Venture Bros: “O.S. I Love You” part 2

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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.”)

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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.

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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?)

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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.)

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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?


18 Responses to “Venture Bros: “O.S. I Love You” part 2”
  1. Ian says:

    When Molotov sets off the explosives the X1 falls off the Heli-carrier and you can hear HELPeR beeping while it’s falling. So he clearly took control of the jet and when he noticed Brock was falling swooped in to catch him.

  2. Richard says:

    It’s funny that you bring up what state they live in! A look at the newspaper in the Pilot episode describes Dr. Venture’s lab being located in Colorado Springs. But, if I remember correctly, Doc and Jackson said themselves that nothing that happened in the pilot is canon. But at the same time, the geography of the area (red rocks, the mountainous background, located close enough to army bases that a general could drive there on a jaunt, desert-like in places) all seem to point to somewhere in El Paso County, Colorado. Even in “Venture Libre” H.E.L.P.eR. is seen traveling southbound on US route 285, which begins in Denver, Colorado and ends in Texas.

    That said, that would mean poor Shorechemist (Don’t you love celebrity couple names?) presumably live in a “separate but not equal” state, which only has Civil Unions.

    • Todd says:

      Since Shore Leave is constantly transient and The Alchemist lives in some kind of mysterious cave somewhere, I’m completely at sea as to their mailing addresses.

  3. I was fascinated by the “losing breasts” motif in this episode, lampshaded by Hunter’s post-credits capper, “You’ll miss them for the rest of your life,” or something to that effect.
    So few characters on this show have ever had mothers, and even fewer were ever breast-fed.

  4. Travis says:

    The Investors disguised themselves as IA agents for two reasons. First, it was to determine what information Monstroso leaked prior to assassinating him.

    Second, you can see just before they left that one of them is placing a file into their briefcase, which possibly means they have all the pictures taken from Monstroso’s ring camera, and maybe even the ring itself. This would prevent any further studying of the pictures taken, which would prevent them from noticing that one of the Council members has two heads, like the Guild rep that sat across the table from them during the “Any Which Way But Zeus”.

    Third, it was a warning shot across Gathers’ bow, in answer to his Patton speech during “SPHINX Rising” which stating that the OSI would finally escalate their war with the Guild from cold to hot. The Investors showed them that not all their claws have been removed from the OSI, since they copied the features, names, and voices of IA agents that hadn’t even been actively assigned to the OSI yet.

  5. Des says:

    While googling for this post, I learn that P.S. I Love You is a chick flick from 2007.

    I remember the P.S. I LUV U which was an old show about a cop and a criminal – a female con artist – who have to go into witness protection after a failed mob sting and live as a married couple – and at times get a little too into the act.

    Coincidence? Probably – it was cancelled mid-season and I’m probably the only person who remembers it. But you never know with VB.

    • Todd says:

      I’m pretty sure “O.S. I Love You” is a reference to the Beatles song “PS I Love You,” which the 2007 movie was named after.

      • Jon Eric says:

        It may also be a nod to the recent films Paris Je T’Aime and New York I Love You. Both films are composed of short vignettes about how great the respective cities are, and it’s not much of a stretch to think of the O.S.I. as a geographic location for such a vignette.

  6. Bobulus says:

    What I’d like to know is if, in attempting to mislead the IA agents, Hunter has accidentally succeeded in misleading the Investors. He was attempting to make IA think Molatov was dead so that she could be a better agent for him. So… do the investors now think Molotov is gone? Does this allow her to be a key piece in bringing them down at some later date?

    • John H. says:

      I think so. It’s reasonable to assume that Monstroso gave her some amount of Guild information (or that she took it of her own accord). If they wanted to silence Monstroso, they’d naturally want to silence her too.

      So while GCI has an unknown loose end to tie up, OSI will be trying to tie up a loose end that no longer exists (Monstroso).

  7. Chad Underkoffler says:

    All I know is that I never knew how much I wanted a Shore Leave/Molotov catfight until I saw this episode.

    BLAM! (Sphinx!)

  8. F.W. says:

    “We made out like Spider-Man and Mary Jane.”
    I assumed Brock was being sarcastic because their positions (Molotov/Samson) at that point in the story have one hanging upside down in relation to the other, like the famous kissing scene in Spiderman.

    I agree with the definition of The Premos, who also recalled the immersion in a placenta-fluid like cloning process Hank and Dean have been in. But as Dean was definitely seeing them giving out their version of the Venture Brothers “V” signal to him, that really convinced him there was something of kindred spirit calling to him. Not to foreshadow the next episode, but the “V” signal reappears here and in the next episode. And after some absence, as I recall. In Dean’s case, here, it is some primal call of empathy, of brother/sisterhood from kindred experiments wishing to be let free.
    So the “V” sign is in a way, revitalized briefly as a spiritual bond. In the next episode, in Hank’s eyes, when Dermott and Gary just naturally go for the “V” sign (anticipating Dermott’s discovery he is indeed a Venture Brother) Hank only sees an empty, played out sign.

    The same can be said with two “rebirths” of the boys, from ‘surrogate’ or false wombs, acted out over two episodes:
    Hank, enjoying the vicarious powers offered by inhabiting his protective female armor/womb (presumably it has certain bio-relations and he can empty waste in there as people complain he hasn’t taken it off once) when wrenched free of it, lay unprotected, helpless as an infant, soiled, and has to learn how to walk.
    Dean, in the next episode, is more literally going into the womb, as captured by his (falsely assumed ) mother and wrapped tight as a larvae, with the plan to literally re-insert him into her womb and give birth anew. Instead, he is freed, partly by Hank recognizing through this act, she is not his mother.
    In Dean’s case, being freed from this reenactment makes him stronger. Just on standing outside the entrance to the asylum, he gains new respect and insight about Hank.