The Boys are continuing their quest to check off members of Soldier Boy’s hit list. This time, they’re after the mind controlling Mindstorm (Ryan Blakely), who can force people into their own psyches. Soldier Boy is not doing too hot, relying on an immense amount of marijuana and general avoidance of civilization to prevent another one of his nuclear meltdowns. He is, as Hughie describes him, “radioactive, highly traumatized, and heavily self-medicated.” Though at this point, most everyone on The Boys fit most of these descriptors.
The penultimate episode of this season has our central characters — especially the usually forcefully stoic and repressed men — beginning to fall apart at the seams. Soldier Boy is at constant risk of a catastrophic meltdown. Homelander is beginning to hallucinate his antagonists seemingly at random. When Mindstorm gets a hold of Butcher’s subconscious, he takes Butcher on a dreamy tour of his childhood trauma — his abusive father, the death of his brother, the distance of his mother. Black Noir, holed up, isolated, and at a mental breaking point, is walked through his tumultuous past with Soldier Boy and Payback by some quirky animated forest creatures (taking the satirization of The Boys to a whole new level by dipping a toe into a twisted mockery of animated Disneyfication). A-Train survived his heart attack, but only by receiving a heart transplant from Blue Hawk — a part of the man who ruined his brother’s life is now literally in him forever, and A-Train is all the more attached and in debt to Vought. Mother’s Milk reaches a breaking point in his relationship with Todd, the stepdad to his daughter and a suspiciously pro-Homelander civilian, eventually knocking him out cold in his family driveway.
This episode is loaded up with callbacks to all of the standout quirks of our freaky superheroes. The Deep attempts a saucy threesome with his new wife and a squid that he’s communicating with telepathically — “She thinks you’re really hot,” he offers encouragingly to wife as she looks at the sea creature in disgust. Homelander, back on the hunt for some fresh milk, obtains some directly from a cow’s udder, a look of sheer, aroused bliss across his face as he milks her. In a continued attempt to have as many supes as possible be into some good old-fashioned freak shit, Soldier Boy is revealed to have a fetishistic infatuation with older women — a tidbit we are offered in the opening scenes of the episode as we find him masturbating alongside Legend’s elderly cleaning ladies.
We finally catch sight of Queen Maeve, still alive but trapped in one of the super-strength holding cells presumably down in the sub-basements of Vought. Maeve is being kept alive only for a particularly horrific use — Homelander hopes to harvest her eggs before killing her, dreaming of creating doubly superpowered spawn from their collective genes.
Vought and the systemic powers that be are pushing an anti-Starlight narrative, claiming that she is spreading misinformation, trafficking children, and is to be treated as a public enemy. Homelander rants and raves at political rallies, Ashley desperately tries to do crisis control on political pundit television.
Meanwhile, Starlight continues her online media crusade, continually livestreaming to the remainder of her adoring public and those distrusting of Vought. This practice ends up giving Starlight her biggest publicity boon yet, as she successfully gets Homelander on camera verbally threatening her and Hughie — a gotcha that seems remarkably smooth for the usually rocky and endless losses experienced by the good guys in The Boys.
Starlight also discovers that the Temp V her non-superable team has been using so freely has some extremely dangerous side effects. At the level that Hughie and Butcher are using it, their brains are likely to already be loaded with lesions, and with a few more doses, their bodies are likely to give out entirely. Temp V could very easily kill them soon. But the thrill of the immense strength (and their ability to brush its use off as being part of a bigger cause) irrationally outweighs the risks — Butcher chooses not to tell Hughie the information Starlight relayed, insisting they keep using it to continue their quest to kill Homelander.
Similarly, Kimiko is ready to be back on Compound V, her longing to no longer be “a monster” outweighed by her need to protect and care for her family — of which she now officially and most seriously counts Frenchie.
With tensions as high as they are in the penultimate episode, I imagine a fairly extreme face-off on the horizon between The Boys and Vought’s supes — and I don’t imagine everyone getting out alive, though it’s hard to say if their own hubris or their perceived antagonists will be the one taking them down.
The episode ends with a classic nerdy little twist as Soldier Boy places a call to Homelander to casually inform him that he is, in fact, his father — it’s a trope generally destined to bring a conflict to a particularly intense, and often fatal, head. It bodes well for a classically chaotic finale.
Image courtesy of Amazon Studios