Last week’s episode of The Boys showed us that Stormfront is much more than just a snarky contrarian–she’s also a terrifying force to be reckoned with.
Case in point: She murdered Kimiko’s brother and appears poised to make a run for Homelander’s spot as The Seven’s most beloved superhero.
Look Left, Swipe Right
“Nothing Like It in the World” opens with one of many awkward dating testimonials interspersed through the episode. They turn out to be candidates that the Church of the Collective is interviewing to find a suitable/PR-friendly wife for the Deep.
Despite his preference for one of the more sexually eager women (Giana), Carol chooses one (Cassandra) who the Deep is not attracted to at all. He tries to make a last ditch case for Giana, but Carol reminds him that his marriage is not about satisfying base desires–it’s part of a larger plan to rehabilitate his image and get him back into The Seven.
Back at the The Boys’ hideout, Frenchie deals with his anger/disappointment over their failed mission by partaking of the drug den’s product. He then tries to kiss Kimiko, which goes about as well as you’d expect.
Elsewhere, Butcher meets Mallory at a memorial to the people he and is team are wrongly accused of killing in Stormfront’s rampage. After chastising him for not completing his mission, she hands over intel on an inactive/missing superhero named Liberty who could turn out to be a good lead. She also provides him with Becca’s location, explaining that even though she didn’t know his wife was still alive, she still felt guilty about aiming him at Homelander when he could/should have been lookin for her.
Butcher heads back to the hideout and begins gearing up for a solo mission into the Vought compound holding his wife. When Mother’s Milk tries to talk him out of it, Butcher responds that he won’t be coming back to the group and puts MM in charge. He also tells his frustratingly loyal friend that following the Liberty lead from Mallory is likely the best way to get his record scrubbed and see his family again.
Milking the Mirage
Homelander stews inside Vought Tower while watching a string of news reports praising Stormfront. He finally reaches his breaking point when she encourages people to show up at Vought Tower to protest the corporation, causing him to take flight.
He eventually lands at a remote cabin, where he’s greeted by nightgown-clad Madelyn Stillwell (who is definitely supposed to be dead). After providing him with a glass of milk in the most inefficient/disgusting way imaginable, she assures Homelander that he’s a good boy and begins kissing him.
Later, the pair watch the movie Taxi Driver (with Homelander predictably sympathizing with Travis Bickle). As he complains about The Seven not respecting him and lays his head on Stillwell’s lap, she assures him of his greatness while also encouraging him to knock down anyone who doesn’t recognize it.
Just as Homelander appears to be calming down, Stillwell grunts in pain before revealing herself to actually be Doppleganger. The shapeshifter explains that he can’t hold a form for too long without experiencing immense pain, but Homelander furiously insists he change back into Stillwell. Upon seeing the form of his former lover (and hearing her affirm his greatness some more), his anger quickly abates.
The next day, Homelander traps Starlight inside an elevator and violently confronts her over his belief that she is in league with Hughie. Thankfully, she’s able to convince him of her loyalty to The Seven before having her neck snapped.
Elsewhere in Vought Tower, Black Noire visits Anika in Crime Analytics. After making her throw out her Almond Joy candy bar, he convinces her to run a facial recognition search for Butcher using all their observatory resources.
Later, A-Train is simultaneously shocked and enraged to see Shockwave leaving Ashely’s office. She tries to tell him it was a meeting about a charity event, but the speedster isn’t buying it.
His suspicions are confirmed when Homelander walks in and bluntly tells him that he’s out of The Seven. A-Train tries to plead his case, but is shut down when Homelander reveals that he knows about the heart issues he’s been experiencing. He then gives a transparently snide series of well wishes before leaving Ashley’s office and his former teammate.
Following her encounter with Homelander, Starlight/Annie changes into her civilian clothes and meets Hughie in a nearby park. After checking to make sure he’s okay following her attack (and revealing that she got his awkward voicemail), the two lament the fact that Vought is still standing after their Compound V reveal.
Hughie attempts to assure her that things like this take time, but he’s interrupted by a phone call from MM, who says they are leaving immediately for a mission to Raleigh, North Carolina. After he hangs up, Annie tearfully admits that she’s scared to go back to the tower after Homelander threatened her life. Hughie responds by inviting her on his trip to Raleigh. MM initially refuses, but Annie says she has cousin nearby, meaning she can reasonably explain her tracking chip’s location to Vought as a family visit.
MM remains unconvinced, but relents when Hughie suggests it might not be a bad idea to have a supe along for the mission. It also helps that MM can tell how desperately Hughie wants Annie to go with them.
