Episode Review of “Silent Partners”
Lola Wickerman does not keep secrets from the Venture Fandom, so I’m ripping the bandage off this wound as fast as I can to take a look at the festering beneath the wrappings. Then I shall apply a soothing balm. I’ve taken no Hippocratic oath, but allow me to play doctor for a moment; I’ll give you the bad news first, and then the good news.
Like an amateur cocktail, Silent Partners started off strong but had no finish. This is the last episode of season 4 before the hour-long finale that will be airing next month, so I think I was expecting it to be a more revelatory, or contain cliffhangers and surprises. Staple characters were completely absent, and the episode concentrated on a villain of very little import. Monstroso is ok…I guess. I like his hat. Honestly, he’s kind of lame. In the commentary from season 1, Doc Hammer mentions that he has a tendency to abruptly end an episode and walk away from it; in this season, his episodes have been much deeper and stronger than one-shot gags, but this episode contained a tone of “I’m done, let’s end here for the night”.
Aside from my feelings about how it fizzled out toward the end, Silent Partners had a lot going for it. Right off the bat, a beloved character is unapologetically murdered on his very death-bed in a scene reminiscent of Hush (the Emmy-nominated tenth episode from season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). In the scenes with Monstroso and Billy playing racquetball, we are treated to one of my favorite humanizing devices of seeing a villain on his day-off. Pirate Captain got some much-needed screen time. Shore Leave (S.P.H.I.N.X!) was consistently on-point hysterical. Billy got laid! I’m glad this season has contained more than one instance of well-deserved sexing. All of these aspects made for a positive viewing experience, but I felt I didn’t have too much to say about any of it.
I had to sit back for a moment and examine the episode. That’s when it hit me: the most sophisticated aspect of Silent Partners was metafictional confession. This episode was full of confessions, some that were entirely the character’s, and some that came direct from the writer’s own life to become a facet of the episode. More than a story, Venture Bros is a form of artistic expression that acknowledges the presence of the writer. Just as he suffered from testicular torsion and wrote an episode about it, Doc Hammer welcomed thousands of viewers into his psyche by including confessions about masturbating twelve times in one day just to see if he could, plus having an erotic dream about Henry Rollins (all true, though I’m pretty certain he’s never run over a dog and lied about it). Also, just like the pirate captain, he loves Degrassi, and lucky for Billy, he has harbored a long-time crush on the brides of Dracula. Why do I know these things? Because Doc Hammer doesn’t keep secrets; he happily shares this information with anyone who’ll ask, and if you don’t ask, he makes art about it.
More pertinent to the propulsion of the story, however, were the confessions that were dragged from Billy and Pete. Their uneven relationship has long been under scrutiny, both internally and from a fan perspective. The squabbling between them about who is the brains of conjectural technologies had reached a climax that I was certain could only end in sex…and I was partially correct about that theory in the last episode, when Eros and Thanatos got smoochy. Here, though, we see something unexpected; just how much Pete actually cares about Billy, and his willingness to sacrifice anything to get him back, contrasted with Billy’s readiness write-off Pete and leave him behind. Bearing witness to Pete’s vulnerability in the face of Hatred’s accusations of the albino’s alleged star-fuckery was quite sobering. Pete can be such a dick, especially in comparison to Billy’s sweetness, that it can be difficult to sympathize with him, though he is so pitiful. Upon later reflection, when thinking about my pity for Pete, coupled with seeing the lighter side of Monstroso made me wish this episode had been called Sympathy for the Devil…but Doc also mentioned in the season 1 commentary (can you tell how I spent my evening?) that he has a penchant for naming episodes in a manner unrelated to the content.
Our last confession not to be missed came from Hatred; he never fucked Billy, merely held him all night, and I’d like to think the entire Ventureverse, characters and viewers alike, breathed a collective sigh of relief.
We’ve got a month till the finale. Until then, Venturoos, remember: I love you!
— Lola Wickerman
Review by Lola Wickerman, Junior Writer – The Venture Bros. Blog