Last episode of The Boys concluded with Starlight pretending to be in a relationship with Homelander — an assignment made exponentially worse by Homelander’s recent decision to publicly embrace his narcissism. She also faked forgiveness/acceptance of the Deep rejoining The Seven. In a truly cruel twist of fate, Starlight had been planning to leave the team prior to either of these things happening. Before she could, however, Hughie informed her that Butcher had a lead on a weapon that might be able to kill Homelander. Until it can be located, they need her to keep up appearances.
Speaking of Butcher, he continues to suffer from the side effects of V-24, a version of Compound V that gives the user powers for 24 hours. Sadly, his physical ailments pale in comparison to how it made him feel pushing Ryan away. He also learned that Colonel Mallory never told him about there being a weapon that could kill Homelander. If she had (and they’d found it), then Becca might still be alive.
Amid all this emotional turmoil, Butcher asks Frenchie to set up a meeting with his brutal former employer, Nina. His hope is that she can secure them a trip to Russia, where he and The Boys can find the Homelander-slaying weapon on their own.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers. The sequence of events has also been streamlined a bit for the sake of clarity.
Beneath the Surface
The episode opens with Mother’s Milk watching a recording of the 1980s-era music program, Solid Gold. The episode features Soldier Boy covering the “rap” portion of Blondie’s 1980 hit, “Rapture.” MM flashes back to his family watching the same episode when he was a child — not too long before an incident with Soldier Boy threw their lives into tragedy and turmoil.
Over at The Boys’ headquarters, Hughie chastizes Butcher for taking V. While attempting to justify his decision (in the most snarky manner possible), Butcher reveals that he killed Gunpowder with his powers, which transforms Hughie’s anger into curiosity. Butcher also threatens to put Hughie in a coma if he tells anyone.
The next morning, Homelander goes on Cameron Coleman‘s show to defend himself against those who were offended/alarmed by his speech in the second episode. Despite a large segment of the public (and Coleman) supporting him, he blames the “mainstream media” for espousing lies in an attempt to silence him. More importantly, he declares that their strings are being pulled by a cabal of superwealthy elites who operate in the shadows.
Some of them can even be found in the upper echelons of Vought.
Later, Stanley Edgar drops by Victoria Neuman’s home for an unannounced visit. He tells the Congresswoman that Homelander’s recent unruliness needs a response. He then asks Neuman to levy some FCC fines against him for swearing during his birthday broadcast. The punishment would be minimal enough not to draw Homelander’s ire while also reminding him who’s in charge.
When Neuman expresses her fear that Homelander might still retaliate, Edgar assures his surrogate daughter that he would never let anything happen to her or Zoe. He also confidently states that despite Homelander’s recent actions, he’s still scared of him.
Butcher and Frenchie visit Nina, who’s intrigued and even a little smitten with The Boys’ leader. Butcher asks if she might be able to use her Russian contacts to help them find the weapon that killed Homelander. In exchange, he offers her a bag of cash to pay for Cherie‘s debt along with an extra $100,000 for her troubles — all courtesy of the U.S. government.
Nina appreciates the gesture, but insists she won’t be made whole until Cherie is brought to her and punished. Butcher counters that there must be a big job that he and his team can do for her instead. We don’t see/hear what Nina’s answer is, but her wry smile implies that there is.
Over at Vought Tower, Hughie watches the finale of American Hero, which is scheduled to air that evening. As you might imagine, he’s not thrilled about Annie pretending to be in a fake relationship with Homelander. She reminds him of what he said about doing whatever it takes to bring Homelander down. Hughie assures her it’s going to be okay before asking to be the one saving her for once. Annie responds by insisting that Butcher’s plan to obtain a weapon that can kill Homelander has to work.
Homelander unexpectedly walks in and asks what they’re talking about. Annie claims they were discussing a new sound system, a lie someone with superhuman hearing is sure to see through. Homelander then tells Annie they have to leave for a Rolling Stone cover shoot. As Hughie gets up to depart, Homelander grabs him and begins signing his cast. He also assures him that the relationship with Starlight is just for the media and he has nothing to worry about.
After scrawling his signature, Homelander points out that his and Maeve’s relationship also started out as a publicity stunt before it turned sexual. He then asks him if Annie is good in bed, prompting her eyes to glow and Hughie to step towards him. Homelander is mildly impressed by Hughie’s bravery, but that’s interrupted/undercut when Starlight threatens to leave and take her Q rating with her if anything happens to him.
Homelander scoffs and says he was kidding. He then departs with Starlight for the photoshoot, leaving Hughie feeling more powerless than ever.
