Can you believe it’s been six seasons of Venture Bros.? 79 episodes if you count the hour long installments as two and add in the specials. That’s crazy, right? Like, it’s not impossible that they’re going to break a hundred. And when that happens, I’ll host the party.
So, I’ve been thinking about “Red Means Stop”, the season finale. If you’ve been following the recaps, you know I was anticipating an all-action finale where Dr. Mrs. The Monarch would kill her husband. (Wild speculation, I know.) And while I liked that finale a lot, it didn’t really resolve anything. It ended with water volleyball in the pool. Most shows, I wouldn’t think twice about that, but the breaks in between seasons can be really long here. There’s always the chance I’ll be an elderly man before we see new episodes.
That aside, I think it’s worth noting that last season’s finale also ended on more of a talky episode that didn’t resolve the season’s ongoing storylines. The Season Five finale was about the boys moving in with the original Team Venture and Monarch realizing that Doc is kinda pathetic. The real finale was last year’s “All This and Garganta-2” which I guess is technically considered this season’s premiere. At least for DVD release purposes. And as much as I want a resolution to the Blue Morpho story, I’m glad they didn’t rush it. Heck, the Morpho story could run another eight episodes if it comes to that.
Or the Monarch will take Red Death’s advice to heart and just walk up to Doc’s door for a no-frilled strangling. If that’s the case, I certainly want that to have some time to play out properly. It’s frustrating to go into a long break mid-storyline, but it makes for a better show. And unlike a lot of shows where you have to ask what they could have trimmed to wrap things up before the break, that really doesn’t work in a comedy. You cut the goofy sidebars, and it’s not Venture Bros. anymore!
Also, I would be thrilled if it takes until next season’s finale to wrap up the Blue Morpho story. I love it. Though I think the whole point of the Red Death was to talk Monarch into giving it up and take care of business. It’s entirely possible that we’ve seen the last of the Blue Morpho, but OSI and the Guild will continue to funnel resources into the hunt.
By the way, I’m hoping that the lack of Wide Wale in the finale means he’s sticking around next season – it made him feel like an open-ended character who could definitely go forward. I love Wide Wale, guys. Yes, it’s amazing to have an actual spunkybuddy doing the voice, and Hal Lublin does such a good job. But beyond that, I just love the giant mob boss character type. He’s an aquatic Kingpin, which is amazing. I feel like Hank and Serena’s relationship is something that’ll come up again, which means Wide Wale should be hanging around. (Unless they pull a Kim and get rid of her offscreen. Look, trying to figure out what Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer are going to do is a sucker’s game.)
Oh, by the way…. Red Death knows where Blue Morpho’s hideout is? Clearly they have history and I want an episode of Paul F. Tompkins and Clancy Brown just being awesome.
One thing that strikes me is how little Doc and the Monarch change. I’ve talked a lot about how they constantly mix up the status quo, and many of the characters are moving forward. Hank and Dean are not the same kids they were in Season One. Well, literally they’re not, but you know what I mean. Brock remains Brock, but he’s been through a lot and you can see that it’s taken its toll. He very much seems like he’s getting too old for this, which makes those moments when he’s really enjoying his job (fighting Think Tank, for instance) so much fun. 21’s been through bigger changes than anybody else on the show. But even though their circumstances change, Doc and the Monarch don’t seem to be able to learn.
Doc rarely lets anything affect him emotionally. He’s the guy who made an army of clone children just in case something happened to them. When the various Hanks and Deans died they died. They experienced death. But he can have an identical set ready in two days, so he never has to deal with that. Doc has gone to great lengths to not feel grief, which is not exactly emotionally mature. He’s never even had to worry about his sons until recently. And when his circumstances change massively, he’s still the same small-time hustler as before. And no matter what changes around the Monarch, he can’t stop focusing on hating Doc. He can put it aside briefly if it endangers his marriage, but then he just gets back to secret arching or fuming over how he’s not allowed to arch. It makes the two of them seem like relics as OSI and the Guild both try to transition into a new age.
At the heart of the show we have two middle-aged men trapped in an endless loop like Itchy and Scratchy while the world changes around them. And I can’t tell which one is sadder – most of the time the Monarch isn’t even on Doc’s radar, which is kind of pathetic. But at least the Monarch has something. Even if that something is hate, that’s more than Doc has.
This show is way better than it has any right to be.
There’s not a lot of point in wildly speculating at this point, mostly because I did that all season, so I just want to wrap up with something I’ve been thinking about. “Maybe No Go” has been sitting with me for weeks, and it comes down to the way Billy traded everything for that Duran Duran ball.
There are two kinds of nerds, as we see in that episode. Sebastian St. Cloud is the worst kind who wants to prevent anybody else from enjoying things. He has more power to do that than real-life nerds, like using the original Henrietta Pussycat as a loofa or altering Gert Frobe’s Goldfinger outfit to fit him. It’s not enough to own these artifacts, he actually has to destroy them. Most of us don’t own any genuine pop culture artifacts (well, spunkybuddy Larry Young) much less the means to ruin them. But St. Cloud’s attitude is something you see online all the time. People who like Captain America because of the movies rather than reading comics for thirty years aren’t “real fans”, for example. It’s this gross gatekeeping that’s designed to keep out newcomers and all it can do is eventually strangle the thing you love.
Pete and especially Billy are the other kind of nerd who venerate this stuff. Billy knows full well that the Duran Duran ball is just a ball that you can pick up at any toy store, but it’s important to him and it’s something he has to protect. I like the way it plays out where St. Cloud genuinely seems to believe he can use the prop to change history and Billy understands that it’s just a ball, but they still put equal importance on it. In fact, Billy and Pete lose their home and business just to preserve it.
And neither one is super healthy. I’m more of the second kind, and I was depressed all weekend over not liking Batman v Superman and that’s no way to live. But I think what’s worth championing is Billy’s openness and ability to love. It’s not channeled in the best direction, but it makes him happy. Given what that poor guy’s already lived through, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
So if I can leave you with one thought this season, it’s that you should be more like Billy Quizboy.
Well, that’s it for the season It’ll probably be a while before I get to do another one of these, though it’s possible that I’ll finally bite the bullet and recap “The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay”. But until then…. GO TEAM VENTURE!