The Venture Bros.’ seventh season continues to move pieces into place for future arcs, some of them wholly unexpected. This week, The Venture Bros. took a trip down memory lane (strewn, of course, with the corpses of unfortunate cattle) to return to the scene of as yet untold crimes: the original Venture Compound. While Brock blasts through biohazard warning signs, Doc refines a speech with a little help from Dean. (Hank still thinks Dean’s an insufferable nerd, and “quinquagenary” is a real word!) At the end of the road their jeep is greeted by a final cow carcass and a hazmat-suited OSI team.
General Hunter Gathers and company escort the Venture family to what remains of the compound, whose charred bones last appeared in “All This and Gargantua-2.” A fancy event tent has been erected in what used to be the front yard. Inside, Guild and OSI operatives mingle over canapes and ice cream cake. (Watch and Ward must have been in charge of the catering: It’s Fudgie the Whale!) While the adults trade cocktail party banter, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch advises Dean to pledge his father and grandfather’s fraternity, Gamma Psi Delta. Doc has never mentioned GPD, and Dean puzzles over his father’s failure to demand his participation in that Venture rite of passage. Then there is a call to order, and everyone reconvenes in a collapsing shell of green marble and sooty constellations – what remains of the lobby/entrance hall. Representatives from the Guild and the OSI line up at opposing tables, and Doc gavels in the Second Summit of The Treaty of Tolerance. 50 years after Jonas presided over the first Summit, the time has come for them to renegotiate the terms of organized aggression.
The boys take off even before Doc finishes his opening remarks. Dean goes for a walk, and shortly after that an OSI officer escorts Hank from the hall. The boys aren’t missing much: The summit proceeds less like an act of diplomacy and more like a middle school confrontation. Between the posturing, name-calling, and sophistry, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done in organized aggression. As usual, the lone voice of reason is Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, who has come armed with historical facts, a refusal to be addressed as “Councilman,” and a truly terrific suit.
Dean returns to the house in Potter’s field where he discovered he and his brother were clones. Someone is home, but it’s not Jonas’ old friend Ben. (He blew off the summit to go surfing in New Zealand.) Instead, the door opens to reveal a familiar but wholly unexpected face: It’s H.E.L.P.e.R., except this H.E.L.P.e.R. is red, has legs, and greets Dean with a plummy (non-beeping) accent, down-home hospitality, and a bit of Venture Industries history.
Shortly after he invented H.E.L.P.E.R. as a lab assistant, Jonas started mass-producing H.E.L.P.E.R.s and marketing them as in-home appliances that could assist with housework and childcare. These domestic H.E.L.P.E.R.s were a hit in the suburbs, where they freed a certain subset of the population to drink away their marital and reproductive regrets into middle-aged oblivion. H.E.L.P.E.R.s seemed poised to exceed refrigerators and washing machines in household appliance popularity –until the day a baby detached a H.E.L.P.E.R.’s eye and nearly choked on it. In the classic American moral and tech panic that followed, the whole run was recalled and destroyed. The sole survivors were the prototype – the Ventures’ own H.E.L.P.E.R. – and this one.
Red H.E.L.P.e.R. tells Dean they are alike, because Ben modified his robot chassis with unspecified “organic” material. He is pleasantly surprised by Dean’s admission that he’s a clone. Apparently feeling that he can speak freely, Red H.E.L.P.e.R. adds, “We were both created by great men compelled by love and guilt. We are second chances.” Touched by this similarity, Dean tries to persuade Red H.E.L.P.e.R. to leave the house and enter the world. They make it a few yards down the road before Red H.E.L.P.e.R. panics and insists on returning home. Dean walks him back and they part amicably, with Red H.E.L.P.e.R. telling Dean that it was a pleasure to meet Rusty Venture at last.
Meanwhile, Hank’s “arresting” officer turns out to be Dermott, who got an…unidentified relative to put in a good word for him with the OSI. They exchange an elaborate rhyming handshake and nip into the hangar to catch up. Dermott has calmed down somewhat since joining the OSI, and Hank’s time in the big city means he’s no longer cowed by Dermott’s hypermasculine posturing. They scramble up a nearly ceiling-high pile of jackets, surely fan tributes from their Shallow Gravy days. (Incidentally, the Jacket EP is real, and it is…surprisingly good? Go listen to it and be amazed. And confused.)
