Let me know if you’ve heard of this one before. Everything comes together and nothing goes according to plan. Did you expect anything less from this show? “The Instant White-Hot Wild” offers a satisfying conclusion while setting up some good possibilities for season four, but also had some surprises that some may have seen coming, but it could have easily gone the other way. Core questions that have been raised all season played out, some of the characters learned their lessons, while others repeated the same old patterns, and some s*** got just plain weird. You know, another day at the office for Eric Kripke and this very talented staff!
The primary mission of season three, kill Homelander, seemed a little weird. After all, they weren’t going to kill Homelander. He’s the whole reason this show exists. So after the whole alliance thing between Butcher, Hughie and Soldier Boy, the question was how would it all go wrong? Would Annie’s efforts against Vought work? Would The Deep and A-Train get a real plot? (The answer is still no). But Queen Maeve finally got her due after three seasons of neglect, and most of our heroes came out in a good place, even if the fight was far from over.
Family Issues in Review
The first half of the episode focused a lot on the character dynamics in build up to the big showdown. As expected, family issues continued to run wild. It’s a very odd thing to say that one person who got the Dad thing right was…Homelander? Granted, he’s still a really crappy son, but he pulled off being a sympathetic and role model Dad…until the end. The episode started with him arriving at the compound where Ryan is, and I’m impressed they kept him away from his son for a whole season. That paper that Neumann floated in front of Homelander last week was Ryan’s location and he wasted no time.
Was he a belligerent jerk and demanding he take his son with him? No, he actually said the right thing. He doesn’t hold Ryan responsible for hurting Stormfront. “Son, when you’re as strong as we are, accidents happen, things break, and sometimes they are the things that you love the most. But that’s all it is, an accident.” He will always love him, no matter what happens, no matter what he does. That sounds like a plea coming from someone who wishes a parent had said that to him. He has finally won his son over by connecting with heartfelt honesty. Now Grace Mallory is left empty handed and Butcher is ignoring her calls.
Solider Boy on the other hand proved that not only can you be a crappy father, but you can be a crappy grandfather too! I adore how Jensen really sold the struggle within Solider Boy, knowing that Homelander is a bad person, but also knowing that he is the only legacy he has left in this world. Should he embrace him or carry on the plan to kill him? Can he really kill his son? This is what was running through his head when he was locked in the bathroom with a bottle of Old Granddad. Kind of a funny drink to choose, isn’t it? He is an Old Granddad! Clever writers.
Butcher does his best to convince Solider Boy that Homelander is not his son, that he was raised in a lab as the replacement, but it’s not an easy sell. After all, who’s going to accept Butcher’s take on things when his entire motivation is his obsessive desire for revenge? Soldier Boy’s backstory is revealed and it’s unexpected, considering the films painted him as a kid from the streets of South Philadelphia who became a hero with a heart of gold. That was also a Vought lie. SB came from a rich family, attending boarding school and got kicked out of said boarding school. His father never beat him, but he couldn’t be bothered with him either. His Dad just told him he was a disappointment. Emotional daddy issues! Soldier Boy used his Dad’s connections in the War Department to get into Dr. Vought’s Compound V trials. He became a famous and widely worshipped superhero. His Dad still wasn’t impressed. “He said I took a shortcut. That a real man wouldn’t have cheated.” Soldier Boy always wanted kids because he believed he could do better than his father did. He knows that Homelander isn’t really his kid, but he is the only blood he’s got. An interesting dilemma indeed.
On the other side, Homelander is really struggling with the issue as well. He’s clearly angry and feels betrayed that this news was kept from him the whole time. It was even confirmed by the Vought archives. As a result, his deep desire for a family caused him to turn on what’s left of his team, even his most loyal confidant. I admire Black Noir for returning to Vought tower to face his fears, with his cartoon friends by his side supporting him, just to remind us what a f***ed up situation this is. The bond between Noir and Homelander is deep (I loved the floating cartoon hearts when Homelander welcomed him back), but ultimately the truth got Noir in trouble. Homelander confessed he wasn’t sure if he could kill Soldier Boy, and Noir kept pushing that SB is bad. Homelander had to know, did Noir know that Soldier Boy was his father? He can see through the mask, he knows when he’s lying. When Noir nodded in confirmation, he sealed his fate.
