The Boys e03 pushes Hughie’s quest for vengeance against A-Train forward, while doing some admirable world building. If the first episode was about Supes not acting heroically, and episode two was about how terrifying a world with Supes would be, The Boys e03 examines how they fit into the public eye.
One of the most powerful scenes in this episode is when Hughie returns home to get some fresh clothes. Posters of The Seven, and other heroes line his walls. While Hughie may not seem to notice the posters as he packs, I did. Seeing the superhero propaganda on his walls gave me an “Oh shit” moment. Because how awful would that be if you had posters and toys of the person that killed your girlfriend. The social implications are vast, and it is a wonder more people in the world don’t hate Supes.
When he does soak in the fact that he had an A-Train funko pop he tears the posters from the walls, and breaks whatever else he can. Hughie is in shock from the events of last episode. Destroying the merchandise offers Hughie a chance for catharsis. For me, this is the series at its best, and is definitely more what I expected from the start.
Starlight Makes a Choice in The Boys E03
The parallels between Starlight and Hughie also continue to develop, albeit in disparate fashion. Previously, Starlight got in trouble for performing a heroic act without permission from her corporate overlords at Vought who call her in for a meeting, possibly to fire her. However, they decide not to fire her. Instead, they bring in the marketing department to develop and sell an origin story. They also provide her with a new costume that she resists. The new costume is skimpy, with a plunging cleavage line. In short, it’s a woman’s superhero costume.
Starlight tells Madeline Stillwell that she has a right to present her body however she wants. Madeline agrees, but says the only way Starlight gets to do that with The Seven is to wear the new costume.
The pain of the choice is clear on Emily Moriarty’s face as it runs a spectrum of nuanced facial expressions. The actress has really shined in the roll, portraying perfectly slide from idealism to cynicism. She looks sideways at the uniform, head tilted back, shoulders up. Her body language expresses resistance to the idea. However, as she considers the offer more thoroughly, her shoulders relax in resignation, and her head slumps. She exchanges exploitation for membership, and takes another step further from her moral center. Her quote to Hughie at the big race says it all, “I don’t know if they really want you to be a hero. I think they just want you to look like one.”
The Boys E03 Revenge is the Name of the Game
For his apart, Hughie is drunk on the power he felt when he pressed the button on the bomb. He tells Mr. Milk–a new addition to the team–about it, and MM nods. Then, he warns Hughie about taking it too far. But for Hughie. there is no such thing as taking it too far. A-Train killed his woman and disrupted his life. Nothing short of total vengeance will suffice.
To this effect, Frenchie, Butcher, Hughie, and Mr. Milk pay a visit to Popclaw. Popclaw is A-Train’s girlfriend. MM and Hughie bug her apartment, and as they leave they bump into A-Train. Hughie stares at the Supes who killed his girlfriend, waiting for acknowledgement. There is a moment of silence which A-Train asks if Hughie wants an autograph. Instead of keeping quiet and just moving on, Hughie says he thinks they’ve met before. A stupid thing to do.
I understand that Hughie is pissed A-Train can’t even pay him the courtesy of remembering him. Plus, he is still riding the adrenaline wave. But, this was stupid and could have gotten both Hughie and MM killed. Revenge is their purpose, but they need to be smart about it. Hughie forgot that for a moment.
Homelander and Queen Maeve
This episode also brings us our first glimpse of Queen Maeve in action, and she kicks ass. Then she has a team-up with Homelander, and things go less well. The series has been hinting that Homelander is a violent psychopath with amazing powers. The Boys E03 makes that clear. Homelander is the kind of guy who will punch through a man’s chest, and then get mad at the dead guy for getting blood on his gloves. Homelander is the kind of guy who will threaten an ex-girlfriend with death if she ever moves on. Murderous Superman is not necessarily a new concept, especially not in comics, but it is something we haven’t seen a lot of in movies and TV.
Power Corrupts and So Does Compound V
By establishing Homelander as the biggest prick of them all because he’s the most powerful, the show subverts Superman. And in so doing, it provides a fresh take on the superhero genre in the medium of the screen. If the biggest hero can be a villain, then there are no heroes. Everyone is already a villain, or one in waiting. Even Starlight has slipped. She wants to be part of The Seven so badly that she’s willing to compromise her values. No one is safe from the corrupting influence of Supes.
How far Starlight will go to maintain her position in The Seven is a question worth asking. On one hand, similar to Hughie, it seems that she will do anything to be a member. On the other hand, when she gets leered at and told to show her tits, there is a flash of indecision. I expect the show will delve deeper into this aspect of the plot and her character, but I don’t expect her to abandon The Seven.
Finally, and returning to the idea of superhero marketing and image, A-Train has a big race. If he loses, he is out of The Seven. Here is yet another instance of people doing whatever it takes to be part of the biggest superhero club around. Only in the case of A-Train that action is to take superhero steroids, also known as Compound V. The drug greatly enhances super abilities, but the user loses some control. A-Train was on V when he ran through Robin.
This episode is the best one so far. Have you seen it? What are your thoghts? Let me know in the comments.