It’s been said that no one can recap an entire hour of Venture Bros. without going insane. And so, in the interest of preserving my grasp on reality, I split the season five premiere into two parts. Just in time for tonight’s new episode, it’s part two of “What Color is your Cleansuit?”
“You guys move fast. What have you been here – three months? And you’d already got legends of saviors.” – Sgt. Hatred
Doc is awakened by a call once again. JJ is just letting him know he needs the ray shield by Friday, and they laugh about how crazy it would be to try to test something like that at the Compound. Mutations galore! JJ mentions that the last super-scientist to try something that dangerous is now known as Paolo the Human Beetle. Doc immediately calls Sgt. Hatred, who can’t respond because he and one of the interns are hanging from the ceiling in E-DEN. The intern (Tommy) reveals that the ray shield is complete, but Martin’s gone insane and wants to activate it and turn all of humanity into a “child of Palaemon”. The intern speaks of a legend that a hero, a “Lee Hun Took” who will lead them to peace. An orange cleansuit comes to take Tom away.
–I failed to mention this last week, but the main Tommy is voiced by Wyatt Cenac. And yes, the interns have already developed their own oral tradition.
“I wonder if all boobs are soft, or are some super-extra-soft? Do I just touch them or should I ask? I really hope they haven’t gotten all mutated. What if they drip acid now?” – Dean Venture
Dean and Thalia (who’s mutated even further and has a large pointed head now) talk about their problems over an underground picnic lunch. Dean can’t get his father to pay attention to him and Thalia is worried that Martin is trying to take over the world. She shows off her new power of telepathy. Dean tries to reciprocate, but he can’t stop thinking about boobs. In the cocoon, the Monarch relates some of what he’s seen at the Compound to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. She’s investigating a DNA sample while he rants. The Monarch wants to use a similar procedure to create a race of super henchmen.
–The Monarch kills me in this scene. The fact that he calls the famous wrestler “Andre Giant” brings me so much joy I can’t even tell you. There’s something really sad about him in this episode, though. Doc has moved on, and the Monarch can’t. We’re coming back to the idea of arching as an almost romantic relationship. Doc’s got something else in his life now, and the Monarch can’t let go – he’s just hanging on and waiting to go back to the way things used to be. 21 will come back and put on a butterfly costume and then they’ll attack the Compound, and it’s just never going to go back to that. This may or may not be commentary on the fans who want nothing more than to go back to the old status quo with Brock as the Venture bodyguard and the boys to not have so many darn problems.
“Join us, or we’re gonna straight up eat you, son. No lie!” – Martin
Doc finds what appears to be a stretched out human skin nailed to the door of the Palaemon building. On it are printed 94 theses. Billy Quizboy and Gary argue over what fantasy language it’s written in, but the point is that one of their demands is “global dominion”. Gary takes control of the mission – Billy and Pete work on decontamination, Hank and Dermott patrol for anything weird, and Doc is supposed to find a way to reverse the mutations. Inside E-DEN, Martin is having Sgt. Hated whipped and demanding that he denounce his slave name. Thalia arrives and nominates Dean to fight for control of the tribe, according to their rituals. Dean picks Sgt. Hatred as his second.
–Besides Gary taking charge, the big reveal here is that Hatred’s real name is “Courtney”. Courtney Heine. Adorable!
“I’m all revved up from that Hart to Hart-style repartee we had there. Come on! Just a handy?” – The Monarch
Billy and Pete check in with Doc, who’s taking a nap. They built a device to decontaminate the facility, and they just need Doc’s plasma engine. However, he just sold it to Augustus St. Cloud. For his part, Doc can’t figure out a way to reverse the mutations – he says only Paolo Salazar could have done it. Cut to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch explaining who Paolo Salazar is. He was an authority on mutations, but he became a human beetle after being hit with supermagnetized ions. Shortly after, a beetle-themed villain named Bugaboo appeared and started robbing scientific facilities. And what he stole, a matter of Guild record, may be the key to recreating those mutations.
