Lucky you! I’m going to keep this week’s Venture review short. As Oscar Wilde would have said if he lived through the invention of Ecstasy, “you can’t call everything a transcendent work of storytelling genius unless your rent boy helped you steal a trash bag full of X from an evidence locker in The Haight.” Jeffrey left me a number of years ago for a Gold’s Gym manager so it looks like I can’t write an overwrought review of this week’s Venture Bros. I’ll stick to the facts.
First of all, “Spanakopita” completely reverses my big problem with last week’s episode- focus! Last week each set of characters got about 5 minutes of screen time to complete their entire arc for the episode. Kind of a bummer. This week we spent the whole episode with one set of characters who were together pretty much the whole time. It’s a pretty steadily-paced episode with a pretty low-impact concept: Doc takes Sgt. Hatred, Pete White and Billy Quizboy to a small Greek island that he always vacations on for a special festival named after a delicious pastry. Of course, nobody else can find any record of Spanakopita and everything’s suspicious as hell so the mystery deepens.
See? Simple pitch. It’s the basic style of conflict that fuels almost every episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: One of the main characters reveals a preconceived notion or habit that has gone unsaid. The other characters try to join in and poke holes in it until the climactic moment when somebody has to break and give up, letting the original party live the lie. It’s always fun and results in shouting conversations. In this case, Doc has been going to a remote island called Spanakos for twenty years and not questioning why the festival he’s attending is named after a pastry and not celebrated anywhere else or recorded on the internet. Stakes get raised when Billy Quizboy’s nemesis August St. Cloud (Making a return from the season opener) intercepts the invite to the vacation and shows up to commit the most banal crime of all: Ruining Billy’s vacation.
St. Cloud is a contemptuous little whelp and I adore his characterization. He’s a walking “Um Actually;” he’s that internalized sense of persecution from growing up nerdy that makes you weaponize your intelligence and turn into a bully to whomever you can the moment you have any power. He’s the reason you never, ever read the comments on YouTube. Insufferable. He’s Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick’s opinion of toxic, recursive, tribal “Nerd Culture” and it’s about god damn time. Everybody on this show is a giant dork with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture ephemera. Even the Doctor Doom analogue played D&D in college with Rusty and the gang. The difference is that St. Cloud seems to think that this makes him better than everyone else and he sneers down his nose at other people for not knowing what he knows.
By far the best bit in the episode is the flashback to some original Team Venture voyage that landed the young Rusty on Spanakos which is fantastic but just too dang short. If the flashes of Rusty’s youth were longer then maybe it wouldn’t be as much fun to see them, but they never fail to underline the way that Rusty’s negligence of his kids is a result of his own childhood neglect. Speaking of which, When the shit are we gonna get a good catch-up with Dean? He’s barely gotten shit to do this season and I’m getting majorly bummed.
Overall, good episode, Go Team Venture, see you guys on Monday.