After getting on the road, Annie is both frustrated and embarrassed at how ubiquitous her song from Translucent’s memorial is on the radio. She eventually finds a station playing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, which of course gets Hughie going. MM is only able to stand it for a few seconds before he cuts the radio and reminds them that this isn’t date or a fun road trip–it’s a mission.
That evening, the trio stops at a diner off the highway. When Hughie goes to the bathroom, Annie and MM bond over childhood stories about sharing doughnuts and ice cream with their fathers. As they’re leaving the diner, however, things between them get tense again when he tries to stop her from helping a family involved in a car accident (and potentially drawing unwanted attention). She relents when Hughie convinces her that there’s enough people around to help without them needing to get involved.
The group eventually stops at a motel for the night. Hughie gets a room with MM, who turns out to be an impressively loud snorer. He’s rescued from a night of engine-level apnea by a text from Annie, who asks to meet outside at the vending machines.
After they joke about her taste in candy bars (with Almond Joy being her favorite) and discussing MM’s obsessive compulsive disorder, Annie tells Hughie about how terrifying it is to live in Vought Tower with people like Homelander. She also admits to feeling safe and happy around him for the first time in a long while, which leads to them going back to her room and sleeping together.
Back in New York, a depressed and chemically compromised Frenchie shows up at the apartment of an ex-girlfriend. After the two have sex, he tells her about how he tried to kiss Kimiko. When he justifies it as an attempt to make her feel better, his ex points out that he’s constantly trying to make amends for the mistakes of his past.
She also advises him to just leave Kimiko alone.
After arriving at the compound where his wife is being held, Butcher scales the wall in the dead of night, locates Becca’s house, and hides inside her car. He also leaves the door open, causing her to come outside and find him.
After flashing a lighter and pack of cigarettes to the house surveillance system, Becca drives them to one of the few areas in the compound hidden from the cameras, allowing the couple to finally embrace each other again. After expressing her fear he’ll be found and killed, Becca admits that she told Homelander she’d kill herself in front of Ryan (and tell him it was because of his father) if he ever harmed her husband. Butcher assures her that won’t be necessary.
The couple begins devising a plan to get out, which Becca insists must include Ryan. Butcher doesn’t seem thrilled about this, but still agrees. His wife then briefly returns home to check her son before heading back out to his location and making love to him in her car. Afterwards, the pair reminisce on their past life and reconcile how hard things have been for them without each other the last few years.
Butcher promises his wife that in addition to getting her out, he’ll spend the rest of his life making up for all the time they’ve lost.
The next day, Becca shows up to their rendezvous point and declares that she isn’t leaving. She explains to her baffled husband that she knows he’ll find a way to ditch Ryan, who she refuses to abandon.
Becca also reveals that after Homelander raped and impregnated her, she went to Vought instead of him because she was terrified of the lengths he would go to avenger her. She then begs him to leave before guards swarm to their location and kill him.
Back at Vought Tower, Black Noire and Anika get a match on Butcher from a surveillance video of him scaling the compound wall.
Homelander and Maeve go on a talk show with Maria Menounos to discuss the emerging supervillain threat and do some damage control on the Compound V story. Homelander also uses the opportunity to surprise/embarrass Maeve by publicly declaring that she’s gay (even though she’s actually bisexual) and that she has a girlfriend (Elena).
After the show, Maeve tries to tell Homelander that she ended things with Elena after joining The Seven, which he angrily calls out as a lie. After she admits to still being in a relationship with her, he uncharacteristically wishes them well (which is somehow even more unsettling/terrifying).
As he’s walking away from his stunned and wary teammate, Homelander notices Stormfront on television leading a protest against Vought. What he doesn’t see is Kimiko stalking toward her in the crowd. Just as she’s about to attack her brother’s killer, Frenchie shows up and stops her. Stormfront takes flight and departs from her cheering fans while Kimiko glares at Frenchie before walking away.
Sins Past & Present
After getting back on the road, MM can immediately tell that things between Hughie and Annie are much friendlier than they were before…and it’s getting on his nerves.
The trio eventually makes it to the address Mallory gave Butcher, which turns out to be the home of a woman (Valerie) who’s brother was murdered by Liberty almost 50 years ago. She initially refuses to talk, but MM convinces her to by telling the story of how his father was (most likely) murdered by Vought for fighting them in court.
When Valerie was 11-years old, she was asleep one night in the backseat of her parents’ car, which was being driven by her brother Myron. Liberty came down and forced Myron to stop and get out in the middle of the road. She then accused him of being involved in a nearby robbery. When he tried to explain that he didn’t know what she was talking about, Liberty responded with a racially charged denigration before brutally murdering him.