–I love the Monarchs being sexy together! Also, the transition where Pete asks about Paolo Salazar and we go to Dr. Mrs. answering that very question is kind of an Archer thing to do.
“We can just run across the yard screaming. Pretty sure I’m scared enough to piss myself and nobody wants to eat a kid all soaked in pee.” – Hank Venture
Augustus St. Cloud watches a Guild orientation film about avoiding blunders. Dr. Zee and an animated “Mr. Blunder” explain common mistakes. And then a crash interrupts the video, and St. Cloudgoes to investigate. Billy and Pete have managed to break in, but they’re caught by a guard flower. Yes, I know how that sounds. Back at the Compound, Gary tries to coordinate everybody. Doc’s got the antidote (which may or may not work), but Pete and Billy are nowhere to be found. (Because a flower ate them.) Sgt. Hatred manages to contact Gary and lets him know that he and Dean need a rescue.
–Dr. Zee, as I have to point out every time, is an actual Jonny Quest villain. The aforementioned Wyatt Cenac voices Mr. Blunder in the video. Also, this segment introduces St. Cloud’s villain gear, which is consists primarily of a cape and a cloud-themed helmet. In this segment, Gary introduces the phrase “having a push” to describe a bowel movement, which is the most upsetting way of saying it.
“Billy, eat the pennies. It’s just pennies. So you poop pennies. Big deal.” – Pete White
St. Cloud releases Billy and Pete and introduces his new sidekick – an Asian version of Pete. Billy explains they just need the plasma engine and Augustus agrees. Provided Billy make up for sniping him in a recent eBay auction and cheating on Quizboys years ago. St. Cloud just wants him to eat a dollar’s worth of pennies. Billy doesn’t want to eat pennies, so St. Cloud sweetens the pot by offering them HELPeR, who he also bought from Doc. Instead of eating pennies, Billy challenges him to trivia. If Billy wins, he gets the plasma engine and HELPeR, if St. Cloud wins, he gets to keep Pete. St. Cloud actually owns the original Quizboys set, so that’s where they’ll compete.
–I love the pennies bit. “Eat the pennies” is the new “prepare for the nozzle”. Last season there was a bit of a debate as to whether Pete or Billy was the sidekick, and now it’s back. St. Cloud clearly thinks that Billy’s the lead, though Number One thought it was Pete. We may never know! And Doc selling HELPeR? Man, that’s rough. That robot raised him!
“You’re flawed St. Cloud. You must sterilize. Sterilize!” – Billy Quizboy
It’s time for Dean to face Martin. As challenge, Dean gets to choose the style of combat, and he picks “the way of the Indian”. He easily bests Martin in Indian sunburns, Indian feast, and Indian leg wrestling and becomes the Lee Hun Took, ushering in a “second age”. At St. Cloud’s mansion, Pete hosts a Quizboys faceoff. There is only one question, agreed upon by both participants – how many robots are in St. Cloud’s display case? The case contains HELPeR, Nomad from Star Trek, and Twiki from Buck Rogers. St. Cloud buzzes in to say five – Nomad, HELPeR, the Walking Eye (HELPeR’s body), Twiki, and Dr. Theopolis (the programmed consciousness in Twiki’s chest… it was a weird time). Billy says the answer is four – Nomad is a probe, and not a robot. He cites the Star Trek episode “The Changeling” and proves it was never referred to as a robot. Billy wins, so they get the plasma engine (mounted to a flying disc) and HELPeR.
–Yay, Dean! Remember back in Season Three when he was starting to have heart problems from all the stress in his life? Actually, he was even pretty delicate in Season Four. This is the new Dean – Triana found another boyfriend, he knows he’s a clone, and he’s got nothing to lose. As for Quizboys, I kind of feel like the robot argument is the sort of thing Jackson and Doc talk about all the time in real life. It’s also sort of implied that St. Cloud lost to Billy on the original Quizboys. As far as we know, Billy only cheated the one time (without his knowledge), butSt. Cloud still holds a grudge. That’s what villains do!
