Last week’s episode of The Boys concluded with Homelander going all in on Stormfront’s decades-long quest to build a master race of supes. Meanwhile, Colonel Mallory and her former team finally got their hands on Lamplighter, who seems genuinely remorseful for killing her grandchildren.
Now it’s time to figure out what to do with him.
Gunning for the King
The episode opens with a chilling montage of a man becoming radicalized by Stormfront’s anti-immigrant/super villain rhetoric. It eventually leads to him believing the guy who runs a store he visits every day is a super terrorist and murdering him.
Meanwhile, Mallory and Butcher’s team (including an on-the-mend Hughie) are at a safe house with Lamplighter, where he’s being vetted by Victoria Nueman to potentially testify in front of Congress against Vought. Butcher thinks they should be beating the intel out of him, but Mallory counters that he might be the best chance they’ve ever had to take Vought down for good.
Neuman further explains that if they’re going to come at Vought, they need to know everything–including why the company was experimenting with Compound V at Sage Grove. Mallory has an idea on how to get that information, but Butcher doesn’t like it.
Elsewhere, Annie finally agrees to meet her mother (Donna) for coffee and to talk. Things appear to be going well until Donna innocently reveals that she discussed their meeting with Ashley at Vought. Moments later, Black Noire crashes in and beats Annie into submission.
Some time later, Annie wakes up later in a prison cell that negates her powers. She bangs on the door and demands to be let out, but no one responds.
Mallory sends Frenchie and Kimiko to watch over Neuman, pointedly reminding him not to leave his post this time. Meanwhile, Butcher is about to leave with Mother’s Milk when he gets a call from his mom telling him that his father is dead. He goes to comfort her only to find out that she lied to him. His father is sick, but still very much alive…and outside on the balcony in his parents’ hotel room.
Butcher tries to leave, but his mother convinces him to stay and talk to his dad, which goes about as well as you’d expect. We also find out that Butcher’s father abused his children (expected) and that his brother Lenny died by committing suicide as a result of said abuse (oof).
Butcher’s father refuses to apologize, though, instead commending himself for making his son tough. When Butcher attacks him, he merely laughs and points out that Lenny could never have done the same. Butcher finally reaches his breaking point and storms off to help the family he made while leaving the toxic one he was born with behind.
Back at the safe house, Hughie is left with the unenviable job of babysitting Lamplighter, which involves watching a lot of porn themed around members of The Seven. After Hughie’s unsuccessfully attempts to find other viewing options, the pair lament their status as “cucks” in the story playing out around them.
Meanwhile, Homelander and Stormfront hold a rally in the city to energize their ever growing base of paranoid followers. After speaking about the need for more Compound V-bred supes, Homelander reveals to a national audience that Starlight/Annie had been acting as a mole inside The Seven.
Hughie sees the news and tries unsuccessfully to call the others. As he becomes more frantic, Lamplighter casually mentions that Annie is probably locked away in very specific superhero holding cell he knows of (if she’s even still alive). Hughie begs his pyrokinetic ward to help him break into Vought tower and help get Annie out. Lamplighter is reluctant at first, but agrees after Hughie asks if he wants to be the cuck or the guy the cuck is watching.
Back at the rally, Homelander privately expresses his concern over the decision to keep Starlight alive. Stormfront reminds him that having a clear enemy helps rally their base (pssshh). She then notices a mother holding a child and becomes nostalgic over her time as a mom. Homelander takes note of this and decides that now is the perfect opportunity to introduce his new girlfriend to his son.
The pair arrive in Becca’s back yard, where Stormfront immediately goes to work winning Ryan over. She also tells the boy that he’s the first natural born superhero, which Becca doesn’t appreciate. Unfortunately for her, both supes are determined to make Ryan a major part of their lives.
Maeve returns home to find Elena even more distant than when she first learned about Transoceanic Flight 37. She also reveals how much of a struggle it’s been to reconcile her feelings since then before announcing her intention to go stay with her sister for a while.
Maeve tries to get Elena to remain and have dinner, but Elena continues to push the issue, causing her to flip a table over. She then points out how Elena constantly asked to see the “real” her. Now that she has, she’s pushing her away–and it’s not fair. Elena acknowledges that Maeve is right, but that doesn’t change how she feels.
Elsewhere, Mallory and MM visit Jonah Vogelbaum to ask what he knows about the experiments at Sage Grove and to see if he’ll testify before Congress. He stonewalls them on both counts, pointing out that he has children–including the daughter who helps take care of him–whose safety if far more important to him than than doing the right thing.
