Thursday, August 18, 2022

'The Boys' season three review: 'Herogasm,' politics and more

July 15, 2022
<p>Illustration by Madison Echlin</p>

Illustration by Madison Echlin

Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

Yes, this will have spoilers. Go watch “The Boys” and come back here when you’re done. 

Let’s talk about season three. I will begin with episode one.

In the first 15 minutes, audiences witness the most grueling, graphic scene that has, perhaps, ever been shown in a show – super-powered humans shrinking and engaging in butt things. 

But, I think I speak for everyone when I ask, “Why didn’t we see Ant-Man do this in "Endgame?'' 

Regardless, we witness a year-long time jump in which Hughie is a liaison for the Boys and the Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, and Hughie directly reports to Victoria Neuman (remember … Neuman blew up Congress in season two’s finale). 

Hughie is an insecure follower and incapable of making decisions by himself, which will cause tension between him and Starlight in future episodes. 

The main takeaways of this episode include V24, the potential existence of a weapon that will kill Homelander (because the weapons ‘killed’ Homelander’s predecessor, Soldier Boy) and Hughie witnessing Neuman using her powers and her real name being ‘Nadia.’ 

In episode two, Hughie visits Red River, an orphanage for superpowered children, where he learns that Neuman is Edgar's adopted daughter. 

Hughie learns, Vought is everywhere. 

Hughie finds himself stuck between his vision of what a ‘moral’ rebellion against Vought looks like and the reality of what it will take to put an end to Vought’s reign. 

“The Boys” has always posed this challenging question: “Do you defeat oppressive structures with an equal ‘playing field’ or do you take the ‘high road?’"

Do you have to become the bad guy to beat the bad guy? 

That is where “The Boys” succeeds, by giving us a mirror version of our reality, asking us ‘Is there, truly, any ‘moral’ way out when living in a system that is inherently built by immorality?’ Butcher battles in answering this question and after learning of Neuman's powers from Hughie, Butcher takes a dose of V24 and uses it to kill Soldier Boy's former sidekick, Gunpowder. 

In addition, after learning that Stormfront committed suicide, Homelander has a meltdown during his televised birthday celebration, suggesting he is under persecution from Vought executives and is the world’s savior. 

Homelander is a product of Vought, made to uphold Vought’s power and exert their authority over people. 

But, what happens when economic and political structures, like Vought, are overpowered by their by-products (Homelander and Soldier Boy). In this way, “The Boys” provides a critique on capitalism and the role of capitalism in creating and upholding white supremacy, and the relationship between white supremacy and American exceptionalism. 

“The Boys” is political. You can’t get less political than this. 

In episode three, we learn Payback, Soldier Boy’s team, was deployed to assist the CIA against communists in Nicaragua during the Cold War (*cough cough* American exceptionalism), but were ambushed during an attack by Russian and Nicaraguan soldiers, leaving Black Noir mutilated and Soldier Boy dead. So, the Boys head to Russia in the next episode and Hughie secretly takes a dose of V24 and uses it to kill one of the Russian soldiers guarding a secret laboratory. 

At the secret laboratory, the Boys find an alive Soldier Boy, who releases an energy blast, severely injuring Kimiko and leaving her without powers. 

In episode five, MM, Hughie and Butcher learn from former Vought executive, the Legend, that Soldier Boy is going after Crimson Countess as revenge for giving him up to the Russians. 

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Butcher and Hughie partner with Soldier Boy to kill Homelander. 

In addition, A-Train tells Blue Hawk, another supe, to apologize to the Black community for using excessive force against them, but Blue Hawk flies into a violent rage during the event, paralyzing A-Train's brother Nathan. 

As a result, A-Train does the iconic Kendall Jenner-Pepsi ad and the Deep pulls a Gal-Gadot (celebrities singing “Imagine“… because we all definitely wanted to see that during the pandemic). 

Next up is HEROGASM! “Herogasm” is an annual superhero orgy event. This episode showed a lot of body parts. 

The Boys head to “Herogasm,” hosted by former Payback members (and Soldier Boy’s prey), the TNT Twins.  

After the twins claim Noir also sold Soldier Boy out to the Russians, Soldier Boy accidentally releases another energy blast, destroying the building and killing the TNT twins. 

Soldier Boy, V-powered Butcher and Hughie beat-up Homelander, who escapes before Soldier Boy energy blasts him, resulting in Starlight filming a live stream for her 190 million followers, quitting the Seven and publicly outing Vought, Soldier Boy and Homelander for their actions.

Starlight encapsulates unbiased judgment and somewhat-objective condemnation of the world around her. She is outside the Boys and Vought/Homelander, at times seeing both as two sides of the same coin. However, some may say she is unwilling to do what the Boys are – evening out the playing field – and that makes her blind to the world’s reality.

The fight between Soldier Boy, Homelander, Hughie and Butcher was incredible. I was screaming at my screen. 

In episode seven, we get Noir’s backstory, who is revealed to have traded Soldier Boy to the Russians on Edgar's behalf with the help of Payback, the group resenting Soldier Boy for his abuse. 

Soldier Boy also kills Mindstorm, another Payback member, shortly after Butcher is released from his Mindstorm-induced nightmare about his father’s abuse towards Butcher and his little brother, Lenny. 

Kimiko also has her own arc, in which she wants her powers back because Kimiko realizes she is not defined by how she was given her powers and how she formerly used them. 

While retrieving Compound V for Kimiko at Vought, Annie discovers that V24 will kill users after three to five doses, which she informs Butcher, but Butcher chooses to not tell Hughie.

Moreover, we learn Soldier Boy is Homelander’s biological father.

Now, onto the season finale ….

Homelander finds Ryan (Butcher’s wife, Becca’s, son ... also Homelander’s son) with the help of Neuman.

Homelander also kills Noir for never having revealed that Homelander is Soldier Boy's son. 

Maeve joins Butcher and, along with Soldier Boy, locks the rest of the Boys and Starlight in a safe room to prevent them from interfering with their plan to kill Homelander.  

Soldier Boy attacks Ryan, and Butcher turns against him. They all fight, while Maeve attempts to take out Homelander, who manages to gouge one of Maeve’s eyes out.

The fight between Maeve and Homelander is one of my all-time favorite ‘superhero’ fights. It doesn’t get any better than this. 

Starlight and the rest of the Boys arrive, and Hughie overloads the power from the control room and Starlight, then, overpowers Soldier Boy. 

While Soldier Boy prepares to energy-blast, Maeve tackles him out of a window, saving the Boys' lives and losing her powers. 

Soldier Boy isn’t dead though – he is put into stasis. 

Jensen Ackles, I better see you next season. 

Starlight joins the Boys and Butcher learns he has months to live, because of his V24 usage. 

And, let’s be real, Starlight and Butcher will clash next season, battling for leadership of the Boys.

Homelander and Ryan attend a rally for Singer and Neuman, where Homelander kills a protesting Starlight supporter (this protester is, notably, called a “lib”) who throws a bottle at Ryan. 

The crowd cheers for Homelander, while Ryan smirks. 

Ryan chose Butcher last season and this season, Ryan chose Homelander. 


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