I really choked up over Noir’s death scene! Homelander not only impaled him, but his guts went spilling everywhere. He was clearly dying an ugly death, yet Buster Beaver and his cartoon buddies, most of them looking rather somber, looked for a way to see the positive in this situation. They are proud of him and soon he’ll be in the sweet embrace of Christ the Lord! Wow, so that’s what’s going through Noir’s head at his end? I’m honestly heartbroken, and how did this happen? This guy was a cold hearted killer and a loyal lap dog for Homelander and Vought for years. He was not a good person, yet mentally he was just a child thinking he was playing hero. He’s just another victim of Compound V in the end, one of the many in this show, and we are again reminded that there is no true good or evil. They may start with good intentions, but something strays along the way. Supes often end up being the heroes of their own story. Farewell Noir, now that we’ve gotten to know you, we’re kind of freaked out.
Homelander also berated Ashley (who is wearing a wig since she’s pulled out all of her hair in the stress of her job), The Deep, and A-Train for being disappointments, right after he brought in Black Noir’s mask and announced he killed him over his betrayal. He said that Noir was worth more than all of them put together, which is interesting because it still wasn’t enough to stop him from being killed. Hmm, another one of those parallels, the demand of absolute loyalty. Homelander is finally seeing the light though, surrounding yourself with sycophants isn’t going to get you the love and respect you desire. He declared he doesn’t need a team anymore, deciding to face the looming showdown alone. That is the most liberating statement ever to come from Homelander, certainly better than him jerking himself off on the roof declaring he can do whatever the f*** he wants in last season’s finale. It also makes him more vulnerable, which could totally backfire into a massive killing spree.
Butcher on the other hand decided that he was going to right a wrong from all those years ago and protect Hughie unlike when he didn’t protect Lenny. While they were at a gas station, he knocked Hughie out in the bathroom and took off with Solider Boy. Hughie didn’t understand why until he swallowed his pride and called Annie for help. She picked him up, gave him huge ‘I told you so’ that was very satisfying, and told him V-24 is fatal. Hughie came to an interesting conclusion, Butcher just saved his life. Ah, men and their macho gestures.
Hughie himself has gone through a big self reflection, hinted in the last episode when he told Mindstorm he just wanted this to be over. He’s realizing what true strength really means. Eating pizza rolls at The Legend’s house triggered a memory of his own Dad serving them when he was a kid. He told Annie the story of how they would have them every night for dinner after his Mom left. They would just eat the pizza rolls and watch TV (Remington Steele, I loved that show!). Hughie expected his Dad to be out there fighting to get his Mom back and saw his Dad as weak. Now he realizes his Dad was doing everything he could to hold things together and take care of him during his darkest days. His father was much stronger than he thought.
Speaking of stronger, one of Annie’s efforts paid off big. Because of her video of Homelander’s confession, the attorney general got a warrant to search Vought tower for Maeve. So it’s a pretty good thing that Ashley and The Deep got involved, huh? They knocked her out with gas and had her moved in a van with armed guards, but she woke up, beat the living tar out of the guards and escaped. Incompetent lackeys for the win! She ends up at MM’s place where she and Annie formulate what’s next. For the record, I love that she managed to score some “I Love NY’ pajamas. She looked so comfy, even with her “let’s kill Homelander” bent.
Also at MM’s place, Frenchie has a plan to disable Solider Boy and has secured the one dose of Novichok in all of the US. It’s hidden in a Starlight perfume bottle. But he’s still getting high and Kimiko curses him out with some really strong sign language for doing drugs. He’s feeling pretty helpless. His father put the proverbial chain around his neck first (daddy issues!) and Little Nina just proved that there will always be someone to yank him around with it. Kimiko stressed it didn’t have to be like that and reminded him that he saw something in her. What does she see in him? “Mon coeur.” Aww crap, there’s a tear in my eye. I adore the amount of time they have given these two this season. It’s a heartwarming journey, loaded with a lot of blood and violence, but it always ends up sweet the way these two fight so hard for each other.
