Season three of The Boys is moving at a breakneck pace through its first five episodes, but somehow nothing feels rushed — it all feels natural. While watching this week’s episode, I often thought “Well, that has to be where it ends, right?” Then, it would continue, giving me more and more of those episode-ending cliffhanger moments as it progressed.
It’s so well told that moving this fast and at this level of quality makes me question just how long the showrunners want to keep this whole thing going. Even another season seems questionable.
Picking up almost immediately after last week’s shocking ending, the Boys are heading back to the U.S. following a crushing blow to Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) — and their comradery — in Russia. Unbeknownst to them, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) is also hitching a ride back to the states with a target already in mind. Meanwhile, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) grapples with his choice to make social justice a part of his identity after coming face-to-face with Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler). Homelander (Antony Starr) has also completely taken over Vought after getting Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) ousted.
This review contains full spoilers for episode five of The Boys season three.
This episode solidifies this season as one of the best satires to premiere in recent memory. I recently compared this series to South Park for a reason. The Boys satirizes modern American life, politics and controversies more poignantly and uncomfortably than South Park, turning their topics of choice up to the same levels of absurdity that we already deal with on a day-to-day basis and then intentionally mirroring us one-to-one, making our societal issue extremely obvious.
The clearest case in this episode is the A-Train and Blue Hawk subplot addressing the Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter situation, “cancel culture” becoming a meaningless boogeyman for conservatives, those in power trying to wipe away any possible consequences with a donation and fake influencer apologies. It’s great, completely lacking subtlety by design.
It’s hard to watch because we’ve all seen this kind of meaningless, cookie-cutter crap countless times on YouTube, Twitter,*Instagram and broadcast news. This series’ obvious anti-corporation and anti-fascist themes have been prevalent from the beginning, but they just keep getting more blatant and tied to the overarching plot and its important characters. The biggest example of this is what’s going on with Homelander.
They’ve basically made him a complete Trump analog, and the series is all the better for it. He’s put himself in absolute power at Vought, makes boneheaded suggestions on how to fix problems, puts his trusted people, in this case, The Deep (Chace Crawford), in charge of important departments and gets rid of anyone who’s ever questioned him in any way, shape or form. It’s just so interesting and terrifying to watch what the U.S. would be like if a man with the same ideology as Trump had superpowers, was in charge of the most prominent corporation on Earth and literally no one could stop him from doing whatever he wants. It’s great writing, no matter what right-wing commentators try to say about it.
On the other side of the series are the Boys, about to completely collapse in on themselves. Hughie (Jack Quaid) is becoming an addict to the temporary compound V, loving the power it gives him even if it destroys his relationship with Annie (Erin Moriarty). Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Kimiko are definitely leaving the group once she’s healed and he manages to get away from Little Nina (Katia Winter). Butcher is going off the rails and fully embracing his hatred of supes because of the power the V gives him. And Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) is going to hate Butcher and Hughie because they’re choosing Soldier Boy’s ridiculous power over finding a way to take Homelander down without using powers of their own. He’s pointing out the obvious hypocrisy in Butcher’s plan, as Butcher falls down the same addiction rabbit hole as Hughie in a completely different way.
The best scene in the episode is when M.M. takes Hughie and Butcher to meet The Legend, hilariously played by Paul Reiser. The Legend, originally a Stan Lee parody in the comics, has become the predecessor to Stan Edgar at Vought, being more of an old-school film producer. In one scene he takes a bump of coke, references all the '80s starlets he’s hooked up with and complains about how the golden age of heroes is long dead, it’s glorious and downright hilarious. I want to see more from him, but I doubt we will, at least this season.
All of this to say, I have no damn clue where this series is heading, again. Every week The Boys both entertains and depresses me. It’s a phenomenal watch, but it just brings you down. Next week’s episode is titled “Herogasm,” an adaptation of the infamous story arc from the comics which finds all the planet’s superheroes at a resort for a week-long orgy, something they’re hinting at with Maeve’s supposed location. So, we’ll see how that plays out and if they manage to be anywhere near as outrageous or explicit as the source material they’re adapting.