Last week’s episode of The Boys concluded with Butcher and his team in complete disarray. A trip to Russia revealed that the weapon allegedly used to kill Soldier Boy (and potentially put down Homelander) didn’t even exist. Instead, they discovered that Soldier Boy is still alive. He also has a new ability that can take away other supe’s power, which was used to mortally wound Kimiko before he escaped from containment.
Meanwhile, Hughie managed to pilfer some of Butcher’s V-24 and inject himself with it. As The Boys rushed their dying teammate to receive medical care, he could only focus on how good it felt to finally have power.
Back in the United States, Homelander pushed Edgar Stanley out as Vought’s CEO thanks to an unexpected assist from Victoria Neuman. In exchange for her help, he provided the Congresswoman with pure Compound V, which she used to give her daughter powers.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, A-Train betrayed Starlight and told Homelander about her attempting to gather forces to oppose him. Homelander responded by brutally murdering Supersonic before warning her that Hughie would meet the same fate if she didn’t stay in line.
This week, The Boys goes all-in on the theme of betrayal and the fallout that results from it.
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.
The episode opens with Mother’s Milk watching old footage of the Soviets experimenting on Soldier Boy while Frenchie prays for Kimiko to pull through. After ensuring that she’s still stable, Butcher suggests that Soldier Boy’s new powers are a result of all the radiation the Russians pumped into him.
Butcher then tells MM that they need to get back to the States so Kimiko can get proper medical care. When MM accuses him of not caring about Kimiko (or anyone else), Butcher reminds his teammate that the V-24 he injected himself with helped save his life. MM correctly accuses Butcher of killing Gunpowder with his powers before reminding him that the whole point of their mission is that no one should have that type of power in the first place.
Butcher dismisses MM as being overly idealistic and goes to check on Hughie, who is suffering from a severe V-24 hangover. While watching his teammate puke in a sink, he briefly hallucinates seeing him as a young boy (who I’m guessing is his deceased younger brother, Lenny).
Over at Vought Tower, Ashley Barrett excitedly announces herself to the board as the company’s new CEO. Homelander interrupts her speech and begins running the meeting himself. After two board members dutifully kiss his ass, one (Maureen) makes the mistake of asking him a technical question about the company’s financials, causing Homelander to berate her. Before his anger can boil over, Ashley tells the woman to leave.
Despite this display of power, Maureen’s words still cause Homelander to feel anxious about the complex particulars involved in running a company.
Meanwhile, crime analyst Anika watches in horror/disbelief as the Deep is introduced as the new head of her department. After reciting Cassandra‘s speech she wrote for him, he and his wife present the entire Crime Analytics team with cupcakes. Unfortunately, the sweet treat is soured a bit when the Deep announces that everyone will need to sign up for performance reviews.
After arriving back in the U.S., MM helps Frenchie load Kimiko into their car before telling Butcher “f*** you” and driving off. As they leave, Hughie reminds his fellow V-24 user that he still has him.
Later, Hughie is at home watching news reports on Supersonic’s death (falsely attributed to a drug overdose) when Annie comes by to see him. He attempts to comfort her before revealing that they didn’t find BCL Red and that Soldier Boy is alive/on the loose. He also confesses to taking V-24 and loving how it made him feel.
Annie, who’s understandably upset, says she can’t lose him, too. Hughie promises her he won’t inject himself with the substance again.
That evening, Maeve visits Butcher at The Boys’ headquarters to give him more doses of V-24. While she’s furious that Soldier Boy is on the loose again (and that they didn’t get the weapon), Butcher’s depression runs much deeper. Both of them decide to cope by breaking their respective streaks of sobriety.
While drinking and discussing how hopeless their situation is, Butcher admits that being on V-24 was like nothing he’d experienced before. He also hated it. When Maeve asks how it felt, Butcher reveals that it just made him feel even more like himself. In his mind, all Compound V does is give people powers they shouldn’t have while unlocking the absolute worst parts of themselves.
Butcher then says that every single supe needs to be taken down. After taking a moment, Maeve turns and kisses him. When he pulls away, she asks Butcher if he still thinks he’s too good for her. This leads to the pair having extremely passionate/rough sex on Butcher’s desk.
