Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen The Venture Bros. season 6 premiere. You’ve been warned!
It’s been far too long since The Venture Bros. was on our TV screens, but now its finally back for its sixth season and we couldn’t be more pleased. If you happened to skip last year’s special, “All This and Gargantua-2” or the online epilogue scene that followed, the first few minutes of the sixth season premiere were likely confusing. To get you up to speed, the short version is this: Jonas Venture Jr. is dead, leaving Rusty Venture the heir to his brother’s multi-billion dollar company. That’s right, the Ventures are finally rich! Considering the way that this show emphasises failure, though, we can’t help but wonder: how long will their good fortune last?
After the Venture family absorbed the good news, they quickly relocated to New York to enjoy their newfound wealth. Rusty immediately fired Jonas Jr.’s executive team, but allowed the Sea Captain to keep his job as advisor. But guess who showed up to rain on their parade? The Avengers! Or rather the Crusader’s Action League, a very thinly veiled parody of both the Avengers and the Justice League. The CAL included Stars & Garters, a crossdressing Captain America pastiche; Warriana, a cross between Thor and Wonder Woman; and a Hawkeye/Green Arrow analogue calling himself the Fallen Archer.
Amusingly, the CAL proved that they have more in common with the Guild of Calamitous Intent than with the Avengers or the JLA. The CAL only wanted to introduce themselves to get Rusty to pay them for “protection.” (Pretty much extortion, without the overt threat of direct violence.) Think of the CAL as if the Avengers were run by an unreformed Tony Stark. They also reminded me of the cosplayers at Hollywood Blvd. and in Times Square who demand “tips” from tourists.
The only real protection that the Ventures need is Brock Samson, though, and he was finally brought back into the fold as O.S.I. reassigned him to the Ventures while Sgt. Hatred was sent away. Surprisingly, Sgt. Hatred doesn’t appear to be entirely out of the picture, as he essentially staked out his former charges and noticed obvious holes in their security. It’s almost as if Sgt. Hatred is more competent when he’s not with the Ventures.
Surprisingly, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch got a lot of screentime in this episode as she tried to hold the new Guild of Calamitous Intent together. A brief attempt to convince the Guild’s members that the Sovereign was still alive turned out to be a spectacular failure. However, the rank and file Guild members seemed to like the idea of filling out the Council of 13. Although that led to one of the more awkward moments, when the episode seemed to be mocking the villains’ calls for inclusion by gender, race, and “color.”
Keeping the Guild together actually seemed to matter to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, as she tried to be honest with her constituents. However, that worked against her when the New York supervillain, Wide Wale, essentially blackmailed Dr. Mrs. The Monarch into accepting his demands in exchange for his support. That was a clever bit of misdirection, as it played out like an Indecent Proposal riff before we learned what Wide Whale really wanted.
Looking back, the episode actually set up Wide Wale’s demand earlier when Rusty thoughtlessly flew his jet by Wide Wale’s skyscraper and blew out the windows. That could be Wide Wale’s motivation for becoming Rusty’s new Guild approved archenemy. Or it could simply be that Rusty’s new status makes arching him more attractive to a deadlier class of supervillain.
Meanwhile, the Monarch and Gary (former Henchman 21) attempted an unauthorized arch of the Ventures and they inadvertently gave the Sea Captain his own subplot when he became addicted to their tranquilizer darts. That was unexpectedly funny, and I hope the Sea Captain sticks around this season.
The titular Venture brothers, Hank and Dean weren’t left out in this episode entirely, though. Dean’s scenes were short—compared to the rest of his family—but we got to see him visit a college campus and get reacquainted with Nathan Fillion’s anatomically correct Spider-Man analogue, Brown Widow. Or at least the Brown Widow in his civilian identity as a college tour guide. I love the way this episode kept mocking the Marvel heroes, especially Brown Widow’s overwrought inner monologue about whether he should avoid a soda can that was thrown at his head.
It was Hank who set off the episode’s main action sequence, as he used Brock’s binoculars to spot a seemingly drowning young woman in Wide Wale’s building. It’s amazing that after six seasons, Hank is almost a competent hero and he even pulled off the grappling gun stunt to get from his building to the CAL’s tower.
Although the CAL was reluctant to answer an apparent distress call from a non-paying client, they ended up fighting Brock after assuming he was an intruder. I never realized how much I wanted to see Brock Samson fighting superheroes until this happened, and it seems that the CAL really do have superpowers…except the Fallen Archer. He was pretty useless.
Meanwhile, Hank saw that the drowning girl he wanted to save actually had Aquaman-like gills …before falling off of the building. Hank’s savior was Night Dick, perhaps the most hilarious new character in the episode. Literally the first words out of Nick Dick’s mouth were his convoluted origin story and his superhero name, which even made Hank laugh. (For the record, I think that Night Dick was a cross between Ghost Rider and the Phantom Stranger.)
Brock actually lost his fight with the CAL before Rusty had to explain to them that Brock was his bodyguard. The episode also neatly tied up H.E.L.P.eR.’s jealousy towards the Venture family’s new robot bodyguard in a way that is too much fun to spoil. Just wait for it to happen. And at the same time, Sgt. Hatred almost had his moment of redemption by catching the Monarch and Gary in the act of arching, before Dr. Mrs. The Monarch arrived to save her husband and give him the bad news about Wide Wale’s encroachment on his archenemy.
Since The Venture Bros. season 5 ended in 2013, I had forgotten just how densely written the episodes could be. There are one-hour dramas that don’t have as much plot as this season premiere. That’s not a complaint—”Hostile Makeover” had at least eight subplots throughout the episode—most of which converged by the end into one amazing episode. I’m not sure if that’s a good enough reason for the three year wait between seasons, but this was definitely The Venture Bros. that I wanted to see. The Venture Bros. hasn’t lost a step, and that’s good news for anyone who has ever loved this series.
What did you think about the season premiere of The Venture Bros.? Let us know in the comment section below!
Image Credit: Adult Swim