Original Air Date:June 9, 2013
Written by:Jackson Publick
One of Dr. Venture's old inventions seems to have gotten a mind of its own, so General Manhowers sends him to Central America to fix it. The Ventures must all confront their own hearts of darkness if they're to survive what's waiting for them in the jungle.
Capsule & Notes
'Libre' means liberty in Spanish (it's also a borrowed word and has become part of the English language) but increasingly is used in place of the word 'freedom.' Thus, 'Venture Libre.'
We start off in the Venture household kitchen. Dean, now claiming to be vegetarian, refuses to eat his eggs and bacon laid out in the shape of a face. Doc mostly ignore him and instead gets more coffee from Sgt. Hatred. Hank requests some as well but that seems ill-advised.
No caffeine for this one! The last time you go ahold of some dark chocolate you were up two night straight destroying my walls to build a Murphy Bed.
Murphy Beds. You still haven't found all of 'em. I am that good!
Well, let's just see how good ya are at getting those dishes spotless, eh? You're on KP, little man.
Sgt. Hatred says that Hank is 'on KP', which stands for 'kitchen police' or 'kitchen patrol' and is a military term for when junior personnel are assigned to work under the kitchen staff.
Dr. Venture loudly enjoys his coffee while an annoyed Hank skulks away. Just then there's the sound of a Blackhawk outside, shortly followed by military men smashing through the windows of the kitchen. They point their guns at everyone in the kitchen. Dean rolls his eyes and leaves. Kitchen secure. One of the soldiers unpacks a suitcase in front of Dr. Venture and pulls out a jPad. General Manhowers is on the other end of the call and dismisses the soldiers, who all exit through the broken kitchen window.
Manhowers explains to Doc that something he sold the military is on the fritz, so he needs him in Puerto Bahia to fix him. Doc is less than enthusiastic about this prospect but Manhowers explains that the subject in question will only talk to him. Dun, dun, duuuun.
Before we get started you should probably know that the above character is Venturestein, who last appeared in the season two episode "Viva Los Muertos!", which to date is the only episode not written by Jackson and Doc. He's a reanimated Monarch henchman that Doc built to sell to the army. So there you go.
Opening credits logo.
Doc asks Dean to take a message if Ted calls, which is a callback to the Teddy Ruxpin-ish toy Hatred and the boys used to interrogate Doc in "Any Which Way But Zeus".
Doc, Hatred and Hank are ready to leave on an adventure (Doc's words) but Dean is refusing to go. Doc seems fine with Dean not going and they eventually leave without Dean, who watches the X-1 fly off without him. He heads into the back yard where HELPeR is standing around looking kind of sad (and 'blue', har-har). He confides in Dean that he's not happy being a walking eye. Dean can relate. He doesn't want to be what his dad wants him to be either.
Up in the X-1 Manhowers is explaining the Venturestein situation to Doc via the jPad. Apparently some 'commies' were trying to take over Puerto Bahia and the president asked the US government for help. They didn't want to let anyone know they had done so, however, which is why they sent in Venturestein. Unfortunately they lost contact with him sometimes after that and he seems to have disappeared. They think he's in the jungle, southwest of the capital.
The premise and set up of this episode draws some inspiration from Apocalypse Now, which involves an Army special operations office searching for a rogue special forces colonel in the jungle (though the film is set in Cambodia, not Central America).
There was also some initial confusion over Puerto Bahia and where it is. Originally I had that it was in Mexico but it's actually meant to be a fictional Central American country. The temples seen later in the episode are similar to those of the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations, both of which were in Mexico and nearby countries.
Hank saying that Venturestein might be waiting for them "in bicycle shorts talking about 'tears in the rain'" is a reference (and spoiler) to one of the final scenes in Blade Runner known as the Tears In The Rain Soloiquy.
They can track him via radioactive dye present in his body. There's an app on the jPad that can track him as long as you're within a certain range. Hank is convinced that Venturestein is luring them so he can kill Doc. Doc isn't worried since he and Venturestein got along just fine, though Hank still isn't sure about that.
Manhowers explains that the jPad they're talking on is also a bomb and that they're going to use it to blow up Venturestein. Doc is mostly okay with that, though he wants to know his compensation for the ordeal. Oh, turns out there won't be any, on account of the goods sold to the military not being very good any more. Just then they are contacted over the radio; a voice explains that they are in controlled airspace and should turn back. Before they have time to assess the situation Hatred informs them about an incoming bogey that is too slow to be jet and too big to be a missile. What could it be?
