The Venture Bros: “What Goes Down, Must Come Up”

“The Buddy System” asked the question “What is a father?” “What Goes Down, Must Come Up” seems to ask “What shall we tell the children?” Everywhere in this episode we see parents, pseudo-parents and quasi-parents dispense advice and level threats. Clearly someone needs to learn something, but who is teaching and who is paying attention? And, most important, in the end, what is actually learned?hitcounter

Rusty, we have seen, is most comfortable when blaming everything wrong with his life on his father. In “Dr. Quymn” we saw that Jonas Venture may have been a reckless or negligent father, but his actions in “What Goes Down” are as horrifying and cruel as anything Rusty’s fevered brain ever came up with. Rusty may cover up the death of a boy at the hands of a gorilla, but here we see Jonas is willing to shut a group of orphans up in a fallout shelter filled with mood-enhancing gas — and throw in his “best friend” in the bargain — and never mention it to anyone.

The children locked up in the fallout shelter in 1978 are not strictly Jonas’s, but they all quickly become “Rusty” due to the “scopitone” found on the premises. And so we must look at them as some form of Rusty, reflections of his stunted personality. “Rusty gets trapped in the basement” is the episode’s inciting incident, but Rusty is, metaphorically, forever trapped in the basement. The VH1 all-stars living in the tunnels are nothing more than more pronounced, less functional versions of Rusty himself. He opened up this hole, he fell into it, he must deal with it, and ultimately, he must seal the hole up again.

(The idea of Jonas taking the time to “be a father” to Rusty by recording fatherly messages of common sense and good grooming is actually a little touching — after all, it’s hard to imagine Rusty doing the same for Hank and Dean. And I’m guessing that the scopitone played on the show is only one of many that was left in the fallout shelter. The question I have is, did Jonas record his “dad’s advice” in case of nuclear disaster, or was it part of his plan all along to cause it?)

In any case, the “Rustys” down in the fallout shelter gain all the knowledge they know from Jonas’s advice, and they make him their father even though he is not. He holds great sway over their lives and minds, even though he put them in this hole and feels no sense of personal obligation toward them. All of which pretty much applies to Rusty too.

(The VH1 angle is interesting — and enlightening. It seems that MUTHER told the children that the world had ended, and then the VH1 videos confirmed the situation for them. The thing I like about the costumes the orphans created is that they seem to have ignored the bulk of the videos on display on VH1 and concentrated solely on ones that reflected their understanding of apocalypse. I see no joyous Cyndi Laupers, Madonnas or Bonos among the group, just characters from dour, “apocalyptic” videos like “Close (to the Edit)” and “Thriller”, “Ashes to Ashes,” “Jocko Homo” and, yes, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And I am reminded that, just as the shiny futurist dreams of Jonas’s generation were silly and unrealistic, the dark, nihilist nightmares of the 80s generation were just as silly and just as unrealistic — and have not aged particularly well either.)

So what does Jonas “tell the children?” Jonas tells the children to comb their hair and keep their hands and face clean, and presumably goes on to coach them about sex as well. All well and good, although perhaps lacking the personal touch. But, like Rusty, “the Rustys” are missing a mother, at least until MUTHER comes back on line. MUTHER has, as Dr. Entmann says, a different view of parenting. Jonas may have locked the orphans in the basement, but MUTHER seeks to destroy the world rather than compromise on her views of discipline. A harsh mother, indeed.

MUTHER gasses children and tries to blow up the world, but what does she want? Only to talk to Jonas. Presumably, the “end of the world” here is nothing more than MUTHER and father having a fight about “what to tell the children.” Apparently Jonas unplugged MUTHER before she could carry out her discipline and has been waiting to have it out with Jonas ever since. MUTHER doesn’t seem to be angry with anyone per se, she just misses father. In the end, she’s happy to listen to him talk on an endless loop about personal hygiene.

