It’s snowing. It started some time ago but it shows no signs of stopping. Watching the snow intently, Dr. Venture purses his lips, wrinkles his brow, and barks out an order: Billy better get that thermal regulator suppository in pronto.
Homeostasis is a tricky thing, and humans have developed no shortage of inventions to help it along. Profound cold has driven innovations from fire to furs, and now ConVenTech has produced their own prototype to improve the fussy processes of keeping feeble humans warm in inclement weather: an internal thermostat, a self-sustaining heat generator which must, of course, be administered rectally. Of course, Doc is not about to test drive this sucker himself, so it falls to the intrepid Billy Quizboy to conduct scientific testing on the only available human subject, who – of course – happens to be himself.
It’s hard not to feel for Billy. He’s the wide-eyed kid brother Rusty never had, whose protestations barely conceal his willingness to do anything for Doc’s approval. For his part, Doc enjoys domineering big brother role a tad too much. He knows Billy will do what he tells him. So Billy goes into the bathroom, and the thermal regulator goes inside Billy.
And then the beeping starts. It’s definitely not the regulator. Until the source can be isolated – and if necessary, neutralized – it’s off to the panic room for Doc and Hank. While Hank struggles to get signal in a solid titanium box (Sirena hasn’t responded to any of his messages, which can mean only that she has frozen to death and/or been replaced by an alien doppelganger), Doc hassles Billy and H.E.L.P.e.R., who have drawn the short stick of potential bomb squad duty. (Even though Pete is down with mono, dispatching the person walking around with your latest prototype to a potentially explosive situation seems like a questionable business decision.) But it’s not a bomb; it’s Hatred’s old OSI phone, stowed deep in a closet. Doc takes the call and deflate as an unheard voice barks orders at him. Team Venture has a mission: Tear down this blizzard.
Elsewhere, Councilwoman Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is tendering a similar – and similarly mandatory – mission to her husband and his sidekick. When they try to argue, she retorts that it beats the hell out of screening preteen martial arts students for henching potential. And their success will mean a full EMA level increase. She and Dr. Z debrief them aboard Dr. Z’s junk: The mastermind behind this storm is a Peril Partnership agent called the Creep. His rogue offshoot of the PP has refused the Guild’s diplomatic overtures. His unsanctioned antics – which now include stealing the Guild’s weather machine – threaten to end a 60-year détente between the (American) Guild and the (Canadian) Peril Partnership. The OSI has refused to assist, so the Monarch and Gary need to stop him in a top secret, off-the-books operation. They will present themselves as defectors from the Guild, get inside the Creep’s guard, and take him out.
Gary and his boss make landfall on an unidentified island somewhere in upstate New York. Squinting into the whiteout, they’re greeted by a roaring, shadowy apparition astride a suspiciously familiar butter-glider. The apparition announces that he will test their prowess in battle before accepting their defection. They will play…The Most Dangerous Game. Team Monarch follows the shadow’s trajectory up a hill to a house encased in a forcefield bubble of summery warmth. In grand Venture Bros. style, The Most Dangerous Game turns out to be Dive Bomb, the most dangerous game of the 1980s. It’s played by hurling lawn darts into the air and waiting until the last minute to dodge their potentially fatal landing. Gary is psyched: he spent at least one summer playing just this game, and he is prepared to throw down (or up) with The Creep. For bonus weirdness points, their playing field is littered with tech swiped from the Guild.
Team Venture has recognized the signs of a good old-fashioned weather machine, and start developing a plan of attack. But Hank refuses to suit up because OMG SIRENA. Doc casts about fruitlessly for volunteers before settling for an inexplicably enthusiastic Billy. They board the X-12 and ascend through the storm. While Doc scans the weather machine, Billy strips down. The thermal suppository is functioning a little too well, and by the time they clear the cloud cover he is red-faced and sweating. And just like that, Doc realizes how they’re going to shut down this machine: Billy is going to poop that thermal suppository into the machine’s cold air intake port. The plan works, and when the storm subsides, they see Guild Stranger S-464 standing atop the disabled ring, trying to catch a ride.
As the X-12 tows the giant fan home, S-464 explains his motives. It was never about the weather, or even about the Peril Partnership. He took this mission just to get OSI Agent Kimberly McManus’ attention. He still loves her, you see, and he thought a good dose of blizzard-induced sadness would persuade her to take him back. Although I don’t quite understand his reasoning, I have to concede that his methods are still marginally less creepy than, say, creating a fictional Facebook account to message someone who got a restraining order against you. (Protip for Doc: Even black widows have their limits.) Of course, with a dad like this, it’s not hard to understand where Hank gets his … limited grasp of romance.
