Last episode of The Boys concluded with Butcher back in charge, Hughie with a swollen jaw, and the team bringing a captured super terrorist to Colonel Mallory in exchange for her help rescuing Butcher’s wife.
Oh, and the super terrorist also happens to be Kimiko’s long lost brother.
Rough Sea Ahead
The episode opens with Hughie once again listening to Billy Joel’s “You’re Only Human”. He’s also on a boat with Butcher, who interrupts his music therapy sessions to ask how long he’s going to be sad and angry with him. He also attempts a weak apology, resulting in an even weaker right cross from Hughie.
After Mother’s Milk breaks up the one-sided scuffle, Butcher gets a call from Mallory. After confirming that they still have the super terrorist, she assures him that a team will be there to retrieve the prisoner in a few hours. She also asks a somewhat random question (if he’s ever heard of an old superhero called Liberty) before expressing her concern that Kimiko might be compromised (with the terrorist being her brother and all).
Butcher assures his old boss that if push comes to shove, he’ll neutralize her. Frenchie hears this and is not please. Kimiko also might have heard him, but it’s hard to tell since Butcher inspires looks of disdain from everyone he interacts with.
Kimiko goes into the room where her brother is being held and offers him a cup of water, which he refuses. When she promises she won’t let anyone hurt him, Mouse is highly skeptical she’ll be able to stop the American government from subjecting him to experiments/torture. He pleads with his sister to let him go and promises not to hurt anyone, but she tearfully refuses and leaves. Unbeknownst to her, Mouse begins rubbing the tape binding his hands together against his handcuffs.
Lighting the Fuse
Back in New York, A-Train exits a club after partying all night, which puts even more strain on his already overtaxed heart. He then joins Starlight, Stormfront, Black Noir, Maeve, and Ashley back at Vought Tower, where a movie producer is going over storyboards for a new film about the (fabricated) origin of The Seven.
When he’s done, Stormfront rips the dude a new one for how terribly he writes all the characters who are women. Ashley attempts to defend the script by saying that Homelander loves it, which falls incredibly flat after Stormfront points out that he hadn’t been around lately.
Before Ashley is forced to make up an explanation for the head hero’s absence, she gets a shocking alert on her phone: Someone has leaked to the media that superheroes are not born, but made via injections of Compound V. She darts out of the meeting and runs to intercept Stan Edgar, who calmly assures her they have everything under control.
Starlight goes back to her apartment and watches the news, gleefully basking in the part she played bringing the blockbuster knowledge/scandal to the public.
When A-Train zips into her living room and chastises her, she reminds him that he let her keep the Compound V, which makes him complicit. He responds by lamenting how her actions will destroy every revenue steam the heroes currently enjoy.
Meanwhile, Black Noire slumps against a wall in Vought tower and cries as he watches the news on his phone.
Take Downs and Take Backs
Hughie sees the news about Compound V and calls Annie, ecstatic that their plan actually worked. After leaving a voicemail, he’s mobbed by an overjoyed MM and Frenchie. Butcher simply acknowledges the proceedings with a curt “Nice one”.
MM asks why Butcher is not properly thrilled over Vought finally being exposed. He responds by reminding his crew that they have a super terrorist on board a boat–a situation that could very easily go south if they don’t stay frosty. Nevertheless, MM and Frenchie reassure Hughie that he should be extremely proud of what he helped accomplish.
Later, Frenchie visits Mouse and offers him a bag of Doritos. He’s surprised when the prisoner rejects the food with a firm “F**k you”, and not just because it’s impossible for someone to turn down a bag of Doritos when they’re hungry. Their prisoner has been holding out on the fact that he can speak/understand English.
Frenchie excitedly offers Mouse an energy drink. He accepts this offer, but Frenchie pulls it away at the last second. He then asks him to explain the sign language he and Kimiko use with each other. Mouse reveals that the night their parents were murdered, Kimiko simply stopped speaking and hasn’t uttered a sound since. They developed the sign language during their time in captivity, which helped them stay alive.
Frenchie asks Mouse if he will teach him and offers the energy drink. Mouse gets to take a sip this time, but also offers another “F**k you” in return. Frenchie places the energy drink and bag of Doritos on a dresser and leaves. Once he’s gone, Mouse levitates the drink toward him via a finger he’s dug through the tape around his hands. He then crushes the can into a blade, which he uses to begin cutting himself free.
Homelander forces Becca to serve a family breakfast for him and Ryan. He then asks the boy to come outside for a flying lesson. After taking him up to the roof, he assures Ryan that his ability fly will to take hold if he simply takes a leap of faith. When the boy is too scared to do so on his own, Homelander pushes him off the roof.
Becca runs outside to tend to her unconscious son. Thankfully, he doesn’t have any broken bones or bruises. That doesn’t stop her from tearing Homelander a new one, who responds by calmly insisting that he knows what’s best for Ryan by virtue of being his father.
