Venture Bros.

Venture Brothers – “Every Which Way But Zeus” Venture Bro

Sidekicks! Gladiatorial combat! Poorly executed genital torture! Ghost Robot! Yes, this week’s episode of Venture Bros. had it all.
“Every Which Way But Zeus” brought in a lot of obscure characters for an episode full of brutality. Seriously, some of our guys just get worked over this week. We also get the best Hank/Doc moment ever. It’s a good episode!
For background, I’d recommend watching “Handsome Ransom”, which introduces Captain Sunshine, Ghost Robot, and U.S. Steel, as well as “The Lepidopterists” from Season Three – that’s the episode that introduces the ill-fated Scott Hall.
We’ve got characters to add to the Dossier this week.
General Treister – A senior officer at OSI, he and Brock have a long-standing relationship based on mutual respect. He’s a little crazy, but he seems to be a competent military man. He last appeared at the end of Season Three in “The Family that Slays Together Stays Together”, in an epic battle with the Monarch’s forces. He tried to bring Brock back to OSI proper in order to get him away from all the craziness. Brock misunderstood, and then all hell broke loose. I did not remember him being as funny as he is in this episode, but I went back and checked. He was really funny then, too.Number One – At one time, Scott Hall was the highest ranked henchman in the Monarch’s organization. In Season Three’s “The Lepidpoterists”, he went on a mission with 21 and 24. Number One was the model of professionalism, but the whole time the other two assured him that he would definitely get killed because they’re main characters and he’s cannon fodder. He was seemingly killed by Brock Samson at the end of the episode.
And now, let’s get to recapping!
“I’m feeling kind of – gay. Wait… no. No, I’m definitely still gay.” – Shore Leave
At Conjectural Technologies, Billy’s reading is interrupted by an appearance from Zeus. He’s there to take whoever’s in charge – since neither he now Pete White will admit that the other might be their boss, he takes them both. Later, a couple of Centurions appear in a lab and kidnap a scientist. Meanwhile, everybody at SPHINX is heading to a strip club, except for Shore Leave. He is also abducted by Zeus, but not before putting up a hell of a fight.
–Shore Leave is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. The bit where he first talks to Zeus as if he’s a fairy godfather and then starts shooting him is a great example of why. He’s out-and-out flamingly gay, and he’s also a total badass. And it’s not really presented as something that surprises people – they’re just two aspects of his personality. He has sex with men and he is also a skilled soldier with a mean streak.
The guys in the second scene have popped up as background characters, but to my knowledge, they don’t have names.
“She has mournful tits. They’re like two suicide notes stuffed in a glitter bra.” – Brock Samson
A montage tells us that the abductions have continued, both heroes and villains. Doc is convinced that they’re coming for him next, but Doc is actually kind of excited for that, and vetoes Sgt. Hatred’s plan to him. In a SPHINX Jet, Brock and Hunter talk about a stripper with unappealing breasts. Soon they’re flanked by Guild helicopters, but they don’t attack – they’re all headed to the same location. We then cut to a farm converted to a gladiatorial arena. A masked Centurion announces the battle – 21 vs. Ghost Robot.
–OK, Hunter and Brock talking about the stripper made me laugh so hard. They just keep going! So Zeus has been rounding people up and forcing them to fight. And 21 is a force to be reckoned with, going 12 and 0, which would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago. And if you read the Dossier last season, you know of my love for Ghost Robot, the ghost who is also a robot. If you didn’t, well, he’s on a team with Captain Sunshine, and his secret identity is Weatherbot 5. He’s only had a couple of lines, but the concept and design are just so instantly hilarious.
“I am a ghost who lives inside the head of a robot. If you pierce my chest, I will be unharmed. I will fake my death, and together we can fight against Zeus.” – Ghost Robot
As the battle begins, Ghost Robot tries to set a plan in motion. However, 21 stabs him through the head, apparently killing him. On a golf course, Brock and Hunter trigger a secret entrance to OSI headquarters. At the Venture Compound, Doc’s laying on a lawnchair, blindfolded, holding a sign that says “Dr. Thaddeus Venture, star of The Rusty Venture Show”. He’s trying to make it easy for the kidnappers. Hatred and the boys feel sorry for him, so they decide on a plan.
–Poor, poor Ghost Robot. I’m hoping that his ghostly self survived, but it was sad nonetheless. On the golf course with Brock and Hunter are Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder, two OSI agents who we last saw in “Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel”. This is Brock’s first contact with OSI since he skipped out of their flying headquarters in that episode. And I think the best thing about Doc’s attempts to get kidnapped is that he packed a suitcase. That’s so cute and sad.
