Holy smokes.  Every week, I think Venture Bros. can’t get any more epic, and every week they prove me wrong.  This week’s episode, “Bot Seeks Bot” is a giant OSI vs. Guild story that reveals the identities of most of the Council of Thirteen, maybe blows open one of the show’s biggest mysteries, and seemingly kills a MAJOR character.  Heck, the tag alone consists of three big surprises in quick succession.  This one is nuts.  And on top of all of that, Ghost Robot plays a huge role this time.  Ghost Robot is the best.

And you want guest stars?  We’ve got Bill Hader reprising his roles as Headshot and Phage, and picking up another one along the way.  Paget Brewster returns as Amber Gold, as well as playing once of the Council and a couple of side characters.  Snoopy gets a larger role this episode, which helps explain why they brought in John Hodgman for two lines a couple of weeks ago.  Larry Murphy of Bob’s Burgers is also back, and Kevin Conroy, the voice of animated Batman, returns as Captain Sunshine.  That’s a return I was not expecting.

Are you ready for the glory of “Bot Seeks Bot”?

BROCK:  “Anyone else find it a little convenient that the one guy on the Council Monstroso ID’d suddenly dropped dead?”

SNOOPY:  “There’s nothing convenient about heart disease, I can assure you Agent Samson”.

SHORE LEAVE:  “Especially when your ticker taps out behind the wheel of you clown car.  Heard it took twenty minutes to pull his henchclowns out before they could even get to him.”

We open at the funeral of Boggles the Clue Clown, who you may remember as being the member of the Council of 13 outed by Monstroso in “O.S. I Love You”.  The service is being performed by what looks like a Satanic priest in a luchador mask.  Man, I love this show.  Among the mourners, we see Councilmen 3 and 8 (who share a body now).  For some reason, 8 is wearing a woman’s hat and a veil.  And they are definitely wearing a dress.  A man with a robotic voice (because he’s a robot) and an old Team Venture logo on his helmet leans in to tell the Councilmen that the Sovereign has requested a meeting to announce Councilman 4′s replacement.  Know who else is at the funeral?  Captain Sunshine and the newest Wonderboy!  Yes, Kevin Conroy is all up in this.  The Captain is genuinely sad about the death of his archenemy.

From inside a crypt, OSI has the funeral under surveillance.  Brock, Shore Leave, and Snoopy (making his second appearance and voiced by deranged millionaire John Hodgman) are taking pictures of the mourners, trying to match them up with the Council silhouettes.  I might have noted this before, but it makes sense that Brock doesn’t know about the 3/8 hybrid, even though they’ve been to the Venture Compound twice.  He wasn’t in any of the episode where they appeared, and they didn’t announce themselves as being Council members at the time.  Also, Brock points out that it’s suspicious how the one Councilman they could identify dropped dead.  I assume that the Investors tied up that loose end.

The priest reads one last riddle to Captain Sunshine – he can’t figure it out, and then Boggles’ corpse pops out of the coffin on a spring with the answer on a sign around his neck.  It doesn’t go over well with the crowd.  His henchmen put him back, and a hysterical Captain Sunshine throws himself over the coffin.  The Red Mantle (Councilman 3) uses his powers to cover the coffin with dirt, which piques OSI’s interest.  The robot asks if the Councilmen are through mourning, and they yell at him – using the name “Vendata” and saying that’s why he doesn’t have any friends.

Super short opening music sting!

 

SNOOPY:  “‘Might we make good alloys?’  What’s that, a typo?  Does he mean ‘allies’?”

HUNTER:  “Cyborgs don’t make typos!  It’s a pun!  A godawful one.”

On the Hoverquarters, Snoopy explains to the group (Brock, Shore Leave, Hunter Gathers, Headshot, and Amber Gold) who Vendata is.  Another good pun name, by the way!  He’s a Guild Cyborg who made his name in the eighties and also fits the silhouette of Councilman 1 perfectly.  When they check the classified records to see who build Vendata,  Turns out, he used to be “Venturion” and he was built by Venture Industries in 1976.  He was abandoned after he tried to strangle Rusty, and Jonas covered up all record of his existence.  That’s about right.  Freaking Jonas, man.  By the way, since he’s a cyborg he has to have been human at one point.  I have a giant theory about that one at the end.

They also find that Vendata placed a “Bot Seeks Bot” ad on the GuildList website.  He’s lonely and wants to make a connection.  Hunter says that’s they way in.  Amber volunteers for the mission, and at this point, it’s clear that she’s in a terrible relationship with Headshot and just wants anybody else.  Hunter says she’s not his type.  Shore Leave refuses, but he’s not what Vendata is looking for.  They need a robot.  And now things are going to get awesome.  I assumed they’d enlist HELPeR, but no.  It’s better.  GHOST ROBOT!

Ghost Robot previously appeared in “Handsome Ransom” and was seemingly killed in “Any Which Way But Zeus”.  He is a robot that is also a ghost, and you can tell because he wears a sheet with eyeholes over his head.  He is my favorite side character, and I might have let out a whoop when I saw him.

 

“This jocularity is quite amusing, but I really must go.  I am programmed for strict punctuality.” — Vendata

Cut to the Guild meeting, with all the Councilmen on their monitors.  The Sovereign names a new Councilman 4 and then tries to adjourn the meeting.  But the Councilmen want to celebrate the first new member in fifteen years.  Sovereign won’t allow it, because anonymity is essential.  So Red Mantle points out that the new Councilman is clearly Phage (Richard Impossible’s enemy, previously seen in “Pomp and Circuitry”.  Like Headshot, he’s voiced by Bill Hader.)  The Sovereign gets angry and adjourns the meeting, and everybody pretends to sign off.  But then they come back once his giant head disappears.  They’re going to have a party, and once of the Councilmen invites them to his club.  The only woman on the Council (voiced by Paget Brewster) says she can’t make it because the grandchildren are visiting, and some of the others make lame excuses like being on the moon.  They all make fun of Vendata, who’s having dinner with “a friend”.

The rest of them agree to meet at 9 and sign off.  And then they leave their chambers to find that most of them are actually in the same location anyway.  Including Councilman 12, who claimed to be on the moon.  So this anonymity is clearly a joke.  Councilman 5, who is actually Dr. Z., at least tried by wearing a fake mustache.  Hee!

OK, Jackson and Doc have admitted that most of the Council were just existing character models with stuff added to their silhouettes like horns and mustaches.  But now we’re seeing them, which is why they explain away 5′s mustache.  And just to make things easy, here’s a list of the Council as we know it by the end of the episode.  Not all of them have appeared in this scene or been identified, but between the credits and commentary on past seasons, we’ve got most of them.

1. Vendata

2. The Wild Fop (previously seen in “Fallen Arches”)

3. Red Mantle

4. Phage

5. Dr. Z. (most recently seen in “Self-Medication” – he’s actually a Jonny Quest villain)

6. Unknown but probably Monsenor – He’s only identified in the credits and doesn’t appear in person.  I think he might actually be the priest from the beginning of the episode.  But there’s also a gaucho from crowd scenes who’d fit the silhouette pretty well.  We’ll have to wait this one out.

7. Don Hell (He owns the club – he’s an older guy with an eyepatch and spiked helmet)

8. Dragoon

9. Steppenwolf (He’s half-human, half-bat.  I think this is his first appearance.)

10. Unknown – he’s a guy in insect armor like Kamen Rider, but he’s not identified by name.  He might be the occasionally mentioned Manta Claus, but no confirmation yet.

11. Unknown – She’s the only Council Member who doesn’t appear in person at all.  But her head shape is exactly like Mommy Longlegs (who’s in most villain crowd scenes), so I’m willing to assume.

12. The Nerve – He said he was on the moon, and appears to be a human shaped container in which a brain and nervous system are suspended.  I don’t think we’ve seen him before.

And the thirteenth is, of course, the Sovereign.  Keep this list handy!

 

“Fingers!  Fingers!” — Ghost Robot

Brock and the OSI guys stake out Chairman Wao’s Chow Bistro.  (Wao is a crowd scene villain who’s only been named in the commentaries until now.)  They’ve made over Ghost Robot to look like a Guild Robot named Galacticon.  Ghost Robot is mostly excited about having fingers.  Hee!  Ghost Robot heads in for his date, and Headshot wants to know where they need him to set up.  In order to break up an argument, Brock sends him over to a ridge to set up his shot.  I just realized what the deal is with Headshot – he’s a sniper but so far on the show he’s never fired a shot.  They keep sending him on missions where a sniper isn’t needed!

A Munsters-style car drives past and we see a bunch of Councilmen crammed into it on their way to the club.  They reminisce about the races they used to have, but Dragoon doesn’t know the difference between his real life and the old Wacky Races cartoon.

Vendata and Ghost Robot make incredibly awkward conversation in the restaurant.  Then they realize that they don’t eat and decide to go elsewhere.  OSI has to follow them, and Ghost Robot’s glee at being able to give Brock a subtle “thumbs up” is absolutely hilarious.

Brock and co. follow them to a weird little building in the middle of the desert.  When the robots approach the door, the bouncer welcomes them to Don Hell’s, and asks for their Guild ID.  When Ghost Robot enters, Snoopy loses his signal.  And then we see they’re in a supervillain club.  A nice one, with a dance floor and everything!

 

“Greetings, Brock Samson!  Apologies.  I regret to report my date is not going well.  Conversation:  Strained.  Rapport:  Wanting.” — Ghost Robot

Brock and Shore Leave head to the Venture Compound to get his stuff out of storage.  Brock’s got a lot of costume remnants from back when he was killing villains on the regular, so they can make some disguises.  You might remember Brock’s mummy sasquatch costume from Season Three’s “The Buddy System”.  Shore Leave runs through a couple of ideas (like “Fruit Bat” and “Conquistadorable”) before Sgt. Hatred catches them.  He comes in armed, since he assumes they’re intruders.  After Hatred puts down his gun and says hi, Shore Leave tazes him.  Hee!  Remember, Shore Leave has spent almost no time with the Ventures and doesn’t really have any reason to give a damn about them.  That comes up in this episode a few times.  He’s not homicidal, but Doc and the rest just don’t mean anything to him.

Then Doc spots them and wonders what they’re up to.  Obviously it looks like they’re headed to a costume party, and Doc is interested.  Brock makes up a lie about returning the costume, but Doc is determined.

Over at Don Hell’s the Council gets their drinks and notice Vendata making small talk with Galacticon.  It’s hella awkward, and Vendata gets up to say hi to his coworkers.  Outside,Augustus   St.Cloud can’t get in.  But Yeti Mummy and Red-Throated Loon (Shore Leave went with a bird-themed costume), with their fake ID’s have no problem.  Once they get to the dance floor, they split up.  Brock’s going to extract Ghost Robot while Shore Leave watches for trouble.  And then I lose my mind when Brick Frog walks past.  He dresses like a frog and throws bricks!  (He tried out for the Revenge Society last season, and he’s in the Ghost Robot / Tiny Joseph pantheon of amazing minor characters.)  Shore Leave sits down at the bar, and a plant lady hits on him until she realizes that she’s barking up the wrong tree.

Doc picks up Billy Quizboy for this party (he planted a tracker on Brock).  Doc’s wearing a rainbow wig and Groucho glasses, while Billy is in a cowboy suit.  They think it’s a costume party.  Pete White can’t go because he’s still mixing Shallow Gravy’s “Jacket” single.  Hee!  (It is a pretty hilarious song.)

Brock locates Ghost Robot, while Vendata is off talking to the Council.  It’s important that you know everything the robots say in this episode is hilarious, because they talk in that really precise and halting way that you assume robots would talk.  Dragoon points out to Vendata that his date seems to have found a new friend (Yeti Mummy, of course), and they all make fun of Vendata.  In a nice touch, Dr. Z. says that the Yeti Mummy is oddly familiar – he was in “The Buddy System” and actually saw Brock in the suit!

 

“I’m just saying, I’m exceptionally talented at two things in this world, Snoopy.  Sniping and being extra handsome.  And they’re both being squandered on this mission!” — Headshot

You guys, I literally just this second got that Headshot’s name is a pun!  Headshot as in the thing that snipers do and also the other kind.  You know, the pictures that famous people give you when they want a job.  Anyway, he and Snoopy wait in the van and see the real Galacticon drive up.  Headshot gets ready to take him out, but then they’re rear-ended by Doc.  (He didn’t see them in camouflage mode.)  Doc and Billy approach the building from the other direction and take a look in the window.  The bouncer catches them immediately, and they pretend to be a ventriloquist act.  Inside the club, Brock spots the real Galacticon.  He and Ghost Robot run to the bathroom (to the amusement of the Council) while Shore Leave tries to run interference.  And then the bouncer comes down to tell Don Hell that Dr. Venture showed up, pretending to be a ventriloquist.  Don decides to turn it into a show.

Vendata finds Doc and Ghost Robot in the bathroom – Brock is trying to force Ghost Robot into the mummy costume, and it looks filthy.  So Brock kicks Vendata into the wall, doing a fair amount of damage.  He calls Shore Leave to let them know they’re ready to go, but then a guy in a squid outfit (Bill Hader again!) recognizes Shore Leave’s costume – He used to work with the outfit’s real owner, Sri Lankan Devil Bird.  He makes a scene but backs off when Vendata steps in.  So now Brock is wearing Vendata’s outer shell and Ghost Robot is in the Yeti Mummy costume.  (You can see his glowing eyes in the mouth.  It’s adorable!)

They’re just about to the door when Don Hell takes to the stage and introduces the star of the show – Dr. Venture!  He and Billy are bound and gagged and tied to a wheel labeled with different methods of death.  Shore Leave tries to go anyway, but Brock isn’t going to let this happen.  Don’s going to spin the wheel, and the lucky winner gets to execute Doc.  Then we see Flying Squid make a call, telling somebody to get down here right away.  We know who it has to be, but it’s still going to be great.

 

“No!  The metal murder man from my nightmares!  He was real!” — Dr. Venture

We see Shore Leave up on top of the giant disco ball, using a cutting torch on the cable holding it aloft.  The wheel stops on “Acid Dip”.  A guy on the dance floor starts to announce that he has the winning ticket, but Brock knocks him out and grabs it for himself.  He heads up to the stage to do the honors and stall for time.  Doc recognizes the Vendata suit from the childhood strangling incident.  And then… the Monarch shows up.

He and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch are there to cite Guild bylaws and claim that this is an illegal arching.  Phage, who studied up for his entrance exam, notes that this is a team-up, which supercedes individual arching rights.  But Dr. Mrs. knows her stuff – since the Monarch, as the primary arch, wasn’t offered the chance to participate in the team-up, they have no right to kill Dr. Venture.  Don Hell calls it a night and sends everybody home.

As Brock heads out, the remains of Vendata stand in his way.  Vendata asks about his wife, says the plane is going down, and collapses.  You better believe I’ll be talking about that in a couple of paragraphs.  Brock and his team head to the elevator.  Shore Leave asks if they have to save Doc from the Monarch now.  Brock’s response:  “Nah.  What’s he gonna do?  He’s the Monarch.”

Doc climbs down off the stage.  The Monarch faces him from across the room and says he’s finally got Doc right where he wants him.  And then, with perfect timing, that disco ball crashes to the floor right on top of Doc!  Credits!

In the tag, the Sovereign offers somebody membership on the Council.  (Presumably to replace Vendata.)  As the camera moves, we see that it’s Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, who needs a day to think about it.  Ready for another surprise?  We pan out again to see that somebody is watching all of this on a monitor.  It’s… The Revenge Society!  Phantom Limb, Professor Impossible, Baron Underbheit, and Fat Chance are all there, and in one last surprise, Dr. Henry Killinger enters the room with more popcorn for everybody.

Killinger!  We’ve never had any indication that he’s affiliated with the Revenge Society, or that he’s anything but antagonistic toward Phantom Limb.  I’m freaking out right now!

If you’ve been obsessing over this like I have, note that this week’s Titmouse “Chirp” is provided by Shore Leave.

OK, there’s a lot to unpack.  Let’s put aside that we’ve seen and identified most of the Council.  First off, is Doc dead?  The listing for next week says that Hank and Dean are sent to live with their godfathers.  (Does that mean they each have a different godfather?  And is one of them the mysterious Ben?)  That certainly makes him sound dead, but a friend of mine mentioned that the Season Five trailer showed doc in bandages, which is not something we’ve seen yet this season.  I haven’t checked the trailer to verify that this actually happened, because spending a week freaking out is good for me.

The possibility of Dr. Mrs. The Monarch getting a seat on the Council is pretty exciting, but I’m alarmed that Phantom Limb apparently has the Council bugged.  Presumably, that’s the work of new Revenge Society member Killinger.  Regardless, I was legitimately shocked that the Society showed up.  They haven’t popped up all season, and I figured they were kind of on ice.  But if they’ve recruited Killinger, I have to think they’re making a move on the Guild.  Just as a hunch, I think that’ll be the main plot of Season Six.  This season has a lot to deal with in the one remaining episode.  Also, I think the season finale is going to be a big episode for Gary.

See, Jackson and Doc are hosting a Henchman 21 cosplay contest at Comic Con this weekend.  The winner will be the shirt club model for next week’s shirt.  To me, that means the design, and hence the episode, has something to do with Gary.  Otherwise, it would be a more generic cosplay contest.

All that aside, I have two theories to bounce off you.  I’m much more confident in, and excited by, the second one.

1. Monstroso is the Sovereign.  The more I think about it, the only reason to retcon the David Bowie reveal is because they have something more in mind with the Sovereign.  To me, that means he has to be a character that we’ve seen.  I don’t see any reason to writeBowie out of it unless you’re going to incorporate an existing character instead.  Monstroso has been playing his own game all along, and he seems to die an awful lot.  I’d even accept that the Monstroso who appeared in “O.S. I Love You” wasn’t the original, and he was replaced by the Sovereign at some point.

Yes, Monstroso’s the one who told OSI about the real Sovereign.  Maybe he was on a mole hunt of his own.  (Turns out, he can trust the Investors!)  Or it might have been the easiest way to eliminate Boggles without having to explain himself.  It’s shaky, but I feel like the Sovereign has to be somebody.  And Monstroso is really the only major villain who hasn’t appeared with him, either with the Council or at the Monarch’s wedding.  Yes, Monstroso was said to be at the wedding, but we never saw him.  I’m not willing to die on this particular hill, but I want to be part of the conversation.  I’m way more excited about the next theory…

2. Vendata is the Monarch’s father.  Hear me out.  Check out Vendata’s face – he has the Monarch’s nose and (in some scenes) prominent front teeth.  He looks enough like the picture we saw in “SPHINX Rising” to be plausible.  And remember – he’s a cyborg.  That means he’s partly organic.  Jonas Venture used an actual human being to make him.  Isn’t it possible that he tried to resurrect his recently deceased friend?

OK, he was built in 1976.  The Monarch’s father died when he was eight years old (per “Dia de los Dangerous”).  Monarch and Doc, even though Monarch looks younger, have to be about the same age.  (They went to college together and we saw a picture of them as kids.)  Doc is pushing 50 now.  It’s hard to keep track of ages, since the long break between seasons throws everything off and some of the characters have real historical events in their backstory.  But as of “Spanakopita”, Doc was a child in 1968.  It doesn’t work that the Monarch’s parents died in 1976, but it had to have been before that.  I’m willing to accept that Jonas might have needed a few years to create a working cyborg.  The timeline works.

But what sells it for me is Vendata’s final lines.  As he’s shutting down, he calls out that he can’t find his wife and “the plane is going down”.  In the Monarch’s origin, he was the only survivor of a small plane crash that killed his parents.  That certainly lines up with Vendata’s last words.

Ready to have your mind blown?  Forget about the Monarch being raised by butterflies for a minute.  Let’s say Jonas took in young Malcolm (I think that’s still canon, even if hasn’t been referenced in forever.) to raise him alongside Rusty.  For years, Jonas worked on resurrecting his deceased friends.  But when Venturion tried to kill Rusty (as the walking dead are wont to do), he scrubbed the whole thing.  Malcolm was too traumatized by seeing the animated corpses of his parents, so Jonas Venture installed false memories with the learning bed.  (Hey, did you ever wonder why there are two learning beds?  Jonas invented them, but only had the one child.  Unless he had a foster child…)  He couldn’t wipe the plane crash, but he gave Malcolm false memories of being raised by butterflies and then sent him away with a tidy sum of cash (the Monarch’s trust fund).  Why does the Monarch hate Dr. Venture so much?  He actually doesn’t know!  He is incapable of answering that question.  But he’s a mass of childhood trauma and false memories, and it all just translates into all-consuming hatred for his former friend.

I think we’re ready to put this one to bed!  See you for “The Devil’s Grip”!

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