As the pair leaves from Vogelbaum’s residence, Mallory confides to MM that she agrees with former the Vought scientist. She follows that up by encouraging MM to go back to his family, even offering to help them escape the country and disappear. It’s the type of decision she wish she’d made before losing her grandchildren.
Mallory then calls a very angry and despondent Butcher to inform him that Vogelbaum was a bust. He responds by assuring her that he’ll “take care of it” and makes his own solo visit to the man’s home. Once there, he secures Vogelbaum’s cooperation by threatening to kill his children if he doesn’t testify.
Butcher’s brutality shocks Vogelbaum, which seems like a bit of a stretch for the man who created Homelander. Even if he wasn’t the person responsible for kidnapping Becca and hiding her from him for years, Butcher’s brutality isn’t something that needs much of a trigger to be set off.
But I digress…Vogelbaum also confesses that Homelander wasn’t always the personification of evil and narcissism that he is now. He was actually very sweet as a young boy before he and his team of scientists began ruthlessly molding him into the world’s most powerful superhuman.
The parallels between Homelander’s upbringing and his own are not lost on Butcher, although the realization does nothing to deter him from doing everything he can to get his revenge.
Frenchie and Kimiko keep watch over Victoria Nueman, who is cooking with her daughter while Stormfront-aligned protestors swarm around her residence. After reminiscing about how he and his mother also used to cook together, Frenchie asks if Kimiko would like to share anything about her family. She responds by finally starting to teach him her and her brother’s secret sign language.
The first word she teaches is an absurdly universal hand gesture for “gun,” but it’s still a nice moment.
Meanwhile, the Deep and his new church approved bride Cassandra enjoy a lavish birthday party for Alastair Adana. After A-Train arrives and gives the Deep a pet goldfish as a peace offering, Adana informs both men that he has a meeting with Stan Edgar next week. He’s confident that their discussion will result in them both being asked back into The Seven.
Adana then asks the Deep for his opinion on Eagle the Archer. Deep immediately responds with high praise for the person who was there for him when he hit rock bottom and helped him become part of the church. He then immediately changes his tune when Adana proclaims that Eagle has been excommunicated from the church for a recent statement saying that their program failed him.
A-Train goes along with the new party line, but is clearly troubled by how quickly Adana was able to turn on someone who was once one of his most trusted followers.
Back at Vought Tower, Ashley walks into Maeve’s apartment to find her dulling the pain from her breakup with drugs and men. She immediately goes into crisis management mode, insisting that the bisexual supe needs to stay “on brand” as a lesbian icon and get Elena back. Maeve responds by asking her to be human for once and recognize that she’s not doing well.
To her credit, Ashley takes this to heart and apologizes.
Meanwhile, Lamplighter manages to sneak Hughie into Vought Tower through a back entrance. Instead of taking him to 42B, however, he goes to the main conference room. After wistfully observing that they removed his statue from The Seven’s monument, Lamplighter declares that he only ever wanted to make his father proud before lighting himself ablaze.
As expected, Hughie completely freaks out. To his credit, though, he also has the gumption/presence of mind to smash a nearby liquor bottle and saw off Lamplighter’s pass code-enabled hand from his charred corpse.
The fire sets off the building’s sprinklers along with the emergency alarms and lights. One of those lights happens to be inside Annie’s cell, allowing her to use her powers and bust out. She immediately goes searching for her mother, but is intercepted by Black Noire, who proceeds to beat the hell out of her.
Just as Annie is about to be choked to death, Maeve shows up and pulls Black Noire off her. She then neutralizes him by pulling out an Almond Joy and forcing it down his mouth, which causes him to go into anaphylactic shock due to his tree nut allergy (HA!). She also kicks away his Epipen, insuring that Black Noire won’t be getting up any time soon.
Annie asks Maeve to escape with her, but she silently and stoically refuses.
Meanwhile, Hughie somehow finds Donna’s cell and uses Lamplighter’s hand to open it. As the pair flee, they run into Annie, who is both grateful and impressed that Hughie put himself on the line for her and her mother.
Back at the Vought community compound, Ryan shows Stormfront and Homelander the stop motion movies he makes with his Legos. Homelander begins to mock him, but is stopped by a look from Stormfront, who then proceeds to ask if the boy does other normal kid stuff like have sleepovers or go to baseball games.
As Stormfront reveals more and more to Ryan about the outside world he’s been shielded from, Becca demands to talk to Homefront outside. He obliges, but only to tell her that he refuses to see his son kept from experiencing things like he was as a child. Becca counters by begging Homelander to realize that they have an opportunity to give Ryan the childhood he never had–they just have to commit to raising him in a way that shields their son from Vought and the world of supes.