“I fought an eight-year-old, and the only reason I won is because he tripped into a spike. I had my eyes closed the whole time! Until I heard an eight-year-old dying on a spike…” –Billy Quizboy
A victorious 21 is returned to his cell, while White, Billy, and Shore Leave look on. Shore Leave and Billy are bloody and bruised, and they’re all nervous about the possibility of facing 21. White and Shore Leave argue over who’s a bigger sissy, until the Centurions arrive to take Billy and White. In OSI Headquarters, representatives of various villain and hero teams are being strip-searched. Phantom Limb and Professor Impossible are in a special room with some other villains – their natural abilities make them living weapons, so they have to be injected with a power inhibitor.
–The designs of the damaged characters are really disturbing – there’s blood everywhere and they have lumps and swollen eyes. I like that everybody’s afraid of 21 – he’s come a long way in the last season. It’s good to see the Limb and Impossible again so quickly – it seems to confirm that their partnership is going to be a long-running thing. Note that the searches are being conducted by OSI and the Guild – this is a true summit. And the machine that inhibits powers by taking away all your blood is nothing short of awesome.
“All right, I’ll say it. I hate all of you guys.” – Brock Samson
In a basement of the Venture Compound, Doc is tied up, in his underwear, blindfolded, and has jumper cables clamped to his nipples. Sgt. Hatred is wearing an Optimus Prime helmet to disguise his voice, while Hank has a Hulk mask. (Dean’s just holding Teddy Ruxpin.) OSI and the Guild put together a think tank of representatives from SPHINX (Brock and Hunter), the Revenge Society (Phantom Limb and Impossible), and various other organizations. Brock has to beat up a villain, and then OSI’s General Treister addresses the crowd – he’s the man in charge, so he doesn’t have to have a stupid codename, and he gets to wear his regular clothes.
–Most of the unidentified characters at the table are either new or previously unnamed background characters. However, the Guild is represented by Councilmen Three and Eight. It seems weird that the Monarch isn’t there, but he’s not held in very high regard by either OSI or the Guild proper. General Treister, by the way, is voiced by King of the Hill’s Toby Huss. Also, that plate in Brock’s chest is where HELPeR’s head had to be surgically removed, per last season.
This fake kidnapping is headed somewhere good – it’s worth noting that, according to the bump that ran before this episode, Jackson actually did the voices in this scene wearing an Optimus Prime helmet and a Hulk mask. They’re re-colored for copyright purposes, but nobody’s fooled. I’m pretty sure they didn’t use an actual Teddy Ruxpin for the voice in this scene, but they did a darned good job of faking it.
“Stop fighting and fight!” – Zero
Back at the stalls, a badly injured older man tells Shore Leave that “Zero” has gone mad. He further says that they were trying to “reward the thankless ones”. 21 meditates, and then announces a plan, telling Shore Leave to call him “Henchman Number One”. In the Venture Basement, a still blindfolded Doc thinks Teddy Ruxpin is trying to extort sexual favors for his release. Hatred accidentally uses Dean’s name, and Doc says to let Dean go, but they can kill Hank if they have to. This cuts to the next gladiatorial match pits White against Billy – they throw down their weapons and have a furious verbal argument instead.
–21 says he’s talking to “a friend”, which means he’s talking with 24. This sort of points to the idea that 24 is a figment of his imagination rather than a ghost, since previously he’s always had to have 24’s skull handy to talk – also, we usually hear his side of the conversation while he’s silent here. Of course, we are talking about ghosts. There’s much we don’t know. We’ll get into Doc’s kidnapping more later, but it’s pretty heartbreaking when he says they can kill Hank. Poor kid.
“I want lists and solutions by the time I finish this juice box. Warning – I am thirsty, and it is fruit punch, and it is delicious.” – General Treister
The Think Tank discusses the abductions, and nobody has any good explanation for how Zeus is floating and abducting people. Impossible reasons that he may be a hologram or a mirror image, since there’s no account of Zeus actually touching him. Treister likes some theories, shoots down others, and has the Think Tank break up into smaller groups.
–Embarrassing code names assigned by Treister: Kenan and Kel (Councilmen Three and Eight), Kelly Clarkson (Hunter Gathers), Matthew Perry (Professor Impossible), Orville Redenbacher (Storm Front), Topanga Lawrence (Brock Samson) . Hee.
Also, I love the way Treister talks. It’s like he has an accent that doesn’t exist anywhere in nature, pronouncing “juice” as “jee-huice” and “thirsty” as “tursty”. Almost every line of his has at least one insane pronunciation.
