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"Powerless in the Face of Death"
The Venture Bros. episode

"I feel amazing! I never want the night to end."
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 1
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Jackson Publick
Doc Hammer
Production code 2-07
Original air date 25 June 2006
Guest Stars
Episode Chronology
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"A Very Venture Christmas"
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List of The Venture Bros. episodes

Powerless in the Face of Death is the first episode of Season 2 and the overall fourteenth episode of The Venture Bros.


Seemingly due to Hank and Dean's deaths, a distraught Dr. Venture flees from the Venture compound to "find himself." He is seen in many locations around the world, consistently escaping the attentions of Brock, who wants him to "pay the bills" and "to deal with what happened to the boys." Venture is eventually tranquilized and captured at a rave by Brock.

Other people Hank and Dean have affected are shown. In a montage are views of Triana comforting a distraught Dr. Orpheus, The Monarch looking out his prison window and reaching out for a butterfly (which he promptly eats), Doctor Girlfriend looking ill-at-ease with The Phantom Limb, henchmen 21 and 24 destroying the Cocoon headquarters (as per the Monarch's orders in the previous episode), and Master Billy Quizboy and Dr. White fitting Jonas Jr. with a bionic arm similar to the one Billy sports.

Jonas Jr. has improved in appearance, skills and attitude while his brother Rusty had been off.

He's improved his education and finished all but two of Venture's government projects. In the face of Rusty's discontent, Jonas leaves with two women for "quality time".

Alone in his old compound, Rusty's investigations find two unfamiliar men, who turn out to be long-time adventuring companions, Hector and Swifty. Despite both of them having gone on adventures with Rusty and his father Jonas, Rusty does not remember them at all. He fires them both. Their project, an unfinished teleporter, swiftly malfunctions, affecting Rusty.

The Monarch attempts to send a message to 21 and 24, but it is quickly intercepted by Tiny Eagle by order of Phantom Limb , who is currently romancing the Monarch's love interest, Dr. Girlfriend.

Back at the compound, Dr. Orpheus becomes confused at Brock's seemingly blasé attitude towards Hank and Dean's deaths. Brock finds that Dr. Venture's torso, except for his right shoulder and arm, is hanging out of a wall, his legs somewhere else. He appears to be just fine; in fact, with his right arm, wherever it is, he can feel something gooey.

Orpheus, still tormented by guilt, decides to use his necromancy skills to resurrect the boys to Triana's dismay; he even makes a trip to the underworld. His efforts end in hairless, skinless half-formed versions of Hank and Dean appearing, drooling and mumbling about milkshakes.

In prison, The Monarch attempts to organize his fellow inmates for a breakout. Tigerriffic cannot tear the gates open, however, since his strength comes from his suit; Mister Monday seems more concerned with occurrences of his favorite day than the escape; and White Noise refuses to participate if the scheme involves non-Caucasians. King Gorilla agrees to provide the required muscle, and the plan seems ready to go for the most part. Unfortunately, Phantom Limb arrives and bribes King Gorilla to betray the plot. Recurring Henchmen 21 and 24 meet outside the confines of working for Monarch and speculate on his return.

Back in the lab, Brock and the head portion of Rusty Venture (his legs are hanging out of a nearby TV) reassure a distressed Orpheus that he did nothing wrong. What he had seen are Hank and Dean's clones; the boys are simply prone to dying. Several flashbacks illustrating some of their deaths are listed below.

The Monarch's plans for escape are ignored by everyone he thought had been involved. Cursing and screaming, The Monarch is dragged to his cell until King Gorilla decides to help. He had been motivated by the Monarch's desire to fight for the love of Dr. Girlfriend and for an attraction he has to The Monarch himself. King assists the villain, shoving him into the sewer system.

Back at the lab, Venture finishes explaining how the boys' memories are recorded in the computer via the education machines in their beds (and downloaded into each successive clone the same way), and that it's no different than the necromancy Orpheus willingly practices all the time. Despite this, Orpheus is horrified; especially when the naked, hairless clones perform a feeble "Go Team Venture!" barely touching fingertips and slurring each syllable, before collapsing on the ground from the effort, leading into the closing credits.

