Venture Bros: “O.S. I Love You” part 2
What does Dean Venture, protagonist of this episode’s b-story, want? He’s chafing under the mantle of being a Venture Brother and all that entails (tagging along on life-threatening adventures, being cloned repeatedly, having a negligent father and a child-molesting guardian, etc) and, what’s more, he’s a teen-aged boy going through all the teen-aged-boy things teen-aged boys go through: rebellion against his parents, discovering his own identity, girl problems. Hank, on the other hand, seems to have regressed. His Destiny strength-suit gives him power, but it’s also, as Rusty points out, just another dress-up costume like the Batman getup he had when he was 10. (Note: I’ve had a 10-year-old son, who wouldn’t dream of dressing as Batman. For him it was Gordon Freeman or nothing. He even bought a crowbar. He named it “Whammy.”)
So Dean enters the episode with a strong need to escape. When Rusty (trying to be a “good father,” which for him means advertising his awesome accomplishments for Dean’s edification) takes him on a tour of the heli-carrier, they come to a lab where a fellow scientist is working with “Premos,” the Venture-verse version of Minority Report‘s Precogs. These sad creatures lie in tanks hooked up to machines, their thoughts, dreams and ideas reduced to little balls that emit from their crotches. (“Golden Lady Fly Away Boom Boom” is the text on one ball, which the scientist dismisses as nonsense, unaware that it’s actually a genuine premonition regarding Destiny.) Dean sees himself and Hank in the Premos’ predicament, and how could he not? The Premos’ situation is the Venture Bros’ in reverse: they’re kept in beds hooked up to apparatus that turns their dreams into product, just as Hank and Dean spent their lives in beds that downloaded useless crap into their heads instead of extracting it out of them. Crap was fed into the Ventures’ heads, crap emits from the Premos’ bodies. Dean, who cannot free himself, instead chooses to free the Premos.
Meanwhile, Shore Leave is interrogated by Your Name, and begins by recounting a hot Skype session with The Alchemist. With all the business that “O.S. I Love You” has to cover, why does it take time out to recount The Alchemist’s “special anniversary gift” to Shore Leave? Because the buried theme of the episode is romantic love. Brock is in love with Molotov, whom he cannot have, Headshot is in love with Amber Gold, whom he controls and belittles, and Shore Leave is in love with The Alchemist, with whom he has a happy, fulfilling, mutually-respectful relationship. (And, who knows, depending on what state they live in, marriage.) Your Name cuts short Shore Leave’s description of th Skype date, and Shore Leave says “Don’t you guys always say, ‘Anything you can remember, no matter how inconsequential?’” His relationship with The Alchemist is inconsequential to the narrative of “What happened to Molotov?” but completely germane to the narrative of “Why isn’t Brock happy?”
Brock recounts the disappearance of Monstroso: to him, Monstroso vanished into thin air, but we see that The Investors have come to kill him, as Monstroso predicted. (Also, good call on telling us that the “real” Sovereign is a shape-shifter: now literally anyone in the cast – man or beast – could be our ultimate bad guy.) Meanwhile, Shore Leave leads a team of OSI guys on a chase for Molotov, but find instead the Premos, quivering like Dean’s soul in a closet. Molotov gets the drop on Shore Leave and his team, killing everyone but Shore Leave and (somehow) blowing up the engines to the heli-carrier.
(Now that we know that Molotov is working for OSI, we can accept that killing Shore Leave’s team was part of a plan worked out between her and Hunter. Likewise blowing up the engines. I see how killing Shore Leave’s team – who are, we learn, double agents – benefits Hunter, but what about crippling the heli-carrier? Is it a massive red herring?)
Meanwhile, Hank is upset at being sidelined in the Nozzle Room. He wants in on the action: the dangerous, life-threatening action. In contrast to Dean, who probably would have rather been left at home, but who, when pressed into service, sought to free the imprisoned Premos. Ironically, by freeing them he put them in harm’s way, naked and terrified, but that’s another story. Hank here is the other side of being a teen-aged boy, the side that believes himself to be immortal (which, in a way, he is, if he can always be replaced by a clone). Hank, chafing at the “grown-ups” control of him, dons his helmet, becomes Destiny, and, perhaps because he hasn’t been drinking caffeine, immediately fails. Molotov disarms him and steals his Destiny suit, leaving him atrophied and, from the looks of it, soiled. “I’m officially over my crush on you!” crows Hank when he challenges Molotov, but the images tell a different story: Molotov takes Hank’s identity (the suit he thought gave him strength) and leaves him weak and miserable. A perfect metaphor for a teen crush gone bad.
The pinwheeling narrative comes down to a showdown between Brock and Molotov on the deck of the heli-carrier. Brock, driven by his lust-rage, executes a typical piece of Samsonian derring-do, crashing a jet, flinging himself out of the windshield, out into empty space, to be rescued by HELPeR inexplicably driving the X-1. (How does that happen? Hunter has told Rusty that the heli-carrier is on lockdown, so theoretically HELPeR would not be allowed to take off from the deck. On the other hand, Hunter is aware of Molotov’s plan – however unlikely that sounds – so HELPeR flying the X-1 could be part of that plan, but how could he know that Brock would attempt to fly a jet out the closing hangar doors of the heli-carrier? No wonder Mr. Frost is disbelieving.) (UPDATE: This point is addressed in comments by a viewer more eagle-eyed than myself. HELPeR saves Brock of his own volition, making Brock’s lunge a leap of faith and HELPeR’s help coincidental.)
Brock downplays his impossible heroism (“It’s all part of the job,” he says nonchalantly, dragging in his cigarette). Why is he so dismissive of his own accomplishments? Because they were performed in the service of his monumental sex-rage history with Molotov. The imagery of Brock appearing on the deck of the heli-carrier on the nose of the enormous erection of the X-1, bearing down on his one-eyed Golden Lady, is unmistakeable: fighting is how Brock and Molotov express their love for each other. That’s the reason for Brock’s cigarette – by his own lights, he has had sex.
(Or perhaps he actually has had sex. When Frost asks what happened, he says “We made out like Spider-Man and Mary Jane.” Frost assumes he’s being sarcastic, because he’s “seen the tape,” which indicates that Brock threw Molotov into the engine of the heli-carrier. But we come to learn that the tape is a lie. The question is, how much of it?)
As Brock prepares to kill Molotov, Hunter appears to reveal the real reason for all the brouhaha. It was, he says, a test of OSI security. This “test” apparently involved Hunter giving Molotov carte-blanche to kill agents, so long as they were double agents, and attempt to destroy the heli-carrier. All in the name of protecting Hunter’s operations from the prying eyes of the IA suits, ie the very people who have been driving the narrative of the episode. Of course, if all of this happened in order to protect Hunter’s (Brock’s surrogate father) security, it failed spectacularly, since the IA suits turn out to be The Investors in disguise. Which, of course, begs the question of why The Invetors felt it necessary to stage a fake interrogation regarding the Monstroso hit. (Assuming Monstroso is in fact dead. Which, if The Investors wanted it, they presumably got it.)
Now that Molotov and Brock are on the same side, what will that do to their romance? Molotov has done a good job of being unattainable, what if that is not a pose? We are what we pretend to be, if a woman pretends to be a double-dealing, er, cocktease all her life, what is her true identity?