Dr. Entmann is, if I’m not mistaken, the first non-Rusty victim of Jonas’s thoughtlessness. Dr. Entmann, after being trapped in the fallout shelter for thirty years, understandably hates Jonas, but through his conversations with Brock we learn that he was Jonas’s willing victim for years prior to that. Jonas, apparently, “accidentally” made him fifteen feet tall, then “accidentally” made him five inches tall, then “accidentally” locked him in a room for thirty years. Dr. Entmann, apparently, worshiped Jonas to such a degree that he willingly let him screw up his life a number of times and kept coming back for more, all in the guise of “friendship.” And yet, in the end, Jonas made Dr. Entmann smaller than a child and locked him in the basement with the “Rustys”, while he made sure to get the rest of “Team Venture” out safely. Clearly orphans and “best friends” are not high on Jonas’s list of priorities.

Dr. Orpheus, meanwhile, has parenting issues of his own. Not with Triana, mind you, it seems he’s a relatively normal father in that regard. No, Dr. Orpheus’s parenting issues involve his relationship with two grown men — the other members of the Order of the Triad. Dr. Orpheus insists on infantilizing them, setting himself up as an autocrat and them as his charges, who must pay him respect and heed his orders, even when they aren’t needed and are, in fact, insulting. What’s more, Dr. Orpheus gets his advice from yet another father figure, one whom no one, not even the audience, is allowed to see — a father-figure even more removed than Jonas. Orpheus acts like a mother to the Triad, a mother who, when challenged, says that she must consult with father, then reports back to the children.

(The same way that our current president says that he talks to God, then tells us what he thinks we need to know based on his conversations with an unknowable entity.)

(Orpheus making dolls of his colleagues, although made light of, is of the same impulse as Jonas making Entmann into a living doll — in each case, the doll is created in order to control the friend, to turn him into a child. Jefferson gets the worst of the infantilization in this regard — he’s made to wet his pants and then wear a boy’s pajama-bottoms.)

And yet, the Order of the Triad still works as a family, pulling together when they need to to get the job done, even if they’re not sure what the job is or why they have to be there to do it. Rusty and his children, on the other hand, well, I’d have to say, not so much.

Promises are made and shattered. Jonas makes promises of post-nuclear survival to Rusty (which are then delivered to the orphans instead), just as Rusty makes promises of French toast to Hank and Dean, just as Dr. Orpheus makes promises of merchandising riches to the Order of the Triad.

Sexual imagery abounds. There is Jonas’s big drill, which Rusty mentions, but then there are the endless tunnels, the men made big and small, the sex advice delivered from a talking bed, complete with banana, and the Shining-derived image of a man receiving oral sex from another man in an animal costume. In a particularly head-spinning image, father’s missile is launched by MUTHER, and is revealed to be, literally, full of shit.

Comments

51 Responses to “The Venture Bros: “What Goes Down, Must Come Up””
  1. cdthomas says:

    *why* M.U.T.H.E.R.?

    And why would Rusty accept such an artifical creation, if he remembered having a mother?

    Why have we never heard about Rusty’s mom? Never seen any picture of her, at all?

    Why do we always see Rusty at a certain age? I was pondering that this afternoon — I don’t recall seeing Rusty as a baby, or adolescent, just as that lunchbox image that somehow spun out of Dr. Venture’s control, considering all the violence and neglect he decided to punish Rusty with.

    And if Dr. Venture made the decision to abandon those kids by himself, it would be bad enough. But *Team Venture* made that decision with him. All those men knew what they did, and made no effort to make things right, even by simply going in and burying the corpses. I can be mad about Jonas Venture’s crimes against decency, but I think his amoral influence on others stacks up as worse.

    • Todd says:

      Re: *why* M.U.T.H.E.R.?

      Why have we never heard about Rusty’s mom? Never seen any picture of her, at all?

      I have a sick feeling that when we learn the answer to that question, it will be the most horrible thing yet.

      • mimitabu says:

        Re: *why* M.U.T.H.E.R.?

        you know, it wouldn’t surprise me if rusty’s mother turns out to be just some normal woman, with no real tragic or strange details about her (there would be SOME reason for her absence, but maybe not a sinister one). i half-expect that subversion of viewers’ expectations… and i also think the idea is just interesting in its own right. what of all these motherless/parentless complexes if there really was a normal mother? maybe not the MOST interesting question/direction in the world:), but it could be okay.