The next morning, Frenchie goes to visit Kimiko in the hospital. Upon entering her room, he finds Nina there along with one of her goons. She leads him out into the hall and reveals that The Boys’ destructive trip to Russia has cost her a great deal. Because of this, she declares that Frenchie will have to work for her to pay off the debt.
Frenchie attempts to refuse, but Nina ignores him and provides his first assignment: The assassination of a man and his very young daughter. When Frenchie expresses his horror at the prospect of killing a child, Nina responds that it’s “never stopped him before” and walks away.
Frenchie then goes back into Kimiko’s room to find that she’s awake. She’s also in a great deal of pain and unable to lift heavy objects, meaning that her powers are gone. Frenchie posits that they were taken away by Soldier Boy’s blast. Instead of being scared or upset at this news, Kimiko is overjoyed.
Over at Vought Tower, A-Train is on his way to a meeting with Ashley when he’s intercepted by Starlight. When she calls him out for his betrayal, A-Train unconvincingly pretends not to know what she’s talking about. Starlight calls him a coward and storms off.
A-Train continues on to Ashley’s office, where she tells him that Homelander is very appreciative of his loyalty. In exchange for betraying Starlight, he’s agreed to set up a meeting with Blue Hawk. A-Train is very happy to hear this until Ashley reveals that the meeting is happening right now.
Blue Hawk deflects A-Train’s concerns about his aggressive patrolling in black neighborhoods, but still agrees (at Ashley’s behest) to meet with members of his brother‘s community and offer an apology.
Meanwhile, Soldier Boy manages to sneak aboard a Russian plane and make his way to New York. His haggard appearance allows him to wander unnoticed through the city, which is very different than how he remembers it.
He eventually walks by a delivery truck playing Russian pop music. The sound triggers memories of him being tortured, causing Soldier Boy to involuntarily emit a destructive blast.
Pride and Perception
While stopping by Monique‘s place to pick up his daughter, MM is troubled to find her boyfriend (Todd) allowing Janine to watch positive coverage of Homelander on television. His concern deepens when Todd expresses admiration for Homelander’s recent public actions.
As the two begin to argue, they’re interrupted by a news report about a blast in Manhattan that killed 19 people. When the surveillance footage is played, MM immediately recognizes that Soldier Boy is responsible. He also flashes back to a violent and traumatic moment from his childhood.
After snapping out of it, MM tells Janine that he has to leave and departs without her.
Over at Vought Tower, Homelander watches new reports about the Manhattan explosion with odd fascination. When Starlight says they need to do something, Homelander’s first response is to begin setting up a PR spin with Ashley. Starlight angrily clarifies that she meant they need to go after the supe who caused the blast, causing Homelander to become enraged.
Realizing that he’s about to snap, Starlight softens her tone. Homelander backs down a bit, but continues to be a douche, telling Starlight to handle the problem while he deals with the “grown-up” problems (like how this incident could affect Vought’s stock price).
Starlight calls Hughie, who’s headed to the blast site with Butcher. He confirms that Soldier Boy was very likely responsible before asking if the Vought Crime Analytics people can track down his location. When Starlight gets there, she learns that almost the entire department has been fired due to tweets people made over the years that were critical of Homelander.
Now Anika and one other analyst are all that’s left to comb through hours of closed-circuit television footage.
After Hughie arrives at the blast site, he’s spotted by a co-worker from the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, who’s surprised (and suspicious) to see him fully healed after allegedly breaking his arm. Meanwhile, Butcher takes a radiation reading that all but confirms Soldier Boy caused the destruction.
Things become tense when MM shows up and furiously points out that this is no longer the Russian’s problem — it’s theirs. He also decides to find Soldier Boy himself and storms off. Before he can leave, Butcher points out that MM won’t be able to take the supe down himself. He then offers to help, explaining he owes his former teammate that much. After the mission’s complete, he never has to see him again.
MM agrees before revealing that he also has a lead on where Soldier Boy might be.
Bandaid on a Flesh Wound
A-Train arrives at a community center in Trenton along with Blue Hawk and a Vought camera crew. Nathan is not thrilled about this being sprung on him, but A-Train assures his brother it’ll work out for everybody. Vought gets some good publicity and the people in his community get a public apology.
Predictably, things do not go well.
