‘Venture Bros’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 6, Episode 2: ‘Maybe No Go’
The Venture Bros. remains one of the most narratively dense half-hours in television (and definitely the one that takes the longest between seasons). Starting with this second Season 6 installment, Elle Collins is joined by Betty Felon, to share the workload of making this show make sense.
This week, Pete White and Billy Quizboy face an arch enemy of their own, Doc feels overwhelmed by his new responsibilities, and we meet the saddest supervillain. 'Maybe No Go' was directed by Jackson Publick and written by Doc Hammer.
Elle: First of all, it’s wonderful having you here, Betty. I realized last week that trying to go it alone was a bad idea, and there’s nobody I’d rather do this with than you. In fact, I think back before we were friends, the very first time I ever heard of you on the internet was in the context of Venture Bros. fandom.
Betty: The Venture Bros. has been one of my favorite shows over the past several years, and I’m really excited to recap the sixth season with you! The Venture Bros. is one of those shows that I’ve repetitively rewatched in its entirety and I’ve yet to get sick of this show. I’m trying to refrain from saying that I’m obsessed with this show, but also I own so many Venture Bros. mego dolls and I have four VB costumes in my closet, soooooo yeah. Anyway, enough about me --- let’s talk about this episode!
Elle: “Maybe No Go” starts with Pete White and Billy Quizboy, who seem to be basically where Rusty Venture was not long ago, right? They’re running an unimpressive research company, while being constantly distracted by an obsessive but not particularly deadly supervillain. I love this whole bit, from the mouthwash cookies to the return of Robo-Bo. Pete is kind of the worst, but Billy is pretty much the best.
Betty: Pete clarifying that he’s a computer scientist explains a lot about his lack of appeal and whimsy. Conjectural Technologies is attacked by a robotic dinosaur (sent by their designated archnemsis Augustus St. Cloud), and Pete and Billy launch into their own adventure show intro, entitled “Billy Quizboy and the Pink Pilgrim.” I’m a huge fan of Augustus St. Cloud’s growing presence in the show as the sole villain of Conjectural Technologies --- he’s just as weird and petty as the two scientists that he’s arching, except with sufficient funds to support his collection of coveted treasures, which resonates with me for whatever reason.
Elle: I love that he was the rando saying “Oooh, girly mags!” at the yard sale in Season 1, and then came back as a villain years later! And I agree, he’s delightfully obnoxious and the perfect foil for Pete and Billy.
By the way, I think that robot dinosaur was a take on Truckasaurus, which is apparently a real thing that existed. That’s why St. Cloud calls it a monster truck. Anyway, it was just a distraction so he could steal a prop from a Duran Duran video, a red rubber ball that may or may not have mystical properties. I also love that, like the early Venture/Monarch plots, they casually decide to call it a night and reconvene in the morning. The struggle between heroes and villains is real, but it’s more of a hobby than a calling.
Betty: That is one of my favorite recurring aspects of this show --- the mutual grievances of having/being an arch-nemesis, as well as all of the rules and guidelines involved in this lifestyle. Conjectural Technologies and St. Cloud reschedule for the morning, both parties consenting and accepting the arch-nemesis social contract that St. Cloud is capturing Conjectural Technologies.
Similarly, Rusty Venture is plagued not by the fear of getting murdered by The Monarch, but the sheer inconvenience of having an obligatory arch-nemesis.
While Dr. Venture continues to enjoy the good life in New York (courtesy of his late-brother’s inheritance), The Monarch, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch, and Henchman 21 continue to struggle in their slum HQ in New Jersey. The Monarch is determined to reclaim his position as Dr. Venture’s arch-nemesis, and takes on the tedious task of getting other villains to waive their Venture-adjacent arching positions, starting with reclusive villain, Redusa.
Elle: The appearance of Redusa in this episode really drives home that there are super-characters leading even sadder lives than the ones we’ve gotten to know, who are already pretty pathetic. Monarch and Gary wonder if they’re in the wrong place, or if there’s a secret to her house, but no, she’s just a woman with snakes for hair and a really crappy living situation. Meanwhile, Augustus St. Cloud is such a one-percenter that he’s using the original Henrietta Pussycat as a bath mitt.
As a former puppeteer and lifelong Mr. Rogers fan, I can’t even tell you how much that bothers me. Even though I’ve seen the real Henrietta, safe in a museum in Pittsburgh, I want to yell even louder than Billy about this. Especially when St. Cloud makes her talk, and then washes himself with her “down there.” It’s really, profoundly not okay.
