The Boys E04 presents viewers with the largest peek into the world yet. We have already seen Supes acting terribly, consequences be damned. While plenty of that still happens in the episode, characterization expands to show that Supes are people, live complicated lives, have emotions, fears, and regrets. As the best example in the episode, Deep extols to his therapist the virtues of dolphins, while lamenting how the rest of the Seven treat him. He calls himself the ‘diversity hire.’ This scene plays out in earnest fashion. We can almost feel Deep’s shame and rage and sadness for being a creature of the land and the sea. It is tempting to feel sorry for Deep in this scene.
But you know what? Fuck that guy. The Deep doesn’t deserve pity, not after what he did to Starlight, and she’s probably not the only person he’s sexually assaulted. The Deep is not a good guy. He is not a stand up fellow. And he certainly doesn’t deserve redemption or sympathy. I’m just sad that the dolphin he tries to save suffers from his incompetence.
Another example of The Boys e04 focus on the humanity of its characters is Translucent. Turns out, he had a kid, information that throws Hughie for a loop, which is understandable. After all, Hughie did press the button that detonated the bomb that killed the Supe. Granted, giving the Supe a son just to stir emotions is a cheap technique. Yet, it works in this instance because it so cliche, and that is what I realized about The Boys after watching e04. This show is taking the piss, as they say, out of superhero storytelling. Going into the show, I knew that, or at least should have.
The Boys E04 People Are Flawed and Dangerous
However, if you’ve read my review of the first episode, you will see that I felt the show lacked something. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but maybe I can now. The missing element for me through the first two episodes especially was the overall point. Those episodes moved so quickly that they did not have time to build the larger world.
In contrast, The Boys e04 takes some time to breathe, which is funny to say. This is not a slow episode by any definition. Even still, it manages to develop the characters, the world, and stakes.
These stakes range from deciding to free a woman locked in a cage, to letting a passenger plane crash and then using the tragedy for gain. In the case of the latter, Homelander makes that decision.
He and Maeve are sent by Madelyn Stillwell to stop a group of terrorists who have hijacked the plane. They arrive, making short work of the bad guys. Homelander then smiles for the passengers and gives them a round of applause for being so brave. Here, he’s the quintessential superhero. He’s Superman: caring and friendly and optimistic. Which is, of course, bullshit.
There is another terrorist in the cockpit and before either Supe can stop him, he shoot the pilot, and Homelander tries to fry him with his laser eyes, but hits the console instead. Claiming no other choice, he tells Maeve that they have to leave and let the passengers die. She reluctantly agrees. As they try to leave the ship, Homelander reveals his true colors.
In The World of Supes and Norms There are No Hereos
So they let the plane crash and take the passengers with it. Homelander may be a remorseless prick, but Maeuve isn’t. The tragedy clearly affects her, and she sheds tears for the dead. Homelander, on the other hand, seizes the opportunity to take advantage of the crash. He blames the government for not allowing Supes to be part of national defense, and uses the crash as a rallying call to get people excited about the idea of Supes in the military. Like the sociopath he is, Homelander politicizes the deaths of people he chose not to save. He is a prick.
The Supes are not the only one who get to spend some time developing their characters. The Boys get their share as well in e04. We learn Butcher had a wife or girlfriend. And we know she’s not in the picture any more. We don’t know what happened to her, but we can probably guess it was a Supe. My guess is Homelander because Butcher has talked about getting the evil Superman.
We also see Hughie on a date with Annie January aka Starlright. They’re bowling and having a good time, but Hughie also has a mission. Butcher wants him to bug Annie’s phone. During the date we learn that Starlight is a good person through and through. Or at least, that’s how Hughie sees her. I’m not sure if I trust her, though. Typically in stories like this if someone is too good to be true, they usually are. I would be happy if Annie turned out to be exactly what she says. That would be a refreshing twist in this show. A bit of light in the darkness if you’ll excuse the pun.
Hughie Makes A Choice
I didn’t really wonder if Hughie would follow through with the mission. I figured he would. But, I will say, I dislike him for it. As I wrote above, I don’t completely trust Starlight, but I don’t want her trust betrayed. She seems like a good and moral character, so of course she gets taken advantage of. To paraphrase Darth Vader, she’s far too trusting.
I understand why Hughie bugs her phone for both plot and character considerations. If he doesn’t bug the phone, then the narrative runs the risk of stalling because a new plan needs making. From the standpoint of the character, he is still reeling from Robin’s death, and he world he has entered. Bugging Starlight makes sense, and gives him something to focus on. It’s too bad, though. He could have trusted her, and made a new fried. Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid have good chemistry together and are fun to watch on screen. (Although, it must be said that Moriarty has natural chemistry with everyone she shares a with.) It’s going to be sad when his deception is what causes her to lose her faith in people starts dating Homelander.
Hughie made his decision to betray the trust he and Annie have started cultivating.
The Boys e04 Frenchie Endangers the Mission
Like Hughie, Frenchie is processing some shit. Unlike with Hughie, though, we are not privy to the force driving Frenchie. He finds a woman in a cage guarded by men with guns. Instead of leaving her in the cage, he does what most decent people would, and frees her. This turns out to be a mistake. She’s a Supe and a killer, and now she’s on the loose. The Boys track her in the C-story of e04, and Frenchie lets her go each time, claiming she is a good person.
And really, that last point is what the mission statement of the series seems to be right now. There are no good people, only bad people. This is a nihilistic view to be sure, but one that fits well with the world of the show. Supes are commercialized, and crime fighting is staged and approved by corporate interests. They do it for a paycheck, not for Peace, Justice, and the American way.
Now that the show has come to a place where I realize this very simple and easy fact, I am enjoying the series much more. This has been the best episode of the series so far. It manages to do a lot of good character work while moving along at a breakneck pace.
Have you seen The Boys e04? What did you think of it? Is there something I missed in my review? Got questions or something to say? Leave me a comment, and click the follow button to subscribe. Thanks for reading.