The Venture Bros: “What Color is Your Cleansuit” part 3

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Rusty may actually be a worse employer than he is a father, which is really saying something. After all, he may have left Hank and Dean to die countless horrible deaths over the years, but he never actually intentionally caused those deaths and he always dutifully put things back the way they were. His monomania regarding the Palaemon Project means that he overlooks interns trapped between dimensions, bizarre mutations and cannibalism. Most importantly, it interferes with Dean’s b-story, ie his romance with Thalia, a beautifully specific character, with her unflappable, widescreen collegiate manners. Dean very much wants Thalia, even after seeing her deformity (which, admittedly, is pretty tame compared to some of the things Dean’s been exposed to) but Rusty brushes that uncomfortable fact aside as well.

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Meanwhile, in the c-story, Augustus St. Cloud negotiates an arching contract with Watch and Ward from the GCI. St. Cloud has a monomania of his own, the ruination of Billy Quizboy, who “stole something” from him “a long time ago.” He’s an interesting entry into the Ventureverse, since his interests bridge the genuine and the pop-cultural: he has, for instance, both the Ark from Raiders and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” He has a spaceship from Battlestar Galactica but also a Venture-car (which, again, does that count as “real life” or not?), and boasts of his friendship with the late Steve Jobs (who, in an odd time-warp, was still alive in November of 2010, but let’s not dwell on a cartoon’s adventures in the space-time continuum). Watch and Ward are genial and welcoming, but St. Cloud is detached and frank in a way only very wealthy people can be. In terms of the episode’s theme, the Guild is welcoming St. Cloud into its family but St. Cloud has no interest in family (perhaps he’s “lonely as a cloud”), he turns his nose up at the very notion of it.

In the “shunning family” column, also, is 21, who was abandoned by his last family, SPHINX, but shows no interest in rejoining the Monarch’s family, in spite of the Monarch killing an intern and sneaking onto the property to convince him. (I love how the murder of an intern, even a white-suited one, goes unremarked upon by anyone: it wasn’t a main character, it can’t be important, perhaps the intern is buried in the same place as the gorilla family.) The Monarch’s ache for 21 is so great that he inverts all of 21’s denials into “spy talk” for being undercover. 21 and Dean share a goal this episode: to distance themselves from a terrible, abusive parent. If 21 (who, oddly, doesn’t make a point of reminding the Monarch of his real name) can stay free of the Monarch’s cocoon, maybe Dean can advance beyond being his father’s arrested teen.

So while Dean looks for love, Hank looks for cash (or however “Hank Bucks” work) at HankCo, selling snacks and tailoring to the workers at the HankCo store. This parallels Rusty and JJ, as JJ pursues his love (self-glorification in the name of science) and Rusty happily supplies materials for sale. Hank, like Rusty, even has his unpaid interns: Dermott, who’s lost his bile this season (perhaps because he now knows he’s an actual Venture Brother), now dutifully works under him and even Sgt Hatred, who has lost the love of his life, again, and is now growing breasts, is happy to pitch in.

But darker things are happening on the compound: the orange class has turned into huge lizard-men and the green class are being rounded up and devoured. Hatred witnesses one of these devourings and is captured and taken into the bio-dome. Now he is the gorilla trapped in the E-Den.

The second half of the episode begins where the first half did, with a phone call from JJ (now in space, in a carbon-copy of the shuttle from 2001: a Space Odyssey) waking up Rusty and reminding him of the episode’s ticking clock – his ray-shield must be ready in 27 hours.

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As much as Rusty and Hank ignore the workers’ conditions in order to pursue their financial agenda, Dean ignores Thalia’s condition in order to pursue his romantic agenda. Being new to dating, he takes everything Thalia says about Martin and the impending apocalypse and makes it about his own frustrations as a Venture Brother (“He never listens to me!”) and his virginal mind-wanderings (“I wonder if all boobs feel soft?”)