The final scene after the credits shows The Monarch, covered in filth, splashing into a small pond from a pipe. As he rejoices in his freedom, he takes the hand that is extended before him... which is attached to Dr. Venture's disembodied right side.

Episode Cast

Connections to Other Episodes

Tag Sale - You're It!

The Trial of the Monarch

Return to Spider-Skull Island

A Very Venture Christmas

Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny

Deaths montage sequence

The montage of death sequences showed 13 instances of at least one of the Venture boys dying. Brock


mentions that this was the 14th pair of clones they developed. Assuming that they are only cloned in pairs, this would leave at least one of their deaths open to speculation, since there are three scenes in which only one brother, either Hank or Dean, dies. Since the boys are unaware that they are clones, the difficulties involved in explaining the situation to the surviving brother would be considerable. Jackson Publick notes on the subject, "Ah, but BOTH of them didn't die in every incident. We've still got some unaccounted for...."

The sequences mentioned in this episode are as follows:

  1. Sucked into the X-1's engine turbines
  2. Devoured by a giant spider breaking through the floor of their bedroom
  3. While attempting to smoke, Dean blinded Hank with a cigarette; Hank collides with flammable material, followed by an explosion in the hangar
  4. Simultaneously shooting apples off of each others' heads with bows and arrows á la William Tell, though the arrows likely miss and are implanted into the boys' heads
  5. Decapitated by a clothesline while riding their hover-bikes
  6. Ripped apart by their father; a werewolf at the time
  7. Hank jumps off the roof of the compound while wearing a Batman costume, carrying an umbrella to act as an unsuccessful parachute
  8. Crushed by a robot crashing through their bedroom
  9. Dean trips while running with (safety) scissors
  10. Satellite falling on Hank
  11. Gas leak ("the silent killer")
  12. Falling into a pit of spikes while following Brock and Dr. Venture, who both have grown large bushy mustaches
  13. Dr. Venture (accidentally) setting their room on fire (the boys are not seen, but they are trapped inside their beds)
  14. The accidental drive-by shooting from Return to Spider-Skull Island (not depicted in flashback sequence)

In addition to these, another past death sequence is shown in the episode ¡Viva los Muertos! in which both of the boys were murdered by Sonny and Groovy of the Groovy Gang (who are parodies of Scooby-Doo and friends), as they had "freaked" Sonny. This was not visualized in the montage, most likely because Thaddeus & Brock were not there to witness it and could not give an account of the event. In The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider, Brock and the boys encounter a derelict diving bell inside Dr. Venture's bloodstream, noticing two skeletons wearing Dean and Hank's clothes, to which Brock exclaims "So that's what happened to the sevens..."

In the event of only one brother's death

A clue can be found in Ice Station – Impossible! When Hank asks Brock how he would mercy kill him if they did not get the antidote in time, Brock responds, "You're asleep, quick jerk of the neck, you wouldn't feel a thing." When Hank then asks Brock if he has thought about this before, Brock replies, "Yes, I have." This may hint at the fact that when only one brother dies, Brock kills the other in his sleep and Dr. Venture starts the cloning process anew.

For a more humane theory, in The Invisible Hand of Fate, O.S.I. uses mind wipe technology, which also could theoretically be used to wipe the mind of the surviving brother so that he never knows his other "twin" has died. The Guild of Calamitous Intent has similar technology as well in The Trial of the Monarch. More evidence on the this theory is seen in the episode Pinstripes & Poltergeists when both boys get their memories wiped by S.P.H.I.N.X. This theory does have some logistical problems, since in The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part II) General Treister states that OSI had no knowledge of Doc's cloning practices and it seems unlikely that either the Guild or S.P.H.I.N.X. would be willing to lend Doc such technology. However Doc mentions having access to "mind control" technology in Escape to the House of Mummies Part II, which may function similarly, and in any event could have invented or inherited memory erasure technology.