Betty: I think that’s what makes St. Cloud so evil though; he’s not purchasing these priceless items because he truly values them, but because he knows that these items are valuable to other people, and proceeds to manipulate people through the ownership of items they covet. Later in the episode, St. Cloud holds Pete and Billy prisoner in a replica set of Duran Duran’s “Please Please Tell Me Now” video, while threatening to destroy the New Romantics genre if they refuse to sell St. Cloud the ownership of Conjectural Technologies for one penny. Which is just comically niche and weird!
Elle: It really is! But so perfect for this show, which has always mixed a lot of music-nerd references in with its regular-nerd references. And St. Cloud’s whole speech about how a lack of New Romantics would lead to “a world of jocks led by President Tootie” is a beautiful thing, as is his bouncing the ball off of Pete and Billy.
Betty: Meanwhile at Ven-Tech, Rusty attempts to give the Sea Captain Pirate Guy an intervention for his tranquilizer addiction, which inevitably leads to a scene parodying that one famous scene from Trainspotting, because of course.
Elle: The whole Trainspotting thing annoys me a little. I liked that movie and watched it a bunch back in the day, so I got what they were doing, but they didn’t bother to do anything with it. Every so often, Venture Bros. lapses into this “hipper Family Guy” space where the joke is just the reference, and that always disappoints me. They can be so much better, and that’s why it bothers me when I feel like they’re not really trying.
Betty: This episode also reveals that Wide Wale is not only a villain, but also the pimp of the Crusaders Action League. He shakes down the Fallen Archer for vigilante fees, and finds out that Dr. Venture (Wide Wale’s current arch, per last episode) refuses to pay for CAL services. Brock receives a warning from Shore Leave that Wide Whale is about to ambush the Ven-Tech building, and teams up with Hatred and sends the Venture family and the Sea Captain Pirate Guy to the panic room.
Elle: First of all, I was thrilled to see Shore Leave, even briefly. I love that guy, and I hope he comes back with more to do later this season. On the other hand, I still don’t like Hatred that much, but I have to admit, he’s at his best when he’s a pathetic guy with no authority who's trying his best, which is where he’s at now, as a tour guide trying to help Brock stop Wide Wale’s attack.
What actually happens is pretty anti-climactic, but anti-climax is really a part of what this show’s about, you know? Even in success, disappointment prevails. And of course this is obviously far from the last we’ll see of Wide Wale. Whose name is a reference to a kind of corduroy, which I feel obligated to mention since so many people pointed it out to me after last week. I still maintain that there’s a little of Tobias Whale in there too.
Betty: I really miss Shore Leave and the Order of the Triad. While the Venture family hides in the panic room, Rusty wants to utilize Ven-Tech for super science endeavors, at the risk of bankrupting his brother’s company. Dean suggests that they maintain Jonas’ lucrative projects and hire a team of scientists to work on Rusty’s projects, which leads to St. Cloud selling Conjectural Technologies to Ven-Tech. So I can only hope that the supporting cast will be relocating to New York with Pete and Billy within the season!
Elle: After this episode’s Conjectural Technologies spotlight, what I’m really hoping for is an episode that focuses on the Triad, and ends with them going to New York to join the Ventures. You could even do that with the OSI guys too. Since Brock realized how poor security was, maybe he gets Rusty to bribe the OSI for a bigger detail that includes Shore Leave, or he just straight buys them out somehow.
This episode gave me hope not only that we haven’t abandoned the previous supported cast, but that we might soon find them all under the same roof as part of the non-public branch of Ven-Tech (a great idea from Dean, by the way).
Elle: Before we wrap up, can we address how distracted I was by Pete White’s transphobic, body-shaming joke in the last 15 seconds of the episode? In the context of the episode it was a very minor thing, but that kind of makes it worse, because it often feels like the guys who make this show just don’t feel obligated to care about what fans they might alienate with stupid little stuff like that.
Betty: Yeaaaah, that joke was so unnecessary because like, there are so many other aspects of Augustus St. Cloud that you could joke about without being gross and transphobic. It sucks because I’ve realized how I’ve just gotten desensitized to these little throwaway jokes in Adult Swim programming, y’know? Ugh.
Elle: Yeah totally. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t get personally offended by much that can happen on a TV show, I just get annoyed, because it’s so lazy, and unnecessary, and all too common.
And I know it makes a show like this hard to watch for a lot of people who don’t have my thick skin, and that’s just a shame, because I wish everyone could enjoy this show. Which was basically the same thing I said about last week’s X-Files, although that was a lot more egregious than this. But I digress. Despite the sour taste of that final moment, I’m really excited to see Billy and Pete go to New York, and of course to find out what's under the Monarch's house.
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