When Becca tries to take her son inside, Homelander forcefully grabs her hand and begins to squeeze. Ryan responds by shoving his father to the ground as his eyes begin to glow red. Instead of being angry, the psychotic patriarch is pleased to see his son finally demonstrating his powers. Unfortunately for him, the incident upsets Ryan to the point that he screams at Homelander to leave him and his mother alone.
Maeve watches an interview with her father feigning ignorance about Compound V. She calls Elena, who suggests this might be her chance to leave the Seven so they have a life together. Maeve starts to remind her of the danger that would put her in when Homelander unexpectedly appears.
After Maeve hangs up, the leader of the Seven tells his longtime ally that of all the people at Vought, she’s the only one he can count on. He then asks who Elena is. Maeve lies and says she’s simply an old friend she was venting to about all the craziness happening that day. To her surprise, Homelander hasn’t even heard about the Compound V report.
Back out at sea, an NYPD helicopter bears down Butcher & Co’s boat, which was apparently “borrowed” without the owner’s permission. As Butcher attempts to smooth things over with the cops, Mouse shows up on deck and telekinetically hurls the boat’s anchor at him. Kimiko forces her brother’s arm in another direction, saving Butcher but putting the chopper directly in Mouse’s radius and causing it to crash.
While Kimiko and Frenchie rebind Mouse’s hands, Hughie demands that they help the officers who were in the helicopter. Butcher refuses, insisting that they’re already dead and starts the boat’s engine to make an escape. As they motor away from the wreckage, Hughie throws a life preserver into the water behind them. It’s a noble yet futile gesture, which if painfully on brand.
As the Compound V news report plays on a nearby TV, The Deep tells Eagle how betrayed he feels that his parents lied to him about his “gift”. Eagle tries to get him to calm down, but to no avail.
Things get significantly more interesting when Carol shows up and announces that it’s finally time for him to make his big redemption play at getting back in The Seven. The directive comes from the leader of The Collective himself (Allistar Adana), who used his significant resources/contacts to learn about the escaped super terrorist taking down an NYPD helicopter. The Deep is nervous that he isn’t ready, but Carol and Eagle insist it’s his time.
Back in New York, Vought’s executive team is in full crisis mode as their company’s stock continues to tank. Edgar is faced with the choice of issuing a denial or an apology. Instead of making a decision, he smiles checks a report on the NYPD helicopter crash and senses a perfect PR opportunity.
After the CEO holds court with The Seven in their meeting room, A-Train looks at Annie and pointedly declares that they didn’t know anything about Compound V. Edgar sanctimoniously (and falsely) declares that they are all victims in this and that Vought will get to the bottom of things. In the meantime, however, he needs his heroes to capture the super terrorist on that boat.
When the team pushes back about being thrown to wolves to clean up Vought’s mess, Homelander gives a surprisingly rousing speech about how it doesn’t matter where they came from if they can do the job they’re supposed to. When Edgar attempts to co-opt the speech as a moment of solidarity, Homelander rips into him, declaring the heroes’ importance over all things including/especially the corporation behind them.
As The Seven departs for their mission, Stormfront expresses her surprise and admiration for Homelander’s willingness to stand up against the people who write their checks.
Meanwhile, Mallory informs Butcher that her CIA contacts can no longer meet them out at sea. Instead, he needs to get the prisoner (and his team) to a nearby CIA safehouse.
On the way there, Hughie calls Annie and gets her voicemail again. He leaves another message, this time declaring she’s like his “second wind” Billy Joel sings about to the kid attempting to kill himself in the music video for “You’re Only Human”. It’s exactly as awkward and cringe-inducing as it sounds.
As the boat closes in on the safe house, it’s surrounded and rammed by a school of sharks. With the engine shot and the hull breached, Butcher & Co. are forced to abandon ship into the attached speedboat. They manage to outrun the sharks, but are cut off by a whale being ridden/controlled by the Deep. Instead of changing course, however, Butcher pushes forward and impales the creature while simultaneously crashing onto the beach.
Having knocked the Deep unconscious, Butcher & Co. emerge from the body of the dying/suffering creature…except for Hughie, who is completely shell shocked. Butcher tries to coax him into moving, but he refuses, opting instead to lay next to the whale’s still-beating heart and wait for his “second wind”.
Butcher gives up on Hughie and leaves, but not MM, who climbs inside the whale and resolves to stay put with him if he doesn’t move. Hughie reluctantly gets up and follows the rest of the crew into a nearby storm drain.
MM catches up with Butcher and warns him that Hughie isn’t going to make it if he keeps pushing them all so hard, going so far as to call Hughie his canary (in a coal mine). Butcher responds by declaring that he’s not responsible for whether or not Hughie makes it out of their ordeal alive.
Back on the beach, the Deep is mourning over his aquatic mammal-friend’s death when the Seven show up. After briefing Homelander on what happened, he’s accosted by Starlight, who’s justifiably disgusted by his presence. When he attempts to apologize to her while vowing to “renew his light”, Stormfront realizes that he joined the Church of the Collective and calls him an idiot.
The Deep brushes her off and returns his focus on Starlight, expressing his hope that one day he can return to The Seven. When she vehemently refuses, Stormfront diffuses the situation, declaring solidarity with her fellow female team member while also insisting that they focus on the mission.