Hank remains convinced that the girl whose father has her tailed by at least one professional henchman bodyguard at all times is in trouble because of, you know, snow. Disregarding Sergeant Hatred’s safety warnings (and his rather more oblique hints that 43 voicemails and 60 texts are maybe not a sustainable communication level for a healthy relationship), Hank sets out to find her. He’s quickly distracted by the opportunity to play some fantasy football on deserted streets. This is not a euphemism: Hank Venture goes deep into a snowdrift and lands a full-contact touchdown against a lamp post. He’s found by Scare Bear, the creepy knife-wielding figure in the filthy bear costume whose job interview for The Revenge Society quailed even Phantom Limb and Professor Incorrigible. Delirious and concussed, Hank mutters that he needs to save his girlfriend. Stowing its bloody blade in an unseen pocket, Scare Bear scoops him up and proceeds to carry him down the street.
On an unnamed island in upstate New York, daylight recedes into dusk over three increasingly crabby Dive Bomb players. As the darkness encroaches, the Creep divulges his tragic backstory: Before joining the PP, he was an OSI agent called Mission Creep. When a Boy Scout troop camped too close to an OSI mountain fortress, Mission Creep removed them, and the OSI removed him. Now his raison d’etre is to weaken the Guild and avenge himself on the OSI for totally overreacting to one of their agents slaughtering an entire Boy Scout troop. Then the Creep channels his rage into a final dart toss just before Grover Cleveland’s time machine lights up and Rusty and Billy emerge. Except they are obviously not the current Rusty and Billy. For starters, Billy is rocking serious facial hair that matches his Civil-War-era uniform. And Doc – strangely dapper in a coattails and a Titanic life preserver – greets the Monarch as “Malcolm.” The incursion – “What are you doing in 70 billion years ago?” – distracts the Creep just long enough for him to forget about the still airborne dart which lodges, suddenly and fatally, in his skull.
Hank has also arrived at a sort of final destination. After a quick stop at a convenience store, Scare Bear has carried Hank to Stuyvesant College and deposited him in front of Dean’s dorm door. By some mysterious power (I have to assume they locked the door, because the one thing college students know to do is lock the damn door), Scare Bear opens the door to Dean’s room and deposits Hank in front of the bed Dean is currently sharing with Sirena Ong. Although this was heavily telegraphed, it’s no less sad. Like many boys too confident to know better, Hank was counting on simple charm – that is, his occasionally entertaining antics – to keep a girl’s interest. Well, that and a truly smothering level of contact. Naturally, she found herself attracted to someone else, someone learning to be more than he is, and that someone happened, unfortunately and inevitably, to be Hank’s brother. (In Sirena’s defense, it’s probably tough to find potential partners who don’t turn tail at a childhood in organized villainy and a dad who’s a mobbed up whale-shark-human hybrid.) Heartbroken but still concussed, Hank confronts his brother and his girlfriend, makes sure they see the bear too, and promptly passes out.
Back at Guild HQ, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch has graciously arranged for Agent McManus to see Agent S-464, who is back in Guild custody after a prisoner exchange with the OSI. But McManus is too late to save her love: S-464’s memories of her have been wiped, and he dutifully calls in the incursion by an OSI agent. McManus has likely become a bargaining chip in the Guild’s negotiations for their weather machine’s return.
Dr. MTM has no time for happy fucking endings. After the year she’s had, I’m not sure I can blame her. Next week is the season finale, and shit is getting real.
- “There he is! The rectal Neil Armstrong!”
- “Why would I make a suppository that beeps?”
- “He’s so important, he has a hotline!”
“Yeah, well, he never reads his email.”
- “They need the dream team –”
“.…Yeah, ‘dream team’ is a bit much.”
- “Crap. After we eat the chicken statue we need to eat this paper.”
- “Eww, stalker much? Where’s your copy of Catcher in the Rye and your handgun?”
- “Oh good. You guys see him too.”
STRAY THOUGHTS & IDLE SPECULATION
- Sheila’s still in the Guild. Has she renounced arching? And is she about to renounce her husband?
- Brock pronounces “spaghetti” as “pisketti!”
- Scare Bear retains all of its silent menace. Look, I know those are supposed to look like human eyes under the mask, but its demeanor is distinctly inhuman, or subhuman, or suprahuman, at any rate not anything that registers as human, so Scare Bear isn’t even getting a theoretical or nonbinary gender and will hang out in the third person inanimate until somebody explains what the hell is up with it.
- Of course, I have a theory about Scare Bear’s identity: What if it’s a permanently concussed, time-traveling Hank trapped in a creepy unwashed Halloween costume?
- Gary is miffed that the Monarch is not using the very expensive wallet Gary gave him for his birthday. In Gary’s defense, that was definitely a man’s wallet. In the Monarch’s defense, Paul Smith wallets are pretty ugly.
- Could the action of this episode be undone? Time-traveling Billy announces that they need to go further back in time “and fix this too.”
- Lawn darts are real, and were really deadly.