Valerie wanted to tell the police what happened, but her parents said there was no chance that the testimony of a black girl against a white superhero would make a difference. Instead, they accepted a mere $2,000 to remain silent. Valerie tried to find justice for her brother on her own, but to no avail.
When Hughie says that no one has even seen Liberty since the late 70’s, Valerie reveals that she immediately recognized her brothers killer when Stormfront’s picture began getting plastered all over the news.
Back in the car, the trio tries to wrap their heads around the possibility that Stormfront–America’s new favorite superhero–might also be over 70+ years old and a homicidal racist. When Hughie expresses his sympathy to MM about what happened to his father, he responds by admitting his fear of passing down his family’s obsessive streak to his daughter.
After they return to New York, Annie tells Hughie that despite having a wonderful time with him, they can’t be together. Feeling safe and content would only force them to let their guard down, which they can’t afford right now (LAME!). She then kisses him and departs.
Window to the Soul
Back at Vought Tower, Homelander scrolls through a trove of memes extolling the greatness of Stormfront and poking fun of his perceived ineptitude. This inspires him to visit her apartment and declare his rightful place as the team’s leader/most popular leader. She predictably responds by mocking his need for approval.
After nearly pushing him to his breaking point, Stormfront pulls back, explaining the benefit of having a small group of rabidly dedicated followers rather than trying to appeal to every single person/demographic. She also admits that she considers him to be the very best of the superheroes–he just needs a little help changing with the times. Despite having his ego properly stroked, he rejects her offer and leaves.
Later, Homelander visits his secret cabin, where he brushes off Stillwell/Doppelganger’s advances and declares that he doesn’t need anyone but himself. Doppleganger changes shape into Homelander, which appears to entice him. As he stares into his own eyes, however, Homelander turns Doppelganger’s form into a physical manifestation of his own self-loathing and snaps the shapeshifter’s neck.
Sometimes it feels like all the gore and death in this series overshadows the drama unfolding around it. Thankfully, there are also some truly outstanding performances from the cast that bring us right back into the fold, especially in this one.
Laz Alonso has always been good as Mother’s Milk, but this was by far my favorite episode of his. His conversation with Valerie (Dawnn Lewis) in particular was as moving as anything we’ve seen in either season.
And speaking of moving performances, let’s not forget that just because Homelander is the ultimate personification of narcissism doesn’t mean he can’t be a superbly crafted character. Antony Starr somehow continues to find new and different ways to make this truly vile antagonist someone we can’t help but be interested/invested in.
Also, maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age, but I really liked getting to see some of the characters get to be happy for a bit–especially Butcher and Becca. Their reunion could have been played any numbers of ways. Thankfully, the episode gave us another tantalizing glimpse at what a great couple they are without shying away from the underlying issues that likely plagued their otherwise happy/successful marriage.
Hughie and Annie’s reconciliation was great, as well. It’s just a shame they had to dull it a bit with the cliche “We can’t afford to be happy” excuse at the end.
In both cases, however, these moments of joy provided us a bit of much needed light. I’m not saying I want The Boys to become a show about sunshine and unicorns, but the darkness doesn’t mean much if there’s no light to snatch away.
As far as the overall story is concerned, we got a bombshell about Stormfront that was somewhat predictable, yet brilliantly executed. Even without any knowledge of the comics, her name and behavior all but screamed that she was aligned with Nazi/alt-right politics. Once we actually saw how that actually played out–and how direct that line to Nazism might actually be–it truly added a whole new dynamic to things.
It’s also worth noting how Stormfront’s brand of evil contrasts so perfectly with Homelander’s. One represents the sleazy politician who will say and do whatever is necessary to make everyone believe he’s their savior. The other relishes in the roll of agitator/troll. Both are equally prevalent, destructive, and on a tantalizing collision course with each other.
About the only part of the episode I didn’t like (besides Annie’s lame moment with Hughie) was Frenchie’s downward spiral. I get why he’s going through it, but it makes his character so unlikable that I just want him to get off screen or go back to being the lovable goofball hitman from before.
Also, how the heck did he find Kimiko at the rally? Even if he was stalking her (thus ignoring his ex’s advice), that’s even harder to believe than him being able to stop Kimiko from attacking Stormfront.
I’ll admit to liking the Deep’s story more than I thought I would, though. It still feels far too removed from the main narrative, but at least this time it was entertaining.
We might not have gotten a lot of action this week, but The Boys still delivered with a ton of great character moments and even more narrative building blocks for what’s becoming a fantastic story…which makes it even more fun with the blood and explosions start up again.