“Dean, you’re not doing anything bad in there, are you? Like reading porn or having sex with a sock?” – Sgt. Hatred
Sgt. Hatred, still in the Optimus Prime mask, goes to find Dean. He’s hiding in his room, reading a science book. Hatred is disappointed that Dean doesn’t want to take the golden opportunity to beat up on Doc while he has the chance. In the stalls, 21, Billy, White, Shore Leave, and the older man work out a plan. The older man says that 21 is what is best in all Henchmen, just as the Centurions arrive. At the Think Tank, they determine that Zeus must be none other than Captain Sunshine. Councilman Eight points out that Sunshine is always petitioning the Guild for better Henchman benefits. They also reveal that the guy we know as Captain Sunshine used to be Wonder Boy – the original Captain Sunshine is now his butler, Desmond. And it’s Desmond who’s in the stall with the rest of the guys.
–Oh, cool. I didn’t immediately identify the old man, but he appears in “Handsome Ransom” as Captain Sunshine’s butler. And now we know Sunshine is a legacy hero – the first one retired and handed the reins to the former Wonder Boy. And putting it together, Desmond acted as Zeus in the abductions, which were meant to teach the various groups a lesson about respect for henchmen and sidekicks. Then Zero turned on him, forcing Desmond into combat along with the abductees.
And 21 finally points out that Zeus is Greek and Centurions are Roman, so what we’re seeing are Greek citizen-soldiers called “hoplites’. That sounds much less cool.
“I see so much of myself in that boy that I want to apologize to him for his existence. He can’t win. He’s a Venture, he’ll never shake it.” – Dr. Venture
Hank, still in the voice-altering Hulk mask, demands to know why Doc loves Dean more. Doc says he doesn’t love Dean more – he knows that his kidnappers aren’t going to hurt anyone, but Dean’s the one who believes in this stuff. Hank doesn’t care about this life nearly as much.
–This breaks my heart. Though it is really funny that Hank’s trying to do the torture scene from Casino Royale, only without cutting out the bottom of the chair. But Doc comes clean about the boys – Dean’s the one he wishes he could have been – if the promise of Rusty Venture were fulfilled, he’d have grown up to be more like Dean. But Hank’s the one who wants no part of this – he wants to bail and get away from all the craziness. But Doc knows how that turned out for him, and he thinks poor Hank is headed down that path. It’s kind of awful, where Doc really feels guilty about what life holds for Hank. There’s so much self-loathing in there, but I think it’s exactly what Hank needs to here. This is kind of a beautiful moment, in its way.
“No wonder you killed this guy before – he’s so into himself.” – Shore Leave
The stage is set for Billy and White to face 21 and Shore Leave. But when Zero announces them, 21 demands that he be called Henchman Number One. Zero gets upset and says that isn’t his name. On cue, Pete and Billy run for safety. Shore Leave kills their pursuers while 21 throws a trident at Zeus, who turns out to be a plaster statue. Zero jumps to the ground to fight 21 himself, while Pete and Billy free the other abductees. Zero explains that he manipulated Desmond and just then, Desmond reveals that he still has his Captain Sunshine powers. Zero still beats him up, and then takes off his mask to reveal that he’s Henchman One, long thought deceased. And then, the freed sidekicks all charge, chasing Zero off.
–Oh, well played! His plan makes demented sense, and they tie things up pretty well here. And it’s a nice surprise, since we thought Number One was dead. I notice, though, that the sidekick army includes Truckules, who actually has henchmen of his own. Unless the poor guy’s fallen on hard times and he has to hench for another villain. Or they just threw him in because a guy with a truck for a body is always funny. Also, one of the sidekicks is one of Phineas Phage’s Pro-Teens.
Remember also, 21 is actually Henchman 1 now, since he’s the highest-ranking Henchman. He’s just holding onto his old number because of how he went crazy.
“Hey! My arms feel like ants are living in my bones. Fascinating…” Professor Impossible
Everybody’s fallen asleep at the Think Tank, and then Doe and Cardholder announce that the problem has solved itself. They return to the surface to see the sidekicks and henchmen reunited with their bosses. All except poor U.S. Steel, who waits sadly for Ghost Robot.
–I just have to say that the song in this scene is really funny, and I am still sad about Ghost Robot. One guy doesn’t survive the episode, and it’s my favorite obscure character. You’re just taunting me, Doc Hammer. Not cool, man.
Next week, we’ve got Hank’s black-and-white noir fantasy. I’ve been excited for this one since I saw the season trailer.
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