To recap the previous recap: While searching for a weapon to kill Homelander, the Boys inadvertently freed Soldier Boy, a previously-thought KIA Supe with the same invulnerability and potential immortality of Homelander. Soldier Boy’s powers received an upgrade at the hands of Soviet torturers/scientists, and he can now explode with kinetic energy and strip away Supe powers. Meanwhile, Homelander tightened his grip on Vought, the Seven, and Starlight. And after a single dose, Hughie is already hopelessly addicted to superpowers.
The Boys’ fifth episode of the season is a masterclass in being careful what you wish for. Nearly everyone in this episode gets exactly what they want only for it to explode in their faces. The Homelander dreamed of controlling Vought International and gets his wish but is woefully out of his depth and knows it. His first scene is a recreation of the bizarre 2017 Trump Cabinet meeting in which his appointees went around the room praising our orange catastrophe like a North Korean dictator. It’s only the first in a number of Kripke & Co. digs at the MAGA mindset that have finally cracked their self-delusional armor.
Meanwhile, Butcher finally found a weapon that might kill Homelander. Bad news, it’s walking around in the form of a PTSD-afflicted POW. Soldier Boy is not well, and that’s a problem for everyone. After making his way back to New York, Soldier Boy experiences a flashback triggered by a Russian radio program. The resulting explosion destroys a nearby building and kills at least 19 in what authorities assume is a terrorist attack. Homelander, more concerned with polls and stocks than civilian casualties, puts Starlight on the case. Starlight’s barely holding it together after Supersonic’s brutal murder and Hughie’s attempt at spinning his recent drug use phase but still finds the strength to check in with Crime Analytics about Soldier Boy’s explosion, where she learns The Deep fired nearly everyone as part of Homelander’s obsessive need for absolute loyalty.
The Boys have another asset who may be able to help, however, and we finally get to meet The Legend (Paul Reiser, doing his best impression of Eliot Gould in Ocean’s Eleven). The Legend is a former influential VP of Vought International’s Hero Division who handled marketing and coverups before being banished by Edgar and Stillwell as part of their image makeover. To hear him tell it, he had his fingers — and other body parts — in every shady Hollywood deal for decades. He owes MM after orchestrating the coverup of his family’s accidental deaths at the hands of Soldier Boy, and eventually confesses the old superhero is on his way to look up his old girlfriend, the Crimson Countess. It won’t go well for her because it turns out she’s the one who handed him to the Commies.
To be honest, it doesn’t go well for any of the women in this week’s episode. Maeve, after hate-sex with Butcher, finally tells Homelander how she’s always felt about him right before she’s ambushed by Black Noir, who I don’t think we’ve seen since Maeve triggered his peanut allergy last season (no fluffernutters for him). New CEO Ashley is riding the proverbial tiger, and it shows in her exhaustion and the cracks around her eyes and mouth — Colby Minifie is crushing it, bee tee dubs. You can see the moment where she snuffs the last remaining spark of rebellion in her soul, and it’s as chilling as it is heartbreaking.
Kimiko isn’t having a good time either. Though thrilled to find herself depowered and momentarily lost in a delightful musical interlude, she’s left feeling abandoned when Frenchie suddenly disappears after their first real kiss. To be fair, it’s not entirely his fault. Little Nina has kidnapped him after he refused to murder a child and her father, and it will no doubt be up to Kimiko to choose between a life as a normal human or regaining her powers to rescue Frenchie. One floor below A-Train sits in a room with his now wheelchair-bound brother, left forever paralyzed after Blue Hawk lashed out. Yet another character who got exactly what he wanted.
Still, it’s the Countess for whom things go from bad to worse. First, she has to watch The Boys executive producer Seth Rogen beat his meat via webcam on her SuperPorn Platinum account — think OnlyFans for the superpower set. Before he can finish Butcher and MM have her chained up, hands duct-taped to stop her from using her powers. When they tell her she’s bait for Soldier Boy she confesses she knew the Reds had him all along and begs to be freed before he murders her. But before he arrives there’s time for a superpowered Hughie to disappoint Annie and Butcher to betray MM one more time, as he drugs his only friend and makes a deal with Soldier Boy; he gets the Countess, Butcher gets help dealing with Homelander. In the Countess’s final moments with Soldier Boy, she delivers the same stinging rebuke that Maeve gave Homelander just the day before; she hates him. She has always hated him With the Countess’s crispy corpse as payment in service as terms rendered, there’s time enough for one final betrayal; Hughie, who knew about Butcher’s plan and is desperate to finally end Homelander’s threat and maybe Vought once and for all, leaves her to go with the two allied psychopaths. In this deal, there are only devils.
