|"The Devil's Grip"|
|The Venture Bros. episode|
|Directed by||Jackson Publick|
|Written by||Doc Hammer|
|Original air date||July 21, 2013|
|List of The Venture Bros. episodes|
The Devil's Grip is the eighth episode of Season 5 and the overall sixty-third episode of The Venture Bros.
When Dr. Venture is apparently killed at Don Hell’s nightclub for villains, Sergeant Hatred sends the boys off to live with their godparents. Dean awakens in Tangiers with Colonel Gentleman, while Hank is in a Boca Raton retirement home with Rodney, aka The Action Man.
Hank helps Rodney bury the late Dr. Paul Entmann, crushed under Rodney’s rocking chair. Rodney explains a peculiar old Venture funerary tradition; attendees urinate on the grave, but the youngest attendee must instead defecate to fertilize the ground and represent new life. Rodney recites an ode to Entmann:
- You were my pal, and you were my friend. And your weird body, to heaven I send.
- When you were massive and full of size, you gave me counsel because you were wise.
- Saying ‘Action Man, take it down a notch. Stop just thinking with your action crotch’.
- When you were shrunk down to a little mole, you were able to swim laps in a little bowl.
- Now you’re dead, because of my chair. I had no idea you were there.
- When I rocked back in repose, You died and began to decompose.
Meanwhile, Colonel Gentleman is introducing Dean to the world of Morocco. Dean mistakes bread for a napkin, and is warned not to drink the local water. A local tough goads Gentleman into a fight. Gentleman sends Dean to pick out a song on the jukebox, and mocks the would-be attacker, suggesting he could defeat him with only a single thumb. The left thumb, because the right one is “too powerful for you”. Then he draws a sword from his cane and slices the man's arm off, and then severs the thumb from the arm and attacks the man with it; “I didn’t specify my thumb.”
Sergeant Hatred recruits Gary, who has been camping on the Venture Compound since the fall of S.P.H.I.N.X., to assist him is recovering Dr. Venture, dead or alive, from The Monarch. Gary, with little else to do, mimes with a piece of wood as though it were a rifle and agrees to assist. Hatred asks Gary if he really just cocked a stick.
Dr. Venture is not quite dead however, but has been captured by The Monarch. The Monarch is trying to determine the ultimate torture to inflict upon Venture from an elaborate list, while Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is tending to his injuries due to Guild regulations. Venture is unintimidated by the Monarch’s threats, as no one who has captured him has ever followed through. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch warns Venture that no matter how effective the torture is or is not, he had better play along and pretend to be in pain if necessary or she will kill him outright. She then pops his dislocated hip back into place without anesthetic to emphasize her point.
Rodney and Hank conceive an elaborate plot to break the ice with fellow resident Rose Whalen. Hank pretends to be hooked on loud rock and roll and other things stereotypically associated with it. Rodney pleads with Rose to “help straighten him out”, which she does by convincing Hank to fight the Devil’s grip with Showtunes. Hank suggests Rose, Rodney, and he should share dinner to celebrate.
Back in Tangiers, Colonel Gentleman enlists Dean's assistance with various tasks. Dean watches episodes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in order to catalog when Salem appears as a real cat or “that crappy puppet”. Dean also takes dictation for I, Gentleman, the third installment of the Colonel’s “autobiographical thrill-ogy”.
Sgt. Hatred and Gary successfully infiltrate the Flying Cocoon, and Gary dons his henchman garb and gives Hatred his old uniform, which smells of soup. Twenty-one is nostalgic that The Monarch attended the Calamity Conference and got him a ‘best henchman’ t-shirt. Hatred remarks that he had a “V” tattooed on his face, but still must pay for his own food. But he doesn’t mind whether he’s Sergeant Hatred or Uncle Vatred, as long as he has a cause to fight for, he fights. Twenty-one remarks that they are more similar than he thought, and wonders why they aren’t friends. Hatred says it because he doesn't trust Gary and due to the latter being a dork.
The Monarch attempts to torture Dr. Venture with a giant bell, but only succeeds in annoying his neighbors. Venture’s childhood spent in a supersonic jet has paid dividends, and he is nonchalant until Dr. Mrs. The Monarch clears her throat, prompting him to suddenly (and unconvincingly) cry out that his kidneys are bursting. The Monarch notes that the Bell torture sucks, with three exclamation points.
Colonel Gentleman is recounting to Dean an incident when he and The Action Man, captured by Brainulo, are forced to fight against their crushes: Triple Threat and Jass. Kiki arrives, misunderstands the Colonel’s relationship to Dean, and gets upset. Gentleman is also upset with Kiki because he has been unfaithful.
Back in Florida, Rodney explains to Dean that he has been trying to get with Rose for more than 40 years, and is obsessed with her. Rodney later offers Hank anything to help him “seal the deal”, and Hank asks for fifty dollars, a Stingray Bass guitar, and a ride home.
