After a bit of a break, we’re back with our Season Three Venture Bros. recaps! This episode introduces a previously unseen member of Team Venture and we get to see Jonas hit a new low. And if you’re in the mood for crazy theories about Doc’s mother, this is the episode for you! Get ready for “What Goes Down Must Come Up”.
“Alright, that’s it. You promised no penetration jokes.” – Brock Samson
The episode opens in a wasteland. A man in a uniform with a giant “V” on the front trudges through. In voiceover, he blames “Dr. Venture” for abandoning his “best friend” at the first sign of trouble and says he’s been there for thirty years. And then, when he collapses, something that looks like a monolith appears, but as it slides up, it’s clear that what we’re seeing is a massive door opening. After the opening, we go to the Venture Compound where Brock is driving a vehicle with a giant drill on the front and Doc is making penetration jokes. And then a trapdoor opens up in the hangar and Doc falls into it. The drill gets caught in the hole and blocks it. Brock tries, and fails, to reach Doc on the communicator.
–We’ll find out more about the guy in the opening in just a bit, but his name is Dr. Entmann. (I need to call him something.) He’s voiced by cartoonist Stephen DeStefano – this is one of only two acting credits for him. (He also did a voice on a post-Kricfalusi Ren & Stimpy.) He’s a storyboard artist on Venture, and a whole bunch of other shows. Given the “thirty years” reference, he’s clearly talking about Jonas Venture. Who is terrible.
“There was even talk of French Toast, but there was none to be had.” – Hank Venture
Doc wakes up in a tunnel beneath the Compound. He yells at Brock over the communicator, not immediately realizing that there’s no signal. Brock tries to find a way down, and he opens a door – the same door that Dr. Entmann saw in the opening. We see now that he’s actually tiny. Like, smaller than Tiny Joseph. He yells “Die, Dr. Venture” and attacks Brock’s foot with a needle. After Brock kicks him, Entmann scurries away and puts on a helmet with a mounted megaphone. We get a good look at the room, which has that “state of the art thirty years ago” look to it. Entmann yells at Brock for closing the door and explains this is a fallout shelter, and now they’re sealed inside. Hank and Dean check with Orpheus when they can’t find either Doc or Brock.
–Aw, tiny guy! I realize that there’s not a natural break here, but I really wanted to use Hank’s quote.
BROCK: “You could talk to the ants?”
ENTMANN: “No, no. You don’t actually talk to them – that would be silly. They wouldn’t have anything to say other then ‘Hey, let’s eat. And have sex with this us-sized guy’.”
Orpheus pulls out action figures of the Alchemist and Jefferson Twilight and recites a spell. Back in the shelter, Brock tries to knock a hole in the wall while he and Entmann compare notes. Entmann says vaguely that they were testing a system when something went wrong and Jonas abandoned the project. He says he’s not violent, but after thirty years fighting army ants, he’s pretty jumpy.
–Hey, another guy who got screwed over by Jonas! What are the odds? I also like that he makes fun of Brock’s hair. It’s nice to be reminded occasionally that people think Brock’s mullet is hilarious.
“Dammit, now I’ve got the blue balls in my Blood Eye!” – Jefferson Twilight
Orpheus appears, in spectral form, in the Alchemist’s apartment and inLondon(where Jefferson is hunting Blaculas. Also, it turns out to be theme park London.). He summons them to him, and his spirit talks to both of them simultaneously, which causes some confusion. Orpheus transports them to his study. They’re excited to see the action figures, until they learn that it’s not a merchandising deal and Orpheus made them himself out of old Mego figures. (Jefferson is a repainted Falcon, and Al is “Spock with a bald spot”.
–Ironically, years later, they actually made Mego-style Venture Bros. figures, and both Jefferson and Al are scheduled to get their own later this year. Also, I really hope there’s a time when I can quote Jefferson’s “I go where the blacktion is.”
ORPHEUS: “Let us try to get a psychic lock on them! I will shine the light of Thalos!”
ALCHEMIST: “I’ll cast a spell of unveling!”
JEFFERSON: “I’ll, uh, check for Blackulas. Nope, no Blackulas.”
Doc wanders the tunnels and spots an old Venture Industries logo. He catches sight of a mysterious man in a flag-themed shirt. Above ground, the Triad determines that Doc was not taken by magic or by Blaculas (“Though I’m not prepared to rule out Caucasian vampires”). Hank points out the open door to the basement and asks if he might have gone down there. In the shelter, Brock and Entmann chat and wait. Entmann explains that the experiment he mentioned isn’t what made him tiny – in fact, a different experiment left him fifteen feet tall, and he and Jonas cured that but went a little too far. The Triad heads through the basement, irritated that the boys didn’t look in the obvious place first.
–They guy in the tunnels with Doc is modeled after the video for Prodigy’s “Firstarter” – you can even hear the guitar riff when he runs. We’re going to see more characters from videos soon, and I won’t be able to identify them. Just a heads-up.
“He’s spaced up on yellowjackets from the looks of him. I’m trapped in a sewer with a confessed arsonist, Brock! Help me!” – Dr. Venture
Brock tries to figure out which member of the Avengers Entmann reminds him of, while the Triad finds the door to the shelter. They join hands to try to divine their location and see visions of a terrifying presence and a poorly-rendered computer face. They run out of the basement in horror and Jefferson pees himself. Orpheus goes off to consult the Master. Cut to Doc running through the tunnels – he finds a phone and tries to call the police or Batman – it’s a direct line to the fallout shelter, but both he and Brock are trapped. More music video characters, many wearing Rusty Venture t-shirts, surround Doc. They load him into a tram and ask if he’s the Rusty. (They also call one another “Rusty”.) Finally, they agree to ask “Father” what to do with him. Orpheus returns from his meeting and explains that the Master essentially told him to call Pete White for tech help.
