‘The Boys’ recap: “#Homelight” (Season 3 Episode 3)
Episode three of The Boys is an onslaught of the devastatingly unfair. The aftermath of Homelander’s ridiculous on-air birthday meltdown results not in punishment, but a massive boost to his numbers within his main demographic (white males, if you couldn’t guess). It’s news so good that a naked Homelander gets an erection when The Seven coordinator, Ashley (Colby Minifie), informs him about it.
Starlight is in a particularly miserable lurch this episode, told to suck it up and take it from all sides.When she attempts to pull her final blackmail card against Homelander — the footage of Homelander and Queen Maeve ditching a flight and its passengers’ moments before a crash — Homelander shrugs it off once-and-for-all in one of his more horrifying monologues. If the video is leaked and his life is ruined, he explains calmly, he’ll simply take down America — The White House, The Pentagon, domestic defense, critical infrastructure, and then a few big cities for good measure. He’s clearly thought about it, probably fantasized about it. “See, Starlight, I’d prefer to be loved,” he murmurs, “but if you take that away from me, being feared is A-1 okay by me.” Starlight is forced to kowtow to Homelander, including agreeing to his picks for the two new members of The Seven — Supersonic and the return of Starlight’s abuser, The Deep.
Starlight attempts to vent to an unhelpful Hughie, who insists she plow through this pain for the sake of their bigger goals. “So, for God knows how long, I have to paste on a smile with Homelander growing more unstable by the hour, hoping that he doesn’t kill me or worse?” she pleads. “If that’s what it takes, then yeah,” Hughie responds. Her only real support system at this point is Supersonic, who, despite Starlight’s warning, is willing to both join The Seven and help Starlight in the secret anti-Homelander, anti-Vought cause.
An incredibly sweet scene between Kimiko and Ryan Butcher — both gentle angels, fearful of the capabilities they have but do not want — highlights the unjust nature of forcing superabilities upon people who do not want them, or those who do not have the opportunity to benefit from the specific and limiting systems laid forth socially for the superabled. Ryan seems desperately to want to be a normal kid — wishing for a puppy he’s too scared to ask for lest he accidentally hurt it, while Kimiko stands on the other side of superabled existence, not worrying about what she could do, but grieving the destruction she’s already brought.
Highlights of the episode in terms of anticipated gross-out content include Kimiko breaking Hughie’s arm with such gusto the bone almost pops out, Homelander demanding The Deep eat a live octopus who telepathically begs for his life and inks down Deep’s chin as he tearfully swallows it whole, and Butcher’s superhero compound comedown leading to him accidentally spewing green bile all over Hughie mid-conversation.
We also get our first taste of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and his piggish, obnoxious persona (it seems that most everyone who has been involved in sanctioned superhero work has the tendency to absolutely suck) in a flashback from former CIA agent Mallory, who was in Nicaragua for an off-the-books Reagan operation at the time of Soldier Boy’s strange disappearance.
Perhaps most striking and somewhat disturbing is the end of this episode. Up until this point, Starlight has been practically incapable of becoming jaded, incredibly adept at shaking even the most intense traumas off, believing that good will prevail, that boundaries can be made.
But at the end of a taping of the reality show American Hero, Homelander pulls Starlight in by the waist and announces to the cameras that they are in love — making sure to mention the catchy ship name, #Homelight. In the final moments, Starlight gives in to the PR stunt with a “fuck it” mentality and kisses Homelander, the man who has repeatedly abused her, while The Deep, the man who sexually assaulted her, watches on. Her fist clenches and trembles behind her in the same way she used power through tummy aches at pageants as a kid. It’s a heartbreaker of a final shot, painful and unfair. One wonders if Starlight is starting to finally crack.
Image courtesy of Prime Video