Powerless in the Face of Death
Original Air Date:June 25, 2006
Written by:Doc Hammer & Jackson Publick
Season 2 opens with those who loved the Venture Brothers mourning their loss: Dr. Venture embarks on a soul-searching expedition across the globe; Dr. Orpheus becomes consumed with guilt; and Brock---sans mullet---repairs his car. Meanwhile, the Monarch plans to break out of prison with help from some villainous inmates.
It's a montage! A somewhat sad, but upbeat song is playing. We in front of the Venture compound. Brock is digging two graves. Fade to Pete and Billy with Jonas Jr., who has been fitted with a robotic arm similar to Billy's. Fade to Dr. Orpheus and Triana eating dinner. Orpheus begins to sob and Triana consoles him. Fade to the Phantom Limb's house. Dr. Girlfriend is reading a book and Phantom Limb walks by and kisses her on the head. Fade to the Monarch's jail cell. He looks out the window sadly as a butterfly comes by and lands on his hand. He eats it for some reason. Fade to the cocoon. It explodes and 21 and 24 cross it off their list.
Fade to the Venture compound again. Billy, Pete and Brock are consoling Dr. Venture in the hangar. He breaks away from them and flies away in the X-1. The song turns trance.
Next we have a variety of scenes of Dr. Venture partying or enjoying himself in odd ways around the globe as Brock tracks him. Tibet, the Amazon, a Native American hut, an opium den and finally a rave. Dr. Venture is ravered out and dancing when Brock finds him and pulls him away:
No, no! I don't wanna go back! I'm not done finding myself!
No! Please, Brock, I feel amazing! I never want tonight to end.
You can't run away from your life forever, Doc!
This is my life now, mom. Deal with it!
You have responsibilities at home, the bills are stacking up and you have to deal with what happened to the boys.
Screw the boys! I wanna stay here with my new family and their feel-good candy!
You've had your fun, Doc, now it's time.
Brock sticks a needle into Dr. Venture's neck. The Doc tries to protest (and say he's having a child with a girl named Sky), but he tranqs out and crumples to the ground.
Roll new opening credits.
Back at the Venture compound Jonas Jr. is attempting to get Dr. Venture to work with him on some contracts (because they're the Venture brothers, as he points out). Dr. Venture just wants Jonas Jr. to go away though. After a bit of a tantrum by Dr. V, Jonas Jr. agrees to leave, though he splits the last two government contracts with Dr. Venture before heading off (Dr. V gets the teleporter project, Jonas gets to make a sound that kills). Jonas Jr. tells Dr. V that he's already halfway done with the teleporter and that he's got his staff working on it in the manufacturing wing. Dr. Venture, of course, has no idea either of those existed.
Meanwhile in the hangar Brock is working on his car while Dr. Orpheus laments the death of Hank and Dean. He feels personally responsible for their deaths. Brock doesn't seem too concerned and assures him it's okay, but Orpheus persists.
What is it with you people?! Those children were cut down in their prime, and my negligence is the blame. Hate me!!
Alright, fine, I hate you. Hey, you hungry? Thinkin' about making grilled cheese.
I accept your hatred!! Now I don't want to worry you with the particulars, but I am by trade a necromancer. You know what that means, right?
Uh, that you have sex with dead people.
Phile. Necrophile. A necromancer can bring the dead... TO LIFE!
Over in the manufacturing wing two staff members are standing around the teleporter. Dr. Venture and Jonas Jr. walk in. One of the staff members (Hector) is happy to see Dr. Venture, even calling him Rusty. Dr. Venture shows no signs of recognition and even hands him his wallet. Hector persists, but Dr. Venture still has no memory of him, even after a flashback where Hector saves Jonas Venture's life, and Hector and Rusty have all sorts of fun adventures.
Just then a hot chick shows up to give Jonas Jr. a ride to Spider-Skull Island. Jonas Jr. apparently does alright for himself even though he's uh, impaired. He leaves and Dr. Venture is stuck with Hector and Swifty.
Over at the jail the Monarch is awoke from his slumber:
[grumbles] Hey. Hey! What the f- Are you raping me?!
[shrugs] No. Well I was gonna, but-
Gonna?! What the fuck, King?
I couldn't get it up.
[THE MONARCH covers his eats and starts singing 'lalalala']
You felt too much like a girl, I couldn't get into it!
[looks around] Wait a- this isn't even my cell! What did you, take me to your place?!
Well, I got porn here. It helps.