–We got cheated out of a Jon Benjamin appearance with this offscreen Master consultation? Weak! Obviously, Brock is thinking of Ant-Man, but can’t come up with the name, even though “Entmann” sounds just like it. Hee! I have no hope of identifying the characters dressed like 90s music videos, and I apologize for that. But we do get a reference to “Father”, and there’s a computer labeled “M.U.T.H.E.R.” in the shelter. And when Orpheus returns, Jefferson is wearing Dean’s Spider-Man pants.
“This explains why Pop finds me so fast every time I run away to live in the abandoned zoo!” – Hank Venture
Pete shows the boys a surveillance room with video feeds from all over the Compound. Checking the feeds, Pete finds footage of Brock entering the shelter, but that room doesn’t have video coverage. Hank and Dean root around to see if anything is unplugged, and they spot an outlet labeled “MUTHER”. In the shelter, the ancient computer comes online. A crudely rendered pixel image of a woman’s face appears on the monitor (both in the shelter and on the surveillance feed) and asks to speak to Dr. Venture. She announces that she will only speak to Dr. Venture. Entmann explains to Brock that it’s a supercomputer that Jonas built. Orpheus recognizes the face from the vision of doom, and MUTHER announces that she’ll deploy her full nuclear arsenal unless they produce Dr. Venture.
–And here’s the most upsetting thing you’ll see all day, as Pete admits that he and Doc use the room to spy on Brock when he has women over, and there is an actual box of Kleenex sitting next to him as he’s talking. It’s not a pleasant image. And let’s talk about MUTHER – it’s pretty weird that Jonas built a female supercomputer that would only talk to him, right? And is MUTHER actually Rusty’s… mother? There’s never been a mention of him having a mother. Is it possible he was created artificially and then raised by a computer? I feel like that would explain a lot, actually.
“Yes, I killed your God. Ooooo! Now I will take his place! And new Dad says it’s time to get me the hell out of here!” – Dr. Venture
The tunnel dwellers bring Doc to an assemblage of people dressed as music video characters. A man in a military uniform announces that they’ll let “Father” deal with this “non-Rusty”. He inserts a punch card into an old computer, and the image of Jonas Venture fills the screen – it’s an educational video about personal hygiene. The dwellers respond to the video as if Jonas is speaking to them. Doc finally shuts off the screen, creating some consternation. They call him a “contamination” and swarm him.
–Those are early versions of the punch cards from the learning beds! Yes, Jonas had a contingency plan in the event that Doc had to grow up underground. This is the kind of thing that makes me wish Jonas wasn’t a monster, so I could find him funny. But I hate him! So much!
“I’ll be damned if I’m walkin’ out of here in Aquaman Underoos.” – Jefferson Twilight
Above ground, they try to figure out a way to stop MUTHER. (Hank’s helpful suggestion is that it’s all just a dream.) The Order of the Triad rallies and decides to go out like heroes. In the shelter, Entmann explains that MUTHER and Jonas “had a bit of a falling out”. Basically, Jonas wanted to pump mood enhancing drugs into the ventilation system to make sure the survivors of the nuclear holocaust weren’t too upset. MUTHER disagreed, and this kicks off a flashback. The original Team Venture is taking a group of kids through the tunnels, which at this point are new and well-maintained. MUTHER sprays gas into the tunnel to show Jonas the error of his ways. As everybody starts to hallucinate, Jonas leads his team to safety in the drill vehicle, but they leave the kids behind. In the present, the Triad activates that drill and burrow down, crashing through the fallout shelter and rescuing Brock.
–No, this is not me going over the top here. Jonas and company actually abandoned children in underground tunnels and let them be subjected to massive doses of hallucinogens. Every bad thing I have ever said about Jonas Venture is completely justified. Also, I’m just putting something together there – MUTHER and HELPeR are exact opposites – MUTHER is the stern withholding mother figure, while HELPeR is a nurturing caregiver. They’re Wire Mother and Soft Mother! I’m fairly sure that Doc doesn’t know his biological mother, because Jonas turned his childhood into a literalization of that old experiment. I hate him!
“They’d been using it as a bathroom. If they sent all their waste into the sky, ‘Father’ would ‘make it clean’.” – Dr. Venture
Doc climbs to the top of an old missile, taunting the tunnel dwellers with the punch card, and then the missile launches. The boys watch the missile rise up out of the ground while Pete prepares to die. And then the missile falls over and hundreds of gallons of excrement pour out. In the tag, Doc nails the hatch to the tunnels shut and explains that they had been using the missile to hold all their waste. He also explains that they were kids from the local orphanage – in 1978, Jonas thought a trip to a fallout shelter would cheer them up. Instead, they were abandoned and their only contact with the outside world came in the form of Jonas’ instructional videos and VH1 Classic. Brock and Entmann set up the video of Jonas directly across from MUTHER, so she can argue with a thirty-year old video forever.
–Yep, the abandoned kids were all orphans, which is the only way to make it even more horrifying. Sadly, the whole MUTHER thing hasn’t been revisited yet, but I suspect I’m more interested in Doc’s childhood than most of the fanbase (and probably Jackson and Doc).
There we go! More Venture history, depressing as it is. I like this episode just fine, and the background stuff is fascinating, but if you try to make a list of Season Three episodes off the top of your head, it’s going to be the one you forget. It doesn’t have one real showstopper to help it stick out. Even Entmann, who I think is really funny, has only made one appearance since. Granted, the original Team Venture (both in the present and in flashback form) is almost entirely absent from Season Four, so he might show up again when the story shifts back in that direction. All that said, Hank and Jefferson pretty much dominate this episode – when either of them speak, you know it’s going to be good.
Next time, we check back in with the Monarch in Tears of a Sea Cow.