The Venture Bros. Review: “The Forcast Manufacturer” (Season 7, Episode 9)

You’ve gone soft on me, Henry Allen So-Called-Venture! You used to be all ‘Go Team Venture!’ but now … now you’re all ‘Go Team … b- Boobies!’

-Dean Venture, the last time girls threatened to tear the brothers apart, (“Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman,” episode 3×06)

So, there’s that. Team Boobies seems to have won out over Team Venture. In an episode in which Doc can’t get Brock, Hank, or Dean to join him on a good-old-fashioned mystery solving quest, we see the likely destruction of our eponymous heroes. Hank and Dean, the tough twin and the smart twin, seemingly torn apart forever over a woman. At least this love triangle came to an end violently instead of dragging out over so many episodes as we feared.

For Hank, his obsessive and jealous nature comes from his father. He’s always been the non-heir apparent to the Venture family legacy ever since the boys began to develop personalities in season one. This causes a chip on his shoulder. Hank’s prone to flights of fancy that can dangerously turn into distractions &emdash; he spends time imaging he’s a quarterback when he’s out looking for Sireena. He’s envious of Dean’s clumsy success with women (or at least, Dean’s ability to be seen as a potential partner with women, see Triana, Thalia, the Quymn twins.) There’s a story in Go Team Venture! The Art and Making of The Venture Bros. in which Jackson Publick (the voice of Hank) is jokingly jealous of how Michael Sinterkinalass (the voice of Dean) gets more attention from Venture Bros. fangirls than he does, so Jackson tried to write Hank in a more “crushable” light.

I also don’t know if Hank’s relationship goals are even realistic. He gets crushes on characters that are impossible to consummate by their nature, whether the object of his affection is Molotov Cocktease or the middle-aged mail lady. His dad’s archenemy’s daughter seems to fit that bill.

(Hank does have sex, once, with Nikki Fictel, his dad’s former fling and mother to Hank’s half-brother and best friend Dermott. Of course, Hank doesn’t know all of that at the time, but I’m sure Dermott wouldn’t be too happy if he ever found out.)

For Dean, who wants out of the super-science racket, sleeping with his brother’s girlfriend is a dramatic step in cutting the Ventures from his life, even though Doc would probably accept him back in a heartbeat. We don’t yet know why Dean did what he did, but, like his father, he could have just had sex with Sireena because the opportunity presented itself. You don’t sleep with your brother’s girlfriend if you respect him.

Dean’s been written as more of a romantic leading man than his brother, but Dean’s also been too dumb or clumsy or off-putting to actually go through with a relationship. When Dean does get a woman into his head (see Triana), his schoolboy crushes quickly turn into creepy little obsessions of his own. For instance, Dean tricks Triana away from her current boyfriend so she can be his prom date. Later, Dean doesn’t take Triana’s soft rejection very well at all and instead sets fire to her lawn.

For Sirena, well, we don’t know as much about her character as we do the Venture Brothers. We know she has a habit of dating “good boys,” like the Brown Widow, Hank, and Dean. This could be her getting back at her big supervillain of a father, or they could just be random data points, or she could be the siren drawing these good men to ruin. She could have seen Dean as a little more self-aware version of Hank — less likely to imagine himself as The Bat, more likely to rebel against the cage costumed aggression puts on the family members of those around it. Dean’s at least going to college, whereas Hank’s still playing quarterback in the snow.

I wanted to talk about masculinity sometime when discussing The Venture Bros., since so much of their world’s ethos is tied to these he-man woman haters’ ideal of 1960’s adventure stories. As I mentioned last week, the only real recurring female character in this show is a super-attractive, super-smart, super-capable, super-caring near-goddess of femininity that’s still majorly defined by the men she’s around. (As Bojack Horseman would put it, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is a “fuck-mommy,” ie a female partner that’s both overtly sexual and overtly maternal for her mess of a manchild partner.)

Both Doc and S-464 are rightly called out by Billy for being obsessive and controlling weirdos in their attempts to woo back their women. Doc’s patheticness in cyber-stalking someone he was willing to risk his life on just for great sex isn’t that different than 464’s idea of putting the entire city in danger just on the off-chance Agent Kimberly McManus is assigned to find the Guild’s stolen weather machine.

Notes

  • I don’t have the space to talk about the Monarch and Gary’s B-plot with Mission Creep, although it does come across as very Grant Morrison-y. All the things we (and they) have forgotten about are collected by one man who wants to live without the rules of the Guild, the O.S.I., or basic child safety. The Creep’s one of those DC Forgotten Heroes, except he’s not a hero and more of a child murderer.
  • Everybody’s got their variant snow outfits on. I smell action figures!
  • Maybe-Man’s Indifference Engine gives me more ideas about how this one-note joke character works. He’s like Two-Face, but instead of working with only two results, he works with no results. Maybe?
  • I haven’t even touched on the reappearance of Scare Bear and why he bothered to show Hank the truth. Some theories floating around Venture Reddit suggest he/it is the Venom Symbiote to Brown Widow. Most of this theory comes from Brown Widow still being mad at Sireena for dumping him and a similar butt stain from Brown Widow’s butt spinner and on the Scare Bear suit.
  • Like Sgt. Hatred says, you should always wear a helmet.
  • Dean’s poster, right over his headboard (also seen in Professor Von Helping’s classroom): “Make Whales, Not Bombs.” Indeed Dean did.

Quotes:

Hank: “My girlfriend’s been kidnapped or replaced by an android or has amnesia or is trapped under something or…or there’s a remote outside chance that her phone was stolen by phone pirates!”

Doc: “Brock, there’s like a rats’ nest of wires under the fuel gauge.”
Brock: “Yeah, I just put in a tape deck for some new tunes. It’s cool. You just gotta tuck all that pasghetti in.”
Billy: “Oh, my, god.”
Doc: “Tuck what in?”
Brock: “The wires!”
Billy: “Can you describe them please?”
Brock: “Yeah, uh, it’s like a big pile of pasghetti.”
Billy: “Brock, is it like a caterpillar? Can you say that? Can you say ‘library’? Say ‘espresso.'”
Doc: “Brock, say ‘manipulate.'”
Brock: “Oh, fuck you guys.”
Doc: “That was awesome.”
Billy: “I feel six feet tall”

Sgt: Hatred: “Aw jeez, Hank. You’re getting obsessive. Nobody wants to be smothered. Even my ex-wife didn’t like being smothered. But she did like being choked, which isn’t my point.”

The Monarch: “I was just getting my wallet, see?”
21: “What? That’s your wallet? What about the one I got you for your birthday?”
The Monarch: “Dude, can we talk about this later?”
21: “That was a $200 Paul Smith wallet!”
The Monarch: “It was teal.”
21: “You loved it. You said you loved it!”
The Monarch: “It’s a ladies wallet. You got me a ladies wallet.”

The Creep: “Boy Scouts should never camp near a mountain fortress! I’m a soldier, damn you! I soldiered!”