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THE VENTURE BROS. Recap: “Red Means Stop”

Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the season finale of The Venture Bros. season 6. You’ve been warned!

It’s 2016, and The Venture Bros. is referencing Saw and Taken. Who knows? Perhaps those were timely callbacks when production on the sixth season began eons ago. All we know for certain is that season 6 is over, and “Red Means Stop” didn’t have any real closure for the seven episodes that came before it. That is frustrating, and there’s already a vocal contingent of fans angrily complaining about it.

But who can stay angry at The Venture Bros. when an episode is this funny? “Red Means Stop” had some of the best laughs this season, and it may even be one of the funniest episodes in a long time. There were so many great jokes it’s hard to know where to begin. The visual of Hunter Gathers as Dr. Venture, and Watch and Ward as Hank and Dean was really hysterical. That’s a scene that deserves to be watched more than once!

The MVP of the episode was special guest star Clancy Brown as Red Death, the first truly menacing supervillain this season and also the most charming and personable member of the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Every word out of Brown’s mouth was comedy gold, and even the Monarch couldn’t bring himself to kill Red Death…although fear was definitely a part of that decision. Instead, the Monarch devised a plan to make Red Death think that his family had been kidnapped, and it worked! Being the Blue Morpho has really made the Monarch a better supervillain. His schemes were never this successful prior to this season.

It shouldn’t have worked when Red Death did his version of Liam Neeson’s Taken speech, but Brown had a terrific delivery of the lines and it absolutely freaked out Gary (Henchman 21) and the Monarch even though they got the reference. As the final turn in the episode, Red Death once again showed a more human side when he offered the Monarch some pretty good life advice about his rivalry with Dr. Venture. Whether the Monarch heeds Red Death’s suggestion to simply kill Rusty and move on remains to be seen. But we may have another three Star Wars movies before The Venture Bros. comes back with a full season.

Throughout the finale, there was a recurring scene of two supervillains trapped in a very Saw-like situation. For a while there, it didn’t seem like it would have any meaningful payoff. And yet the convergence of this plot with the Monarch’s storyline was just about perfect. It turned out that Gary was never the cold-blooded killer that the show implied that he was. Instead of killing the Monarch’s rivals, he had been chaining them up in the Blue Morpho’s bathroom as a way of showing mercy. Is it Gary’s fault that the villains turned to cannibalism and murder? Probably, but at least he was suitably horrified. It was a brilliant way to end the episode on a high note while absolving Gary of a couple of offscreen murders. It also gave Red Death a chance to unleash his darker impulses…which took care of the lone surviving bad guy.

The Venture Bros 608 Part 2

Where was Dr. Venture in all of this? Forced out of his own home by a joint operation between OSI and the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Instead of being where the action was, Dr. Venture spent the evening with his extended family of former Team Venture members and Billy Quizboy. The flashback of young Rusty selflessly falling on one of Action Man’s grenades showed that he used to have some heroism in his blood. But considering that the Action Man maimed Rusty with his prank grenade, that spark died young.

Hank and Dean didn’t have much to do other than getting Watch and Ward ready to portray the titular Venture Bros. for the sting operation. However, it was very revealing that both Dean and Shore Leave desire to be more like Brock. Yet Brock is just an impossible physical standard that no one else can live up to.

When the Blue Morpho never showed up, the Guild and OSI threw an impromptu party at Dr. Venture’s penthouse. Perhaps for the first time in his life, Dr. Venture actually had people cheering for him when he offered to make drinks for the party. Think about that for a second. Doctor Venture just had a win. That rarely happens on this show

The only real flaw in this episode is that it didn’t even try to resolve the Blue Morpho plotline. Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have indicated that they are writing an episode that should have been the conclusion to this season’s storylines. That’s encouraging…but how many years will we have to wait to see it? Two years? Three years? The shortened Venture Bros. seasons were supposed to allow Publick and Hammer to make new episodes more quickly. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Looking back at the sixth season as a whole, it’s not clear if The Venture Bros. creative team should have cut any episodes to make room for the true season finale. It was a legitimately great season that just lacked the proper conclusion that it deserved. But I still really want to see Dr. Mrs. The Monarch’s reaction to her husband’s double life as the Blue Morpho, even if it takes a few years.

What did you think about the season finale of The Venture Bros.? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image Credit: Adult Swim



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