As noted in the episode later on, this pteranodon is named Turu. He's another character from Jonny Quest and was featured in the episode "Turu The Terrible". A similar looking (but different colored) pteranodon also appears in the opening credits of every episode.
Thanks to ZJS and Lightning Lad for this note.
Oh, of course. What else would it be? The massive pteranodon begins to rip apart the X-1. Hank, who had disappeared when the X-1 was first hit, returns with a parachute and lets everyone know the plan:
Go time! Alright, do not deploy until you're below 500 feet! So the enemy won't spot your chutes. If we lose each other in the shit, regroup at the rendezvous point in twenty-four hundred hours!
Doc starts to question Hank, but he leaps out of the plane before he can get out a full sentence. Naturally Hank doesn't have a parachute on his back. It's a jet pack. He flies across the sky, screaming. In the X-1 nobody is really doing much better, as the beast has the jet fully under his control. Hatred shoots at the ceiling but the bullet ricochets around the cockpit, taking out the radar. Giving up, Hatred pulls the emergency eject lever. The X-1 falls to pieces around them but the pteranodon is still gripping onto the cockpit.
[Sarcastic] Oh! This is much better!
At least I got a clear shot now.
But it's too late. Hatred hits the pteranodon in the head, causing it to drop them. They crash towards the earth, though we do see parachutes deploy. The jPad flies out of Doc's hands and General Manhowers flips out, even though he's still sitting at his desk.
At the Venture Compound Dean is in a room filled with HELPeR parts. He grabs some blueprints and goes into another closet, which ends up being a Murphy Bed.
The fact that this room exists does make one wonder why Dr. Venture originally didn't just repair HELPeR normally instead of turning him into a Walking Eye. Then again, maybe the answer is obvious.
Marsha Backwood is a parody of current Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She is voiced by newcomer to the show, Gillian Jacobs, who is probably currently best known for her role as Britta Perry on Community.
HELPeR is laying on a table in the lab as Dean sets down a box of parts and plans. However the doorbell rings, so Dean goes to answer it. At the door is Congresswoman Marsha Backwood, who is running for re-election. Dean is less than enthusiastic, giving only a reluctant "'kay..." which Backwood naturally assumes to be "que?" (Spanish for 'what'). She attempts to communicate with Dean in broken, inaccurate Spanish which only frustrates him further. He tells her that Doc was dragged off the Puerto Bahia by the army and then shuts the door on her to go back to his work. Backwood, dropping her southern accent, hisses at her assistant to get Manhowers on the phone.
Dean goes back into the lab and informs HELPeR that he's going to shut him off for a second, but before he can do so a message flashes on HELPeR's, uh, screen I guess and he rushes off, sounding very concerned. In the jungle it's revealed that Doc instructed HELPeR to locate him via his watch, though he apparently didn't know that they didn't take HELPeR with them. So he might be a while.
On the other hand, Hank is dead. I mean his watch is dead. Static. Doc says they should stay put and wait for him. They're essentially lost without the jPad anyway, which is in another location in the jungle, unharmed. Manhowers is yelling for Doc when a huge centipede crawls over it, followed by a mysterious foot standing in front of it. One that belongs to someone Manhowers knows.
Over by the X-1 cockpit Hatred is taking a leak while Doc complains about various jungle things. Hatred hears something and notices some figures walking towards them. He quickly grabs Doc and they hide on the floor in pretty much the same spot Hatred was peeing a few seconds ago. Doc loudly complains about this, which naturally attracts their rather non-traditional pursuers.
Hatred shouts at Cheetah-Man that Jocelyn Wildenstein "wants her face back" which is a reference to the extensive plastic surgery done to Wildenstein. It was actually performed to intentionally make her look like a cat, supposedly because of her ex-husband's love of big cats.
Hatred asks if Doc made them, to which he loudly shouts 'No!', which wasn't the best idea. Hatred creates a diversion by jumping out of the plants and shouting at them while Doc attempts to run away. They all fire on Hatred as he runs in the opposite direction. Doc quietly slips away. Meanwhile Cheetah-Man is running after Hatred very quickly.
