The Venture Bros. Episode Recap, 06×08: “Red Means Stop” (Season Finale)

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“A man can do terrible things when he loses his way. Terrible things…” – Red Death

 

Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about the season finale of The Venture Bros, “Red Means Stop”. The OSI and the Guild put aside their problems to deal with the menace that is the Blue Morpho as a terrifying new villain comes out to arch Dr. Venture, interspersed with the plot of Saw for some reason. …You’ll see what I mean.


The episode starts on a cold open of two guys trapped in a dilapidated bathroom chained to pipes much like in Saw, complete with plenty of panicking and a pile of corpses in the room with them. For now, I’ll call them Prisoner A (black hair) and Prisoner B (blonde hair).

Down in the Morpho Lair, The Monarch approaches Gary with the news that Dr. Mrs. The Monarch will be out of their hair so they’ll be free to take out the next villains on their list, and with only 2 more to go, the Monarch is clearly determined to finish the job. The next villain on the list: Red Death, who only arches once a year but always manages to leave a great deal of destruction and death in his wake.

Dr. Mrs. The Monarch meets with General Hunter Gathers and Brock Samson to discuss their collaboration on an upcoming sting operation. Since Rusty Venture will likely find himself attacked by Red Death, the Guild suspects that the Blue Morpho will be present as well, so they can use this opportunity to capture and subdue this rogue agent.

Back in the torture room, Prisoner A asks Prisoner B to pass him a loose pipe so he can break free from the chains, but while trying to do so, he accidentally breaks Prisoner B’s hand.

The Monarch goes to a playground where he finds his target, Red Death (voiced by Clancy Brown), sitting on a bench and watching his daughter playing. The two strike up a conversation as the Monarch begins to make his movie, but Red Death makes it clear he knows who he is and that he’s evidently a fan of the Monarch’s villainous escapades. During the conversation, Red Death suddenly shifts gears and gives him an extremely intimidating warning about mixing work life with personal life. He later goes back to his house and tells Gary about the incident, star struck at the encounter that took place.

Several members of the Guild make their way inside of the Ven-Tech building alongside members of the OSI, preparing for their sting operation. The Guild and OSI get their miscellaneous soldiers in place as they track down Red Death’s location, attempting to put decoys in place for each of the Ventures. Watch and Ward are taking the place of Hank and Dean, Shore Leave is standing in for Brock, and Hunter Gathers is serving as Rusty’s replacement.

Back with the prisoners, Prisoner A is presented with a delicious looking meal of turkey and vegetables, but Prisoner B suggests it’s poisonous, doing so because of his own paranoia. He then reveals he’s been trapped for a couple of weeks already and, instead of eating the food, opted to consume the butt flesh of the dead prisoners.

Shore Leave takes Hank and Dean out to experience his favorite club but finds it’s been turned into a mall/market, when suddenly Red Death is seen flying towards the Ven-Tech building with a black flaming horse and giant scythe. Meanwhile the Monarch and Gary, both disguised as members of the Guild, stop by Red Death’s house and inform his wife that she needs to evacuate for her own safety.

Rusty is hiding out with Billy Quizboy’s family as he relays a story about his kidney being punctured by a prop grenade as a kid. The family begins to get in a heated debate about some other stories, and everyone seems to be having a good time. Back at the Ven-Tech building, the Guild and OSI have everyone in position anticipating the Blue Morpho’s arrival as Red Death finally arrives. The decoys for the Ventures come in place as Red Death begins his attack, and Brock proceeds to take him down.

As the prisoners are still trapped, Prisoner A suspects that he recognizes Prisoner B from somewhere, and after asking Prisoner B to warm his drink (doing so with a small ball of energy), he confirms that Prisoner B is a supervillain named Maestro-Wave. Prisoner A then reveals himself to also be a supervillain called Termite, capable of chewing through walls thanks to his advanced technology… which he doesn’t have on him at the moment, making their escape impossible.

Back at the Ven-Tech building, Red Death is fraternizing with Watch and Ward as he receives a sudden phone call from the Monarch, using voice distortion technology to disguise himself and claims to be holding his daughter and wife hostage. Red Death fires back by quoting the Taken monologue (aka literally the only thing anyone remembers about those movies), which terrifies the Monarch and Gary.

Rusty, Billy, and Horace Gentleman suddenly find themselves discussing the Blue Morpho and his history with the Venture family, with Billy still under the suspicion that Rusty is the Blue Morpho himself. Rusty decides to leave and head back to the apartment, suspecting that the sting did not succeed as planned. When he arrives, he comes across Dr. Mrs. The Monarch leaving, confirming the operation was a bust. Everyone else is playing volleyball in the pool as Rusty offers to make drinks for everyone.

The prisoners have finally reached the breaking point as Maestro-Wave believes their captor wants him to kill Termite, using the loose pipe from earlier to knock him out. Meanwhile, Red Death breaks into the Morpho Cave and finds Monarch and Gary hiding from him. After confirming that his family is safe and sound, they begin to tell him everything about what they’ve been doing, having a lengthy conversation that helps the Monarch put things into perspective. Afterwards, Gary decides he needs to show something to Red Death and Monarch, exposing them to – of all things – the prison space where Maestro-Wave and Termite were being held captive. Termite’s no longer alive as Maestro killed him to consume his remains, much to Gary’s surprise, and Red Death offers to take care of things and take out Maestro-Wave.

Post-credits

In the post-credits scene, two of the snipers from the Guild and OSI share a final bonding moment and reveal their physical features to each other, promising they’ll meet up again in the future.


My Thoughts

So we’ve now reached the end of the season, but it weirdly doesn’t feel like the end. With all the build-up surrounding the Blue Morpho storyline and the introduction of the terrifying new villain Red Death, it almost appeared as if the season was set to have a massive climax, but everything plays out more or less like a half-season finale, stopping the plot like the conclusion of Part A than that of a whole story. In that sense, this episode felt weirdly limp as far as any  big world-changing shake-ups. That being said, there’s still some enjoyment to be had in this last episode, almost all of which come from our villain of the week, Red Death. Compared to the prior villains encountered in this season, Red Death is easily the best of the bunch, the one who most perfectly embodies the supervillain label with his black-and-red color scheme, Red Skull-inspired appearance, and deeply intimidating voice. Clancy Brown, who’s played villainous roles in the past like the Kurgan from Highlander, Lex Luthor in the DC Animated Universe television shows, and even Mr. Krabs in Spongebob, makes for an absolutely fantastic presence, not just causing visceral in-the-moment fear with his deep voice, but also psychological fear by playing at the Monarch’s insecurities regarding his current path. Red Death is a fantastic villain, and I sincerely hope he shows up again in the future soon.

Alas, we must bid farewell to the Venture Brothers for now. We spent eight episodes getting accustomed to seeing the Ventures adjust to life in New York, with Rusty failing to get new projects off the ground, Hank indulging in his playboy persona, and Dean making progress in his education. The Monarch and Gary’s attempts to rediscover their villainous drives have led them to adopt new identities, inadvertently marking themselves as the Guild’s newest targets and earning the ire of Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, who remains unaware of her husband’s escapades. We also saw plenty of fun heroes and villains thrown into the mix, some more memorable than others, but each providing a distinct arching experience for ol’ Rusty. Who knows how long it’ll be before Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer bless us with another round of episodes, but rest assured that with these new plot developments, the wait will surely be worth it. This is RobBarracuda, and I’ll see you all next time.

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