Blue Hawk dispassionately reads a cringe-worthy prepared statement and donates a nominal amount to the community center. He also claims not to see color, only crime. The community members respond by pointing out that he recently killed an unarmed black man, something they doubt he would have done in a white neighborhood.
Despite A-Train’s efforts to get him to leave, Blue Hawk begins implying that black people are more prone to crime. After the meeting devolves into a shouting match, Blue Hawk physically assaults the community members. A-Train is able to get him to stop, but not before seriously injuring Nathan.
Elsewhere, MM, Butcher, and Hughie go to see the Legend, a sleazy Hollywood insider who used to be the VP of hero management before Madelyn Stillwell took over. He also used to covertly help The Boys until Butcher sold him out on a mission, resulting in the Legend losing a leg.
He still trusts MM, though, who has a strong hunch Soldier Boy made contact with him after arriving in New York. After guilt tripping him for ordering the coverup for what Soldier Boy did to his family, the Legend admits he was there and didn’t appear to have aged a day.
He also grabbed his old costume and asked for the current address of his ex-girlfriend, Crimson Countess.
After leaving the Legend’s apartment, Butcher takes MM and Hughie to his car, where he reveals that he’s got a new batch of V-24 vials. MM refuses to use it, explaining that a line has to be drawn somewhere — even when it involves going after the supe who destroyed his family.
Hughie, on the other hand, is all in.
Over at Vought Tower, Maeve watches a broadcast of Homelander being interviewed by Cameron Coleman, who insinuates that the supe attack in Manhattan was a false flag aimed at discrediting him. Homelander tacitly agrees before assuring the viewing audience that New York is perfectly safe.
Homelander walks in and accuses Maeve of being against him. He also claims to be able to smell Butcher all over her, which enrages him. Maeve tries to deny having any contact with Butcher, but Homelander doesn’t believe her. He then explains how she’s the one person who should understand him before asking if anything about their prior relationship was real.
Maeve admits that she not only hated Homelander from the start, but actually pitied him. Homelander is clearly hurt by this revelation, but recovers enough to make some snarky remarks before signaling Black Noir to spring at Maeve from behind.
Later, Starlight learns Maeve is missing and storms into Ashley’s office demanding to know what happened to her. Ashley claims that Maeve is at a wellness retreat and unable to talk with anyone. Starlight says she knows that’s not true. She also insists that Ashley has to see how out of control Homelander is. Being the CEO of Vought may be great, but it’s not worth losing her life.
Just when it appears Ashley is going to come to her senses, she brusquely dismisses Starlight and leaves.
At the hospital, A-Train listens to a doctor explain how his brother will never walk again. The tragic news is amplified by a news broadcast of Blue Hawk explaining why he took action against a group of “Antifa thugs.”
Upstairs in another room, Kimiko and Frenchie happily watch the 1943 film Girl Crazy together — specifically the part where Judy Garland performs “I’ve Got Rhythm.” After Frenchie ignores a phone call from Nina, he’s shocked to hear Kimiko attempting to sing along. This quickly leads to her and Frenchie doing a full dance number with the rest of the hospital. It’s obviously a dream sequence, but still a lot of fun to watch.
Back in reality, things are also pretty great after Kimiko leans over and kisses Frenchie. The joy is cut short when he steps outside to get coffee and is cornered by Nina and her enforcer.
Back inside the hospital room, Kimiko worries she scared Frenchie off as the minutes tick by without him returning.
Elsewhere, Butcher and MM interrupt Crimson Countess in the middle of a video sex chat. After restraining her, they reveal that Soldier Boy is alive and on his way to see her. Crimson Countess responds by asking how he escaped from Russia, revealing that she knew he wasn’t actually killed in Nicaragua. She tells him that he’ll kill her and begs to be let go. Instead, Butcher informs her that she’s the bait.
Back outside, MM hands Hughie a canister of halothane, which the Soviets used to knock Soldier Boy out whenever he needed to be moved or got unruly. As the trio prepares for battle, Annie walks up and asks what’s going on. MM admits that he called her for backup, but subtly assures Hughie that’s all he said.
Hughie pulls Annie aside and confesses to taking another dose of V-24. In his mind, this finally allows him to be the one in danger and save her for a change. Annie responds that she doesn’t need him to save her — she just needs him.