“Don’t take this as an insult. But working for you and the Monarch? It’s like the same thing.” – Gary
At the compound, Doc hooks up the antidote pump to the air conditioner. Gary radios in to let him know that Dean and Hatred are still in the E-DEN. Also, he’s deciphered their manifesto and discovered that they plan to bring about a second age, when they use the ray shield to turn the world into mutants. Doc’s just happy that the ray shield is finished. Elsewhere, the Monarch pilots the cocoon toward the Compound, planning to unleash mutant henchmen. Billy and Pete fly toward the Compound ready to decontaminate. And then the cocoon shows up on the intruder alert.
–Here’s a thing I didn’t notice until writing this – we already knew about Martin’s plan, but Doc and Gary didn’t. So it’s revealed twice in the half hour, but we need that second reveal so the characters are aware of the urgency. A lot of shows would have skipped the second reveal, but then the tension only exists for the viewer. Nice job! Also, nice job on the weather in these scenes. It’s snowing, and since we already determined that Halloween happens during a commercial break, it’s a good visual indication of how much more time has passed. And more talk of “push” as slang. Hee!
“Super-science!” – Pete White
Tim-Tom and Kevin, undercover in a white cleansuit, sneak away to prepare for the Monarch’s arrival. The tribe celebrates their new leader, and Dean thinks everything is over, but Thalia explains that he has to lead in the second age so they can be married. Billy and Pete arrive at the Compound at the same time as the cocoon, and they give Gary a lift to the roof of E-DEN. He gets there just as Tim-Tom and Kevin cut a hole in the roof. The Monarch lowers an umbilical pipe from the cocoon, which the Pupa Twins insert into the hole. Just before the Monarch releases his mutants, Gary overpowers the Twins. He tries to get the Monarch to stop, but the villain releases a batch of mutant butterflies, which attack the tribe. (They’re like regular butterflies, but with stingers.)
–I’m so invested in Gary at this point, I can’t even believe it. He’s barely recognizable as the old 21, but I think his evolution has been handled so well. Remember when he wasn’t good at anything? Now he’s running the operation and he even managed to rough up the Pupa Twins, who used to terrify him. It’s also worth noting that the tribe’s celebration scenes come straight from the end of Return of the Jedi.
BILLY: “I can’t believe your antidote actually worked.”
DOC: “Right? It was basically antibiotics and roofies.”
Doc releases the antidote (which is mostly narcotic) through the vent, gassing E-DEN as the mutant butterflies attack. At this point, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch introduces a visitor – Paolo Salazar. He’s an old man, and not at all beetle-like. He’s now the world’s authority on reversing mutations, and convinces the Monarch to back off from his mutant butterfly plan. At this point, the gas starts to come up the umbilical pipe, so the cocoon retreats. The next morning, JJ arrives to pick up the completed ray shield. Doc and Billy are both surprised that everything worked – the cleansuits are all back to normal, with almost no memory of anything that happened. Everybody survived (except the ones who were eaten) and the episode proper ends with Gary asking Hatred about his breasts. They’re still there. In the tag, the Monarch and his whole crew are high from the gas and talking incoherently about bugs.
–Check it out – everybody is good at their job! I’m not clear on whether the Monarch was planning to mutate his henchmen, or if the mutant butterflies were the extent of it. It’s a little fuzzy, and what I’m saying is that maybe a one-hour episode wasn’t quite enough. Regardless, I like that this episode has moments of triumph for Doc, Billy, Dean, and Gary. For a show that’s always been about failure, this episode has a surprising amount of success. Is this going to be a new outlook for the show?
Next time, the Ventures head to Central America and apparently fight a pterodactyl. Can’t go wrong with that!