The Venture Bros: “Bot Seeks Bot” part 2
Brock’s mission is now “to save Ghost Robot,” which seems big of him, considering that he doesn’t seem that attached to Ghost Robot, considering that no one seems that attached to Ghost Robot, really. Brock’s passion here is for his work, his job, the job for which he has forsaken his family, the Venture clan, for SPHINX, which has been destroyed by his foster father figure, Hunter Gathers. Brock’s job is his family, and it’s the only thing he’s good at. He can’t win at love, he’s backed away from being a father, he’s distant with his work brothers (he even steals one’s wife), but his job is everything to him, an all-or-nothing proposition, even when “the job” is nothing more than invading a nightclub to rescue a robot from an awkward date.
Brock takes Shore Leave back to the Venture compound to root through his old belongings for suitable villain costumes. He has a whole bunch of old villain costumes because, well, he’s killed a lot of villains (like Marv, the brutal psychopath with the heart of gold in Sin City, he kills men and takes their coats). That, ultimately, is Brock’s legacy: he’s an assassin, a trailer-park James Bond, and he leaves a trail of dead men in his wake. (An assassin is the opposite of a father, and he’s not too much of a friend either. That’s why Bond’s relationship with M is so important to the series: it’s all he’s got that makes him human.)
Brock is taking no time out from his work to celebrate his humanity, because he has so little. But here comes a ghost of Brock’s past, Rusty himself, mistaking Brock’s getup for a costume for a party. Rusty, as lusty and lonely as Vendata, doesn’t need the death of a clown (“A comedian died tonight,” begins Watchmen) for an excuse to carouse: he’s been ready to carouse since the moment his voice broke. Ironically, the costume Rusty chooses to crash the nightclub is that of a clown, with a rainbow wig and Groucho glasses, a distorted parody of Boggles, a garish slap in the face of those with legitimate reason to want to honor the Clue Clown’s legacy.
To further twist the knife in Ghost Robot’s heart, the word around the nightclub is that Galacticon, the robot Ghost Robot is impersonating, is a mad sex-beast of a top, and here he is trading small-talk to a clearly bored Vendata. To make matters worse, Vendata has chosen to have his dead-end date at the same nightclub where the Council has come to drown their sorrows. Their familial joy in the face of death openly mocks Vendata’s attempts to stave off loneliness with sex.
Brock easily gets into the villains-only nightclub (further blurring the line of whether we can consider Brock a hero or a villain) but Rusty, thinking he’s going to a costume party, with Billy Quizboy in tow, has no such luck. Trying to find a way in, Rusty and Billy venture (sorry) around to the back of the elevator shaft leading down to the club, and we find the walls of the shaft covered with the least villainous graffiti possible: “Peace on Earth,” a peace sign in the shape of a heart, and a “no bombs” sign. How tough are these supervillains, anyway?
Just as Rusty and Billy are being admitted to the club, the real Galacticon shows up to troll for rough trade. Brock spirits Ghost Robot away to the men’s room, where, in a twist worthy of Orton, Vendata stumbles upon the two of them in a toilet stall in a compromising position: Ghost Robot’s legs up, Brock stripped to his y-fronts. Brock was fingered earlier (sorry) as a homewrecker with Amber, but now he pays the price for it with Ghost Robot, a character he barely knows, and Brock’s rescue operation goes quickly to pieces. He brutalizes Vendata, steals his costume (his second change of identity for the night), dresses Ghost Robot in the costume he wore to the club, grabs Shore Leave and prepares to make a hasty getaway.
Again, his forsaken family intervenes to prevent Brock from executing his job: Rusty and Billy are captured, chained to a wheel and presented to the clubgoers as the evening’s entertainment. Brock tells Shore Leave to get Ghost Robot out of the club, but he says he has to stay to save Rusty. Shore Leave says “I know he’s your old sugar-daddy, but is he really worth it?” which, ironically, is the question the narrative has been begging all along, but not about Rusty, about Ghost Robot. Brock has gone to great lengths to save a character he’s barely even met before, in the name of his work, but Shore Leave, his venture-brother for this episode, reminds him that Rusty isn’t Brock’s mission. What a position for Brock to be in, risking his life (theoretically anyway) to save a b-lister, but chided for wanting to save the show’s main protagonist.
What will save Rusty from certain death? Will it be Brock, who has gone “off the rez” to save his old charge? Will it be Shore Leave, who is trying to create a distraction by cutting the cable to the disco ball? Turns out, neither: it is Guild Rules that save Rusty’s skin, as the Monarch crashes the party to ruin everyone’s fun (par for the course for the Monarch, I guess). The very thing that caused the Council of 13 to disobey the Sovereign, strict adherence to rules, now intervenes as the Monarch complains that Rusty is his, and his alone, to arch.
The crisis over, Vendata staggers from the men’s room, shellshocked by Brock’s attack, shorn of his costume, confused, disoriented, looking for his wife. In one tiny moment, the script tells us a sad, bitter story of a man caught by fate, trapped in a plane crash, made to live an unlivable life as a man-machine, driven by loneliness to seek love in the arms of a giant robot. (Is he Major Tom, another Ventureverse character caught in a plane crash, missing his wife?)
The Monarch corners Rusty, lustful for his moment of villainous revenge, but is cock-blocked, so to speak, by Shore Leave’s unfinished diversion. The disco ball, the symbol of all things sybaritic, crashes down on him. Rusty, like Ghost Robot, is another victim destroyed by misplaced lust.