Over at Vought Studios, A-Train tells Ashley that he wants a chance to speak with Blue Hawk about how he’s been brutalizing black neighborhoods in Trenton. He also expresses his belief that Vought has a responsibility to address the issue since Blue Hawk is on their payroll. Ashley dismissively promises to help before getting him ready for a commercial they’re about to shoot.
The advertisement turns out to be extremely similar to Pepsi’s tone-done deaf, cringe-inducing 2017 short film that attempted to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement. In this case, A-Train is able to bring protestors and police together via his Turbo Rush energy drink.
After the cameras stop rolling, it’s clear that A-Train knows just how empty and ineffective his corporate gesture is.
Down the Dark Paths
Hughie calls Neuman to say he won’t be at work for a few days due to an injury sustained after falling off his Peloton. Turns out he’s actually boarding a private plane (courtesy of Nina) that will be flying them to Russia.
Frenchie tells Kimiko that his former boss wouldn’t be helping them like this unless Butcher offered her something big — like Cherie. Butcher walks up behind them and unconvincingly assures Frenchie that he’d never do that.
When they arrive in Russia, Butcher announces that Nina has located the lab where the weapon is located. Before she’ll reveal it, however, they need to kill an oligarch who owes her money. Frenchie tries to protest, but Butcher says he won’t have to do anything — it’ll actually be Kimiko who’s sent in to assassinate the target.
Kimiko uses her phone to type a message to Butcher, which reads “I’m not your f***ing gun.” Butcher responds that a gun is exactly what she is. He also reminds her and Frenchie that he’s in charge, which means they do whatever he orders them to.
Over at Vought Tower, Starlight interrupts Maeve during a training session to ask about BCL Red. According to Soldier Boy’s file, it’s the weapon that was used to kill him in Nicaragua. Maeve reveals that she not only knows about it, but is the one who tipped off Butcher & Co. about its existence.
It’s also why she’s resumed training and hasn’t had a drink in four months. Maeve knows that taking on Homelander directly will result in a horrific death, but it may buy Butcher enough time to get off a shot (assuming he can find and obtain BCL Red, of course). Starlight offers to help and recruit others, but Maeve brushes her off, explaining that there’s little she and Supersonic could do.
Before resuming her training, Maeve also admits to feeling like she deserves to die for letting Homelander’s sins go unchallenged for so long.
Starlight visits Supersonic to reveal that there might be a way to take down Homelander. She can’t tell him exactly how, but asks if he’d be willing to help her, Maeve, and potentially a few others if things go the way they’re supposed to. Supersonic quickly agrees, assuring Starlight that he’ll have her back. He also brings up how ever since he’s known her, she’s always been someone who could see the good in people. That assures him that helping her is absolutely the right thing to do.
Later, Supersonic attends his first team meeting with The Seven, where Homelander presents everyone with taco bowls to celebrate his arrival. He also attempts to greet him in Spanish despite Supersonic not speaking the language.
While all this is going on, Black Noir draws a picture of a cartoon beaver.
*Side Note: That last part might not seem like an important detail to note, but it will be later.
As Homelander ends the meeting, A-Train tries to bring up the situation in Trenton with Blue Hawk. He even presents it in a way that would appeal to Homelander, pointing out that addressing the matter could raise his approval rating with black people.
Cassandra covertly texts the Deep and tells him to push back. She also provides some political talking points to counter A-Train’s concerns, which he repeats verbatim. Homelander is impressed with the Deep’s argument and agrees that Blue Hawk is fine where he is.
After the other members of The Seven leave, Ashley informs Homelander that Neuman is holding a press conference about him that evening. Homelander explicitly berates her for not informing him sooner before demanding she find out what Neuman will be discussing.
Meanwhile, A-Train confronts the Deep in the hallway about kissing up to Homelander via getting his concerns about Blue Hawk dismissed. After trading insults, the Deep threatens to tell Homelander that A-Train was the one who leaked Stormfront’s Nazi past to the press. A-Train responds by threatening to tell Homelander that it was the Deep who fished the Transoceanic Flight 37 video out of the Atlantic and gave it to Maeve.
This leads the men to begin punching each other, which results in them both getting knocked to the ground. Homelander walks over and helps the Deep up while advising A-Train to stay down and rest his “useless” legs.
A-Train is about to get up and fight back, but Supersonic manages to stop him. After accompanying him to the elevator, A-Train complains about his terrible treatment at the hands of Homelander. Supersonic asks him what he would do if there was a way to take the nigh-invincible supe down.
A-Train responds by asking what he has in mind.
While Hughie watches Russian television mock him for Homelander and Starlight’s relationship, MM chastizes Butcher for what he said to Kimiko. He also points out that Butcher is being an even bigger asshole than usual — especially after the way he treated Ryan. Chain of command is still something he respects, but that sort of behavior is something MM can’t and won’t tolerate much longer.