The Boys have hit it out of the park each episode this season, and despite a surprising lack of gore the violence this week was very real. Homelander and Soldier Boy lashing out at their exes and the women around them are an uncomfortable analogy for how many mass shooter events are preceded by similar violence against women. Wives, girlfriends, and mothers are often the first targets, and many times are the first ones killed after years of abuse. They’re often blamed by their killers — and the media, and society — for the violence they endure, and I have to assume that was Eric Kripke’s and writer Ellie Monahan’s point. For all the differences and decades between them, Homelander and Soldier Boy share the same arrogance fueled by massive insecurity.
We can’t discuss last week’s episode without addressing the elephant in the room, namely, the MAGA crowd finally catching on that hey, maybe Homelander and the supes were the bad guys all along? Unconvinced by the countless murders, sexual assaults, and f*cking a Nazi, the least clever 30% of the population finally twigged to Kripke’s point when Blue Hawk violently attacked a crowd of Black community members, crippling A-Train’s brother, only to blame the event on Antifa. How it took 2 ½ seasons and a press conference to clue them in I’ll never understand. Kripke has never hidden his views — check out his Twitter feed for confirmation — and The Boys was never subtle in its critique of American politics driven by consumerism and corporate greed. While Kripke’s criticism of the performatively woke and progressive idealism hiding personal greed shows up from time to time, easily 75% of the show’s material skewers the right-wing media machine and reactionary, conservative politics. From evangelical churches to defense contractors, Kripke gets his licks in. It’s astonishing it took anyone this long to figure it out. The Boys reddit page has been a prime example of the mental gymnastics it takes to say “Well I’m not a racist but Stormfront\Homelander\Blue Hawk\Trump have a point.” While Garth Ennis’s Preacher and The Boys had strong anti-fascist and anti-racist themes, their nihilistic worldview and graphic violence appealed to certain readers despite those themes rather than because of them. It was easier to skip past the ideas that made them uncomfortable and focus on the most shallow aspects. They were able to do so for the last several years until Kripke rubbed their faces in it. I love him all the more for it.
That’s not to say everything was doom and gloom this episode. We finally got to see Jensen Ackles give us those sad puppy-dog eyes, albeit right before he murdered a woman in cold blood. Soldier Boy is clearly a monster and not to be trusted, but in his very limited defense decades of torture can’t be good for the psyche. I’m curious how, despite their inability to remove Soldier Boy’s powers and kill him, the Russians managed to turn him into an anti-supe weapon of mass destruction. And the “Robert Singer for President” poster cracked me up. Enough with the foreplay; I’m dying to see Jim Beaver and Jensen Ackles together again. At this point, I think Supernatural is a canonical, multiversal neighbor to the Boys’ universe. Not only does Robert Singer share a face and name with our beloved Bobby Singer, Stan Edgar calls him Dakota Bob this season. Dakota Bob, of course, was the related character’s name in The Boys graphic novels, but Bobby Singer’s home base was in South Dakota. Coincidence? I think not. It’s just a shame to see a man like Bobby Singer get roped into politics. At least he’s a Democrat.
I’m also curious what expression was on Homelander’s face while he watched Soldier Boy go boom. Was it fear? Excitement? Is he hoping this is the final trigger to set his apocalyptic fantasies in motion? Only time will tell. I’m also very curious to learn what happened to Victoria Neuman’s daughter. Given the monkey’s paw-like aspect of every Vought, International sponsored wish, I’m expecting some truly horrific results. But who knows, maybe the kid will get a happy ending. No one else has, but anything is possible.
But for now, grab your coconut oil, tissues, and prophylactics, because this week brings us “Herogasm.” How Kripke plans to top his already graphic sex scenes with this superpowered orgy is anyone’s guess, but I expect the results will be… sticky. And, for the love of god, leave the black light off.
Header Image Source: Prime Video Screenshots