|"Return to Spider-Skull Island"|
|The Venture Bros. episode|
Hank and Dean on their Hoverbikes.
|Directed by||Jackson Publick|
|Written by||Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer|
|Original air date||30 October 2004|
|List of The Venture Bros. episodes|
Return to Spider-Skull Island is the thirteenth episode of Season 1 and the overall thirteenth episode of The Venture Bros. It was the show's first season finale.
Team Venture has returned to base following an unseen adventure during a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Dr. Venture's stomach is unusually bloated and painful, so thinking he has a hernia Brock takes him to the hospital in the X-1. Hank and Dean are told to stay with Dr. Orpheus for the time being. The boys' naïveté and misunderstood knowledge of human reproduction lead them to the conclusion that their father is pregnant.
At the hospital, emergency surgery is performed on Dr. Venture. The good news: the doctors were able to remove the "tumor". The bad news: the tumor subsequently disappeared when the surgeon was not looking. As Dr. Venture and the surgeon argue the X-1 lifts off, unnoticed by anyone in the room.
Back at the compound, Hank and Dean decide to run away and start new lives. They take off on their hoverbikes the next morning. Dr. Orpheus immediately panics, but Triana calms him and asks him to not embarrass them. He agrees and dons a windbreaker instead of his usual cloak with the intention of unobtrusively protecting the boys. He trails Hank and Dean to a small diner, where he is accosted by "two foul-mouthed rednecks", whom Dr. Orpheus traps inside a small plastic "Homeboy" figurine using his magic. When the boys hit the road again, they are soon arrested for driving too slowly and apparent truancy as Orpheus watches helplessly from a distance.
Brock and Dr. Venture have finally managed to get home without the X-1, and Brock puts Dr. Venture to bed, telling him he needs rest. As Brock heads back into the lab, he is knocked out from behind by a mysterious assailant and chained to the roof of his beloved Charger. Meanwhile, Dr. Venture experiences his recurring nightmare about one fetus devouring another and wakes up to see a familiar looking head in a robot body. Venture initially assumes he is dreaming about his father, but the figure reveals himself as Dr. Venture's long-lost twin brother, who had been consumed in the womb forty-three years ago. The twin was finally able to escape through surgery and now intends to claim his vengeance and the Venture birthright by killing Dr. Venture. Dr. Venture quickly escapes to his panic room, but to his horror, the brother easily gains access: his brother knows everything he knows, including all of his passcodes. The robotically augmented twin pursues Venture throughout the lab, pointing out how he has made working weapons from Thaddeus' failed experiments.
Brock manages to talk H.E.L.P.eR. through the process of driving the car, to which Brock is still chained. The car, in flames by now, smashes through a lab window just in time to save Dr. Venture. The evil twin's mechanical body is destroyed, revealing that he has an infant's body. Brock, his mullet singed to a crew cut, begins to crush the tiny man underfoot; Dr. Venture stops him in the name of brotherhood. After calling a truce between them, the brother decides to call himself Jonas Venture, Jr. Dr. Orpheus arrives, announcing the boys' imprisonment.
In prison, The Monarch participates in a Scared Straight!-style program, talking to punks and surly teenagers about how much of a mistake it would be to become a supervillain. He recognizes the Venture Brothers and convinces them to return home. After being bailed out by the rest of Team Venture, they ride back home on their hoverbikes with the others following at a respectful distance. Dr. Venture and Jonas Jr. put aside their differences and decide to split the Venture estate between them. The Monarch's henchmen 21 and 24, driving the Monarch-mobile, pull alongside the boys and ask where to get a haircut for 21 and ammunition for their gun (which 21 points at the boys). In a scene directed nearly shot-for-shot with the climax of Easy Rider, the weapon discharges (here, accidentally) and causes the hoverbikes to explode.
After the credits, Brock and the doctors look at the boys' smoldering bodies; Dr. Orpheus sobs and Dr. Venture merely tells a groaning Brock "All right, get their clothes."
- James Urbaniak: Dr. Venture, Jonas Venture Jr.
- Patrick Warburton: Brock Samson
- Michael Sinterniklaas: Dean Venture, ER Doctor
- Chris McCulloch: Hank Venture, The Monarch, King Gorilla, Shame Face, Orderly, Diner Hick 1, Monarch Henchman 2
- Steven Rattazzi: Dr. Orpheus, Scared Straight Kid 2, Diner Hick 2
- Doc Hammer: Monarch Henchman 1
- Paul Boocock: Highway Cop, Scared Straight Kid 1
- Lisa Hammer: Triana Orpheus, Waitress 1, Waitress 2
- Soul-Bot: H.E.L.P.eR.
- Dr. Septapus
- King Gorilla
- Margaret Fictel (as Waitress)
- Nikki Fictel (as Waitress)
- Mister Monday
- Shame Face
An original song titled "Look Away" plays over the scene of Hank and Dean's death and through the episode's end credits. It's a stylistic tribute to "Ballad of Easy Rider", the song that plays over the end credits of the 1969 film Easy Rider, which the episode's ending parodies. The song was written and performed by animation director Nick DeMayo.