Butcher responds by recalling how MM joined his team. Back then, he was a marine who’d been put in the brig for punching out his racist commanding officer. MM’s file also revealed a deep-seated (and extremely justified) hatred for Vought, but that wasn’t what drew Butcher and Mallory to him. When they interviewed his fellow soldiers, all of them said that he was the one who held their platoon together.
According to Butcher, MM’s exceptional leadership skills aren’t just a means to an end. He’s also on the team to look after The Boys and keep things in check.
Meanwhile, Frenchie drops Kimiko off at the residence of the oligarch they’ve been tasked with eliminating. As she walks to the door, he can’t help but marvel at how incredible she looks (and fear for her safety).
Kimiko walks in to find their target surrounded by prostitutes along with three armed guards. Believing that she’s the newest addition to his harem, the oligarch shows Kimiko his collection of The Seven-themed sex toys. As he’s about to use one on one of the women, Kimiko takes another and shoves it through the back of his head. She then kicks off her shoes and takes down the guards.
While taking the oligarch’s picture to send to Nina, one of the prostitutes shoots Kimiko in the head. After she heals and gets back up, the woman who shot her puts her hands up and begs for her life as the others scream in fear. Kimiko tries to assure them that she’s not a threat, but is unable to do so — especially when she’s covered in blood following four incredibly brutal kills.
After returning to the safehouse and delivering the video to Butcher, Kimiko tells Frenchie that she can’t do this anymore. The oligarch’s prostitutes, who were bought and sold just like she was, were terrified of her. As far as she’s concerned, being used by Nina or Shining Light (the terrorist organization that kidnapped her as a child) is no different than working for Butcher. He doesn’t care about them as people. His only concern is what they can do to help him.
Frenchie agrees and says that after this job, they should run away together. Kimiko suggests they go to Marseille, which makes him (and her) extremely happy.
Stanely Edgar wishes Neuman good luck before her press conference to reprimand Homelander. Much to his surprise (and ours), the Congresswoman instead lauds Homelander as a whistleblower for coming forward about crimes committed by Edgar.
As Edgar is being escorted out of the press conference, he manages to ask Neuman why she betrayed him. Neuman responds that it was for her daughter’s protection.
Over at Vought Tower, Starlight, Maeve, Super Sonic, and A-Train are stunned by what’s just happened. When Maeve demands to know what Homelander did, he nonchalantly responds that Vought should be run by the superheroes instead of Edgar. He simply put things into motion to make sure that happened. Before leaving, Homelander reminds them that anyone who’s been hiding behind Edgar will no longer enjoy that protection.
Meanwhile, Ashley meets with Cameron Coleman to inform him that talking points for his show need to go directly through her. She then belittles him (in the same manner that Homelander did to her earlier that day) before offering to “punish” Coleman with a Homelander-themed sex toy — something he is more than happy to let her do.
That evening, Homelander visits Neuman at her home. After challenging her to see if she can explode his head (which she doesn’t), he presents the Congresswoman with opposition research on her that he pilfered from Edgar’s office. Homelander also reminds her that she was never his daughter — she was his weapon, same as all the other heroes at Vought.
He then presents Neuman with a packet (whose contents are not revealed) before commending her for choosing her “own kind” and departing.
That evening, we see the contents of the packet, which turns out to be a dose of Compound V Neuman intends to give to her daughter. She assures Zoe it won’t hurt too badly and that it’s something she needs to do. As you likely guessed, the injection actually does hurt quite a bit, causing poor Zoe to cry out in pain as her body changes.
Neuman also cries while holding her daughter and attempting to comfort her.
Meanwhile, Homelander goes to Vought Tower and taunts Edgar over his upcoming “temporary leave of absence,” which is likely to become permanent. As he begins telling him not to blame Neuman, Edgar interrupts to say he doesn’t. He taught her to always play all sides. Her actions today show that she’s more like him than he’d ever imagined.
Edgar then asks what Homelander gave her to betray him. Homelander responds that it was simply a small dose of respect — something he should’ve given him, as well. Edgar responds that doing so would have been pointless since it would’ve simply vanished into the well of insecurity that constitutes his soul.
Homelander attempts to push back by calling Edgar pathetic, but the former Vought CEO is barely phased. Instead, he asks why the invincible supe is still talking to him if not to seek approval from the father he never had. Now, however, there is no one to seek approval from. The company is his, which means that there’s no longer anyone above him to cover for his many mistakes. In time, this will lead to people realizing just what a pathetic failure he truly is.
Edgar concludes his scathing soliloquy by calmly stating that Homelander is not worthy of his respect. He is also not a god, but simply a bad product.
*Side Note: If Antony Starr and Ginacarolo aren’t at least nominated for an Emmy, then it won’t take a stare from Victoria Neuman to make my head explode.