Cultural References

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981)

Blur, "Beetlebum" (1997)

  • The Monarch mentions a villain named "Beetlebomb" who is permitted to keep beetles as pets in his prison cell. Beetlebomb is likely a play on "Beetlebum", a hit 1997 song from the English alternative rock band Blur.

Butterfly effect

  • When The Monarch releases a butterfly, he says, "Let the beating of your wings ignite the hurricane of my glorious second coming", a reference to the butterfly effect. In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.


  • Dr. Orpheus thinks he can hear Hank calling Dr. Venture something from beyond the grave: either a "crum-bum" or a "crampon". A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing.

Duran Duran


  • Dr. Orpheus’ emerges from a portal in the ceiling coated in pinkish slime identified as “ectoplasm”. Ectoplasm is a term used in spiritualism to denote a substance or spiritual energy "exteriorized" by physical mediums.

Everybody's Free (To Feel Good) (1991)

Fensler Films

Inferno (Dante)

Jonny Quest (1964-1965)

  • Hector Molina, Rusty's childhood best friend, is a parody of Hadji Singh from the Jonny Quest animated series. Jonny befriended Hadji after Hadji saved his father's life by using a basket lid to block a thrown knife intended for Dr. Quest. Hector similarly saved Jonas Venture Sr.'s life by blocking a spear with a stone Aztec calendar.


Necromancer / Necrophile

Noguchi table (Herman Miller)

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1966)

Oz (1997-2003)

  • When The Monarch is walking down the hallway in prison, a modified version of the theme song from the HBO prison drama Oz plays.

Poltergeist (1982)

  • Dr. Orpheus’ emergence through the ceiling coated in pinkish slime identified as “ectoplasm” could be a reference to the 1982 film Poltergeist, where the mom and daughter pass back from the other side via a vortex in the ceiling and arrive coated in similar looking goo.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

  • Dr. Orpheus holds up his hands to reveal a picture of Hank or Dean tattooed on each palm. This is a reference to the 1983 film version of Something Wicked This Way Comes, in which the ominous character Mr. Dark has tattoos of the two protagonists on his palms. The film also uses the term "towheaded", which is how Dr. Orpheus describes Hank Venture.

Stretch Armstrong

  • Brock says he hates touching the clone slugs because "they feel like giant Stretch Armstrongs." Stretch Armstrong is an action figure made of latex rubber filled with gelled corn syrup, which allows it to retain shape for a short time after being stretched before shrinking to its original shape.


The Beatles

The Fly (1986)

  • When Dr. Venture and Brock are consulting with each other on the matter of Doc's misplaced body parts, Brock says that he thought if they put all of Doc's limbs back into the machine... to which Doc responds, "Just like that Jeff Goldblum movie." They're referring to the 1986 David Cronenberg film The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum.

The Jungle Book (1894)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar


Viceroy / Viceroy butterfly

  • Gary suggests that he should serve as a new villain called "The Viceroy" in The Monarch's place since The Monarch is stuck in jail.
  • A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory.
  • The viceroy butterfly is a North American butterfly that ranges through most of the contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. It was long thought to be a Batesian mimic of the monarch butterfly, but since the viceroy is also distasteful to predators, it is now considered a Müllerian mimic instead.

Production Notes

  • One of the animation directors (Kimson Albert) has a "nickname" inserted into his credits. The nickname is an unusual line or word from the preceding episode. For Powerless in the Face of Death the credit reads Kimson "President of Calendars" Albert.
  • An eighth of the budget of this episode was spent on licensing for the song "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" by Tim Cox and Nigel Swanston featuring Rozalla, specifically the 2002 Aquagen remix, which played over the opening montage.
  • The opening credits for this episode featured a gawky Dr. Venture and a diaper-clad Jonas Jr. replacing Hank and Dean as the titular Venture brothers. Dr. Orpheus and H.E.L.P.eR. were listed for the first time as supporting characters.
  • During the henchmen support group scene, "Charlie" is wearing a name tag that reads "Herman".

Preceded by:
"A Very Venture Christmas"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
June 25, 2006
Followed by:
"Hate Floats"