Homelander seems surprisingly agreeable to this, but it ends up being all for naught that evening when he flies Ryan into the sky and shows him the world he’s been missing. After returning to earth, the boy yells at his mother for lying to him before leaving with Homelander and Stormfront.
Heading for Despair
Butcher calls to assure Mallory that they have a new star witness to replace Lamplighter. He then visits with his mother at a nearby coffee shop. She apologizes for tricking him before, but explains that she didn’t set up the meeting for his father. She did it so that Butcher could see how feeble the man and hopefully let go of the rage he still carries with him–the same rage that could make Butcher turn into a man like his father.
The next day, Deep and A-Train watch a news report of Eagle the Archer defending himself from attacks by the Church of the Collective. After dismissing his former best friend, Deep asks the bartender to change the channel to the congressional hearing that is about to start.
The committee calls Vogelbaum as their first witness, which appears to be a slam dunk right off the bat. Unfortunately, the former Vought scientist’s testimony is silenced when both his head and the head of the committee chairman explode.
The hearing descends into chaos as more heads start exploding around the room, including Shockwave‘s. Mallory manages to evacuate Neuman while the blood and brains from her fellow Congress members spray the chamber.
Back at The Boys’ hideout, everyone watches the proceedings in stunned disbelief while Butcher begins to seethe.
There’s so much to like about this episode that you can almost overlook its major flaws. Let’s start by getting those out of the way.
The first issue is how Butcher is able to secure Vogelbaum’s cooperation. Like I said before, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that he could show that type of brutality, especially the man who kidnapped and jailed his wife. I also have a hard time believing that someone who once called Homelander his “greatest failure” right to his face doesn’t have any security measures in place. Maybe he doesn’t care about his own life, but you’d think he’d still worry about supes or disgruntled Vought folks coming after his family.
I’m also not sure why Lamplighter decided to immolate himself where and when he did. While it made for a cool and shocking moment, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Sure, martyring himself in The Seven’s conference room ensures it’ll be covered up and shrugged off by his uncaring teammates, but at least it’s symbolic.
But why now? This guy has had the means and access to get into Vought Tower since he was exiled. He could have done it any time. Instead, he decides to off himself before doing the one thing that might have actually gotten people’s attention and put a dent in those who’d abandoned him.
Other than those issue (and the cringe-inducing “gun” moment), this was another superb episode. One of the obvious standout moments is the meeting between Butcher and his father. You’d expect a scene with John Noble and Karl Urban to be good, but this one still managed to pack a surprising punch.
Speaking of punches, let’s talk about Black Noire for a moment. Holy crap. I know the dude has a cool design and has been used for some comic relief, but his two fight sequences were stark reminders of how brutal and ruthless he can be. Also, Maeve taking him down via an Almond Joy was about the best payoff to a running gag you could ask for.
Speaking of payoffs, this was the first time that Hughie seemed genuinely/organically heroic. While he might not be very “useful” compared to everyone around him, his dogged determination in the face of impossible odds was on full display.
I’m still not sure how he found Donna’s cell, but we’ll let that slide.
What we can’t let slide was how gut wrenching it was to watch Becca lose her son to Homelander and Stormfront. Atony Starr and Aya Cash have rightfully gotten the lion’s share of acclaim for their performances this season, but Shantel VanSanten was brilliant this time around, as well.
Then you have the subplots featuring Maeve, the Deep, and now A-Train. I expected Maeve’s story to get better, but I had no idea I’d end up being so invested in Deep’s story, especially considering how it started. A big reason for that is A-Train’s inclusion and Jessie Usher’s ability to make him such an unexpected source of sympathy and perspective. We should hate the guy, but can’t help continue seeing things from his point of view
Another side plot/character I’ve found myself unexpectedly drawn to is Victoria Neuman. While it’s obvious she’s supposed to be an AOC-esque stand in, Claudia Doumit does a great job balancing her portrayal in such a way that never veers into the realm of predictability or parody.
Before getting ourselves ready for next week’s season finale, we obviously have to talk about that ending. When I saw the look on Homelander’s face after Vogelbaum showed up to hearing, I was just as excited as Butcher to watch the bad guys go down…and just as shocked/angry at how things actually went down, instead.
That being said, it was an incredible and jarring twist. The only moment that rivaled its impact was the episode’s brilliant opening sequence.
Also, as someone who’s been lucky enough to see the finale already, I can assure you that it’ll be paid off in spades. You may or may not like it (I loved it for the record), but I’d bet my last pumpkin doughnut that you won’t see it coming.
Buckle up, folks. As crazy as this whole season has been, the final episode takes things to whole new level.