Monday, July 16, 2012

The Venture Brothers: Escape to the House of Mummies Part II (2006)

"Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" is an episode of the animated television series The Venture Bros., the fourth episode of the second season. Parodying old adventure series, the episode is intentionally convoluted, full of non sequiturs and open ended digressions, with key plot elements purposefully omitted. The "Part II" in the title is a joke; there is no Part I. The next episode preview at the end of the episode (a first for the series) promises an equally non-existent part III.


Previously on "The Venture Bros." ... the team found themselves involved in a convoluted time travel epic involving an Egyptian cult of Osiris and historical figures such as Dr. Sigmund Freud and Caligula, with plenty of various adventure and action clich├ęs in abundance.

After the "recap" of the nonexistent episode "Escape to the House of Mummies Part I," we join the team who are now trapped in a room deep within a pyramid, apparently in the present day. The only possible exit is through the head of a jackal sculpture on one wall, but even Dean's slender shoulders are too broad for him to squeeze through. Exasperated, Dr. Venture heaps derision on his sons' shortcomings as boy adventurers, and begins to crawl through the opening himself. However, he is stopped when the walls, from which spikes now protrude, suddenly begin closing in.

The team is out of ideas, until Hank suggests they call Dr. Orpheus for help. Venture balks at the idea, and Brock sarcastically tells the boys to prepare for death since their father would rather let them all die horribly than make a simple call. Fuming, Dr. Venture contacts Orpheus (who is using his magic to rake leaves in the compound's yard) and explains the situation, although he cannot provide their exact location. Without explanation, Orpheus urges Dean to imagine his daughter Triana, naked and tongue-kissing him. When Dean complies, Orpheus uses the strong emotional response to locate them and disable the trap's mechanism, as well as their wrist communicator watches. Dr. Venture then crawls through the jackal's head, leaving the rest of the team in the momentarily-safe room while he seeks help.

Dr. Venture flies the X-1 back to the Venture Compound (damaging the statue out front when he hurriedly lands) and rummages through his laboratory for the equipment he needs to rescue his sons and Brock. Orpheus enters, and Venture's irritation towards the necromancer leads them into another debate on the relative merits of science versus magic. Completely forgetting the urgency of the current situation, they agree to settle the issue with a bet: whoever can shrink themselves the most proves his method is "better." They agree to meet back in the lab the next day to hold their contest. As he leaves, Orpheus reminds Venture he sold Jonas Sr.'s shrink ray to Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy at the tag sale. Venture, clearly having forgotten this, is rather unsettled.

Brief scenes show the progress of Brock and the boys, who have managed to escape the cell on their own. The boys have adopted a "friendly" mummy, and Dean is decapitated but remains alive (apparently through "pyramid power"). Brock, Dean, and Hank, presumably stealing the cult's time machine, abruptly end up in the 1800s. Brock puts Edgar Allan Poe in a headlock, apparently out of amusement over Poe's large head. Just as abruptly, Poe travels back to the present day with Hank, Dean, and Brock.

In search of the shrink ray, Dr. Venture breaks into the Conjectural Technologies mobile home and trashes the place. White and Quizboy catch him in the act and berate him for not simply asking for the object. At Quizboy's prompting, White admits that he disassembled the shrink ray: he couldn't get it to work, and somehow concluded that "a treasure map or something" was jamming its components. Venture initially despairs at the small paper bag that contains the parts, but the three resolve to work together to reassemble it.

Meanwhile, Triana enters her room to find her father standing in front of the closet, from which unearthly light pours out. Stunned and upset, Triana berates him for not telling her that her closet was actually a portal to Hell (a necropolis, as Orpheus phrases it). Not only did she think she was going insane, but her resulting fear of the closet has prevented her from changing clothes for a long time. Orpheus says that he just thought it was a phase that teenagers went through, like Archie and Jughead. When her anger fails to fade, Orpheus casts a sleep spell on her and erases the event from her memory.

"Meanwhile," if that has any meaning, Brock and the boys have used the time machine again... but thanks to Hank, have only traveled to the previous morning. As a result, they (along with Poe and Sigmund Freud, who has joined the proceedings without explanation) witness their own capture by the Osiris cult.

In the otherworldly necropolis beyond Triana's closet, Dr. Orpheus approaches the throne of his master. Sitting on the throne however, is a three-headed dog which snarls at Orpheus, prompting the necromancer to strike it with a fireball. The dog (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) complains to Orpheus about the attack, revealing that it is actually Orpheus's teacher in animal form. They begin a long discussion about Orpheus' lack of friends while the master sorcerer licks his own crotch with another of his heads (and pontificates on the pleasures thereof).

Back at the compound, Venture, White and Quizboy have become distracted from fixing the shrink ray by a "guilty pleasures" questionnaire whose intent Quizboy apparently misunderstands. After finally reassembling the device, they test it on H.E.L.P.eR. and successfully shrink him to an inch or so tall. Deciding that they need to test a human subject, Venture claims that his family needs him and White cites his albinism as an obstacle. Quizboy attempts to beg off due to his virginity, but the others force him to "volunteer" himself. The ray seems only partially successful: successive shots first shrink his lungs, then his head.

Brock, the boys, and their time-lost companions Poe, Freud, and the similarly-unexplained Caligula have apparently teamed up with an earlier version of Brock and are planning an assault on the Osiris cult.

Orpheus and his teacher now lie on the ground, looking up at the stars and pondering how insignificant the sight makes them feel. With a few more words of encouragement, the master admits that Orpheus is one of his best students and urges him to win the "incredibly gay" contest against Venture.

White, Quizboy and Venture finally conclude that trying to repair the shrink ray is a hopeless effort. Venture glumly acknowledges that he is unable to even repair anything his father built, and that he has always been a failure. Quizboy, however, shows him an old "Rusty Venture" lunchbox that he bought on eBay. The front depicts the young Rusty in his boyhood adventurer days, riding a pterodactyl. Venture reflects that he might not be a very good super scientist, but he was a darn good boy adventurer. White agrees and Quizboy admits that Rusty inspired him to become a boy genius.

Orpheus approaches and states that he can make himself no smaller than he already is, and concedes the contest to Venture. Grudgingly, Venture admits that he did no better. In sudden camaraderie, the group leaves for Orpheus' section...but Orpheus mentions a nagging feeling that they have forgotten something. As Venture returns to turn off the lights in the lab, he steps on the still-miniaturized H.E.L.P.eR.

After the credits is a teaser for the (supposedly) upcoming episode "Escape to the House of Mummies Part III": somewhere/when, Hank is shivering in an Arctic wind, begging Brock to kill him. Brock turns to his other self, and tells him to cut open the body of Poe so they can stuff Hank inside and save him from hypothermia. The other Brock slices open the carcass of Poe, recoiling with the comment "and I thought he smelled bad on the outside!" The first Brock stands with the shivering Hank in his arms, and lets out an anguished scream of "DOOOOOC!"

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