Oh my stars and garters, The Venture Bros. is back! Season 6 premiered with more noise and less verve than I'd hoped for, but in the wake of All This and Gargantua-2 it seems fairer to read this episode as the pilot for a spinoff. And sure enough, in an episode about power vacuums and new beginnings, just about everybody is facing down opportunities to make the same bad decisions or explore entirely new ones.
The Venture clan rolls into New York to take possession of their new Columbus Circle digs. In addition to a pool, a full staff of robo-butlers ("Thank you, J-Bot"), and works by Pollack and Rothko, the penthouse offers a kitchen and living room apparently designed to echo the original Venture compound. The décor telegraphs the late JJ's nostalgia for Team Venture along with a sly assurance that the surviving Ventures will not escape the family legacy. He does manage to refuse what sounds suspiciously like a protection scheme, but it’s a sure bet we’ll be hearing from these folks again pretty soon.
Meanwhile, back at the Guild, the Council of not-quite-13 debates strategies for navigating its current leadership vacuum. Long before that failed town hall meeting convenes, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch warns Phantom Limb that insisting on "business as usual" will not appease their restive constituency; so it's baffling when she goes along with his plan, abandoning it only when someone calls the ruse and threatens to move to Canada. Like many organizations suffering from first ossified, then absent, leadership, the Guild's members feel underserved and underrepresented, and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch recognizes that the Guild will need to reimagine and reorganize itself to survive.
Their new surroundings have not inspired The Monarch or Dr. Venture to reinvent themselves. The latter's first order of business is to collect the "bespoke speedsuit" he ordered from a tailor in Little Italy 20 years before. And when the former discovers the good doctor has moved back within striking distance, The Monarch can't restrain himself (apparently Craphole County has a PATH station). So he hijacks an otherwise leisurely morning to haul 21 into the city to conduct a reconnaissance that fails to register that the Ventures' updated security measures include retinal scans and a reassigned Brock.
Although Hank wastes no time transforming himself into a Rich Kid of Instagram/Bieber clone, Dean seems to be leaping at the chance to experience something like a normal life, only to be crestfallen when he recognizes Tosh Tompkins as Stars & Garters and Mark Knopfler as the Brown Widow on his tour of the Stuyvesant University campus. Ordinariness seems perpetually out of reach, and it will be interesting to see how far Dean is willing to go to secure it and whether it can live up to his expectations.
The biggest twist of the episode emerges soon after Dr. Mrs. The Monarch meets with Wide Wale, a broad-shouldered amalgam of Kingpin, Vito Corleone, and a one-line extra from Analyze This (he’s from New Yawk! He has an aksk-cent!). Her seat on the Guild Council has divided her loyalties, and she chooses the organization's survival over domestic harmony. The Monarch and 21's abortive attempt to arch Dr. Venture assumes new poignancy as Dr. Mrs. The Monarch braces her husband for some disappointing news.
Stray thoughts and idle speculation:
- I'm pretty sure The Monarch will turn out to be Dr. Venture's half brother, the product either of one of Jonas Sr.'s key parties or an outright affair. This would also explain The Monarch's apparently bottomless trust fund.
- Brock's admiration for women who can kick his ass is charming, and it looks like Warriana thinks so too.
- Supersonic jets and skyscrapers don't mix.
- H.E.L.P.e.R. does not appreciate overachieving J. Bots.
- What does Killinger get out of a brand new Guild of Calamitous Intent?
- So who does administer organized villainy in Canada?