        the presence of a loving parent or a legitimate authority (or god) in a universe that seems to be about the lack of such things could cast the “VB is about people w/o real parents” view in a conservative, over-privileging-such-things light; maybe source/authority figures are simply ineffectual or irrelevant. maybe all the problems that seem to be defined by lack of those figures are just natural conditions, or maybe those figures are ALL innocent victims taking the blame for personal irresponsibility (ie maybe the central relationship of rusty blaming everything on jonas is being suggested as prototypical for all “such-and-such about parents/authority/god, therefore such-and-such about you/me”; it’s irrelevant that jonas wasn’t that great a father, because he just isn’t responsible for who rusty is and what rusty does). i doubt that’s the ultimate message/theme/moral of the venture bros.–nor do i think it’s even right, as nurturing/being nurtured and relating to people or structures are important and influential things, existentialism be damned. and victim-blaming right-wing propaganda be damned.

        as for this episode, i loved it, but also can’t think of anything remotely intelligent to say about it really (not that i’m claiming the above paragraph to be remotely intelligent:)). i like that we’re getting all these below-mentioned “exploded-rusty” manifestations. season 3 is making me want to rewatch seasons 1 and 2 more closely.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: *why* M.U.T.H.E.R.?

      Recall that we do at least see Rusty in college, the closest thing to being an adolescent that we’ve seen from him.

      –Rob C.

      • laminator_x says:

        Re: *why* M.U.T.H.E.R.?

        In both the first episode of season two, and more recently remembering Dr. Quimn, we see Thaddeus flash back to childhood or tween-age years.

  2. drshoggoth says:

    Re: M.U.T.H.E.R. Am I the only one reminded of GlaDos? Very similar characters, what with the demented mothering aspect, shiny white surfaces and deadly neurotoxin (or at least hallucinogens).

  3. 1. I feel the episode cascaded from a Freudian Anal-Retension beginning to an Anal-Expulsion ending.

    2. Yay, General Boy!

  4. Two things…

    • Am I the only one bothered by Dana Snyder as the voice of The Alchemist? Everytime The Alchemist speaks I can’t help thinking, “Hey, what’s Master Shake doing on The Venture Brothers?”

    • Why do I get the feeling that the so far unseen “Ancient One” that Orpheus gets his advice from is none other than an ancient Jonas Venture?

    • laminator_x says:

      We’ve met the Master a couple of times now. First he took the form of Cerebus, then the form of Catherine the Great and her Horse. Both times he was voiced by H. John Bengamin, who voiced the coach on Home Movies.

    • craigjclark says:

      Dana Snyder’s casting doesn’t bother me so much. Besides, I loved it when Dr. Orpheus appeared to him and said, “Order of the Triad — assemble!”

    • Anonymous says:

      Although the pitch of Dana Snyder’s voice generally stays the same in all his roles, I find he still gets a very different character out of it. There is no comparing The Alchemist, Master Shake, and Todd from Code Monkeys character wise, even though they all have pretty much the exact same voice.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “maybe it’s all a dream”.

    Interesting analysis as always.

    This season’s focus seems to be Rusty as exploded into different constellations of Rusty-ites (the science day camp, the mirrored-symmetry family unit of his…sister? and now the underground, hallucigenicized orphans, all foster-Rusty-ites) that form the psyche that is battling to be accommodated, exist together.

    For someone who is supposedly a weakling, the “adventurer” in Rusty seems to direct. He chooses to walk down the dark underground tunnels, and later he even decides to get up on stage in front of his “Rusty-ite” psyche in order to dare to usurp his father’s projection, and calmly announce (to… Rusty?) he is now in charge. In this psychoanalytical pilgrim’s progress the tales of Rusty slowly alludes to the idea as he grows and develops so does the re-shaping of his father’s forced inheritance, as represented by the compound, Rusty’s home, which started already in the past episode. Certainly he is talking alot about his father and his father’s world in this season.

    I don’t think Rusty just “blames his father” but does so in the same way one blames the symptoms on a convenient lie. On the one hand, it’s a defense mechanism to defer from any further scrutiny as to what might be deeper within, but on the other hand, it is to wish exactly for that. Inevitably one trips up to reveal aspects of something else at work – a slip of the tongue, a return-of- the-repressed and so on. Rusty is always stumbling across his father’s legacy, and mostly what returns to the forefront shows different shades of inhumanity.