Oh my god this was a bad idea!! Cheetah-Man is crazy fast, I do not know what I was thinking!
Doc turns back and shouts at Hatred to climb a tree (cheetahs can't climb trees, so he'd be safe) but he's pounced on before he has a chance to do much. Meanwhile the other two Animal-Men have Doc cornered, though when he attempts to run away from again he's confronted by a massive insect or shellfish of some sort which promptly bashes him on the head.
Much like Turu, the giant crab is likely also inspired by a similar creature from an episode of Jonny Quest called "Terror Island".
Thanks to Lightning Lad for this note.
In the meantime Hank has managed to survive. He starts dictating 'war journals' to his watch, explaining that he's hungry and on his own, since his 'team' isn't answering their watches. Fortunately he's landed in a location with a lot of berries, so he should be okay. He eats one carefully, tasting it, before grabbing a bunch of them and stuffing his mouth hungrily. They're probably safe to eat, right?
The mouse in this scene is a variation of the Vacanti mouse.
The next morning we're at some sort of Aztec temple. Doc is sleeping on a straw bed when he's woken up by a hairless rat with an ear growing out of its back. A hand reaches out and the mouse crawls onto it and up the arm. It's Venturestein! He happily shouts "Father!" upon seeing that Doc has woken up.
We start with a quick scene of HELPeR babbling and running down the highway through the desert.
HELPeR very distinctly runs down Route 285, which begins in Denver, Colorado and ends in Sanderson, Texas (close to the Mexican boarder). This more or less confirms that the Venture Compound is somewhere in Colorado, though it's also possible that HELPeR had to switch highways at some point.
Back in Puerto Bahia Venturestein is now choking Dr. Venture, who is unable to fight him off. He chokes that Hank was right but then Venturestein drops him and apologizes in a way that's much more understandable than the last time we (or Doc) saw him. Doc is impressed. The army taught Venturestein how to speak better, how to salute, how to make his bed and how to kill. Doc offers to take him back but Venturestein is not very receptive of this idea.
Venturestein relays a story about how the army made him go to Puerto Bahia and infiltrate the revolution with orders to self terminate. There were a number of other soldiers similar to Venturestein there who followed this order, but Venturestein was inspired not to when he saw Jorge from one of the films Venturestein watched in the learning bed. Jorge explained the situation in Puerto Bahia, opening his eyes to the exploitation of the proletariat. That's when he decided to quit the army and go to the jungle. Doc tries to explain to Venturestein that Dean is going through the same thing and it's just a phase.
Just then Cheetah-Man barges in demanding that Doc be killed for killing Turu, the pteranodon from earlier. Doc mistakenly identifies Turu as a pterodactyl which helps Venturestein in his cause of keeping Doc alive since he's not even good at science. He tells Karl (Cheetah-Man's name) to go outside and cool off. Karl pees on the wall before he leaves, marking his territory and sending a not-subtle message along with it. Doc quietly picks up the jPad when nobody is looking.
Doc asks about Karl and Venturestein explains that his father was not good 'like Venturestein'. They found him in the jungle as a scientist experimented on him, liberating him by way of killing the scientist. Apparently the jungle was very popular with 'bad scientists', so Venturestein and his comrades traveled around it, freeing all the mad scientist experiments and building their own army. They came to the jungle together so they could finally have a place to call home.
... That why Venturestein need father. Father tell other scientists: 'No more hurt science!' Tell them free Venturestein brother and sister!
[Fiddling with JPAD behind his back] Look, I know you think your father is Superman and I can do anything, but I'm gonna level with you here: I don't have a whole lot of sway in the science scene these days.
[Grabbing JPAD] What this? Father make army box blow up Venturestein?!
No! No! I- I was- please be careful with that!
Venturestein becomes angry and tells his comrades to take Doc away since he clearly can't trust him any more. He does, however, ask if the 'army box' (jPad) has internet access. Hmmm.
This scene is a take on Batman's origin story, particularly his training and when he decides on the symbol of a bat for his identity. "I shall become a bat" being a famous line from the comics. Likewise a lot of the shots are similar to some scenes from Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne is building the Batman persona and exploring the Batcave for the first time.