Dr. Orpheus, meanwhile, is walking through what appears to be an arctic wasteland shouting the names of Hank and Dean. He steps on the face of what appears to be a Roman soldier.
Wait, perhaps you could help. From your helmet I can judge that you have been here long enough to know-
Yes, pilgrim! I, in life, was a personal guard to the great Caesar!
Nuh-uh. Liar! You choked on a popsicle stick at a Halloween party.
Oh, tell everyone why don't you?!
Everybody knows. Why do you think you're in hell; because you're a fuckin' liar.
Well, I'm trying to find the souls of two innocents. One, Dean [he holds open a palm which has a drawing of DEAN on it], has rust-colored hair. The other, Hank [he holds out his other palm which has HANK drawn on it], is towheaded.
Back at the lab, Dr. Venture is talking to Swifty and Hector. Swifty, however, only appears to know how to babble. Hector explains that one too many boxing matches put Switfy in his current state. After his condition developed his wife left him and Jonas Venture put him to work. Dr. Venture quickly fires Swifty on grounds that his dad is dead. Hector is surprised by this news, and even more so that it occurred twenty years ago as he apparently hasn't left the compound for that long. Dr. Venture fires him too.
They leave and Dr. Venture takes a look at the teleporter. He decides that it's complete enough without looking at it too much, and punches a few buttons in an attempt to turn it off. There is a flash of green light and the power goes off in the entire compound.
Meanwhile back at prison the Monarch is collecting various objects from other inmates. Cleaning chemicals, toilet paper, an extra jumpsuit. He stuffs them into his own jumpsuit and empties it out when he gets to his cell. In his cell Tiny Joseph is finishing up a microdot for the Monarch. He checks out the note in a microscope (it informs 21 and 24 to be waiting for him when he escapes) and attaches it to a butterfly and lets it fly out his window. The Monarch then attempts to go into one of his dramatic speeches but is cut short when he attempts to raise his fists in the air and they smash into the ceiling of his cell.
Outside the jail the butterfly is caught by Tiny Eagle and the data is transmitted to Watch and Ward, who are still hard at work in that red room they were in during Trial of the Monarch.
Back at the Venture compound Brock tries to tell Dr. Venture not to run the microwave and blow dryer at once (why Brock thinks Dr. Venture would use a blow dryer I won't answer) when he discovers Dr. Venture's legs... in the TV. He pulls on them and a scream of pain comes from the lab. Brock walks into the lab to find the left side of Dr. Venture's torso embedded in the wall of the lab. Teleporter.
Your legs are sticking out of the TV, where's the rest of you?
I can't tell, hold on. Wait, did you hear that? I just threw something.
Wait, do it again.
Okay just a sec, I'll- OHH! Oh, I just put my hand in sludge. Oh don't tell me. I think the rest of me is in the bathroom.
Dr. Orpheus, meanwhile, has his shovel ready when Triana walks in. Dr. O tries to convince her he's not up to anything, but she tells him that he needs to let the boys go. Dr. O tells her that he can't and he wants to bring them back. Triana is upset greatly by the thought of zombie Hank and Dean. Dr. Orpheus consoles her and assures her that bringing them back will be very easy and they won't be zombies when there is a ring at the doorbell.
And who should be there, but Hank and Dean, looking very pink and gross. Dean requests a milkshake and Hank blows a spit bubble.
Brock brings Dr. Venture's legs into the lab, though they still have no idea where his right side is, though Dr. Venture has now deduced that it is outside since it's raining on him (and apparently his nipples work as a team).
Just then Dr. Orpheus drops in. Literally. Through the ceiling in a glob of protoplasm. He informs Brock and Dr. Venture that he has brought the boys back as soulless zombies!
Back at jail:
So, is everyone clear what his or her job is? Tigerriffic? You look pensive.
There's no way I can tear the gates down. I'm not even close to strong enough.
Don't sell yourself short, man, I once watched you cleave a eye-witness news van in twain!
All costume. I don't have any powers without that thing.
No- no powers? I thought you were like, half tiger or something.
Raised by tigers then? Huh? Like Moogly?
Mowgli. And that was wolves, but still no.
You know I could, uh, pull the gate off. Kinda wasted as lookout anyway.
Huh, sure you're smart enough? I don't want you comin' back here talkin' 'bout that's a gorilla suit.
I can do it.
Great, then Tigerriffic's on lookout. Or can't you see without your tiger helmet? So, if noone has any questions-
Question? Mr. Monday.
What exactly will my title be for this new criminal syndicate of ours?
Title? Wha- I don't know-
I'm going to be president of calendars!
Whatever, crazy. Okay, anyone else?