    While Biblical references appear, they’re more an old Operating System to be replaced by some kind of freak-open-source text in the making. Venture is no Moses, but does have Rusty-ites. As simply a medium he can only have revealing “slip ups” that unleash skewed, fragmented commandments, in the form of parables about his ill-begotten inheritance, his father’s world / family.

    It’s a druggy fuzzy synthesis, well summed up as an 80s textuality via 90s VH1 nostalgia. In this episode, a return-of-the-repressed morphs into an escape plan away from confronting what is “down below” then converts into precisely THAT, in the Freudian offering of exchange to the max: feces from the child (the collective Rusty-ites) to the parent (smeared all over the grounds of the Father Venture’s Compound), which the original son, Rusty is left to roll around in. A symbol for his life thus far.

    Which we see him later sealing away (parts of) the mess, repeating his father’s narrative, only differently. There was some analysis done: Father created this synthetic m.u.t.h.e.r., she just manifests his aberration of logic regarding “woman” or “mother”. Pairing them off is not a happy ending, but just survival – by confronting solely Father’s two skewed logics to establish a feedback loop, to avoid more “scorched earth” dramas. Father is turned to face Father-disguised-as-Mother-needing-communication. HE speaks on, forever. Mother is nowhere to be represented, except in structuring absence. Perhaps amongst the various boys need to mediate their relations via the hand-held “action figures”, or “dollies” or “merchandising collectible”.

    Speaking of which: Father Venture’s best friend, “accidentally” reduced in size, “accidentally” forgotten about in the ordeal and locked away in the bunker below the compound. We hear him as Yiddish-inflected, rather calm with a bullhorn amplifier affixed to his helmet on top of his head. He talks / listens with Brock. He comes across as someone who wouldn’t hurt anyone, just wants to confront Venture as to why would he do something to his “best friend”. Brock informs him the old man is dead. He realizes he will never find out, and has to come to terms alone. Another member of the family… Among the retinue of hand-sized figures, he appears to be a real mensch, and long overdue to be let out of the bunker.

    Hank wasn’t SO off in this episode when he suggests maybe “it’s all a dream”.

    • Todd says:

      Re: “maybe it’s all a dream”.

      There has been a lot of exploded-Rusty investigation, hasn’t there? And just think, a few episodes ago I was wondering if perhaps Messers Publick and Hammer had lost interest in their main characters.

      I’m actually not sure what to make of Dr. Entman’s Jewishness.

      • laminator_x says:

        Re: “maybe it’s all a dream”.

        I think it’s just a straightforward Ant-Man play on the names-> Entmann. Brock even dances around it “What was that guy, the old marvel comics, shrank down…” or something like that.

        • Todd says:

          Re: “maybe it’s all a dream”.

          “Entman” is practically a Yiddish-inflected pronunciation of “Ant-Man” as it is. And, if we’re going to break it down linguistically, “Ent-man” would mean “insect-man.” Yeah, pretty sure he’s supposed to be Ant-Man.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: “maybe it’s all a dream”.

        I think the Rusty-centric direction is announced with the Killinger episode. In his bag-trip Rusty had a walk-through for the act of confronting/killing/replacing his father. But in reality, Rusty shows he understands why NOT to go all Abel on Cain/Jonas.

        And the Venture Compound became more of a character. Killinger’s episode re-animated the total Venture Industry side (Brock never saw those building smokestacks at work, etc…). When that phantasm evaporated, for the next episodes, Rusty inevitably ends up venturing to the “off-limits” areas, the “other” side of the Venture Industry.

        This season certainly implies to be like his father means coming to terms with the inhumanity disguised as humanism of his father’s work. Note brother Jonas has no issue with that. Rusty always “fails” at it. But as it is a part of him to avoid, he moves from that orientation, and ends up confronting it by accident on every turn, and having to make decisions.

        In Killinger’s tale, the offer to be his father meant repeating a cycle that Rusty can not agree to. Yet he takes the initiative on his own to do exactly that in this last episode, jumping on stage and claiming his place in front of the foster-Rusty-ites.