Homelander commands the rest of the team to search for their target in the sewer, but to leave the capture/execution to him. He then instructs the Deep to stay back for now until things can be smoothed over with the women in the group. He also points out that his costume ripped, exposing one of the “disgusting” gills the Deep just recently begun to accept.
While speed searching through the drain tunnels, A-Train is once again forced to stop due to severe heart/chest pain. Homelander spots him and appears to recognize that his team member isn’t operating at anywhere near 100%.
Meanwhile, Hughie sees Starlight and reveals himself thinking she came because of his voicemail. He’s painfully proven wrong when she blasts him off his feet and down one of the tunnels. Homelander appears behind her and demands that she kill him to prove her loyalty to the team. When she hesitates, Homelander threatens to kill them both if she doesn’t go through with it.
Hughie subtly indicates that he understands what she has to do. As Starlight prepares to execute him, however, she’s interrupted by Butcher, who sics Mouse on Homelander. He caves the wall in on him, then uses the opening his attack created to escape despite Kimiko’s plea not to do so. As she chases after him, Butcher offers his hand to a surprised and grateful Hughie.
Topside, Kimiko quickly catches up with her brother before the pair are blasted by Stormfront through a nearby family’s apartment. After callously slaughtering them, she corners Mouse and is about to do the same to him when Kimiko tackles and temporarily subdues her. The siblings then flee toward the complex’s roof. Stormfront follows, flippantly killing residents along the way.
Mouse manages to jump across to another building, but returns when he sees Stormfront taking down his sister. Unfortunately, he’s repaid for his heroic efforts by having his hands broken. After knocking Kimiko back with an energy blast, Stormfront begins to choke Mouse, demanding he look at her so she can see the light in his eyes go out. Kimiko wakes up just in time to watch her call Mouse a racial slur before snapping his neck. She stares in shock and horror at her brother’s body for a moment before fleeing the scene.
Homelander arrives and chastises Stormfront for killing the target he’d instructed the team to save for him. She responds by mocking him before flying away.
The Seven volunteer at a relief effort for the people injured and displaced by Stormfront’s rampage, which they successfully blame on Mouse. Edgar uses the moment as an opportunity to show why Vought’s heroes are still important no matter how they were made. He also claims to have no prior knowledge of Compound V, instead blaming its creation/distribution on the deceased Madelyn Stillwell.
Starlight stares in disbelief at the way Edgar is able to spin the day’s events into a win for Vought. Meanwhile, Homelander and Butcher’s crew–Kimiko in particular–grow increasingly angry as Stormfront happily takes center stage at the press conference.
Now we’re cooking with gas.
There was a lot to like in this episode, including some aspects I didn’t expect to enjoy at all. I’m still not a fan of the Deep’s storyline, but this was the first time his story felt important and entertaining as part of the overarching narrative. His time on screen also also featured a speed boat impaling a whale. It’s hard not to respect that sort of spectacle.
I also love the way both Homelander and Butcher’s team (particularly Kimiko) are justifiably enraged at Stormfront for completely different reasons. It was great getting to see Aya Cash do more with the character than play a snarky contrarian. Don’t get me wrong–she’s great at that. But Cash quickly proved to be even better at turning The Seven’s newest member into a legitimately terrifying presence. After the last two episodes, I was worried her schtick would get old. Now I can’t wait to see what she does next.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention again how great the pressure-filled undercurrent between A-Train (Jessie Usher) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) continues to be.
The real star of the show this time, however, was Homelander. Anthony Starr is somehow able to portray him as the most vile person imaginable in one scene and make you feel a jarring twinge of sympathy for him in the next. Every moment he’s on screen feels like things are a second away from exploding in either direction. Watching his desire to be a good father and leader clash with his strong sociopathic streak gets more engaging every episode.
As much as I like to rag on him, Jack Quaid’s depiction of Hughie has really started to grow on me. The character can be a little hard to take at times, but Quaid gives him such a genuine and powerful level of earnestness that it’s impossible not to root for him.
One of the few parts of the episode I didn’t like involved Stan Edgar, which surprised me since Giancarlo Esposito can normally do no wrong in my eyes. In this case, however, the actor did an admirable job with some very odd script/character choices. I get that he always needs look like he’s in control, but I still would have liked to see at least a little more panic when Vought came under siege. Instead, we got that smidgen of anxiety at a time (his bizarre decision to give The Seven a pep talk) when I would’ve liked to have seen him stand his ground more.
I also had a hard time understanding why Mouse would help Butcher instead of throwing him down a tunnel and running away. While it certainly led to a great/tragic moment, the set up didn’t make much sense.
All that being said, this episode bodes extremely well for the rest of the season. Despite having a lot of moving parts, The Boys’ second season has set the table for what could be an even better run than its first outing. In addition to incredible action sequences and engaging storylines, we’re getting some really intriguing personal arcs from characters that could have easily remained static.
Heck, even Butcher appears to be evolving a bit–just don’t tell him I said that.
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