The Venture Bros. Review: “The Saphrax Protocol” (Season 7, Episode 10)

You can’t go back in time, Dean, not even with Grover Cleveland’s Presidential Time Machine. We’re all moving forward, advancing in level, or diving headfirst into the Matmos, whether we want to or not


Recap (With the Big Idea)

We get a bit of a reason why Dean did what he did last week. He wasn’t in love with Sireena. He just wanted to take things back to when life for the Venture Brothers was simple. When there were mysteries afoot in haunted castles and learning beds in the Venture Compound. If he had to ruin everything Hank had built up with Sireena to rewind their lives, he would do it. Earlier in the season, Dean didn’t want to be a super-scientist. Now, he wants the benefits of a super-science life while still being ignorant of the world outside of it.

In fandom terms, Dean wanted the show to go back to season three, before the characters evolved, before Brock left for the O.S.I., before Sgt. Hatred, back when Jonas Jr. was still alive, and before the move to New York City. Now, Dean knows that he, his brother, and his father have been cloned. He knows Dermott is his half-brother after Doc revealed that information in a drunken (off-screen) rant.

(This is naturally a pretty shitty excuse for Dean’s behavior. Did he honestly believe Hank would want to go on adventures to lost cities or forbidden isles with him after he found what he and Sireena did? Hank was the one that would feel the pain of having his grown-up girlfriend taken from him whereas Dean loses nothing.)

I feel like he still feels like he can boss Hank around since Dean’s the favored child (“the smart one”) and Hank’s seen as nothing in the eyes of Doc. Dean probably imagines himself the Saphrax to Hank’s Altaltheus — Dean’s the one with vision while Hank just “the tough one” to support Dean’s whims, like how Doc probably imagined Brock would be for him.

But Hank’s not just “the tough one” anymore. Sure, he’s been showing signs of childish Hank-craziness (or, as Dr. Phineas Phage puts it, his “attention deficit hyperactive disorder”) in the past, but this puppy love romance with Sireena’s really brought something strange and obsessive out of him. Hank, the one that Doc saw nothing in, gained his father’s weird obsessions with women and an inflated self-worth.

In their shared Coma-Town dream sequence, The Action Man tells Hank of Bobbi St. Simone, the actress who made the mistake of letting Rusty Venture too close and was rewarded by an obsessive stalking and two twin boys she barely knows. Now Hank’s The Bat, wandering the streets alone and looking for…himself? His mother? A life just outside of Team Venture?

And then there’s The Monarch and Henchman 21 2: best friends and co-villains. The Monarch, who started the show as an archenemy of so little importance he wasn’t even legally an archenemy of anyone (thanks, Phantom Dink!), is now in the most rarified of air: a level 10 villain. Being the Monarch has defined him for so long he doesn’t really know what to do with his life without arching Dr. Venture. Given the opportunity to finally slay his mortal enemy, the Monarch tenses up and stays his blade. What is he if he isn’t Sapharax, the first man to turn a grudge into a career? Who is he without Gary as his Altaltheus to help him with his dirty work?

In a touching display of friendship, Gary gives up the opportunity to become his own Level 4 villain to stick with the Monarch’s side. Gary’s “Hench-4-Life.” He too has grown from an anonymous fat henchman in the background to a fully fleshed-out character of his own. He’s also smart enough to see through Phantom Limb’s power play of kneecapping the Monarch. Like a good Number 2, he’s always looking out when his Number 1 is keeping his head in the clouds. Without an Altaltheus, Saphrax is still stuck at the bridge. “Made you look” would never have been invented.

And then there’s the big big reveal: Watch and Ward, the stand-ins for Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, reveal the results of a blood test to the Guild. Rusty and the Monarch are definitely blood-related, somehow. The Monarch doesn’t take this very well, although I imagine he would have taken it less-well if he had killed his half-brother(?) before he found out. We aren’t going back to the way things were, not ever again.



  • Dean, still a shitty brother, starts his apology list with the least-offensive items and only gets to the real stuff when he knows Hank is still in a coma.
  • I really want to know more about this terrible chicken and the bad advice it gives.
  • Hank being “gone” when Dean wakes up calls back to Jonas Jr. (when he was just a tumor) being “gone” when Doc wakes up way back in “Return to Spider-Skull Island.”
  • I don’t know how teleporter circles work, but it seems like a real problem in the making that the only way from Meteor Majure to Earth is through the VenTech Tower. Of course, now the brothers can visit each other all the time.

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Dragoon: “I knew that llama farm thing was fake. Llama bacon is ridiculous!”

Brock: “How many of you are there? Five? Eight? Ten? Twelve? Fifteen?”
>Guild Stranger nods in affirmative<
Brock: “Fifteen, huh? Now we’re talking! Not you, obviously. I broke your windpipe.”

Brock: “Your target, a one Brock Samson, has been really bored lately and will enjoy the shit out of this. Each one of you fine soldiers will be sacrificed for his amusement. Your unavoidable deaths will become the stuff of legend. Every new recruit will hear the story of the time the Guild Blackout Team got locked in the VenTech Tower, behind seven-inch bomb-proof steel doors, and were killed one by one in glorious service to this dumbass guild you joined. Good luck out there and thank you for your service.”

Dean: “Remember when you liked that 98 Degrees song and I said it was stupid and that guy looked like a shoebox with eyes? Well, I liked it too.”

The Monarch (as Saphrax): “I, Saphrax, wish to cross.”
Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (as Bridgekeeper): “What is your business on the other side?”
Red Mantle (as Narrator): “Young Saphrax, still angry from taking the awful advice from the magic chicken, was impetuous and answered:”
The Monarch: “There, on the other side, your mother waits to willingly fornicate!”
The Council: “Oh no he didn’t!”


While Dean and Hank don’t get to go back, we do! Starting the week of October 15, we’re turning these reviews into The Venture Bros. Classic reviews! I haven’t decided upon the day of the week I’ll post them, but we’ll start with the pilot “The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay” and work through season one.