Meanwhile out somewhere in the jungle Hank is narrating his war journal. He says that he was unable to sleep because 'the jungle wouldn't allow it', all while eating handfuls of coffee berries. He's puked and diarrhea'd out his old life (quite a bit) and is waiting for the jungle to tell him what to do next. He trains and builds tools, until one day he jogs to a small brick structure to get out of the rain. Once inside he sees a statue and decides.
Yes, mother. I shall become, a bat.
Right after getting the words out he clutches his stomach and quickly runs back outside to remove more of his old life.
In Manhowers' office Marsha Backwood barges in demanding to know what happened to Dr. Venture. Manhowers explains that Doc volunteered to go, so everything is okay. Just then a call from Doc comes in on Manhowers' jPad, except it's not Doc, it's Venturestein.
I speak now to brother and sister comrade still in bondage with message of hope. [He growls loudly and a FLAG unfolds behind him] We United Repressed Grotesque Humanity, we here help all who suffer from scientist everywhere!
We see various scenes of scientists and their experiments watching the speech, indicating that Venturestein is broadcasting it to numerous places. He urges experiments to turn on their creators and free themselves.
This image above is a reference to the 1962 horror film The Brain That Wouldn't Die which depicts a mad scientist who has figured out how to keep isolated body parts alive. The fellow with the oddly shaped head is actually one of the scientists' experiments in the film.
Thanks to The Mysterious 'H' for that one.
The above image is a reference to the 1940 Soviet film Experiments in the Revival of Organisms which depicts various experiments done on dogs, including removing the head of one and having it respond to external stimuli. You can watch the film here but be warned it may be upsetting to some.
Thanks to hardyworld for mentioning this and Javier Chillon for sending me a link to the video.
Outside Doc is thrown into the jail cell with Sgt. Hatred, only commenting that he doesn't plan on taking any more government work after this. Venturestein continues.
They called us abomination, but together we build Abomi-Nation!! [Groans]
[Watching in his office] Ho-ly crap, he ain't just gone off the reservation, he's opening his own damned casino! [He looks up and sees that BACKWOOD is gone] Where'd she go?
Somewhere in the ocean, probably, HELPeR is still on his way to Dr. Venture. However he's swallowed by a sperm whale which dives deep underwater. A massive squid attacks the whale, dragging it downwards. Just then both are sliced open from inside and HELPeR shoots out of a cloud of red as pieces of the now dead whale and squid float away.
Back in the jungle some of Venturestein's troops are patrolling along with the huge crab... flea kinda thing. The crab guy falls into a hidden pit, complete with spikes at the bottom. Doesn't look good. The other two guys are swiftly taken out by a mysterious figure. Who could it be?
Back in the jail cell, Sgt. Hatred is having a nightmare. He signs a paper and then is given an injection labeled 'Soldier-X'. A chart shows that he has increased strength, agility, endurance and aggression while decreasing his empathy. General Tresiter nods approvingly at the chart and we see that it's bring your child to work day at OSI. A young boy is standing in the lab. Hatred suddenly snaps and races towards the boy. The next thing we see is some other OSI agents holding him back as he has torn off a piece of the boy's clothing with his teeth.
Notes and Speculation
Sgt. Hatred's nightmare is a fairly large reveal into his character. We see that while in OSI he was part of a Jason Bourne-style experiment (the scene is similar to the reveal in The Bourne Ultimatum) called 'Soldier-X' (a play on the 'Weapon X' experiment that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton). The experiment gave him more speed and strength but also caused him to become more aggressive and lowered his empathy. This means that while he may or may not have had some repressed pedophilia tendencies, the serum was likely a major reason for him becoming the way he became. Once again the lines between good and bad are muddied as is often the case in the series.
It's also been mentioned that this experiment also brings to mind the experiment that made Steve Rodgers into Captain America, called 'Project: Rebirth.' Thanks to hardyword and The Mysterious 'H' for mentioning that.
A second thing to note about Hatred's reveal is the boy present who he attacks. It's difficult to tell if this is General Treister's son (the one Brock used to babysit as found out way back in "Mid-life Chrysalis") or another child. Treister gives a reasonably Treister reaction to Hatred's deed (and the boy is similar enough to his adult son), so it's probably likely, but we don't know for sure just yet.
