There are big spoilers ahead for this opening episode review of The Boys. Catch up with Flickluster’s review for Episode 2. In the wake of his live televised meltdown – an unhinged Homelander feels unstoppable, and it isn’t far from the truth. Save for an anti-supe weapon Butcher and the Boys continue to search for (more on this later), there’s nothing in the world that could kill Homelander.
It would be a hell of a showdown if Butcher took on America’s beloved hero with his newfound V24 superpowers. Homelander has remained under the threat of blackmail by Queen Maeve and Starlight following his failed rescue mission to save a hijacked airliner. In response to Homelander’s intention to bring the Deep back into the Seven, Starlight is understandably resistant – and she threatens to expose the footage of the downed jet if he fails to fall in line.
He’s heading to the door and appears to be leaving with his tail between his legs. Then he stops and shuts the door. But this is the worst version of Homelander, someone with absolutely nothing to lose. If the footage is released, he threatens to wipe New York off the map and destroy Starlight and Queen Maeve’s hometowns. The line echoes a statement he’d made to Maeve in the Season 2 finale after revealing the footage of the plane. If she released it, he would destroy everyone and everything.
Homelander, in his audacity, goes as far as comparing himself to Martin Luther King, speaking truth to power. There is a fraction of truth to his speech, but nothing can excuse his sadism, lack of humanity, and threats of mass destruction against those he’s sworn to protect. The episode’s cruellest moment comes as Homelander coerces the Deep to eat an octopus called Timmy. The Deep forcibly eats the entire octopus whole.
According to the Deep – gifted with the ability to hear the voices of amphibious creatures – Timmy has children. It’s hilarious and disturbingly gross that it’s hard to watch without wincing and covering my eyes. To give context, the Deep and his wife Cassandra have sex as Timmy the Octopus watches. It’s impossible to put a finer point on it than that.
On the subject of risqué, we’ve yet to touch on the arrival of Little Nina (Katia Winters). For this familiar with the source material, Little Nina is a Russian gangster with a formidable reputation as a drug trafficker – and she has a fondness for sex toys. The Little in her name is figurative, with her live-action counterpart considerably taller. She’s no less ruthless, however. With Frenchie’s girlfriend and criminal associate, Cherie, finding herself on the wrong side of Little Nina, the gangster abducts Frenchie and interrogates him on her whereabouts.
She wants her found and suggests that Frenchie will be the one to kill her. Season 3 is channelling some of the most risqué content from the comic books, including Herogasm. As Frenchie points out, he works for the CIA, and he doesn’t report to Little Nina anymore.
Butcher, Hughie, and M.M meet with Mallory at a CIA safe house. M.M reveals Soldier Boy’s complicity in killing members of his family, while Butcher is still reeling from the side effects of the V24. His eyes are still burning, and he’s being sick in a toilet. It’s also the setting for some heavy revelations – chief among which include Mallory’s history with Payback – the super team that came before the Seven.
In a flashback-laden episode, we return to Nicaragua in 1984 during the early days of Grace’s career (Sarah Swire). She reveals her role in operation Charly, an off-the-books mission sanctioned by President Reagan. The United States were allied with the Contra Rebels in their fight against the Sandinista Regime, backed by the Soviet Union. To fund their combat operations, Mallory was in charge of trafficking cocaine and selling arms to Iran to pay for weapons.
Mallory further explains the unwritten policy of distributing cocaine to minority neighbourhoods to demoralise and destabilise these communities. As the U.S prepare for a major offensive against the Regime, Payback arrives. Crimson Countess, Mindstorm, Swotto, the TNT Twins, Black Noir, Gunpowder – and Soldier Boy. Mallory points out to a young Stan Edgar (Justiin Davis) that superheroes do not belong in the military and could put them at a disadvantage against the enemy.
For the first time in the series, Black Noir talks. Noir is determined to take on a more central role within Payback and refuses to wear the mask. Edgar advises Noir to wear his helmet because of his African American descent. Soldier Boy makes numerous attempts to flirt with an uninterested Mallory – much to the chagrin of Crimson Countess and Swotto, a flying supe with insect wings, parodied from the Wasp, exposes their position to the enemy. The two warring factions are slaughtered indiscriminately by Payback.
Stan Edgar and his Vought associates, unsurprisingly, slip away. An RPG takes out Swotto as Gunpowder wrecks havoc with a 60-cal machine gun. Black Noir is left disfigured in the attack, and the Russians take Soldier Boy in a helicopter. The event sets Mallory down a path of revenge against Vought.
These revelations push Butcher and Mallory apart. Mallory, in many ways, used Butcher to fulfil her own desire for vengeance against Vought in much the same way Butcher used Hughie after Robin’s death. Butcher is enraged that Mallory held back on her knowledge of a weapon that could kill Homelander. She argues it would never end – as they’d continue to go after one Supe after the next. Mallory compares Butcher to his father. Butcher abandons Ryan, suggesting that he doesn’t want to look at Ryan for a reminder of what happened to Becca. In response, Ryan’s eyes burn red.
With A-Train’s future uncertain as a speedster and a member of the Seven, he reunites with his brother and returns to home town. His new African-inspired suit is not making waves as Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler), a local superhero, gains notoriety for killing a black man suspected of mugging a white woman. A-Train’s brother suggests that considering his position within the Seven, A-Train could affect change in the community against Blue Hawk.
Starlight’s attempts to persuade Supersonic to leave the Seven fall flat as the threat of Homelander looms. Her former flame joins the Seven alongside the Deep in the American Hero reality show finale. Then there’s the whole Homelander coming out with Starlight as a couple-in-love plot twist in the dying minutes. A silently enraged Starlight clenches a fist behind her back as she struggles to control her powers – echoing a cringe-inducing flashback of Starlight singing Britney Spears at a beauty pageant as a child on stage.
The third episode of The Boys Season 3 illustrates Homelander at his most wicked and cruel. He’s stage-managing the Seven to fit his own plans, and with his popularity soaring since the live speech, an anti-supe weapon might be the only way to stop him. Jensen Ackles shines as the slimy, arrogant Soldier Boy, and Payback’s dark history in Nicaragua proves superheroes should not be in the military. Katia Winter is alluring and deadly as the shady Little Nina, while Ryan’s hate toward Butcher could fuel Becca’s son to use his powers for the wrong reasons. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. It never is.
There were plenty of moments that generated some chuckles, including Little Nina’s double-entendres, Butcher vomiting in Hughie’s face, (not to mention Kimiko breaking his arm to get out of work), and poor Timothy the Octopus. With Soldier Boy taken by the Russians and Little Nina out for blood with Frenchie, the Boys are going to Russia.
Seasons 1-2 and the first three episodes of The Boys are available to stream on Amazon Prime. What did you think of The Boys Season 3 so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!