Two angels are plucked from the heavenly sky
In an instant they're gone
In the blink of an eye
If you listen close you'll hear cherubs cry
Ohhhhhhhhhhh... Look away
My head is heavy
Their bodies bruised
Our spirits shattered when we heard the news
The chorus is singing its final tune
Ohhhhhhhhhhh... Look away
We ran to the mountains
We shouted on high
We pled to the gods and an answer replied
What was once is now lost yet could never die
Ohhhhhhhhhhh... Look away
Whoa oh oh look away
Look away hey
Connections to Other Episodes
- The two punks who stole the boys' wrist communicators in The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay are seen attending the Scared Straight program.
- Dr. Venture at first presumes that Jonas Jr. is his father due to the fact that Jonas Jr. towers over him, just as his hallucination of Jonas Sr. did in Careers in Science. This episode was also the only other occasion in which the Jonas Sr. hallucination muttered the phrase "There is another Venture!" to Thaddeus as a subconscious warning of Jonas Jr.'s emergence.
- The student in Dr. Venture's old college dorm room from Past Tense can also be seen attending the Scared Straight program.
- Henchman 21 did manage to grow a ponytail by the episode Powerless in the Face of Death. By pure coincidence, so did Jonas Jr., perhaps out of a need to differentiate himself from his father.
- This is the first episode to have Brock with short hair. At first he has the Rocky Horror Wig, which gets knocked off but his hair later gets burned off in the crash through the lab window. His new short hair carries over into Season 2, but is grown out again by Assassinanny 911.
- An apparent throwaway line where The Monarch has 21 and 24 send the "charred remains of Wonder Boy to his beloved Captain Sunshine" is revisited in the 4th season episode, Handsome Ransom, where it is revealed that The Monarch, in a drunken stupor following his break-up with Doctor Girlfriend, killed the sidekick of a prominent superhero.
- Wonder Boy, first mentioned by The Monarch in this episode, appears for the first time in the Season 4 episode Self-Medication. The Wonder Boy seen in Self-Medication is the predecessor to Wonder Boy III, whom The Monarch killed with a giant penny.
- Henchman 21 lets Dr. Mrs. The Monarch cut off his ponytail in season 7's The Terminus Mandate. He first told Henchman 24 he was growing a ponytail right before inadvertently killing Hank and Dean at the end of this episode.
- The concept of a man who absorbs his unborn brother in utero and later thinks the internalized sibling is nothing but a tumor could be a reference to Cassandra Nova, a supervillian created by Grant Morrison in New X-Men that is revealed to be Professor Charles Xavier's half sister (sort of) whom he tried to kill while they were still in the womb.
- At the diner, Hank orders a side of "whatever 'disco fries' are for Dean." Similar to poutine, disco fries are usually made with mozzarella/provolone/American cheese and brown gravy. They were popularized in New Jersey in the 1940s and gained their name in the 1970s for being a favorite of late-night diners, who often came from dancing at disco clubs.
Easy Rider (1969)
- The Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper/Jack Nicholson youth-culture motorcycle movie Easy Rider is referenced several times, particularly in the diner scene, the deaths of Hank and Dean, the helmets the boys wear while riding their hover-bikes, and the closing credits sequence.
- Dr. Orpheus mentions that "there is a television behind the El Greco", referring to a painting he must own by the famous painter Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known as "El Greco" ("The Greek").
- The concept of a man who absorbs his unborn brother in utero and later thinks the internalized sibling is nothing but a tumor could be based on a very rare medical condition known as fetus in fetu, a developmental abnormality in which a mass of tissue resembling a fetus forms inside the body.
- Dr. Orpheus purchases a "Homeboy" figurine from the vending machine in the lobby of the diner. When the "two foul-mouthed rednecks" attempt to intimidate him, Orpheus uses magic to trap their souls within the "Homeboy" figurine. "Homeboy" is a parody of Homies, a series of two-inch plastic collectible figurines representing various Chicano Mexican American characters. Introduced in 1998, Homies were initially sold in grocery store vending machines and have become a highly collectible item, spawning many imitation toys.
- The scene where Brock saves Dr. Venture from Jonas Jr. references several common elements from John Woo movies, namely the shoot-out, the dripping rose in puddle, and the bursting doves--all in slow motion.
- The painting seen in Dr. Venture's room is actually one of Doc Hammer's series of Saint oil paintings. The subject of the painting is Liz Vassey, who as Captain Liberty was a co-star of the live-action incarnation of The Tick, which also starred Patrick Warburton, voice of Brock Samson.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
- Dr. Venture's offer to his brother that he can have Dean, who can carry him around "like Master Blaster" is a direct reference to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. "Master Blaster" was a memorable figure in the film, composed of a devious dwarf named Master carried by a mentally impaired but powerful bodyguard named Blaster.
Rocky IV (1985)
Scared Straight! (1978)
- The deterrent program where Dean and Hank are exposed to imprisoned criminals is a parody of the 1978 documentary Scared Straight! and the numerous crime prevention programs it spawned (with dubious results).