Sgt. Hatred and Twenty-one are searching the Cocoon for Doctor Venture, when Henchman Eighty-six mistakes Hatred for Twenty-one and immediately begins complaining that the Moppets are running everything and it has been terrible since he left. Hatred attempts to impersonate Twenty-one, but fails. The real Twenty-one brains his fellow henchman from behind before he can sound the alarm. Hatred is now feeling more trusting toward Gary after this, but Twenty-one is upset because he just attacked a guy who is on his softball team. They continue their search for Venture separately, but Tim-Tom has been monitoring their conversation over Eighty-six’s dropped communicator, and he and Kevin set traps for Hatred and Twenty-one.
The Monarch has Venture’s mouth propped open, and is about to drill into his teeth, but he is unable to tolerate his breath. Thinking at first that he is smelling Venture’s fear, Venture admits to having had shrimp with garlic butter the previous evening.
Colonel Gentleman, depressed after his fight with Kiki, creates another of his eponymous lists; ‘Things Not To Do’, which includes moving to a country where your sexual preference is a capital offense and getting involved with someone a third your age. He makes Dean promise to never do the latter, to which Dean replies; “I can safely promise that I won’t get involved with a six-year-old”. Gentleman wonders why he is still in Tangiers after everyone whom he believed made it a paradise has left or died.
Kevin is waiting for Sgt. Hatred in the prison area with two henchmen, and tells him that Twenty-one is helping The Monarch to torture Dr. Venture and has played Hatred for a fool, then they dump him out of the Flying Cocoon through the garbage hatch in his underwear. Hatred runs back to the Venture Compound swearing vengeance on Gary for his betrayal. Tim-Tom is waiting for Twenty-one in the Flying Cocoon’s control center, and threatens to tell The Monarch of his treason with Hatred. But Gary turns the tables by threatening to tell The Monarch about the Moppets’ usurpation. Tim-Tom underestimates the other henchmen’s loyalty to Twenty-one after Gary accuses him of Twenty-four’s murder. The Fluttering Horde closes in on Tim-Tom, chanting; “Hench has killed Hench”.
This time, The Monarch has Venture tied to a table saw, but the power cord will not reach the receptacle and he cannot find an extension cord. Frustrated, he suddenly gives up entirely. The Monarch unties Dr. Venture, and tells him he is releasing him. At first Venture believes he has been rescued, but Monarch disabuses him of that notion. The Monarch admits that they are both failures, and they compare strikingly similar issues going on in their individual lives. The Monarch asks Venture to break a few things on his way out to “make it look good” for Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. Venture comments that their conversation has depressed him more than any of the attempts at torture, and leaves.
Meanwhile, Rose is resisting Rodney’s advances, saying he is a drug addict and a womanizer. The Action Man explains that he was faithful to his wife until widowed, and the drugs were Super-Soldier “jump-juice” for the good of his country. Hank soon realizes that Rose is actually Billy “Quizboy” Whalen’s mother, who has not seen him for many years, and believes he didn’t think she would approve of his lifestyle choice. Rose has assumed Billy is a homosexual because he and Pete White share a home. Hank suggests a reunion, revealing that Billy is his neighbor.
Dr. Venture walks back to the Venture compound, unsuccessfully hitchhiking, and is passed by Hatred who has returned with his Hovertank, determined to exact vengeance on Twenty-one. The Monarch is dejectedly looking at the photo stolen from Venture’s album of himself and Venture as children and his parents and Jonas Venture Sr. looking on. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch bursts in and announces that Venture has escaped. The Monarch confesses to releasing Venture, and his wife is confused at this turn of events. But The Monarch, with sudden renewed vigor, proclaims that he has broken Doctor Venture’s spirit and that is far worse than any physical torture. His dramatic proclaimation of victory over his nemesis has put his wife into an aroused state. They are about to have sex, when they are suddenly interrupted by Twenty-one, who bursts in, announcing; “I’m home.”
Sgt. Hatred’s Hovertank is closing on the Flying Cocoon, hovering near The Monarch’s home in the gated community for supervillians known as ‘Malice’. Hatred is calling Gary out on the tank’s P.A. loudspeaker, when he suddenly fires a shell from the tank's main cannon. The shell strikes the Flying Cocoon directly, which catches fire and begins to descend at an odd angle toward the Monarch’s house. Hatred calls Gary on the loudspeaker again, telling him that he still hates him, but that Gary should evacuate before he is killed in the fire. The Flying Cocoon crashes into the Monarch’s home, and both are destroyed. Hatred sheepishly departs. In the wreckage of the Monarch’s home, only The Monarch, his wife, and Twenty-one appear to have survived. Apparently having never learned the actual name of his “best” henchman, The Monarch wonders aloud who the fuck ‘Gary’ is.
Later, the Monarchs and Twenty-one arrive at the Monarch’s childhood home to live, which is in an extreme state of disrepair. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is exited, but The Monarch and Twenty-one are less than enthusiastic. Twenty-one is reminded of the houses depicted in Japanese horror films.
