At long last, it’s the Venture Bros. Season Two finale – the two-part “Showdown at Cremation Creek”. Clearly, that’s one of the best titles of all time. But beyond that, we get a wedding, the end to the Phantom Limb storyline, all-out aerial battles, unlikely team-ups, a shape-shifting David Bowie, and more. This episode is awesome and has never contributed to anybody breaking up with me, so let’s get to it!
“Yes! We kill him once and for all! And we shall make slaves of his sons and a lamp from the flesh of Brock Samson!” – The Monarch
The episode opens in a hotel room – the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend have been secretly hooking up for months. Unsatisified with their status, he proposes. She accepts, but only if the Monarch will agree to give up arching Dr. Venture. He reluctantly agrees. Cut to one month later – the henchmen are recovering from the bachelor party and realizing that somehow they managed to capture Brock Samson.
–Not much to explain here, but “Showdown at Cremation Creek” is my second-favorite episode ever, after “Operation P.R.O.M.”. It’s possible this rewatch might change my mind, though.
“Revenge, like gazpacho soup, is best served cold, precise, and merciless.” – Phantom Limb
The Monarch visits Phantom Limb, who’s dressed in safari gear and aiming a shotgun, to tell him about the wedding. Limb seems to be taking it well, but the entire time he’s hunting the Monarch’s prison buddies.
–This scene is so great. First off, you have the movie-style credits, which I just love. Then there’s the Phantom Limb reminding us that he’s a legitimate threat – last time we saw him, he was short on cash and failing in his relationship. But here he’s so cold and emotionless, and it sets up the episode really well. Plus, he’s just straight up murdering people who know the Monarch. Heck, these guys actually bailed on the escape plan, so it’s not like they’re tight with him. (Based on later events, it’s clear that Limb bought them off while they were in prison and now he’s covering his tracks.) The victims in this scene are Mister Monday, Dr. Septapus, White Noise, and the lawyer from “Trial of the Monarch”, for those keeping score at home. Tigeriffic and Tiny Joseph are unaccounted for, and King Gorilla (the only one who actually helped the Monarch) is definitely still alive at this point.
“Between you and me, the blond kid’s not the sharpest tack. Pretty sure he thinks we’re in a submarine now.” – The Monarch
The Order of the Triad battles Torrid in limbo, and the team decided to meet up for some real training – they’ve been getting sloppy. Back in the cocoon, the Monarch freaks out when he see that Brock, Doc, and the boys (who we didn’t see before) have been taken prisoner – he made a promise to Dr. Girlfriend, and his drunk henchmen broke it for him. 24 explains how they pulled off this feat – they were out on the town after the party, and they saw Brock getting a tattoo. A dozen henchmen jumped him and managed to get the upper hand. Then they realized it would be easy to grab Dr. Venture now. At this point, Dr. Girlfriend (now Dr. Fiancée) shows up and interrupts the story and threatens to call off the wedding. Monarch claims that Doc is supposed to his best man, to let bygones be bygones. As this is happening, Doc realizes that Dr. Girlfriend is the woman who seduced him way back in “Mid-Life Chysalis”
–The scene where the Henchmen jump Brock has a couple of great moments. Almost immediately, a bloody jawbone flies up from the bottom of the screen, because Brock apparently ripped a guy’s face open in the opening seconds of the fight. Then he strangles a henchman with the severed spine of another. And did anybody else forget “Mid-Life Chrysalis”? Specifically, the part where Doc never found out the true identity of the woman? Doc and Dr. Girlfriend really haven’t shared much screen time, so it’s not much of a stretch.
HENCHMAN 24: “So, uh, you like being a, uh…?”
DEAN: “A Dean?”
HENCHMAN 24: “Yeah, a Dean. That must kind of, uh, suck.”
The Sovereign contacts the Phantom Limb to tell them that his request has been denied, and he is not allowed to take vengeance against the Monarch. Limb promises that he will abide by the decision, and then we see that he’s got a whole squad of soldiers and helicopters ready to be deployed. While the Monarch leads the Ventures through the cocoon, Hank and Dean bond with 21 and 24, while Doc sneaks off to find Dr. Girlfriend.
–This is sort of the beginning of the interactions between the Monarch’s team and the Ventures. They get to know each other better in Seasons Three and Four, and it’s a really fun part of the show. 21 and Hank make for an especially great pairing. Also, remember that 21 and 24 killed Hank and Dean last season, and nobody’s really referenced that since. This will come up next season, though. The Henchmen haven’t forgotten. This is also the start of the running joke where Brock thinks Dr. Girlfriend is actually a man. And we get a look at Brock’s unfinished tattoo – it was going to be Icarus. The mythological figure who is also a Led Zeppelin album cover. Of course. (And it’s actually Apollo. Brock is incorrect. I know, it’s hard to imagine.)
“I’m in disguise as a paunchy gay guy who loves Jimmy Buffett.” – The Alchemist
Doc finds Dr. Girlfriend’s room and hits on her. It takes her a while to even remember that she’d had a fake relationship with him. Meanwhile, the Order of the Triad gets together for training and the Alchemist taunts Jefferson Twilight with juice drinks. 21 and 24 get henchman uniforms for Hank and Dean to wear to the wedding, and Dean heads off to check out the engine room.