- When asked to order something from the diner or leave, Dr. Orpheus attempts to order a series of soft drinks without success, including Moxie, Birch beer, and Mr. Pibb, all of which are generally obscure or hard-to-find beverages.
- The line "...little miss, little miss can't be wrong", which Hank says to Dean as they're running away, is from the 1992 song "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by the band Spin Doctors.
- Dr. Venture's "hallucination" of his father stating "There is another Venture!" is a direct reference to the third movie of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, in which a dying Yoda imparts as his last words to Luke Skywalker, "There is another Skywalker," referring to Luke's sister, Leia Organa.
- The Monarch asks his henchmen if they've sent the charred remains of Wonder Boy to his beloved Captain Sunshine. "Wonderboy" is the title of a 2002 comedic rock song by American comedy-rock duo Tenacious D.
The Cider House Rules (1999)
- Dr. Orpheus says, "Goodnight, you princes of Venture, you kings of sleepovers." This is a reference to a similar line spoken by Michael Caine in the 1999 film adaptation of the 1985 John Irving novel The Cider House Rules.
The Dark Half (1993)
- The concept of a man who absorbs his unborn brother in utero and later thinks the internalized sibling is nothing but a tumor is very similar to the 1989 Stephen King novel The Dark Half and its 1993 film adaptation.
- The Monarch asks his henchmen if they've sent the charred remains of Wonder Boy to his beloved Captain Sunshine. "Wonderboy" is the title of a pop song written by Ray Davies and recorded by his band The Kinks in 1968.
- The Venture family dressed up for The Rocky Horror Picture Show as follows:
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
- Rusty's absorption of Jonas Venture Jr. in the womb appears to be an unusual case of vanishing twin syndrome. One of the rejected titles for the episode was Vanishing Twin Syndrome.
Wild Wild West (1999)
- There is a similar scene in the 1999 film Wild Wild West. The disabled villain, Dr. Arliss Loveless, attacks from within the safety of a powerful robotic suit. The suit gets destroyed, leaving him crawling, weak, and at the mercy of the protagonists. When Jonas Venture Jr. is thrown from his suit and at the mercy of Brock and Rusty, he is left in a similar position to Dr. Loveless from Wild Wild West.
Production Notes and Trivia
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- 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 Return To Spider-Skull Island the credit reads Kimson "King Gorilla" Albert.
- This episode originally ran long and Jackson Publick accidentally cut a sequence which explained several key parts of the episode. The Venture family is commissioned to solve a ghost-case ("The Phantom of the Cineplex") at a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when Brock attacks the "Phantom" and injures almost everyone in the theater. This explains the injuries in the emergency room as well as the panic when everyone sees Brock (dressed as Rocky). In an attempt to fix this, Publick added in a 9-1-1 call that can be heard during the opening sequence. In addition, the title sequence was extremely shortened.
- Two proposed titles for this episode, My Brother's Creeper and Vanishing Twin Syndrome, were ultimately rejected for giving away the episode's surprise ending.
- The song that plays at the end of the episode is "Look Away" by animation director Nick DeMayo.
- Animated versions of character/prop designers Chris George, Phil Rynda, and animatic director Steffen Vala can be seen in the jail scenes.
- Ironically, Spider-Skull Island is never seen in this episode, and only passingly mentioned near the end of the episode. Publick has stated that he chose the name deliberately to keep from revealing the episode's surprises too early.
- The production logos for NoodleSoup and Astro Base GO are simply still logos in black and white which fade in and out.
- During the extremely long wait between this episode and the second season, many fans speculated upon how the show would continue after the deaths of the titular Venture brothers. Popular theories were that Jonas Jr. and Dr. Venture would become the new Venture brothers, or that the boys would be cloned (due largely to an offhand remark of Dr. Venture's that he could have corrected Dean's propensity for testicular torsion "in the prototype phase", as well as the last line of this episode: "All right. Get their clothes", which was often misquoted as "...Get their clones"). Another theory among fans involved Dr. Orpheus resurrecting the boys using his magic necromancer powers. All of these theories would be played upon by the shows creators in the season two premier.
- A further clue that Hank and Dean were clones was included in the lyrics to "Look Away", the song playing over the episode's end credits: "What was once is now lost yet could never die."
- As Dr. Orpheus brings Hank and Dean tea and pizza rolls, he carries a tray with two cups on it and each of the boys takes one cup. As the angle switches, there are still two cups on the tray. And as Dr. Orpheus places the tray on a table, one of them disappears.
- ↑ The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay
- ↑ Careers in Science: The episode also calls into sharp relief Jonas Sr.'s statement in Careers that "The answer was inside [Rusty] all along!"; rather than it being Rusty's inner ego, he was in fact alluding to Jonas Jr.
- ↑ Powerless in the Face of Death
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Season 1 DVD commentary for Return to Spider-Skull Island
- ↑ Assassinanny 911
- ↑ Handsome Ransom
- ↑ Venture Bros. website where the song is available for download
| Preceded by:
"The Trial of the Monarch"
| The Venture Bros. episodes
October 30, 2004
"A Very Venture Christmas"