The Monarch, meanwhile, emerges from his funk about the loss of 21 long enough to observe that the race of mutants at the compound is beyond anything Rusty has accomplished before. Like with his misapprehension about 21, the Monarch assumes that the super-mutants are intentional and he decides to grow his own race of super-mutants. Or, to put it another way, he sees Rusty being cruel to his new children and, lacking new children, decides to be cruel to his old children.

Winter has set in at the Venture compound (which matches the November aspect of the story, it would now be February, but not if Rusty holds Operation PROM in April – you know what, the heck with it) and the interns have revolted. They’ve posted “94 theses” on the door of the Palaemon Project. Rusty, completely unconcerned that the theses are written on a human skin, crabs to Billy Quizboy that the “crack team” he’s assembled to get the ray shield is a bunch of losers, in spite of the fact that the groupd includes members of his immediate family. (Where is Dr. Orpheus when you need him?) 21, henchman no more, takes command of the situation, becoming a leader in the group’s hour of need.


9 Responses to “The Venture Bros: “What Color is Your Cleansuit” part 3”
  1. Mark says:

    I’m not sure Dermott knows he’s a Venture Brother. AFAIK, he still thinks Brock is his father.

    Characters who know the truth of Dermott’s parentage are Dr. Orpheus, The Alchemist, Shore Leave, Brock, Nikki, Margaret Fichtel, and Rusty (discovered during the Shallow Gravy special).

    Re: when the story occurs, Dean’s summer internship at Impossible Industries would hint that Operation PROM occurs a few weeks/months afterwards…in autumn.

    • Richard says:

      The Alchemist was mind wiped for gaining knowledge of SPHINX’s existence, before it sort of became an open secret by the end of Season 4.

  2. Strictly speaking of St. Cloud, in a review I did for this episode I compared him to Francis from PeeWee’s Big Adventure. He seems jealous of Billy for an object he has and possibly his friendship with White. (Why else would he get a rarer, “cooler” Asian albino to hang out with?) St. Cloud wants what he cannot have, ans so must destroy Billy simply for having he couldn’t buy.

  3. WhateverlyBrothers says:

    In regards to SPHINX “family” I like that 21 tried to invoke the aptly named “grandfather’s” clause.

    There is a sense of calm and central order in the expanding, near-calamity situation, which I think reflects some sense that all kinds of familial ties are operating “successfully” if not self-aware. Not only is even Dermott sewing for HankCo, they both admit they hid to avoid this particular, potentially gruesome finale. They’re comfortable with their roles. Dean’s urges can’t allow him to handle his mind in telekinesis, but can arrive at a solution to physically winning the fight with Martin, getting the girl and ruling the “world”. And this time, there’s no memory-wipe or clone-replacement, he retains a few blurry memories, and Hank advises him, “check your (video) watch.”
    It’s Rusty that generally causes problems, certainly here, the flame that draws moths, the classic ‘hysteric’ in the family, here everyone coming for a problem-solving adventures. A human skin on the door doesn’t get a rise from anyone, decoding the puzzling theses inscribed on it does. “Feces” / “theses” joke aside, concerning the skin-bound theses, what gets 21 and Billy to turn in exasperation is that Hank and Dermott don’t recognize “Lord of the Rings” reference. Losing to Billy’s quiz-solving, St. Cloud doesn’t seem so perturbed. So maybe what he wanted was to be officially recognized as arching Billy. I don’t know what will become of St. Cloud’s character further on but I think his costume is intentionally too comical, his head is literally in the clouds.

  4. Torakhan says:

    Something left out is that “A Very Venture Halloween” takes place during the first commercial break. That should give you a pretty definite date to work from, since it takes place on October 31.

  5. Burnsy says:

    It’s possible that the Van Gogh’s Sunflowers art may be a reference to the Doctor Who episode featuring Van Gogh.

    • Burnsy says:

      Which is to say, that his interest in the piece of art may be no more than another geeky interest than a “properly cultured” based one.

  6. Speaking of bodies, I’ve always wondered how they disposed of all the bodies that get killed on the Venture compound. From the single bad guy hung up on the electric fence to the army of dead henchmen that are left after a major arching, there must be hundreds of bodies to get rid of in a typical year! Is there a pit in a nearby canyon or something?