Last episode of The Boys ended with the reappearance of Butcher. While the rest of the crew is happy to see him (or at least relieved to have him in charge again), Hughie is most definitely not.
Puzzles and Parts to Play
The episode opens with Butcher recalling what the hectic moments following Homelander’s revelation that Becca was still alive.
The first thing he remembers is waking up in the middle of a parking lot of an Italian restaurant. He gets up, storms inside, and asks the hostess what city he’s in. After she informs him that it’s Fort Wayne, he grabs a crayon and a menu, which he uses to write down every detail he can recollect about where Becca was. When a news report about his wanted status shows up on the television, however, he quickly exits.
Back in the present, Butcher stares at his list, still unable to piece together where Homelander took him or how to get back there to his wife.
Meanwhile, Kimiko continues trying to communicate something to Frenchie about a “boy,” but continues to be unsuccessful. Butcher comes in and informs the group that he’s going to meet a contact. Hughie is incensed that their former leader thinks he can just walk back into their lives. He demands to know where he’s been and why he has the audacity to think the team will follow him without question.
Butcher smugly asks “Well…who else they gonna follow?” before heading out the door.
Catch and Release
Homelander plays catch with his and Becca’s son (Ryan) in her backyard. The kid is objectively awful, but that doesn’t stop the superhero from attempting to bond with him over it. When he asks Ryan to use his powers, however, the boy claims that he doesn’t have them.
Before Homelander can insist on it further, Becca walks outside and calls Ryan in to do his homework. When she asks Homelander when he’ll leave them alone, he reminds her of a deal they made while also implying that he might be sticking around for a while.
Later, Becca drops Ryan off at his piano lessons and burns rubber out of town. She eventually reaches a giant wall, revealing that the entire area she lives in is isolated from the rest of the world. She gets out of her car and orders the security guard on duty to open the main gate. When he refuses, she demands to speak to the lead doctor (Dr. Park).
Before the guard can refuse, Park calls down and asks him to put Becca on the phone. She angrily asks why Homelander is at her house when she was promised he would never know about Ryan and she would never have to see him again. Park replies that their arrangement will be impossible to keep now that Homelander is aware of her and Ryan’s existence. For now, Vought thinks the best thing she can do is to keep him calm in the hopes that he’ll get bored and move on.
While all this is happening, Homelander wanders through Becca’s home. He goes through her things a bit before smiling directly at one of the security cameras.
That night, Homelander gives Ryan his very own phone. He also reveals that he never had a dad–or a mom. Not having parents who loved him resulted in a pain that gods like he and his son should never have to experience. He also tells the boy that they are are better than the mortals who surround them and can do anything they want.
Ryan is clearly put off by his father’s viewpoint, but things gets exponentially creepier when he coaxes his son into saying “I love you” before shutting the door.
Out in the hallway, Becca demands that Homelander leave her home. He responds by asking how she thinks Ryan will react when he finds out that the world he lives in is actually a prison. He also assures her that he’s not going to “get bored and move on” before asking if she’d like to join him downstairs for some popcorn.
Gill Comes Due
Carol looks over the Deep’s answers to a test for the Church of the Collective. She notes that he seems ashamed of his gills, which causes him to lash out.
When Eagle arrives home (with two 6-packs of Fresca), Carol expresses her concern that the Deep’s “operating perspective is functionally non-existent,” making him an incompatible candidate for their program. The Eagle assures her that he can break through to him, which he does by making him a cup of psychedelic tea.
The Deep goes into a room to hallucinate by himself. Things get much weirder than he anticipated when his gills start speaking to him. They also go into full psychoanalysis mode, pointing out that he demeans and humiliates women because of his fear that they’ll do the same if they see his gills.
The Deep tries to ignore the hallucination, but the gills continue to work on his psyche and his heart, insisting that he deserves to be loved and should embrace who he is. This leads to them signing a duet of “You Are So Beautiful,” which finally breaks down the Deep’s emotional walls along with my patience for this entire plot line.
Annie/Starlight powers through a day of press events, made even more grueling by the girl power ad blitz featuring her, Maeve and Stormfront. Maeve gets a phone call in the middle of things and leaves for a “family emergency” over Ashley’s vehement protestations. This leaves Starlight and Stormfront to do the rest of the events without her.
Stormfront quickly grows tired of the proceedings and starts letting her real (and significantly more crass) personality shine through. She even calls out Vought for dressing their female superheroes in skintight outfits without pockets. Starlight doesn’t quite have the nerve to follow in her lead, but is clearly enjoying the show…until A-Train makes an unexpected PR appearance.
As you might imagine, she’s more than a little freaked out to see him. Not only does the super speedster know about her betrayal against Vought, but he’d also been near death due to a heart attack caused by abusing Compound V. For now, though, everyone pretends to be happy and plays nice for the cameras.
Later, at a meet-and-greet event, the pair have a cordially coded conversation. Things get extremely tense when A-Train bluntly reveals that he remembers Starlight being in league with Hughie. When she asks if he told anyone, A-Train simply walks away with a smirk.
Starlight’s afternoon gets even worse when she finds Stormfront and tries to express her admiration of her. Instead of being appreciative, the new member of the Seven tells Starlight that she’s the perfect plastic representation of everything Vought wants out of their heroes. She then points out that some weird dude is looking at her before walking off without a second glance.
Turns out the weird dude is Gecko, who got the Compound V like she asked for. Unfortunately, her outfit doesn’t have any pockets. A-Train whisks over to see what he gave her, but she manages to hide the vial in Stormfront’s backpack.
That night, Starlight approaches Stormfront again, this time to reacquire the Compound V. She also uses the opportunity to state that she’s not the good little Vought soldier the brash hero thinks she is. Once again, Stormfront is unimpressed. Instead, she encourages her to “drop the mask once in a while” and try living life on her own terms.
