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The Venture Bros. episode
Season 3
Orig. Airdate Aug 10, 2008
Writer(s) Doc Hammer
Director Jackson Publick
Production # 3-29
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The Lepidopterists 37 The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part 1)


A series of cryptic clues sends Team Venture out to uncover a mystery left by the late Jonas Venture, Sr. As each new solved riddle exposes one more piece of secret Venture history, Brock discovers that his long-standing role as Dr. Venture's bodyguard may not have been the assignment he always thought it was.


After thirty years of watching The Rusty Venture Show for clues to a treasure that he feels must exist, Billy Whalen discovers the last one. It comes from the puff of smoke from a sniper rifle that Col. Gentleman has coaxed a young Rusty into firing at Half-Jackal, who has Jonas Venture hostage. The clue is the diameter of a cylinder to be used to solve the helical cypher that Billy has made out of the clues he has previously found. After wrapping the strip of other clues on the cylinder, which turns out to be an empty toilet paper roll, Billy reads off the results to White, thinking that they are nonsense. White however points out that it is actually a URL , and with Billy protesting that it couldn't be because The Rusty Venture Show is from the 70's, he types it into his browser and comes up with a MapLook map of the Venture Compound. After White remarks that "I could save 1.3 miles if I take Ridge Street" the scene cuts into the short intro.

After the short intro we cut to inside the Venture Compound where Billy is showing Brock and the Ventures the slides of the Rusty Venture Show on which he has found clues. These clues include Morse code taken from an Aztec pyramid and Braille coded into the number of eyes on a giant spider. After accidentally showing a picture of a drunken, shirtless Pete from spring break 1994, Billy is cut off by Dr. Venture who is not taking him seriously. A map of the Compound then comes up on the projector screen and Billy says that he has found hundreds of clues which point to the last clue being buried under a certain spot on the map. Brock says that's his herb garden and asks Rusty if they can talk outside but Dr. Venture says that he can talk in front of everyone, prompting Hank to think that Brock is about to curse or "talk about naked sex ladies". Brock then reveals that he will not be involved in digging there because he has direct orders to keep an eye on that spot and Rusty says that he is going to dig anyway.

In the next scene Dr. Venture is lounging on a beach chair by the pool, wearing a bright plaid outfit and drinking Red Mocho Coolers. While Dean is serving his dad drinks and Billy and Pete are leaning against the rail Hank is busy digging in the herb garden. Upon Hank exclaiming that he's found something Billy swings under the rail and after Hank says that "It's a box full of old mops" Billy identifies what's been found as a dead dog. Rusty nonchalantly writes it off as being the corpse of the boys' dog Scamp, and a screaming Dean drops the tray he's holding and runs off.

The scene then cuts to Brock lying on his bed, casually reading a Playboy magazine and presumably listening to Led Zeppelin on what appear to be Minnesota Vikings helmet head-phones. A bunch of dirt and Rusty come sliding through Brock's ground level window, Rusty then gets up and hands a small chest to Brock which "came from the past". Billy, who is holding the box that he says they've been looking for, then comes sliding in also, followed shortly by White. A very irritated Brock is then cut off by the boys riding down the dirt hill into his room. Hank has a Yu-Gi-Oh card and a pog slammer which he believes to be treasure, but Dean corrects him as he takes them from his brother. After everyone is kicked out of Brock's room the next scene sees them sitting around the kitchen preparing to open the box. Rusty hopes that it contains something of monetary value that his father has left behind, Hank mentions that it could be poison gas and after Billy opens it Pete sighs in relief and asks if anyone else was "waiting for their face to melt off". The box turns out to contain the final clue, which is written on a thin strip of paper like the clues Billy had at the beginning of the episode, and the boys run off to get a roll of toilet paper and another cocktail for their father.

We then go to watch Brock putting a cylinder into an old gramophone that was in the chest Rusty gave him, he is holding a manual that was also in the chest. The manual reads "Orders Regarding Bodyguard" then further down the cover "Termination Clause". From the gramophone, the crackling voice of Victorian era bodybuilder Eugen Sandow begins to tell the tale of when he found out that the Orb, which it was his true mission to protect, was real and potentially as powerful as he had been told. Prior to this he had believed it to be merely a myth and was the loyal bodyguard of Col. Lloyd Venture, who appears to be Rusty's great-grandfather. The show then follows into Sandow's story, in a sepia tone scene we see a blimp with a large dragon emblem on it under attack. Inside the blimp Fantomas is telling Lloyd that the only way to win the day is to activate the Orb, which sets off a small match of words between the two. Mark Twain interrupts them by saying that maybe they should think about activating the Orb, but Lloyd feels they need to proceed slowly with using theOrb because it could be very dangerous. Fantomas disagrees and says that it is up to the Guild what is best for man kind, to which Oscar Wilde replies that the Guild was founded to help man kind, not to act as a "Guild of Calamitous Intent", but he then admits that the Orb needs to be tested. Aleister Crowley then stands up and says that he worked on the Orb last, and picking it up says that he will "prove the mighty art of Hermetic.." before Sandow leaps across the table and takes the Orb from him, chucking it to Col. Venture. Sandow then carries Aleister away, presumably to be thrown off the blimp. After a hit to the blimp sends everyone falling, Sandow remarks that Tesla has them surrounded with the Avon Ladies. The scene then ends with Wilde running to the gliders and Sandow pleading with Lloyd not to use the Orb, but Venture says he will have to and Sandow comes to terms with the idea of having to kill the person he protects. In addition to Fantomas, Venture, Sandow, Twain, Wilde and Crowley there are six unnamed people present, three of whom are wearing outfits that resemble those worn by later Guild operatives.