        The foregrounding of Rusty and Rusty-ites coincides with few characters returning only to be absented. The ones who focus on Rusty (Monarch, Billy, Guild )are reintroduced with back-stories whose resolution means being safely contained, and subsiding (from Rusty’s perspective). They are set off Rusty-centric courses – Monarch held by the gated community, Billy punished for being blindly enamored of Rusty’s “adventurer” path, note hardly any “Helper” presence, brother Jonas, no longer worried of a Cain/Abel, is busy with success to provide only a cameo, and even Brock starts needing to talk with other people. And of course, there’s the coming of Dean.

        As for Ent-man, sure it’s related to “Ant-man”, and atom-science substituted with the power of being the opposite, just a little mensch during the Cold-War-on-Steroids era. Which apparently means, who was experimented on many times by his “best friend”. And who was inhumanely abandoned by this “best friend”.

        And now is re-discovered. A father Dr.Venture “accidentally” suppressed him and a son (also father) Dr. Venture “accidentally” released him.

  6. zaratustra00 says:

    Uh, Orpheus’ Master -has- appeared. Twice. Once as Cerberus (and mistakenly calling himself ‘Argos’) and once as Catherine the Great’s horse, to give Orpheus a lesson about… something or other.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is it me or are the boys getting smarter this season? Or at the very least, starting to understand that their lives kinda suck? First there’s Dean’s dreams (father flying away with his penis and the other mini-breakdowns in previous eps) and now Hank has joined in complaining (giant bug’s bite). Then there’s meeting other teenagers.

    I think the twins have definitely grown up a lot. They’ve come a long way from declaring Rusty ‘best dad ever’ after showing them their half-alive clones.

    • mitejen says:

      I totally agree! They obviously don’t know about the clone thing but they’re becoming self-aware in other ways, definitely.

  8. mitejen says:

    I wasn’t entirely sure that Jonas meant to abandon them all down there. I know that Jonas’ death was during Rusty’s college years, but when exactly were these people locked away? Could it be that he died before he could end the experiment and let them out?

    I can’t help but wonder that, since Rusty’s so embittered and vitriolic at the best of times that when he makes a statement like ‘My father was a jerk’ I immediately wonder what Jonas’ side of the situation is. Too much benefit of the doubt, I guess.

    And I immediately accepted that the computer was Rusty’s ‘Muther,’ possibly the only one he’s known. It was a good riff on Alien, too!

    • blake_reitz says:

      But the Entman (and presumably the kids) had been locked down there since 1978, with Jonas’ death sometime around 1988. Ten years is an awfully.. long time to wait for a rescue.

  9. mr_noy says:

    What’s more, Dr. Orpheus gets his advice from yet another father figure, one whom no one, not even the audience, is allowed to see — a father-figure even more removed than Jonas.

    Pardon me for nitpicking but we have seen Orpheus’ father figure, The Master, on at least two occasions – both times in the guise of an animal. Furthermore, he resides in a spirit realm that presumably not just anyone can enter. I’m guessing voice actor John McGirk wasn’t available or the scene was deemed unnecessary and therefore either never written or cut at a later stage.

    Bush’s mystical father figure however remains unseen and silent to all but him.

  10. memento_mori says:

    Entmann is obviously a reference to Ant-Man, Henry Pym of the Avengers. But do you think him being Jewish and formely 15 feet tall is an homage to the DC Comics character Atom Smasher?

    • zqadams says:

      Actually, for a while during the Goliath phase of his career, Hank Pym actually [i]was[/i] trapped at an enlarged height. I don’t know if it was 15 feet or not, but for a while in the 70s he was incapable of growing or shrinking and stuck as a giant. As for the Jewishness, I don’t know if that’d be a direct reference to Al; I thought it more likely that they came up with the “Entmann” name and thought it suggested the Yiddish voice, especially since from day one nearly every infusion of the superhero world into the Ventures’ has been Marvel-driven.

  11. blake_reitz says:

    Another possible connection, MUTHER is very similar in appearance to Paula from Earthbound, an RPG for the SNES. Earthbound’s original name in japan? MOTHER.

    I would not be suprised if we saw Entmann in later group shots with Jonas Jr.’s Team Venture, Spider-Skull island does seem to be the place to be for Rusty’s castoffs.

    I’m curious, did Rusty bolt shut the hole with the VH1 survivors still inside? He might not care enough to set them free, or he might really want them off his property.

