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Recap / The Venture Bros S 4 E 11 Any Which Way But Zeus

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Episode - Season 4, Episode 11 (Production Code: 4-50)

First Aired - September 26, 2010

A floating entity claiming to be Zeus, Greek god of thunder, is kidnapping sidekicks and henchmen from their masters. Included are Henchman 21, Shore Leave, Billy Quizboy and Pete White (after arguing about which is the leader and which is the sidekick, Zeus decides simply to take both.) These abductions makes news around the world.


Dr. Venture believes that, he too, will soon be captured. Sgt. Hatred isn't so convinced, as Venture isn't exactly a hot item in the superhero/villain community anymore. To ensure the safety of the others, Venture wants to be tied up and blindfolded away from them so the kidnappers won't endanger anyone else when they take him.

At Zeus' base (an abandoned horse racing track,) Zeus' top lieutenant, a masked centurion ("hoplite!") in black armor calling himself "Zero," is overseeing a series of forced death matches between the henchmen and sidekicks. 21 is forced to fight Ghost Robot. Ghost Robot, being a ghost that haunts the head of a robot, tries to plan with 21, telling 21 to hit him in his chest, where he will be unharmed. Then, the two can rise up together and take down Zeus and Zero. 21 ignores Ghost Robot's plan, and stabs him in the head. 21 is then returned to his cell, which he shares with Shore Leave, Billy, and Pete. They discuss what they believe to be Zeus' plan, having them kill each other off until only one remains.


The O.S.I. has called a conference between the primary hero and villain organizations who have been affected in order to resolve the kidnapping situation. Brock and Gathers represent SPHINX, Phantom Limb and Prof. Impossible represent the newly formed Revenge Society, Red Mantle and Dragoon (amongst others) represent the Guild, and representatives from other groups are in attendance as well. General Treister leads the meeting along with agents Doe and Cardholder. The meeting quickly falls into chaos as the representatives all bicker and fight.

Dr. Venture, still believing that he will be kidnapped next, is instead "kidnapped" by Hatred and the boys out of pity. They wear voice changing toy masks to conceal their identity and tie Venture up in Hatred's hover tank. As they "interrogate" and "torture" Venture, Hank accidentally lets Dean's name slip, leading Venture to believe that they have captured Dean. Dr. Venture pleads with them not to kill Dean, but to kill him instead. Hatred is impressed by Venture's rare selflessness towards Dean, but then Hank then tells Venture they have Hank as well. Venture tells them to go ahead and just kill Hank, leading Hank to angrily torture his father. After a while, they leave a talking teddy bear to "stand guard" over Venture, who converses with the bear as if it were a person.


Billy and Pete are summoned to fight each other, but instead bicker over who is the "hero" and who is the "villain." Frustrated, Zero has them thrown back into their cell with 21, Shore Leave, and Captain Sunshine's butler, Desmond. Desmond, apparently wounded in a previous fight, warns Shoreleave of Zero's true plan. 21 meditates in silence, apparently communicating with the ghost of 24, and then rises to ask his cellmates for help with his plan. He introduces himself as "Henchman #1" as he does so.

Hank is still torturing his father and asks him why he loves Dean more than Hank. Venture, still unaware that it's Hank he's talking to, says he knows they'd never manage to kill Hank, and that he admires Hank for resisting the Venture legacy like he does. He compares Hank to himself, as neither wants to follow in their father's footsteps and would apologize to Hank for bringing him into this doomed existence. He also says that he feels sorry for Dean, who (Venture inaccurately believes) actually buys into the whole "super science" thing.

Back in the O.S.I. meeting room, the group has been brainstorming the possible identify of Zeus. Red Mantle and Dragoon figure out that it might be Desmond, the original Captain Sunshine. (The current Captain Sunshine, as seen in Handsome Ransom, is actually the former Wonder Boy. When Desmond retired, he became the new Captain Sunshine and took on his own series of Wonder Boys.)

Billy, Pete, 21, and Shore Leave are made to fight in a battle royal. As soon as they begin, Billy and Pete flee while Shore Leave and 21 use their weapons to reveal that Zeus is merely a wooden dummy. Zero jumps down to fight 21 personally, but 21 insists on calling himself "Henchman #1." Zero angrily removes his helmet, revealing himself to be the former Henchman #1, Scott Hall, as seen in The Lepidopterists.