Oh this is going to be so Mondaylicious!
Anyone not totally retarded? White Noise?
This organization ain't gonna be racially mixed, is it? I can't allow my pure white blood to be... muddied.
Do you even have blood? I mean you're like, made out of static. How do you even know you're white?
Oh I was white once. Before my tragic life-altering television repair accident.
Fine. Idiots. Can we move on? So, right at lockdown tonight, we-
Can we please wait 'til Monday?
No! God, you're worse than my old henchmen!
Speaking of which, there's a meeting at the local community church. 'Men Before Henchmen: A Support Group'. Various henchmen sit around while the henchman of the now apparently deceased Crime-o-dile relays a story of how his boss saved his life and sacrificed his own. Another former henchman, Gary, tells the henchman (Charlie) not to give up hope. The therapist tries to tell Gary that the group is about 'henching for yourselves'. Gary misinterprets this to mean that they should become super villains themselves, and most of the group agrees with this idea.
Meanwhile back at the Venture compound, Dr. Orpheus informs Dr. V and Brock that he saw the boys bodies (and made them milkshakes). Dr. Venture is annoyed by this and Brock tells him it's probably because of the power surge. Dr. Orpheus is of course put off by their lack of compassion and his own screwup. He pulls of his Dracula trophy in disgust but it begins to glow, signifying that the boys souls are nearby!
Will you stop with the soul crap? There's a scientific for all of this.
They are speaking to me. Their voices like thunder. It's Dean! Speak to me son!
Will ya tell him already?
What, and miss this, no way.
Yes, I hear them! Dean loves you! He understands and... forgives you! But Hank, no, Hank is quite upset! Rage, I can hear his rage! He calls you a crumbum... or maybe a crampon. It's hard to hear him.
Isn't a crampon a little hook for mountain climbing?
He's definitely calling me a crumbum.
Here! It comes from this machine. What is this machine?
Uhhhh, that machine? Oh, nothing. It makes robots or something. Oh no! Have I made scary boy robots?! Oh I should never have played god!
Doc, stop jerking the poor guy around and just tell him. He's getting ectoplasm everywhere.
Back to the jail, the Phantom Limb is talking to King Gorilla via one of those little glass windows with a phone. The Phantom Limb wants something from KG, but the King is pissed that the Guild wasn't able to keep him out of jail. Phantom Limb says there wasn't much to do since King Gorilla sodomized Vince Neil on the Surreal Life. Whoops. Phantom Limb then threatens KG's penis and finally offers him a cake with a surprise inside. Tarzan? What?
Back at the compound Dr. Venture explains the process of cloning Hank and Dean. You see the bodies are called clone slugs, and their old memories are fed to their brains via a computer. Dr. O expresses his disgust with this process, but Dr. Venture shrugs it off because non-super science people do similar things but with different tools. They then drop a fairly large bomb and note that this is the fourteenth time the boys have died and been cloned. Another montage follows: sucked into the X-1 engine, killed by a robot spider, killed in an explosion involving cigarettes and chemical canisters, a bad attempt at a William Tell experiment, decapitation by clothesline, killed by what appears to be a werewolf version of Dr. Venture (more on that later?), Hank dressed as Batman and attempting to fly off the top of the Venture compound with an umbrella, a killer robot, Dean running with safety scissors, a satellite falls on Hank. A gas leak. The silent killer. Then a pit of spikes.
Brock and Dr. Venture laugh over the last time because they both grew bushy staches. And the final time Dr. Venture spills something on the boys beds (with hair plugs) which explode... the boys aren't pictured but I guess that killed them the final time. Dr. O can only stare in disbelief.
Back at the henchmeeting, Gary (who is obviously henchman 21) meets up with 24. They hug and then share an awkward moment. 21 asks when the Monarch is going to bust out. Soon perhaps?
Meanwhile at jail, the Monarch attempts to bust out! However none of his cohorts do their part when he jumps out of his cell (complete with home-made Monarch costume). He yells at them and fires what meager ammo he has at the three guards (including Tiny Joseph) and runs off. The Monarch pleads with Mr. Monday for a diversion, but he is ignored and subsequently tackled by a guard. He is dragged past Septapus and White Noise who likewise ignore him and finally past King Gorilla.
Et tu, King Gorilla?
I'm sorry, I can't. It's a Guild thing. Phantom Limb said-
Phantom Limb?! He's doing this?! Listen to me, King! This has nothing to do with the Guild! He stole my girlfriend! He just wants me out of the picture permanently!
