“Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men” is a welcome return to form for the show’s hardcore action, extreme over-the-top violence, and effective use of the C-word, courtesy of Karl Urban’s hilariously foul-mouthed Billy Butcher.
In an absolute riot of an episode, the truth about the superheroes is out. They are not born with powers but are instead given their unique abilities with Compound V, on behalf of Vought. It’s all hands on decks as the company goes into damage control, with nobody realizing the saboteur is one of their own: Starlight.
Once again, Stan Edgar, (the superb Giancarlo Esposito), remains calm as the rest of Vought run in a panic, adopting what I’ve come to term as his Gus Fring mode. Disavowing any knowledge of the Compound V, averting the blame onto the Boys, Edgar further implicates the late Madelyn Stillwell as a conspirator.
Out at sea, Hughie contends with his feelings for Starlight, while the Boys intend to hand off Kenji, Kimiko’s telekinetic-powered brother, to Mallory, in return for Becca’s location. Naturally, the plan goes a bit wonky. They attract the attention of not only the police but the Seven.
Intending to make his mark and return to the Seven, The Deep rather bungles a plan to stop the Boys, using an army of dolphins and a whale called Lucy. Sadly for Lucy, she suffers a rather violent death by speedboat.
Hunted through a series of storm-drain tunnels by the Seven, a close encounter with Homelander almost marks the end of Hughie, in an attempt to force Starlight to kill him. Despite the growing rift between Hughie and Butcher, Karl Urban’s loud-mouthed vigilante interrupts the moment with a C-word, leaving Kenji to summon a parking lot on top of Homelander.
The episode later gives Stormfront the center-stage, allowing the newest member of the Seven to unleash her powers (about time), ripping fiery carnage through a tower block, needlessly killing dozens of innocents, before murdering Kenji, going against Homelander’s direct orders, and leaving him less than pleased.
In a riveting, fast-paced, brutal third episode, this is The Boys at its absolute best. It sets up multiple plot threads from Ryan’s developing superpowers (we all got to hope he doesn’t become a mini Homelander), the growing risk of Maeve’s romance with Elena being rumbled by Homelander, to the final shot of Kimiko, out for revenge against Stormfront following Kenji’s death.
Other memorable moments included Black Noir watching the breaking news story of Compound-V and crying. All at once, I laughed and felt sorry for the faceless, silent supe. Unlike Maeve, I doubt he’ll ever be able to redeem himself as a superhero truly, but I always enjoy the small comedic moments he gives on-screen.
Then there’s the brief appearance of Claudia Doumit as congresswoman Victoria Neuman, best known to me at least as Farah Karim from last year’s Modern Warfare reboot. Episode 3 can be summarised by one particular line, from the words of Billy Butcher. F****** diabolical. I really couldn’t have summed it up better myself.