The cylinder then runs out in the middle of the story and Brock realizes that he is missing the second cylinder (although it is clearly present when he opened the box containing them). Upstairs Hank is reading the final clue off of an old computer that they must have typed it into, and White is using the internet on his laptop to decipher the parts of the clue. The clue reads "In Minuit's bargain sits house that coke built in a loud room of quiet whistlers behind the Wilde gray gentleman sits the 221210". White announces that "Minuit's bargain" is a reference to the guy who bought Manhattan, and that the "house that coke built" must be Studio 54. Billy, Rusty and H.E.L.P.eR. then take the X-1 to NYC and Billy has them put on boy adventurer outfits, with Rusty's being clothes he outgrew more than twenty tears ago. When Brock asks the boys and White if they've seen the cylinder, Dean thinks he is talking about the toilet paper roll and tells him that his dad and Billy took it to NY. Brock leaves for NYC, leaving Orpheus in charge of the boys.

In his car Brock activates a secret computer in the dash and calls up information regarding his current assignment specifically the bodyguard "termination clause". After reading off the identification number "Two Delta Nine Romeo Tango Eight" the car initiates autopilot, locking Brock in and informing him that he has been terminated. Samson is able to kick out the passenger side window and escapes, then heads to the strip club where Hunter now works as a dancer. After Brock puts the manual down on the table, Hunter responds with "Sweet lord! That hack actually found it?" and then goes on to inform Brock that his mission has never been to protect Rusty but the Orb. Hunter says that Jonas Venture hid the device from Rusty and if Rusty tries to activate it that Brock must take him out, and also that Brock must ask another Venture bodyguard if he wants more information.

We then go to the Venture living room where Orpheus is informing White, Hank and Dean that the box that contained the final clue is from the Victorian era, and therefore Studio 54 is probably not "the house that coke built". After informing them that he knows a "cypher master who knows the 19th century like the back of his hand", he astral projects away.

Meanwhile, Brock is following a tracking device on his watch into an apartment, where Kano bursts from a wardrobe, chocking Brock. Brock is able to get the upper hand and Kano is heard speaking for the first time. Kano says that he has taken a great man from this world and has been waiting many years for an assassin to be sent, but he didn't think it would be Brock. His silence, he says, was his penance. After Brock assures him he hasn't been sent to kill him and fills him in on the situation, Kano goes and retrieves another gramophone and cylinder.

In a Studio 54 bathroom Billy and Rusty think that they have figured out that the mysterious treasure is hidden inside the wall, behind a baby changing station.

Back at the Venture compound Orpheus is returning with the Alchemist, only to discover that the boys have TPed his corporeal body. After the Alchemist asks why he has been summoned, the boys inform him that they need him to help solve "the mystery of the box we found in Brock's garden".

In the 19th century, Sandow is pleading with Col. Venture not to activate the Orb, but Lloyd feels that there is little option, because people are dying over it. He says that Archimedes started working on it and that DaVinci, Newton and Galileo all added to it, and that "all of the great poets, painters, scientists, alchemists and philosophers have had the Orb in their hands". Although its' true purpose is unknown, Venture thinks that it is a very powerful engine, which he believes because he is "a man of hope". To no avail Sandow pleads one more time for Venture not to use it, before carrying out his orders to kill the man he protected if he tried to use it.

Kano removes the needle from the gramophone cylinder and informs Brock that the rest is just chocolate recipes, which is why he kept it. Samson then asks Kano if he too had to kill the man he protected, to which Kano once again stops talking. He does not go back to being a complete mute though, as he expresses that he stills has a desire to sing karaoke, something he had previously asked Brock to do with him.

At the Compound, Al is berating White and the boys and says that everything they came up with after Manhattan was crazy. After Al asks him for a dictionary, White says that they have the internet, to which Al replies that "I don't wanna play World a' Warcraft". At Al's instruction Pete goes and gets a dictionary and looks up coke, reading the first definition aloud. "Noun, the residue of coal left after destructive distillation and used as fuel". Al points out that they are looking for a coal tycoon with a house in Manhattan.

In the Studio 54 bathroom, Billy has knocked a hole in the wall through the back of the changing station and is looking around, when a police officer walks in. Rusty tells him that he is changing his son's diaper and Billy lies down and gets in position to be changed while the cop watches. Rusty's communicator watch goes off with Hank saying that "Studio 54 is not the coke house" and to go to the Frick museum. When the cop asks whats going on with the watch, Billy says that it is his Nintendo DS lite.