Meanwhile, MM and Butcher notice a huge spike on their Geiger counter, indicating that Soldier Boy is nearby. MM suddenly starts to feel dizzy and realizes that Butcher spiked his water. He passes out just as the supe who destroyed his family steps into view.
Soldier Boy recognizes Butcher from the Russian lab and asks what he’s doing at Crimson Countess’ residence. Butcher responds that he has her tied up as a gesture of good faith. It’s his hope that after this, they might be able to team up.
Before we can learn his answer, the scene cuts to Soldier Boy entering Crimson Countess’ trailer. She begins profusely apologizing and saying that “it” wasn’t her idea. Soldier Boy responds by asking how much the Russians paid her. Crimson Countess responds that they didn’t, which clearly wounds him.
*Side Note: We’ll learn what she’s referring to later in the season.
Soldier Boy tells Crimson Countess that he loved her. During his time in Russia, one of the only things that kept him going through all the torture they put him through was the hope she would come for him. Crimson Countess responds that she never loved him. In fact, she and the rest of Payback all hated him. Soldier Boy responds to this by causing a massive explosion that takes out Crimson Countess’ trailer, killing her in the process.
Hughie and Annie hear the explosion and rush over to see what happened. They arrive to find MM being carried by Butcher, who confesses to drugging him. When Soldier Boy emerges from the trailer’s remains, Annie prepares to attack before Hughie steps in front of her. He admits that the plan all along was to ally with Soldier Boy and use him as a weapon to kill Homelander — something MM definitely wouldn’t have gone along with.
Hughie tries to justify his actions, explaining that it’s the only way he can save her from Homelander. When Butcher tells Hughie to come along, Annie begs him not to go. After taking a moment, he leaves her to follow Butcher, instead.
While there’s a lot to like about this episode, there are substantially more issues than we’ve seen in previous installments from The Boys this season.
Just from a practical standpoint, the narrative requires blind spots of varying size/importance to work:
- After causing mass panic at Voughtland (and publicly killing an innocent park worker), Crimson Countess simply goes home. One would assume we’d at least see mention of a coverup instead of things proceeding on as normal.
- Speaking of Crimson Countess’ home, it’s shown that she’s turning it into a very public chimpanzee sanctuary. There’s even a billboard announcing it along with tons of construction vehicles on the property. Much as I like a good Paul Reiser cameo, did it really require visiting him to get Crimson Countess’ address — or to know she’d be one of Soldier Boy’s first visits/targets?
- Would that many Crime Analytics staff members really be so bold as to publicly tweet bad things about Homelander? If anyone realized all communications were monitored by Vought, it would’ve been them.
- How did Frenchie think ignoring Nina would turn out any way but bad?
Regarding that last item, I actually enjoyed the musical number quite a bit. But even if you’re not a fellow music nerd, the scene does an excellent job setting us up for the fear and heartbreak that immediately follows when Nina shows up.
It was one of many powerful moments that helped keep “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies” firmly in the “good” category. The A-Train/Blue Hawk plotline in particular was a punch to the gut. Much as we all want to hate A-Train for betraying Starlight (and getting Supersonic killed), it’s impossible not to feel horrible for him and what happened to his brother. Yes, he’s once again a victim of his own hubris. For once, however, his actions were born of a desire to do something good — misguided as they may have been. Unfortunately, it led to one of the only people he loves (and a truly good person) getting severely hurt.
On the flip side of that, Hughie’s turn could have benefitted from a bit more time to breathe. As it stands, I think we all saw it coming that he would take V-24 again. It’s still a great character arc, but having him make Annie a promise only to immediately break it didn’t have much impact.
Swinging back to the positive side of things, we’re once again treated to a scene that’s part of Antony Starr’s growing collection of evidence for a Best Actor Emmy. This time it’s Queen Maeve who’s on the receiving end of Homelander’s chilling soliloquy. Dominique McElligott responds by knocking it out of the park, matching her co-star in intensity moments before her character is kidnapped.
On another positive note, I absolutely love what they’re doing with Butcher. While everyone is betraying one person or another, he’s doing far worse by betraying himself. MM was spot on when he talked about needing to draw a line, but Butcher has already sprinted far past it.
Now that he’s routinely taking V-24 and working with the supe who ruined MM’s life, there’s no telling how corrupted he’ll become during the next three episodes.
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