The guards drag the Monarch off to solitary when their heads are suddenly bashed together by King Gorilla. King drags the Monarch over to his cell, rips the toilet out of the ground and shoves the Monarch down into the pipe.
What- what changed your mind?
Believe it or not, love. It was there in your eyes when you spoke of your girlfriend. I always thought you were kind of a schmuck, but what kind of monster would I be to stand in the way of love?
He kisses the Monarch and tells him to find his girlfriend and never let go. With that he shoves the Monarch all the way into the pipe.
Back at the compound Dr. Orpheus is exhausted from what he has just learned and wonders what he will tell Triana. Dr. Venture just tells him to tell her what he tells everyone; the boys never died. They're the same Hank and Dean.
Look, if you have a clumsy child, you make them wear a helmet. If you have death-prone children, you keep a few clones of them in your lab.
[Clone slug HANK and DEAN stumble in]
Speak of the devils! Their half-formed ears must be burning. Brock, you should put them back in the oven.
[disgusted groan] I hate touching them. They feel like giant Stretch Armstrongs.
Split between life and death. The universe weeps for them.
Hank, you are never to call your father a crumbum in front of company. And where are your manners? What do you have to say to Dr. Orpheus?
HANK & DEAN
[sloppy] Go Team Venture! [they fall over]
Roll end credits.
The Monarch pours out of a sewer pipe and a hand is held out in front of him.
Oh thank god you guys are here. I thoughte the whole plan got fu- what?
The camera zooms out to reveal the hand belongs to Dr. Venture's right side.
- The opening song is called "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" and is a remix of the original by Rozalla. The particular version used in the show was done by Aquagen (the original is less upbeat and not as suitable for raves). Uncustomary for most Adult Swim shows (except the Boondocks), the song had to be licensed for this episode and accounted for 1/8 of the episode's budget according to a bump played prior to airing. You can find it on CD if you search really hard, but it's kind of old and has faded into obscurity so you might have your work cut out for you.
- Dr. Venture fighting that woman in the jungle is a reference to the Duran Duran video "Hungry Like A Wolf" which you can watch here on Youtube. Thanks to Jennifer in the comments for mentioning that.
- The opening credits were of course changed for this episode. Hank & Dean are not present and are instead replaced with Rusty and Jonas Jr. ('staring', hrm). Also Dr. Orpheus and HELPeR now get top billing (even though HELPeR did not appear in the episode). The intro was also shortened from the original, likely due to the length of the episode.
- During Dr. Venture's conversation with his brother he refers to him as Twiki and does a weird stuttering thing. This is a reference to the old Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century show back in 1979. The show featured a robot named Twiki who started each sentence with 'beedee-beedee-beedee-beedee'. Here's some more info on that if you please. Many thanks to bankrupt in the comments and Norma Stoliar who e-mailed me with this info.
- Brock mistakes Dr. O's occupation of necromancer for that of a necrophile. Rest assured it's quite real and die knowing that your body is not safe, even after the cold grip of death takes you. But on the plus side it's possible you'll get some even after you've died.
- Venture Bros. being a parody of Jonny Quest, it's only natural that young Rusty would have a Hadji at his side, or Hector as it were. Hadji was the adopted son of Dr. Quest, and likewise Hector the adopted son of the late Dr. Jonas Venture. Though apparently Hector has no concept of time or even the thought of leaving the manufacturing wing. Hector and his boxing friend Swifty are both voiced by Brendan Small of Home Movies fame.
- The frozen wasteland that Dr. O visits, which is revealed to be hell, is a parody of Dante's Inferno, which was originally an epic poem that, among other things, outlines the structure of hell. In specific the ice wasteland represents the ninth circle of hell called Cocytus. It is here that traitors are put, into one of four sections depending on the nature of their treachery.
- Furthermore, Dr. O holding open his palms to reveal pictures of the boys is a reference to Something Wicked This Way Comes where the character of Mr. Dark reveals he has tattoos of the two main characters on his palms. Jennifer comes through again! By the way, it's 'towheaded', not 'toe-headed'. Towheaded simply means blonde.
- Nathan Lindsey was nice enough to point out to me that when the Monarch is walking down the hallway collecting various objects for his prison-crafted Monarch suit, a sound-alike version of the theme from HBO's prison-life series Oz was playing.
- A microdot is a message reduced to very small sizes (usually around the size of a period) in order to prevent anyone from reading it. Tiny Joseph is of course small enough to craft one (although a somewhat large one) by hand, but that practice is pretty unusual. They did have to be read with a microscope however.
