The Venture Bros. Season 4, Episode 4: "Return to Malice" - Review

Season Four of The Venture Brothers has been a time of amusing transition for most of the cast, and Number 21 has undergone arguably the funniest metamorphosis of the bunch. Distraught over his longtime friend Number 24's violent death at the end of last season's brilliant finale, he's now honed himself into the perfect henchmen, developing a rock hard physique and whipping the rest of the Monarch's goons into a well disciplined army. Or, as he describes to Hank and Dean in this latest episode, picture him "as if his bottom half is a horse, and on top he's Sin-Eater," or even "Wolverine with Batwings." Of course, he still has the crackling voice of an adolescent and some ridiculously geeky interests.

"Return to Malice" details Number 21's transformation as well as his quest to kidnap the Venture boys and interrogate them about their roles in Number 24's death. His main interrogation technique involves Chinese Water Torture, but as it turns out, that tactic isn't at all as effective as one would think. His abduction of the boys also runs in the face of the League of Calamitous Intent's strict regulations, which causes Sergeant Hatred and Dr. Venture to enlist Dr./Mrs. Girlfriend to help them get the boys back safely. Plenty of hilarity ensues from there.

But the episode's biggest draw is definitely Number 21, who has been a fan-favorite ever since he stepped into the series' forefront alongside Number 24. We've seen him in the periphery of most this season's episodes, showing off his new physique, adventuring with his LARP club, "The Orchard Street Wolfpack," and mourning the death of his friend. "Return to Malice" is the episode that connects all those dots in hilarious fashion, and it's great to get a full picture of the character's new status quo. Whether he's speaking to Number 24's skull like some henchmen Hamlet, plotting against the Ventures, podcasting his life story, turning himself into a fierce warrior or pushing around the rest of The Monarch's goons, I found myself smiling whenever he was on the screen. The character also delivered some big laughs, such as his discovery of Dean's morning wood or his ill-conceived dart-gun salute to 24.

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