At the compound once again, Brock radios Hank to find out where Rusty is and says to book him a ticket into Laguardia when he learns that Rusty is still in NYC. The Alchemist then solves the rest of the riddle, and that whatever they're looking for is behind the portrait of Montesquieu in the Whistler wing of the Frick.

Night time inside the Frick, a long rope is hanging from the skylight. Billy and Rusty slide down the rope and Billy tries acting like he's in a spy movie, and Rusty points out the ridiculousness of what he's doing. Billy wants to tear down the painting, but in a rare moment of forward thinking and decency Rusty says that they should check out the room behind the painting before they "destroy a priceless masterpiece". As they walk into the other room, with Rusty saying that he's feeling like an adventurer again Brock is seen sliding down the rope. In what looks to be the curator's office Rusty solves the mystery by realizing that "221210" is a substitution cypher and that each pair of numbers corresponds to a letter in the clue. Brock is listening in and cringes when Rusty says that they are looking for an orb, because he knows that he may have to actually kill Rusty. Doctor Venture then notices the Orb being used as a paperweight and picks it up, refusing to let Billy see it, and Brock prepares to do what he must do. Surprisingly though Rusty decides that if his father hid it it must have been for a "reason and we have to respect that. The guy was a crappy father but, Billy, I'll tell ya he...he was a great scientist". Brock is glad to hear Rusty say this and puts his knife down as he slides back down the corridor. Billy then begs for, and begrudgingly on Rusty's part, receives a "Go Team Venture". Cue credits.

In the post credit scene we see Rusty putting the Orb into a hidden wall safe in the room that looks into the pool. Hank walks in yawning and asks what the treasure was, to which Rusty replies that it was only a note from Jonas. We then see Brock sliding out of a compartment in the X-1 that he hitched a ride home in. As soon as he is out his car is seen in the hangar door turning its head lights on and gunning for Brock. There appears to be no one in the vehicle and the scene freezes with a frightened Brock thinking he is about to be run over by the car he has put so much love into.

Fun Facts[edit]

  • This episode seems to show a correlation between the roles in each "generation" of team venture. Scientists/Man-of-Hope, Mystic (exception of Jonas' team), large bodyguard, stylish dandy, adventurer/hunter, extreme-size person, knowledgeable man-in-white. It is not known if the writers intended this correlation or not.
  • The Frick Collection's building was the inspiration for the fictional Avengers Mansion, which like the Frick covers the entire city block at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street (but has the address 890 Fifth Avenue, rather than 1 East 70th Street, the address of the Frick.)
  • Colonel Venture identifies the Orb as containing "lenses by Newton, and prisms by Galileo." In fact, Isaac Newton is known for developing a theory of color based partly on his work with prisms, while Galileo ground his own lenses to develop and improve his telescope. This line may be a dubbing error, or may point to an alternate history for the Venture universe. It is likely an intentional joke.
  • The episode deftly parodies the conspiracy/secret society/forbidden objects plots of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon novels (Angels And Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol). Billy's The Guild, itself a secret society, resembles traditional depictions of the Illuminati (as a group influencing world events for either good or sinister ends) and contains three real-life Freemasons (Crowley, Twain and Wilde, although it's unknown whether this was intentional or the three were chosen as representative of the era).

Unanswered Questions[edit]

As this is the first episode to introduce the Orb, one of the most important set-pieces in the series, there's really a litany of questions here. Some of them are easier to guess at than others, and some might never be answered definitively. That could be the point! Nevertheless, if for no other reason than the importance of this episode to the series' metaplot, having a handy list of standing questions isn't a bad idea.

- What does the Orb really do? (Answered in part in The Revenge Society)

- Did Sandow really kill Colonel Venture? (Answered in The Revenge Society)

- Did Kano really kill Jonas Venture Senior? If not, who did? If it wasn't natural or accidental?

- Who gave the Venture Bodyguards (not to mention the OSI) the order to kill anyone who attempts to activate the Orb?

- How did the original Guild come to possess the Orb?

- Did Aleister Crowley really contribute his genius to the Orb? Of course, we have no reason to doubt it, no more than any other Guild member. As one of the founders of the Argentum Astrum, an occult group modeled in part after the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it wouldn't be implausible for his magick to be real in the Venture universe. Crowley was an expert in Alchemy, which the adjective "Hermetic" refers to. He was also bisexual. There's another gay Alchemist character! Either Doc Hammer or Jackson Publick must be a Crowley fan. However, if he knew how the Orb worked, why wouldn't he be allowed to use it?

- How did the Guild transform, as predicted, into one of Calamitous Intent?

- Why were Tesla and The Avon Ladies launching an attack on their own guildmates?

Voice Talent
James Urbaniak Dr. Venture / Rusty Venture
Oscar Wilde
Patrick Warburton Brock Samson
Michael Sinterniklaas Dean Venture
Chris McCulloch Hank Venture
Pete White
Lloyd Venture
Additional Voices
Doc Hammer Billy Quizboy
Dana Snyder The Alchemist
Steven Rattazzi Dr. Orpheus
Aleister Crowley
Paul Boocock Jonas Venture
Samuel Clemens
Soul-Bot H.E.L.P.eR.