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Recap / The Venture Bros S 3 E 3 The Invisible Hand Of Fate

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Episode - Season 3, Episode 3 (Production Code: 3-27)

First Aired - June 15, 2008

While reaching for a new roll of toilet paper (and berating Pete White for not replacing it in the first place,) Billy Quizboy slips and falls in the bathroom, hitting his head. A flood of long-forgotten memories returns to Billy who begins explaining them to White. When Billy remembers White being there in his past, he starts shouting accusations at White. White uses the gaming console he was playing to knock Billy unconscious and then calls someone with the code name "Goldilocks," revealing that Billy ("Little Nemo") has recovered his memories.

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In a Flashback, Billy is the reigning champion on the game show "Quizboys," with Pete White (in a wig and makeup to hide his albinism) as the host. During the final round, Billy writes down the wrong answer to a question. However, when it is displayed on his screen, it is the correct answer. Billy wins, but one of the other contestants accuses him of cheating. After the show, Billy is in White's dressing room where White reveals that he is to blame for the cheating. White reveals his albinism to Billy, saying that "we freaks have to stick together," and promises to set things right as White is a friend of Billy's idol, Rusty Venture.

Meanwhile, the O.S.I. wages a war on the criminal organization SPHINX. Aboard the O.S.I. helicarrier headquarters, a team of O.S.I. agents (who look a lot like the Village People,) comes aboard to poke fun at Col. Hunter Gathers and Brock Samson for not participating in the battle, preferring to chase around a shadowy organization known as "The Guild of Calamitous Intent." Gathers tells them not-so-politely to fuck off, and reveals that they're close a breakthrough in their investigation.

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Billy and White make their way across the country on White's scooter, earning money by participating in underground quiz show competitions. (Billy's winnings were frozen by the FCC after he was accused of cheating.) They finally arrive at the Venture compound just in time to see a crazed Myra Brandish being hauled away by O.S.I. agents. Rusty gives a statement to the O.S.I. agents while H.E.L.P.eR is seen in the background holding a baby Hank and Dean.

Brock and Gathers are now driving across the country in civilian garb to their next mission, investigating a suspected Guild operative at State University.

After being told that Rusty is "all staffed up," Billy and White continue their trip. White signs Billy up for what he believes is another quiz competition, but it actually turns out to be a dog fight. Billy loses an eye and his hand, and is disqualified when White jumps in. White reveals that he bet all their money on Billy, so now they're broke. Billy demands that White drop him off and never bother him again.

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Billy, injured and alone in the desert, is approached by Gathers and Brock. They replace his hand and eye with robotic versions in a plan to use him to infiltrate the Guild. They reveal that a Professor Fantomos at State University is recruiting students into the Guild. Billy is enrolled in Fantomos' class, and discovers that his classmates also suffer from major deformities, including Fantomos' assistant. However, the classwork overwhelms Billy.

Billy finds that his roommate Stevie, who is Fantomos' lab assistant, has committed suicide. Billy is too busy talking to the police about the suicide to write his term paper, so he seeks out Fantomos for an extension. When Billy arrives at Fantomos' office, another student (a young Dr. Girlfriend,) is being denied an extension. Before Billy can explain the situation, Fantomos surprises Billy by offering him the position of lab assistant based on the excellent paper Billy submitted. Billy tries to explain that he never wrote the paper but Fantomos sweet talks him into accepting the position, revealing that Fantomos himself is a "freak" like Billy, having malformed limbs from birth.

Brock and Gathers, meeting with Billy, reveal that the O.S.I. had Stephen Hawking write the paper for him. Brock and Gathers also reveal that Stevie was their other man on the inside and they believe that Fantomos killed him because he was getting too close as well as the fact that his new eye and arm are actually recording devices, and that he is providing them with valuable intel. Tired of being used, Billy punches Brock in the balls and flees to Fantomos' lab where Fantomos is preparing an experiment to restore his limbs.

Fantomos has Billy run the machine, but it soon malfunctions. In a panic while trying to fix it, Billy reveals that he didn't write the paper and isn't qualified to help Fantomos. The machine sucks out Billy's eye, causing an explosion that seemingly kills Fantomos. Fantomos survives, but his limbs have now turned invisible and are capable of killing with just a touch, transforming him into the villain Phantom Limb.

For their failure, Brock is being chewed out by an O.S.I. superior, who is really Sgt. Hatred acting as a Guild spy within the O.S.I. He reveals that Col. Gathers has been transferred to Guam and that Samson is being reassigned to bodyguard Dr. Venture. Billy's memory is wiped by the O.S.I. and Brock delivers him to Pete White, who has taken up residence in a trailer not far from the Venture compound.

The Stinger shows Billy waking up in the present time at the Venture compound. An attempted memory wipe has failed, leading Billy to attack Brock. White hits him over the head again with the gaming console to knock him out.

Tropes:

  • Continuity Nod: Several, as is par for the course with Venture Bros. flashbacks. Race Bannon is shown aboard the O.S.I. headquarters torturing a SPHINX agent, Steve Summers is seen aboard the helicarrier as well. Myra Brandish is shown being removed from duty as Dr. Venture's bodyguard after going crazy.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Shoreleave, who becomes a major character in season 4, has his first appearance here trading barbs with Col. Gathers at the O.S.I. headquarters.
  • Expy: A very obvious one with O.S.I. as G.I. Joe and SPHINX as COBRA. There is even a satirical version of the G.I. Joe theme song and the "Yo Joe!" battlecry is replaced with "YO!S.I.!" Although they're also a parody of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: For their parts in botching their mission (and to keep them off the Guild's back,) Gathers is reassigned to Guam while Brock is made the bodyguard for Dr. Venture.
  • Shout-Out
    • When using code names at the start of the episode to report that Billy has regained his memories, White calls himself "Casper", Billy "Little Nemo", and Brock Goldilocks.
    • Shoreleave and his team of O.S.I. soldiers are dressed like the Village People.
    • Gathers at one point calls Billy "Woyzeck".
    • Billy hitting his head in the bathroom to recall his wiped memories is similar to how Doc Brown got his inspiration to build the flux capacitor.
    • "Quizboys" is pretty clearly based on Jeopardy!, complete with answers in the form of a question and a final round where the contestants write down their answers.
  • Start of Darkness: Fantomos/Phantom Limb's is shown in this episode.
  • Title Drop: White says it to Billy before setting off to get jobs from Rusty. It also doubles as a clever pun, since this episode also reveals how Phantom Limb got his invisible hands (and other limbs.)
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Most of the episode is a Flashback seen through the view of Billy Quizboy, revealing how he got his robotic hand and lost his eye. (It also indirectly reveals how Phantom Limb came to be.)
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