For all the multitude of changes that have occurred in the Venture Bros. universe, the biggest remains Brock leaving his position as the Venture family bodyguard. Removing him from their family fundamentally altered the show’s DNA, and while the show’s cast aging and the additional cast members have added new elements, the stories that Venture tells have become more complex because he’s not always around to solve problems. He was a human deus ex machina, popular for a good reason but also keeping the show from growing. Taking him off the team may have been an unpopular move, but it has also kept Venture from repeating itself.
The end of Operation Rusty’s Blanket also meant that rather than a constant presence on the show, Brock’s appearances have become a treat. “O.S.I. Love You” is just the most recent of these, and unsurprisingly it’s also the strongest episode of the season so far, in no small part due to Brock’s presence. Told as a series of interrogation-flashbacks, the episode recounts the apprehension and eventual escape of Monstroso and Molotov Cocktease. After finding the pair’s whereabouts, Brock and the rest of his O.S.I. team pick them up easily enough, and as such the question is how the pair could have escaped from within the O.S.I.’s flying fortress.
Rusty, Dean, Hank and Sgt. Hatred are also around so that Hatred can have his breasts examined while Rusty reminisces about his past. What’s great is that this is, for once, not that complicated of an actual Venture story, but the format (and to be more precise, the show’s parody of this cliched format) turns it into a mess of stories intersecting and bouncing off each other. The Ventures actually have little to do with what happened onboard, except for providing a valuable method for Cocktease to escape. This twist is easy to see coming, but that’s intentional. The much bigger twist at the end is that the Investors were behind it all—villains so obscure I had trouble remembering what exactly they’d done before.
Venture Bros.’ focus on failure can get a little wearying at times, which is why the O.S.I. and Brock in particular come as a welcome antidote. Having Brock and his compatriots allows for humor between the supreme competency of one milieu contrasted against the dundering idiocy of the other, and it’s been some time since we’ve had that. Parodying formats has also always been one of Venture’s strengths, but even so it nailed this one particularly well. The fast cutting and unnecessary confusion is something the show navigates incredibly well, and like so many of the best Venture episodes its 22 minutes felt epic, a complete action-adventure movie in miniature.
Season five has been much more episodic than the last two, but rather than making the show feel smaller, episodes like “O.S.I. Love You” have only made it more focused. Since Venture’s ambitions rose after the first season, at times the over-arching storylines have gotten in the way of the individual episodes, but this season has hit a perfect balance, pacing out the larger developments within more self-contained episodes. That best part of this is that it makes the show far more unpredictible. When the season-long storylines become too much, it’s harder for Venture to pull off episodes like this one. Unlike last season, every episode out it feels like Doc and Jackson are trying out a new idea that happens to be part of a bigger plot, rather than falling into the trap of letting the serialization come before the pleasures of individual episodes.