Hall, now calling himself "Henchman Zero," explains that he tricked Desmond (who still has his original Captain Sunshine powers of flying and light projection,) into dressing as Zeus to kidnap the sidekicks and henchmen, presumably for a party. When they had all been captured, Hall took over and threw Desmond into the fighting pit with the others. Hall now plans to kill off all the sidekicks and heroes, especially 21, for being left to die. As Hall prepares to fight 21, 21 reveals that Billy and Pete freed all of the others, who are now charging from the stables/prison at Hall, forcing him to flee.

At the O.S.I. meeting, Doe and Cardholder inform the group that the problem has resolved itself, and their kidnapped associates are outside waiting for them. They are all reunited, with the exception of the few who died. (US Steel can be seen weeping over the death of Ghost Robot.)

The Stinger shows Venture, still tied up in Sgt. Hatred's hovertank, talking to the teddy bear. Hatred asks Hank if they should let him go, but Hank says he is waiting for the ransom checks Venture wrote to clear.


  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Of a sort. During the O.S.I. conference, the attendees throw out several theories as to "Zeus's" nature, involving sci-fi or comic book tropes like jet packs, holograms or flight mutations. Red Dragoon is the only one to suggest the culprit might actually be Zeus, but his theory is dismissed as nonsense by General Treister, despite the existence of Zeus being far from the weirdest thing to have happened in the Venture universe.
  • Canada, Eh?: One of the attendees at the summit is Tiger Shark, a super-villain from the Canada-based Peril Partnership, who speaks with a slight Canadian accent and claims to have encountered Brock Sampson in Toronto - Sampson apparently broke both his knees and slept with his wife, and chuckles nostalgically about it when reminded.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ghost Robot is first seen in Handsome Ransom as part of the super team with Captain Sunshine and US Steel. He apparently serves as Steel's sidekick.
    • Most of the heroes and villains present at the O.S.I. meeting have been seen previously in the series.
    • The ex-Wonder Boy in Venture's support group in Self Medication is the Wonder Boy in the photo of the current Captain Sunshine and Desmond.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Tiger Shark makes a dive across the glass conference table to attack Brock Sampson, but doesn't get enough momentum and slides to a halt inches from him. Brock then picks him up and smashes him against the table, bloodying his nose.
  • Enemy Mine: In the wake of many of their henchmen, sidekicks and scientists being kidnapped by Zeus, General Treister of the O.S.I. organises an emergency summit between representatives for the O.S.I., S.P.H.I.N.X., the Guild of Calamitous Intent, the Revenge Society and the Peril Partnership, many of whom loathe each other.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Played with in Dr. Venture's situation. He shows a very rare moment of selflessness, asking his captors to kill him instead of Dean. Then immediately eliminates any good will he may have received by telling them to just kill Hank. Then gains it back when he explains that he knew they couldn't kill Hank if they tried and empathizing with Hank, who has been his Unfavorite for the majority of the series.
  • Legacy Character: Captain Sunshine is revealed to be one. The current Captain Sunshine served as Wonder Boy to Desmond, the former Captain Sunshine.
  • My Hero, Zero: "Zero," aka Henchman #1/Scott Hall
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode title comes from the movie Every Which Way but Loose, which was previous referenced in Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman.
    • During his kidnapping by Zeus, Shoreleave makes several references to Cinderella.
    • General Treister makes up several code names for the attendees at the meeting:
    • When 21 is meditating, Shoreleave calls him "Ghost Dog."
    • When Hatred and Hank fake kidnap Dr. Venture, they wear an Optimus Prime and a Hulk mask, respectively, as well as using a talking teddy bear based on Teddy Ruxpin.
    • When torturing Venture, Hank tries (and fails) to duplicate the chair torture scene from Casino Royale (2006). (Hank forgets to cut out the bottom of the chair...)
  • You Remind Me of X: A rather sad example. Rusty treats Hank like The Un-Favourite because the boy reminds him entirely too much of himself. Feeling sorry for pulling him into a life he never asked for unlike Dean who (he thinks) actually wants to be part of the super science world.

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