    • I’m curious, did Rusty bolt shut the hole with the VH1 survivors still inside? He might not care enough to set them free, or he might really want them off his property.

      I believe the poor bastards burned to a crisp from the backwash of the missile’s abortive launch.

  12. misterseth says:

    Interesting reference by Al…

    ‘So the great and powerful Oz told you to call tech support?’

    -Orpheous’s master is known to transform into diffrent manifestations.
    -The Rustys (Rusties?) venerate their ‘father’ which is clearly nothing more than a computer card recording of Jonas Venture.
    -M.U.T.H.E.R. is essentially an artificial intelligence

    What do these have in common with Oz? Well who was he? a so called powerful being, venerated and feared throughout the land, when actually, was no more than a man hiding behing a curtain!

    It almost describes all of the authority figures seen thus far.

  13. jbacardi says:

    Wonder what M.U.T.H.E.R. is an acronym for? For that matter, wonder why Jonas Sr. chose that pixel image to represent her? A clue to the identity of Rusty’s mom, perhaps?

    It was the little details, and yeah, a lot of the sexual imagery, that made this one enjoyable. I got a good chuckle out of Pete White nostalgically reminiscing about when he and Rusty spent time in the monitor room, then surreptitiously scooting the Kleenex box on the table next to him out of the way. Entman’s megaphone- it’s been a complaint about both Ant-Man, the Atom, and the Wasp for that matter that in real life it would be impossible to hear them speaking, even if they shouted.

  14. greyaenigma says:

    Rusty may cover up the death of a boy at the hands of a gorilla

    He didn’t just cover it up — he resurrected him and cured his cancer. As irresponsible and feckless as he often is, he seems morally miles ahead of his father. (Granted, the kid was almost a pile of goo, but he tried!)

    The idea of Jonas taking the time to “be a father” to Rusty by recording fatherly messages of common sense and good grooming is actually a little touching — after all, it’s hard to imagine Rusty doing the same for Hank and Dean.

    What, you think Rusty would pay someone else to program those educational sleep-pods?

    And Shining-based tsunami of blood, no?

    • Todd says:

      What, you think Rusty would pay someone else to program those educational sleep-pods?

      I would guess Rusty had some sycophantic layabout do it for him. Or some computer.

      Come to think of it, if Rusty has Hank and Dean’s “personalities” stored on computer tapes, why does he need to bother to educate them at all?

      • greyaenigma says:

        Well, they didn’t start off as teenagers… or did they?

        Either way, it makes me wonder — does Rusty really want the kids to grow up at all?

      • mimitabu says:

        there’s lots of personal identity questions that are conveniently (and appropriately, of course) left unanswered with the boys’ personalities being stored on a computer. i think you can stay in this particular realm of science fiction and assume that while you can, yes, store a personality, you may not be able to alter it. perhaps what gets stored is a complex set of patterns (perhaps the same patterns formed by brain waves), which one can discover and store, but the “meaning” of the bits that compose it are unknown.

        personally, i think that whole story ultimately becomes absurd, but i’m a grad student (if being a couple years late handing in a thesis is enough to make me currently a “grad student”) writing a thesis on how similar stories of the mind are untenable, so i’m biased. regardless, VB can’t realistically tackle the myriad questions brought about by doc’s cloning actions, so some related plot holes just have to be accepted i’d think.

        “Either way, it makes me wonder — does Rusty really want the kids to grow up at all?”

        that’s one of the most interesting questions popping up recently (for me). it never fully registered to me how invested rusty is in keeping the boys children (though it’s tackled explicitly right at the beginning of season 2 when he gives them their IDs), and now i don’t know what to make of it and am very interested in seeing what further episodes have to say about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          In the episode with the day camp, there is a skewed space-time tense at work if one can call it that, when Rusty chides Hank for not focusing on him only for now, and says “maybe one day when there is a cartoon called the Venture Brothers…” then it can be all about Hank. But of course, that is where all this takes place (The Venture Brothers) yet, ironically as the focus is somewhat shifted now onto Rusty.

        • Todd says:

          Especially now that we see that both Jonas and Dr. Orpheus seem intent on keeping their friends children.