Back at the Venture Compound, Rodney, Rose, and Colonel Gentleman arrange a funerary relocation of Dr. Paul Entmann from the Boca Raton retirement community to the Venture Estate, near the bronze statue of young Rusty and his father. Rose is re-united with Billy, and meets Pete White for the first time, still under the impression that he and her son are a homosexual couple, but is not bothered by it. Rose remarks that Pete is as handsome as Billy had described to her, leading to a momentary awkwardness between Billy and Pete. Colonel Gentleman invites Rodney and Rose to stay with him at his West Village Manhattan home, having left Tangiers permanently. On the roof, Dean finally reveals to his brother the reason for his year of depressed and anti-social behavior; the truth of their origins as clones. Rather than reacting negatively to the news, as Dean expected, Hank laughs it off as simply part of what it means to be a Venture. Hank’s attitude cheers Dean up considerably. The peculiar Venture funerary tradition is repeated, and Rodney calls Dean over, as this time he is the youngest.
- James Urbaniak: Dr. Venture
- Mike Sinterniklaas: Dean Venture
- Chris McCulloch: Hank Venture, Sgt. Hatred,Action Man, Col. Gentleman, The Monarch, Pete White, Tim-Tom, Brainulo, Humongoloid, Henchman 86, Kiki, Thug
- Doc Hammer: 21, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, Billy Quizboy, Rose, Kevin
- Bill Hader: Flying Squid
- The "Hench has killed Hench" chant is a reference to the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes, in which Aldo is surrounded by his fellow apes chanting "Ape has killed Ape" after it is revealed that he murdered Caesar's young son Cornelius.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
- Dr. Mrs. The Monarch's make-up and dress are a reference to Kim Cattrall's character in Big Trouble in Little China.
Hindenburg disaster (1937)
- When the burning Cocoon crashes Sergeant Hatred yells "Oh, the humanity!", the same line famously uttered by the radio commentator Herbert Morrison when describing the crash of the Hindenburg.
- Gary's remark that The Monarch's childhood home is a place where one might expect to find "creepy wet asian kids crawling on the ceiling" is a reference to The Ring, The Grudge, and other films in the Japanese Horror genre.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)
- Colonel Gentleman has apparently videotaped the entire television series Sabrina the Teenage Witch and tasks Dean with watching each tape to catalog when Salem the cat was portrayed by a real cat or a "crappy puppet."
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
- The "torture of the bell" is likely a reference to the 1932 film The Mask of Fu Manchu.
The Presidio (1988)
- Col. Gentleman's fight is a reference to the 1988 film The Presidio, starring Sean Connery, wherein he likewise beats up a bully in a bar using only his thumb, "My right one; left one's much too powerful for you."
The Torture Garden (1899)
- According to Doc Hammer on the episode commentary, the "torture of the bell" was borrowed from an 1899 decadent novel by Octave Mirbeau called The Torture Garden.
Connections to Other EpisodesEdit
- Henchman 21 accuses Tim-Tom and Kevin of being responsible for the death of Henchman 24, which occurred in The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part II).
- Dean is finally able to overcome his depression, which began in Operation P.R.O.M.
- Henchman 21 returns to work for The Monarch after leaving in Operation P.R.O.M.
- Dean tells Hank that he has discovered that they are clones, which he found out in A Very Venture Halloween.
- Sergeant Hatred mentions his nickname "Uncle Vatred", which was given to him by Hank in O.S.I. Love You.
- Dr. Venture's intrusion into Don Hell's Club and being crushed by a giant disco ball are mentioned. These events took place in Bot Seeks Bot.
- The Monarch mentions that Dr. Girlfriend will take on the position of Councilwoman, which was offered to her in Bot Seeks Bot.
- Action Man states that Dr. Entmann was the first of Team Venture to go when Jonas Venture Sr. was the first of the group stated to be already dead, foreshadowing his knowledge that Jonas is still "alive" in the PROBLEM, as later revealed in the Season 7 premiere The Venture Bros. & The Curse of the Haunted Problem.
Production Notes and TriviaEdit
- While never stated outright, the implication that Triple Threat and Rose Whalen are one and the same woman is strong to the point of certainty (and was later confirmed by the show creators in both the episode commentary and in their book.)
- Billy's mother Rose stated she hadn't seen her son in years, believing Billy thought she wouldn't approve of his "lifestyle". When she meets Pete White for the first time, White is initially upset at Billy for not denying to his mother that he and Billy were a couple. Billy, we learned, said nothing because he didn't want to return the China and sideboard his mother had sent them as gifts. White was pacified when Rose appealed to his vanity, proclaiming him as handsome as Billy said he was, to which a flattered White responded "You said I was handsome?"
- Henchman 21 states that the stick was the only weapon he had even though Brock gave him his crossbow in SPHINX Rising.
- On the statue of Jonas and Rusty Venture, which seen close up at the very end of the episode's epilogue, Jonas has six fingers on his right hand. This may be merely an animation gaffe or a clue to something else, such as indicating that there would be a season 6.
- ↑ Bot Seeks Bot
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 SPHINX Rising
- ↑ Go Team Venture!: The Art and Making of The Venture Bros. (2018), p. 261
| Preceded by:|
"Bot Seeks Bot"
| The Venture Bros. episodes|
July 21, 2013
| Followed by:|
"All This and Gargantua-2"