Over in Russia, Hughie walks in on Butcher injecting himself with a dose of V-24. Instead of chastizing him, he asks to try it. He’s tired of feeling powerless and unable to protect Annie. Butcher refuses, telling him that injecting V-24 isn’t power — it’s punishment.
Later, Butcher & Co. break into the lab where Nina told them BCL Red would be. During their search, the group is discovered and engaged by an overwhelming number of guards. Despite putting up a good fight (and getting an assist from a hamster enhanced by Compound V), they’re eventually pinned down.
Realizing he has no other options, Butcher reveals to the rest of the team that he has (temporary) superpowers and begins taking out the guards. He’s able to defeat most of them with ease, but one manages to sneak behind MM. Just as he’s about to fire, Hughie teleports out of his clothes, reappears behind the guard, and puts his fist through the man’s torso.
Butcher is disappointed/furious at Hughie for injecting himself with V-24 (and stealing it from his supply pack). The rest of the team is disappointed/furious at both of them for doing such a thing to themselves. Butcher tells them they need to focus on the mission before ripping the door off a giant cylindrical tank in the middle of the room.
Instead of BCL Red, they find Soldier Boy, who breaks his restraints and stumbles out of the tank. He walks over to Frenchie, who tells him that it’s okay and lowers his weapon. As Soldier Boy looks down, his chest begins to glow red. Kimiko runs over and pushes Frenchie out of the way moments before a bright, concussive blast emits from the supe’s chest. The blast knocks her through a wall and impales her on a piece of rebar.
As Soldier Boy stumbles out of the facility, Frenchie runs over to Kimiko and discovers that she’s not healing.
As the team rushes Kimiko to a hospital, Hughie gleefully watches the glow emitting from his arm due to the V-24. Meanwhile, MM tells Butcher that there’s no longer a team for him to hold together anymore.
His actions on this mission have made sure of that.
Elsewhere, Homelander and Starlight emerge from a red carpet event to a swarm of fans and photographers. After waiving to the crowd, he asks if she would like to fly with him. When Starlight politely declines, he forces her to by asking the crowd if they’d like to see them take to the sky together.
Homelander takes Starlight in his arms and lifts off. As the crowd cheers, he carries her to the top of a nearby building and shows her the shredded remains of Supersonic. After revealing that A-Train told him about their planned mutiny, Homelander warns her that stepping out of line again will result in Hughie suffering the same gruesome fate.
He forces Starlight to verbally confirm her understanding before leaving her on the roof and flying away.
If you thought Homelander had any shred of restraint left in him, the final scene of “Glorious Five Year Plan” should properly obliterate that notion. Meanwhile, Stanley Edgar brilliantly proved he isn’t one to cower in the face of defeat. Both of these characters are great, but Antony Starr and Giancarlo Esposito take them to a completely different level. In an episode packed with high-stakes plotlines and brutal action sequences, their scene at Vought Tower still managed to be the most thrilling of them all.
That’s not to take away from all the other great aspects of this one. You’d think an exploration of Butcher’s dark nature would feel played out by now, but his current arc has given it fresh weight. Similarly, Hughie’s frustration at feeling powerless was on the cusp of being pathetic before this week’s chilling turn.
I could go on for the rest of this review about how great the character work on this season of The Boys has been. From MM’s struggle with his past to Starlight finding comfort in hers (only for it to be used against her), everything’s been great…with one exception.
Kimko’s storyline is dangerously close to the same hand-wringing absurdity that made Carol from The Walking Dead go from an awesome character to barely tolerable. To be fair, having her question the violent side of her nature feels like a natural progression from what she’s experienced. Unfortunately, this season of The Boys is going to ridiculous lengths to make the point, culminating this week with a loss of Kimiko’s powers that we all know won’t be permanent.
To be fair, that’s a fairly minor quibble when you consider how great the rest of the episode is. I also have to admit that it provides a good juxtaposition with Hughie, who appears to be enjoying his temporary enhancements in a manner even more corruptive than Butcher. Unlike the rest of the team, Hughie never possessed the ability or resolve to destroy those who stood in his way. There’s no telling what he’ll do after getting such a concentrated/powerful taste of it.
Surrounding all this great character work are multiple connected narratives that continue to raise the stakes. Searching for a weapon that could destroy Homelander was interesting enough, but that “weapon” has now been revealed to be potentially more dangerous than the target.
Meanwhile, Homelander has set things in motion that put him on a collision course with the absolute worst parts of his nature. Beyond the narcissism and homicidal temper is an insecurity that he’s clearly incapable of tending to. Left unchecked, it could unleash something inside him far more terrifying than we’ve ever seen before (which is really saying something).
With four more episodes to go, there’s no telling how crazy things on this season of The Boys will get.
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