least he’s starting to recognize that his father’s socially inept.
The other half of “Pomp & Circuitry” deals with Phantom Limb’s escape from his holding cell at the Guild of Calamitous Intent, and as the episode’s title implies, the Limb seems to have regained some of his “shocking” abilities in the process. Despite being an escaped villain, Phantom Limb is setting up shop once more, gathering allies and making more plans for revenge. One can only imagine what will happen when he discovers The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch living in his old mansion. As painful as it may be for Monarch fans, Phantom Limb is one of the better villains in the Guild, and his return (re-return?) is sure to spell interesting things for the rest of season four.
Best Quote: [Prof. Impossible to Phantom Limb] “But… but you’re all evil.”
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars