It’s the season finale of The Venture Bros! There’s so much good stuff in here, including Brock doing what Brock does best, so let’s get right to it. It’s time for…. “The Saphrax Protocol”!
The opening scene is actually the teaser from last week. Guild agents start teleporting in to the penthouse of the VenTech building (using the teleporter that Doc designed). We learn that they’re their to get Doctor Venture and know they’ll face heavy losses. Then a blurry-eyed, sleepy Doc walks right into the room. (“That was super easy.”)
Dr. Venture teleports up to the Guild asteroid, where Watch and Ward take him into custody. They knock him out and then send more agents to secure Brock. Red Mantle and Dragoon arrive in the meeting room where everybody is decked out in costumes and robes. Not their usual costumes – this is very ceremonial. We learn that everybody else uses the teleporters but those two are reluctant because of what happened to Phage. He had a teleporter mishap, but Dr. Mrs. The Monarch assures them that’s due to his biomechanics.
Well, that answers that question. Phage was a member of the Council (and the final inductee to the old Council) and he was seen among the members in “The Rorqual Affair”, but he wasn’t present when they assembled for their big meeting in “The Terminus Mandate”. That was after the Monarch stole the teleporter, so the timeline works out. Which should not be a surprise at this point. They’re about to perform a ritual called “tenning”, which Dr. Mrs. says is very important to her.
Cut to Hank Venture walking through a snowy wasteland, dressed like Lando Calrissian, right down to the mustache. Suddenly a bunch of baby dolls surround him and advance. Action Man, in a furry outfit, tells him not to move – they can’t see him if he doesn’t move. Hank: “They’re dolls. Why can’t I just kick ’em over?” Action Man says he never thought of that and Hank just wades through the crowd, casually knocking them over. HA!
He wants to know why Action Man is on Hoth dressed as a Wookiee, and Action Man says he’s Mark Hand the Catchman from Barbarella. Gonna be honest with you. I have not seen Barbarella because I’m not the right combination of pretentious and desperate to masturbate. So I’m gonna miss some references here. Point is, Hank thinks he’s in Empire Strike Back and Action Man thinks they’re in Barbarella. And the fact that the last time we heard, Action Man was in a coma means things aren’t looking good for Hank. In fact, Action Man says they’re dead and in purgatory. And nice job with the Barbarella stuff – they’re giving us references that Hank doesn’t know but that we can verify, which makes it clear that this isn’t a dream and Hank and Action Man are in the same place, one way or another.
The commander of the Guild Forces goes back to VenTech and immediately finds dead bodies. A dying man asks for help, but that’s just a corpse Brock is hiding behind. He crushes the commander’s windpipe after confirming they sent a force of fifteen men. Then he stabs the guy in the throat to give him a tracheotomy. Hee!
Time for the Tenning! Phantom Limb addresses the assemblage, telling them about the ancient writings that detailed the story of Saphrax “The first man to turn a grudge into a career”. And now they’re going to dramatize the story of Saphrax with the Monarch and Gary. They’re lifted to the floor from below and we see they’re both dressed like 18th Century gentleman thieves. This is the ceremony the Monarch earned by reaching Level Ten.
We never saw that happen, but I assume recovering the teleporter was a bump for his level. And maybe his tenning was a condition Dr. Mrs. required before she took oath. That makes a lot of sense. Man, they are tying things together nicely. Anyway, it’s time for the first trial. There’s a narrative reason, but Monarch basically has to dig a rock out of log full of poop. Ha! This is a dorky initiation ceremony and I love it.
Back at VenTech, Brock puts on the samurai armor that’s always on the wall and stabs a guy right through the face with a sword. He gets to the PA system and addresses his assailants, mostly just telling everybody that they’re going to die. Then he feels around under the reception desk and is upset to find Sgt. Hatred doesn’t keep a gun hidden away.
Brock used to make a big deal about not using guns. I didn’t mention it at the time, but he had a sniper rifle pointed at Novia in “The Terminus Mandate”, even if we didn’t see him. I wonder if there’s a story in how he changed his mind or if it’s just a little extra insurance. Honestly, here it mostly seems to be a way to segue into what Sgt. Hatred is up to right now.
And he’s at the Stuyvesant University Medical Center trying to convince the woman at the desk to let him in to see Hank. But it’s after visiting hours, so it’s family only. Oh, and hey – Doc probably was up when they expected him to be asleep because he got a call about Hank and was getting ready to go. Man, these beats are all tracking very well. Dean is in with the comatose Hank and he’s reading a list of reasons he’s a crap brother, starting with eating half of a candy bar and breaking Hank’s Bop-It.
Back in Coma Town, Hank and Action Man are riding a sled being pulled by a manta creature. That’s a thing that happens in Barbarella, but Hank insists it’s a Minock (from Empire). Man, this works out well. Hank also tells Action Man that he had a stroke and he isn’t dead, so this isn’t purgatory. (Action Man: “When did you have a stroke?” Hank: “No clue.”)
Action Man talks about how Hank’s fixation on his girlfriend reminds him of Doc. He tells a story about Doc getting obsessed with a woman who broke things off and had to move and change her name. Hank: “Are you talking about my mom?” He is! Hank demands to know her name and Action Man tells him it’s Bobbi St. Simone and she’s an actress. Holy smokes. Ever since Season One we’ve wondered who the boys’ mother is. Since Season Two, we wondered if they even have a mother. They do, and Action Man offhandedly told us her name while he was lecturing Hank and that is amazing. It’s like how Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons didn’t have a name and then he introduced himself to somebody as Jeff Albertson. Anyway, they get attacked by a Wampa.
Back at VenTech, Brock advances on a terrified gunman. There’s blood everywhere. Brock lets the guy shoot him and then gets up to kill him and is very upset when the guy bites down on a cyanide capsule. (“When did they issue poison teeth to you guys? That’s cheating!”)
On the Guild Asteroid, Watch and Ward run some basic tests on Dr. Venture and can’t believe he and the Monarch are blood relatives.
The ritual continues and now it’s a bit where the Monarch has to cross a bridge and all of this is hilarious. I love quasi-mystical rituals in my genre stuff. The villains are basically Freemasons and I love it. This is the part where Gary gets involved and here’s the twist. Gary himself is up for a promotion to a level four villain – not a henchman anymore. He wasn’t expecting that and the Monarch isn’t happy.
Dean continues to read his sins to Hank. Number 57: We just… stopped being close. I never tell you anything anymore. Did I tell you Pop was cloned like us? Yeah. HELPeR’s brother told me that. Did I even tell you that HELPeR has a brother? Oh my God, did you even know Dermott is our half-brother? Yeah, he’s the son of that girl you lost your virginity to, who Dad knocked up. He told me when he was drunk. He also told me he still masturbates. HA!
In Coma Town, Hank and Action Man are hanging upside down in an ice cave, which to Hank means it’s proof that they’re in Empire. He figures he needs to use the Force, only he’s Lando and “his weapons are smoldering sexuality and a rakish smuggler’s charm”. So when the Wampa comes back, Hank tries to make sexy poses to seduce it. And then something shoots a hole right through the Wampa. It’s Phage! Sort of. It’s his top half, only now he has big feathery wings on his back. And now his bottom half is an AT-AT. HEE!
Also remember, Hank doesn’t even know Phage. This is definitely a shared coma realm so I think we can believe anything Action Man says as bring from the real Action Man. Also, all that Phage talk at the beginning had a point! He frees them and tells them to follow. (Action Man: Is he from Empire Strikes Back? Hank: Kinda? Action Man: I think I want to see that movie!)
Back at the ritual, they’ve reached the final movement. Radical Left is in a dress at this point and I wish this had been an entire episode. And now, Dr. Z gives him a real sword to replace the wooden one he’d been holding, because there’s something very special behind the curtain. It’s Dr. Venture. Bound, gagged, and helpless. It’s the final trial. If Monarch decides to kill him, they’ll cover it up and there will be no repercussions. He can settle his grudge and move on with his life. They close the curtain on the two of them to let the Monarch decide.
Brock’s busy killing Guild soldiers and suddenly stops to declare a pee break. Then they’ll pick up again when everybody has gone to the bathroom. He even extends the offer to “the guy with a bead on me who needs to reload”. Hee!
Back at the hospital, Sgt. Hatred makes another attempt to get into Hank’s room by applying his sexuality. In the room, Dean hits reason 124 why he’s a crap brother. “I slept with Sirena”. He feels terrible and wishes he didn’t do it and he misses when he and Hank were best friends and it was just the two of them at the Compound “in our stupid beds with Grandpa talking to us in our sleep”. Dean say he and Hank came into the world together and Hank can’t go out alone. This is very nicely done!
Back in Coma Town, which Hank actually calls Coma Town, Phage explains that he stepped into a teleporter and woke up here. He also confirms that he hasn’t seen Barbarella but wonders if it has a lake of glowing goo. Action Man says they need to get to the Magmos. Man, this is the weirdest grouping of characters. It’s like a Mad Libs. Next year we’ll get Shore Leave, Pete White, and Baron Underbheit together or something.
Sgt. Hatred now has his shirt off in an attempt to seduce the nurse at the desk. Dean comes out and tells him to put on his shirt and go check on Doc.
They reach the Magmos. Action Man: I’ve seen Barbarella maybe thirty times and I still don’t know what Magmos is. His explanation makes it sound like the Force and then like Midichlorians. Hee. Hank decides he has to jump in, and he says goodbye to Phage and Action Man like in the end of Wizard of Oz. He even somehow has an oilcan for Phage! This episode is amazing. Just before he jumps, he lets them know “If I don’t come back, I’m either awake or extra coma dead!” Hank dives in.
On the asteroid, the last dead guy comes through the teleporter with a note from Brock to send Doc back or he’s coming through himself. Watch and Ward figure they should maybe get Doc. At that moment, the Monarch comes out from behind the curtain. His sword isn’t bloody. He didn’t kill Doc. He’s mad at the Council for messing with his mind. They demand that Gary step forward and Monarch says he’s done.
“Sure. Let 21 be a villain. You think I can do this shit alone? I’m too old to start again. Now you guys have my wife and by best friend. F*ck it. F*ck it and f*ck you. Guild wins, Monarch out.”
Then 21 says he doesn’t want to be a villain without Monarch. “I just want to help my best friend with his hate“.
And… that was the right answer. That was the final trial. Saphrax spared his enemy and stayed with his henchmen. The two of them are full Level Ten villains. Watch and Ward come for Doc and the one is just bursting to share the blood relative news. We move to a long shot of the exterior of the asteroid and hear the Monarch scream ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
In the tag, the burse comes to tell Dean that his brother is gone. But not that way. He left. Dean runs out to find him but he’s lost in the crowd. And then Hank does his version of the closing narration from Darkman.
“I’m everywhere and nowhere. I’m a man on a mission and a mission on a man. I’ll find myself even if I have to look in myself. It’s time I grow up. Call me… The Bat.” And we see Hank disappearing into the crowd, wearing his Batman mask.
Holy smokes, that was awesome. And this is a very long recap, so I’ll save my further thoughts for next week’s Post Mortem. See you then!