- Tiny Eagle makes his first appearance in the series, though he is mentioned in passing by Phantom Limb in Tag Sale, You're It! when Phantom Limb informs Dr. Girlfriend that 'a little bird' told him about the relationship trouble she and the Monarch were having.
- Speaking of villains, Mecha-Mouth, Mr. Monday, King Gorilla, Septapus and Shame Face all return, though the last two do not have speaking roles. White Noise and Tigerriffic also make their first appearances.
- This one took me a while to figure out, and I have gotten a lot of e-mails about it, so here we go. Note that King Gorilla has a collection of Tarzans in his jail cell (yes, a collection of Tarzans). So Phantom Limb offers King Gorilla a cake... King Gorilla sniffs the air and says 'Marzipan?' (marzipan is a confectionary) and Phantomb Limb says slyly 'Tarz... ipan' (tarzipan) which is a pun since there is a full-sized man baked into the cake. And just to beat the joke into the ground a little more, here's Jackson Publick explaining it all himself:
Okay, the other user who explained the language joke/Draculas thing was correct as to our motives. I just like the word "Tarzan" the way I like the word "Dracula." I like pluralizing it. I like using it as a noun instead of a proper name.
Now, to answer your question, yes--King Gorilla probably has a terrarium in his cell or in the common area of the jail in which he collects a bunch of Tarzans, as raising, caring for, and potentially eating and/or raping them is a hobby of his.
As for the cake, it's a man-sized cake. Even though we only see part of it, you can clearly make out the outline of a human body in there. Phantom Limb has smuggled a fully grown Tarzan into the jail inside a cake as one would traditionally smuggle in a file or hacksaw for an inmate.
And that's it. The rest is up to your imagination. Do your worst...
- Dr. Venture being split apart by the teleporter is sort of a reference to the Jeff Goldblum movie Brock referred to, The Fly (which is actually a remake of the non-Jeff Goldblum version of The Fly). Though in The Fly Goldblum's character was combined with that of a fly when he was testing out his teleporter and a fly wandered into it with him.
- PORKCHOP SANDWICHES.
- At the henchmen meeting Gary (aka 21) mentions that he could become 'The Viceroy'. Viceroy is defined as "a man who is the governor of a country, province, or colony, ruling as the representative of a sovereign". However, there is also something known as the viceroy butterfly which is a mimic of the mighty monarch butterfly. So that worked out pretty well. Many thanks to Ike MacFarlane for showing me the way.
- In case you were curious, a crampon is a bunch of spikes that you strap to your boots for mountain climbing. Here's a picture.
- The line "Et tu, King Gorilla?" is of course a reference to the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is killed by his friends, including his closest friend Brutus. The last words Caesar utters after Brutus stabs him are "Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar."
- The Monarch's escape through the sewage tube is a reference to The Shawshank Redemption in which one of the main characters escapes from prison through a sewage tube. However he was not pushed through the toilet and kissed by a gay Gorilla, but you knew that.
- If you don't know what Stretch Armstrong is, then I pity you. But to summarize it's a rubber toy filled with some kind of weird syrup that would allow you to stretch the toy's arms and legs to up to four times their original length. The feel of Stretch was a distinct 'mushy rubber' feel, which is about the best I can describe it.
- Jackson Publick on the death of the boys and Brock and Dr. Venture's reaction to it:
Points taken, but I submit that the deaths of two walking, talking, pie-eyed sixteen year old boys--regardless of their genesis--is a horrifying thing to behold, and something to be avoided at all costs. Hence Brock will always defend them unto death--because they ARE alive, they ARE his responsibility, and Brock IS dedicated to his mission (and has warmed up to them over the years). A conundrum? Sure, somewhat. But no more illogical than the way everyone else in the Venture world dutifully go about their appointed roles (supervillains hassle scientists, scientists invent stuff, henchmen obey supervillains, etc.), which is to say that it's completely illogical but thems the rules of the game. Brock is most certainly wounded by the boys' deaths each and every time they die. He probably beats himself up for a while. But, being a realist, he moves on and tries again (if you're trying to quit smoking and you cave in to cravings and have one, is it better to give up and start smoking again, or to curse yourself and renew your commitment?) His and Doc's shared, somewhat lighthearted reminiscences about the boys' previous deaths is probably a sort of "gallows humor" coping device. The man is, after all, a professional assassin.
- You may also have noticed that the closing theme is different than in all previous episodes (save the pilot). I have no idea why, but it could have been for length, or possibly because it fit in with the ending of the show better than the more upbeat one used throughout season one.