Starlight goes back to her apartment and texts Hughie that she got the Compound V. A-Train also shows up, taking the vial and gloating over how much he’ll enjoy watching her suffer after he turns her in.
Annie is initially shaken, but decides to take Stormfront’s words to heart and push back.
She tells her teammate that there’s no way he’s going to turn her in. If he does, she’ll publicly reveal that he killed his girlfriend, Popclaw. When A-Train hesitantly expresses his skepticism that she’d do such a thing, Starlight assures him of her willingness to go full scorched earth. She then gently takes the Compound V out of his hands and watches him leave.
Maeve dons an incognito civilian look and heads to the hospital, where her ex-girlfriend Elena is suffering from a case of appendicitis. She also still had Maeve (as Maggie Shaw) listed as her emergency contact.
While it’s clear that the superhero still cares deeply for her ex, Elena appears to have moved on. That doesn’t stop Maeve from insisting that she stay and watch over her, though. The pair eventually start to relax and enjoy each other’s company like they used to before Elena asks what the point of all this is if nothing’s changed.
After skirting around a direct answer, Maeve finally tells a story about the time Homelander brutally murdered a producer that had flirted with her at an Oscar party. If he would tear apart a man who wasn’t even worth his jealousy, there’s no telling what Homelander would do if he found out Maeve had a girlfriend who she truly loved.
After attending Susan Raynor’s funeral, Colonel Grace Mallory is confronted by Butcher in the parking garage. He promises to find whoever killed Raynor (and the escaped super terrorist), but she has no interesting in working with him again. Butcher then gets desperate and begs her to hear him out.
We don’t get to see what he told her just yet, but it must have worked. Butcher returns to his crew’s hideout and informs them that Mallory has offered to have the CIA scrub their records if they bring her the escaped super terrorist. She also provided intel that will lead them to his current location.
The place turns out to be a nearby costume shop, which serves as a front for the Shining Light of Liberation Army–the group that kidnapped Kimiko and killer her parents. Kimiko quickly locates a man who she remembers from her childhood making a bomb and rips his head off.
Frenchie looks at the dead man’s chest, recognizes the Shining Light tattoo, and deduces that something is amiss. Unfortunately, he comes to the realization just as Kimiko takes off and begins climbing across the costume shop’s shelves. She quickly tracks down the super terrorist and jumps down in front of him. The two stand motionless for a moment before wrapping each other up in a warm embrace.
Turns out the super terrorist (who she calls Mouse) is Kimiko’s brother, who she can communicate with via a form of sign language they made up together.
While Frenchie and Hughie stare in amazement, Butcher continues to line up for a shot. Hughie sees what he’s about to do and dives toward him, sending the shot wide and drawing Mouse’s attention. He uses his powers to shove Butcher and his team back before bringing down the scaffolding on top of them and running off with Kimiko.
After the team pulls themselves out of the rubble, Butcher is stopped by MM from beating the life out of Hughie. When they they refuse to follow him after Kimiko, he finally reveals that Becca is alive. Butcher also confesses that he made a deal with Mallory to find Mouse in exchange for her help rescuing his wife.
Kimiko and Mouse sit on a playground swing set, sharing their joy at finally being reunited while comforting each other about the past. As the pair take a walk through the city, Kimiko suggests that they go back to their village, which Mouse informs her is impossible since it was annihilated by American superheroes.
He then expresses his allegiance to Shining Light. Kimiko is hurt and furious, which is completely understandable considering they were the group that killed their parents. She begs Mouse to go with her, but he refuses, insisting that he must continue his work for Shining Light to avenge what the superheroes did to their people.
Mouse tries to leave, but Kimiko stops him, leading to a sibling brawl that rivals anything you ever went through in your living room as a kid. She eventually overpowers and subdues him just as Butcher and his crew pull up. Kimiko is still protective of her little brother, but helps them load him into the van.
Before getting back on the road, Butcher socks Hughie in the face. He also warns him that if he ever jeopardizes his mission to rescue Becca, he’ll kill him.
There was a lot to like in this episode. Unfortunately, the subplots are going to have to get better or risk taking down the entire narrative with them.
The stuff with the Deep was great last season, but is ridiculously low stakes compared to everything else that’s going on. Also, I love Patton Oswalt, but even his comedic genius wasn’t enough to make the gill conversation scenes funny.
As far as the Maeve/Elena narrative is concerned, it’s well done yet highly predictable. That entire plot line was already well explored last season except for the revelation about Homelander. Which it was certainly a shock to Elena, it doesn’t do much to move things forward.
I’m sure both of these plot lines will end up tying in to the other/better narratives later. For now, however, they are sections I would definitely skip through if I wasn’t reviewing.
On the positive side of things, we finally are getting somewhere with Butcher’s story. The episode also does a brilliant job expanding on Homelander’s relationship to Becca and Ryan. I’m not sure you could ask for a potent and paradoxical mix of sympathetic, creepy, and terrifying.
I also love that A-Train and Annie look like they’re going to be consistent and bitter rivals this season. Every scene with those two feels like one or both of them could explode at any moment.
Another great dynamic was the one we saw between Kimiko and Mouse. It’s jarring to see her so happy and vulnerable only to have to kick her brother’s ass. There’s no way that doesn’t get ratcheted up a few notches with Butcher throwing around tactless barbs once Mouse wakes up.
I’m honestly not sure what to think of Stormfront yet. Part of me wants to write her off as a static “I don’t give a s**t about anything” persona, but Aya Cash plays her so well that I can’t help but look forward to seeing what she does next.
Continue to our recap/review of ‘The Boys’ Season 2, Episode 3 ‘Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men’ here.