Hatred awakens in a sweaty panic just as something is going on outside. Many of the experimented man-animals are outside protesting, asking Venturestein to turn over Dr. Venture as payment for Turu's death. Venturestein says that the time for bloodshed is over since they'll be starting a new society soon. There's a brief discussion on how difficult it will be to take in an influx of immigrants and that this maybe hasn't been entirely thought through. Karl begins to offer up that he should be the new leader before he's interrupted by a protester who is primarily concerned about what their leader (whoever he may be) will do about The Bat.
So, first order of business is to hunt and kill The Bat and then head back and get rid of Doc and Hatred. They all rush out the walls around the temple, but unseen Hank climbs over into the grounds just as they leave, only surveying the area and then quietly leaving.
In the jungle at Hank's campsite some of the man-animals are talking about him. Karl points out that he's just a boy with a tummy ache, but as he says this a rope falls around his neck and he's strung up from the tree. Hank floats down and lands on top of their campfire, extinguishing it. Some of the man-animals approach him cautiously but he lifts his caps and kicks up a lot of smoke from the fire. It blinds them and shots are randomly fired. Karl cuts himself down and lands to see Hank standing, unharmed, over the rest of the group, all of whom have been knocked out. Karl rushes Hank who takes off with his jetpack, escaping.
Back inside the temple Venturestein is sitting as his desk/altar thinking. Hank silently sneaks by him and goes into the next room, picking up the jPad. Manhowers wakes up and Hank, in his best Batman voice, lets the General know that he's on the case. Venturestein shows up behind him, surprised. Rather than fight, he puts on Hank's old Batman mask and throws him the keys to Doc and Hatred's cell. Hank thanks him and runs off. Venturestein cheers: "Batman!!"
Hank opens up Doc and Hatred's cell and they briefly talk about how Hank is crazy before attempting to leave. However Sgt. Hatred doesn't want to, and instead says that he'd rather stay. He's tired or trying to pretend to be something he's not.
Crazy is spending your whole life trying to be something that you're not. I'm a freak, Doc. A monster! I can't hack it in the straight world. I wanna spend my autumn years in a place where I'll be accepted. With a vaguely paramilitary life and absolutely no children whatsoever.
[GANG of HUMAN-MEN arrive, seeing the open cell]
There they are! Slaughter them!
[running away] Let's get the fuck out of here.
They rush over the to the dead body of the huge flea/crab guy from earlier. Hank has fashioned it into a 'Hankmobile' which is to say he hollowed it out and attached a push cart and the jet pack. It scoots through the gates of the temple, pursuers in tow. The gas runs out in the jet pack just as it reaches the shore. They climb out and Hank tells them to run for the beach. He activates the bomb in the jPad and throws it as they reach the edge of the sand. They wait as Hank counts down from five, but... no explosion. Karl comes towards them, holding the jPad. He throws it on the ground, noting that the jungle is no place for one. Hank collapses, noting that he shouldn't have had that big crab dinner before the mission. The man-animals advance on Doc and Hatred.
Look, I'm not like the other scientists, okay? You want to know what Venturestein was doing before this? He was dead! And before that he was a henchman for some prick in a butterfly costume. Two, actually! I saved him!! I gave him life!!
Just as the crowd is about to completely overtake Doc there's a large splash in the water behind him. It's HELPeR!
[Gasps] HELPeR! Thank heaven! Kill these guys.
HELPeR is about to open fire when Man-Dog notices some boats on the horizon. It's more of the abominations! Except for one of them in a helicopter. That appears to be Marsha Backwood.
Excuse me! Pardona me! That man you're holding is a citizen of the United States! I am congresswoman Marsha Backwood and I am here to negotiate- [she notices something on the ground] Oh, did somebody lose an iPad?
There's a lengthy pause.
Yeah, I can fix this.
Roll end credits.
We're at the UN where Marsha Backwood is being introduced to inform everyone on the situation in Puerto Bahia. She takes the stage. She looks... not bad. Doesn't sound too good though.
I here today, tell all, abomination proud, hearty people...
Doc calls for Hank and Dean to come into the living room to watch the UN speech. Dean is in the lab, cleaning off his hands and surrounded by old HELPeR walking eye parts. We can also hear Shallow Gravy rehearsing. They're at HankCo.
Hold on, stop, stop, stop. What the F? HELPeR sounds like crap now.
I know, right? Man, friggin' Dean.