      • Anonymous says:

        I never saw any direct reason to associate those “learning beds” with reproducing “personality”, only a kind of direct-download education process, like the old idea of sleeping listening to audio lessons. At least in the earlier seasons, Hank and Dean weren’t really up to speed on certain levels, very unfinished personalities, potential psychotic and certainly due some heady trauma discovering their cloned selves… but then, it just passes.

        What does seem evident is they always ended up killed at about the same age – recall their endings as flashbacks of Brock and Rusty – and now for the first time, they are managing to go past that age, towards adulthood. Which means it is new for Brock and Rusty, they’ve never seen the boys get this far, closer to adulthood.

  15. mcbrennan says:

    You make a valid point–it’s understandable why an ambitious, overly-techie private citizen in a cold-war environment would have his own bomb shelter. It’s less clear why he would have his own personal thermonuclear warhead. MUTHER is clearly no less benign a creation, and then you’ve got the underground orphanarium and shrinking-and-abandoning-the-best-friend…a best friend who seems to me an awful lot like an abandoned conscience. A person could be forgiven for adding up all of Jonas Venture’s actions (and inactions) and wondering if he might still be out there somewhere, freed of the unwanted baggage of conscience and offspring and a stillborn future, heading up the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Or Halliburton.

    The questions about Rusty’s mother (and the electronic version presented here) got me thinking…we’ve established that Rusty himself has rarely–if ever–successfully invented anything. And we’ve established (in “The Incredible Mr. Brisby”) that Jonas had come up with the cloning technology long ago (and presumably the “learning beds”, storing personalities on magnetic tape, etc). And given the hazardous “adventures” he experienced during his 60s TV days, the obvious neglect he experienced in those situations and his irreplaceability to the “franchise”, I think we have to wonder if there have been (or, God forbid, still are) more “Rustys” in the dubious annals of Venture Industries than the figurative ones we see here. (It’d also explain how a guy who went to college in the mid-80s could be contemporaries with Jonny Quest, who was born in something like 1953.) In any case, Rusty’s always complaining about what his father did or didn’t do. This time out, I began to feel like maybe he was right. I doubt we’ll ever see a more apt metaphor for the atomic age than a mighty A-bomb that collapses under the weight of its own shit.

    As for the messy ending, well, it still ended on a brighter note than Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.

    • .we’ve established that Rusty himself has rarely–if ever–successfully invented anything

      Expanding that line of thought, what are Jonas (Sr.)’s successes? The things that work seem morally ambiguous, and the things that don’t backfire horribly.

    • cdthomas says:

      what if every time he were cloned…

      … they also cloned Jonas, Jr., still trying to fight his way out of Rusty?

      *heavy*.

      I’m inclined to think that Jonas Venture has the stones to have switched sides.

    • cdthomas says:

      And another thing…

      Didn’t Rusty say he’s 43 years old?

      That means he was born in 1965, if these adventures are happening now, which I assume due to the cosplay/Mac laptop/online references.

      That means Rusty was a kid in the *70s*, not 60s — which doesn’t explain the key party setup with people who were popular in the mid-60s.

      I think your hypothesis requires more exploration….

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering about the weird older guy in the military uniform who seemed to be the de facto leader of the underground Rustys. Was he ever explained? He’s clearly older than the others, and his uniform seems unusually well-kept; I figured he was a military observer invited along for the tour who just got stuck down there when the gas hit, but I didn’t seem him in any of the flashbacks. Did I miss something?

    — N.A.

    • misterseth says:

      It’s ‘General Boy’ from ‘Jocko Homo by Devo. Here’s a clip:

      It’s also where I got my icon 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah. Thanks for filling an apparently crucial gap in my knowledge of ’80s pop culture — I remember the CGI movers from “Money for Nothing,” and “Thriller,” and the scary Quiet Riot mascot, but not so much this — and also, as an added bonus, for the high-octane nightmare fuel of that clown-faced kid. (=

        — N.A.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Maybe this joke was so totally obvious to everyone else that it didn’t need to be mentioned, but three days after watching the ep, I finally *got* it:

    M.U.T.H.E.R. goes (literally) ballistic.

    Very good, Mssrs. Publick and Hammer. Very good, indeed. I’ll try to keep up better in the future.

    — Kent M. Beeson