–I honestly did not remember the whole weird thing with the Alchemist and Twilight over the Nickel Nips. There’s just so much in this episode! I like the way Dr. Girlfriend tries to defuse the Dr. Venture situation, but he’s just giving her the full-court press. And note that he makes a reference to her being the finest woman to steal his heart in eighteen years. I am willing to assume that means Doc hasn’t had sex in eighteen years. But if the boys are supposed to be nineteen, that means he’s hooked up at least once since conceiving the boys. Doc’s erotic history is fascinating to me, and I apologize for that.
Again, 21 and Hank are my favorites – they go from busting each other’s chops to really wanting to play with 21’s collectible toys together. 24, for his part, keeps trying to blow Dean off, but the kid is just so enthusiastic.
“Hank! You should totally grow one of those. You look like Green Arrow! Or the “Mirror, Mirror” version of Hank.” – Henchman 21
Doc continues his seduction, convinced that Dr. Girlfriend’s been trying to get him back the entire time. 21 and Hank play with toys, and Hank puts on a fake goatee that he thinks makes him look Russian. The Triad starts playing “Truth or Dare”, and the Alchemist admits that he thinks their team is ridiculous.
–OK, the doll Hank is using in this scene is “Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces”, and he came with disguises you could affix, like the goatee. It does indeed make him look like an evil duplicate from the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek, which spawned generations of evil duplicates with goatees. When he puts on the goatee, he christens himself “Russian Guyovich”, which is basically the perfect Hank construction. 21 has a Rusty Venture alarm clock, which is the most adorable thing ever. And while Dean gets a normal henchman costume, Hank gets a weird fuzzy one. It’s much more in line with what the Monarch wore in “Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay”, which (as I bring up every week), may or may not be in continuity, but we’ve seen flashbacks since of the Monarch’s fuzzy costume. In story, it’s one of 21’s old costumes – apparently the last time he was skinny enough for a costume that would fit Hank was a long time ago. For practical reasons, Hank’s in a lot of crowd scenes as the episode progresses, and this lets us (and the animators) keep track of him.
“David Bowie. You’re lucky I don’t kill you after what you pulled in Berlin.” – Brock Samson
Dean finds the engine room, and goes inside even after 24 forbids him (over the PA). The seating for the wedding begins, and Brock serves as an usher. David Bowie arrives at the wedding to give Dr. Girlfriend away. As the ceremony begins, we cut to the Triad, who’ve managed to bring a Star Wars trading card to life, but little else. Orpheus receives a message that Dr. Venture and his family are in danger, so they spring into action. Just before Dr. Girlfriend can say “I do”, the Phantom Limb’s fleet surrounds the cocoon and he gives the Monarch five minutes to “turn over my girlfriend”.
–A bunch of things happen here! This is the first time that both Truckules and Sgt. Hatred speak. (And give Truckules credit for realizing he needs two seats. He’s considerate!) It’s the first appearance of Sgt. Hatred’s wife, Princess Tinyfeet. And it’s also the first actual appearance of David Bowie, after multiple references.
Stuff to note – because Brock seats Hank next to Sgt. Hatred, I think it’s safe to assume that he doesn’t know about the “bad touch”. This makes Season Four marginally less upsetting. Only marginally, though. Of course, I’m also willing to buy that Hatred is also a foot fetishist based on this scene, so the incident Hank mentioned in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills” may just be foot-based. It makes me feel better to think so, at least. Dr. Killinger returns to perform the ceremony, which is very sweet.
I love that when David Bowie speaks, the caption “CELEBRITY VOICE IMPERSONATED” appears onscreen. I feel like that’s more for comedy reasons than legal reasons, but who knows? (It’s actually James “Dr. Venture” Urbaniak” voicing Bowie.) Clearly he has a history with Brock, but that’ll be dealt with a little more in part two. And note that his eyes are different colors, just like in real life. They’re not identified until part two, but his companions are Iggy Pop and Klaus Nomi. Nomi, who died in 1983, was a New Wave pioneer and one of Bowie’s backup singers on a Saturday Night Live appearance. And I just now learned that Iggy Pop and Bowie were (are?) real life friends, and Bowie apparently smuggled cocaine to Iggy when he was in rehab. And while this is not important to the understanding of this episode, I am a huge Bowie fan. This episode is like a gift to me.
Last, the alien in the Triad scene at the end is Nien Nunb from Return of the Jedi. I have no idea how Lucasfilm didn’t sue, because he hangs around through the next episode and looks just like the character did in the movie. Also, I did not have to look up his name even though I haven’t rewatched any of the Star Wars movies since before Phantom Menace came out. But that’s a whole separate issue.
Next week, it’s part two, and we finally wrap up Season Two. You guys, it is all-out action in one of the most over the top episodes of this show ever. And yes, I know that’s a bold statement. I stand by it!