Hank and Dermott aren’t the only ones who retreated into the hangar to get away from the summit. The OSI and Guild snipers (Agent Kimberly McManus and Stranger S-464) who fell in love at the end of “Red Means Stop” arrive shortly after the boys reach the summit of jacket pile. The two adults seem on the verge of consummating their union when McManus spots “pee-pee” on S-464’s belt. Disgusted, she accuses S-464 of ruining everything and stalks off. Dermott puzzles over what to do, but Hank already knows: They are going to find some adult and tattle like hell.
Back at the summit, Phantom Limb and Shore Leave square off in pool gear sans pool. (I very much want footage of their “fight” as a DVD extra. Especially the moment when Shore Leave dislocates Phantom Limb’s shoulder.) Aside from establishing Shore Leave as the better fighter, the Battle of the Floaties resolves nothing, and the blame game deteriorates into bickering, personal insults, and middle-school assaults (a pen is thrown). When the Guild starts complaining about fairness, Doc snaps. He’ll be damned if he listens to another goddamn minute of these assholes whining about not getting everything they want. If his father, a shit-ass parent, could snap these obnoxious children into line, he’ll do no less. Mocked into submission, the Guild and the OSI sheepishly accept Doc’s amendments to the new Treaty of Tolerance. Doc declares that this version is “way better” than his dad’s but only time will tell.
The parties sign and it’s finally time for the closing trumpet blast. While the Guild and OSI pack up shop, Dean shares a tender moment with his dad. Dean’s right about Jonas being an even worse father than Doc, and it’s unclear whether Doc knows what else he has in common with his sons. Dermott reports Agent McManus and Guild Stranger S-464’s liaison in the hangar, including the latter’s “pee-pee” belt buckle, and both General Gathers and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch thank him for his vigilance. Once aboard their Guild Wasp, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch tries to discuss the significance of Dermott’s report with Phantom Limb. Like Hank, Limb is all too eager to leap to the defense of capricious plumbing, and the good councilwoman has to spell it out for him: Every member of the Peril Partnership wears a “P.P.” belt buckle.
In “The Inamorata Consequence,” characters become so infatuated with something or someone that they forget to keep their secrets. Smitten with Agent McManus, Guild Stranger S-464 inadvertently outed himself as an infiltrator. Red H.E.L.P.e.R. was so happy to meet an apparent kindred spirit that he betrayed the secrets of his origin and Rusty’s, suggesting as yet unplumbed depths to Jonas’ experiments. And the Guild and OSI reps are so obsessed with winning that they conflate petty victories with successful archings, their fundamental childishness bursting through their thin veneers of professionalism. Even Doc betrays his determination to outdo his father in everything at the expense of living his own life – or letting his kids live theirs. Everything seems to be building to a major change. This episode dropped a lot of breadcrumbs, but damned if I have any idea what that change could be. What I do know is the Guild has a mole, the Treaty of Tolerance has changed, Dean knows his dad is a clone, and everyone is leaving the Venture Compound, possibly for the last time. You can’t go home again. But why would you want to?
- “Watch where you bounce that bovine, boychik!”
- “You’re pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining!” “You’re kicking me in the balls and telling me my undies are too tight!” “You’re throwing up in my air and telling me it’s shampoo!”
- “You’re shoving your hand up my ass and telling me you’re Jim Henson!”
- “America has touched the dirty doorknob of Progress, and caught Robot Fever. Now we have to take our medicine.”
- “I’ve got to ride a dragon into a pile of danger!”
- “When my kids complain about fairness, I remind them that fairness is the philosophical tooth fairy!”
STRAY THOUGHTS & IDLE SPECULATION
- What IS “lady second base”?
- Dermott knows who his biological father is. Hank doesn’t.
- John Hodgman returns as Snoopy!
- Red H.E.L.P.e.R.’s remark that he was created out of love and guilt implies that Jonas was capable of feeling guilt about something. I’m almost curious to see what it is.
- There is an entire sub-story arc in the sequence of newspaper articles that accompany Red H.E.L.P.e.R.’s history of his kind, and I am including it below for your reading pleasure.
- Go watch MST3K’s Cry Wilderness episode and learn some amazing things about Fudgie the Whale.
- Can someone hook me up with Dr. Mrs. The Monarch’s seamstress/tailor? Please?
- Read the full saga of the H.E.L.P.e.R. craze below!