The Big Showdown
Now that all the character stuff has played out, the plot accelerates. Naturally, things get a bit weird from here. MM, Frenchie, Kimiko, Annie, and Maeve all go to the Flatiron office to find Butcher and Solider Boy. They are worried that Soldier Boy will go nuclear in Vought tower, killing everyone inside and maybe more. They want to stop Soldier Boy, not Homelander. Hughie also wants to save Butcher, who despite everything he has done still deserves to be saved. There is good in him. It’s deep, balls deep, but it is still there. The others strangely agree. When they get there though, the plan goes sideways. Butcher and Solider Boy said the kill Homelander plan is still on and Maeve changes her mind, even though Annie fought for Maeve and saved her. Maeve throws Frenchie’s nerve agent out the window, they lock the rest of the team in a vault, with no lights so Annie doesn’t fire up her powers, and head off to Vought tower on their own. Maeve’s cynical words as she leaves sums up this entire series!
Annie: I really thought that deep down you were a hero.
Maeve: Well, you were wrong. There’s no such thing.
Eventually, the team manages to get out of the vault (details on how that happened are a bit fuzzy to me, but we’ll call it a technical genius move), and they’re off to stop the others. The asshats at Vought Tower earlier ignored Annie’s call that the tower should be evacuated, so lots of innocents are in danger in the plot for revenge. While Annie, MM and Hughie try to stop Solider Boy, Frenchie and Kimiko will break into the Vought lab and whip up some more neurotoxin. Or, as MM says, “The most important s*** of my life, and I’m counting on coked-out Eurotrash. S***’s baffling.” He’s got that right!
Homelander faces the Butcher, Solider Boy and Maeve trio alone in the Vought studios, but tries to appeal to Soldier Boy with the whole “family” pitch. He brings out Ryan to meet his grandfather. That’s when Butcher does an ‘oh s***’ and notices all the ignored messages on his phone from Grace Mallory. He’s driven Becca’s son right into Homelander’s arms. See what happens when you can’t break the circle of violence from your own father, dumbass? See what happens when you push away a vulnerable boy and blame him for killing his mother in the cruelest of ways because your pride is hurt? This is going to come back to haunt everyone big time.
Homelander believes he, Solider Boy and Ryan could be a family, and unstoppable family. Soldier Boy though, sees it another way. He wishes he could have been there for Homelander, watching him grow up, raising him right, making him better…instead of him turning into the weak, sniveling, starved for attention pussy he is now. There’s no fixing that. “You’re a f***ing disappointment.” Oh man! The words that scarred Solider Boy, and now he’s saying that to his own son. Just like Butcher, he can’t break the cycle. A nifty parallel to Homelander rejecting his team.
So, with that, the battle begins. This question enters the back of my mind during the entire altercation, what makes a hero? The answer becomes pretty clear: fighting for those that matter. Solider Boy goes to kill Homelander, but is blasted by Ryan’s laser eyes. Soldier Boy then delivers a big blow to Ryan, sending him flying and knocking him out. While Homelander tends to Ryan, Butcher goes after Solider Boy, telling him that the kid is off limits. Why? It’s his wife’s son and he made a promise. Soldier Boy now thinks Butcher is a pussy and goes after him and a recently arrived Annie and MM.
Frenchie and Kimiko go into the Vought lab. While Frenchie makes up the neurotoxin, armed guards appear, but all it takes to fix this problem is one soundtrack from Flashdance! Ah, the 80’s is alive and strong this season. Kimiko puts in the ear pods, blasts “Maniac” and goes into her own flashdance mode, single handedly taking out an entire team of armed guards to the beat of the music while Frenchie works. That’s why this show is fun! It’s also a fulfilling moment, for she gets to use her powers the way she wants by protecting Frenchie. The difference now though is she’s having a blast doing it, which is awesome. That is a true hero right there.
Back at the control room, before Homelander can join back in the fight, Maeve goes after him and delivers every blow that she’s trained herself to do this season, ultimately kicking the crap out of him. Of course she’s not going to kill him, and she loses her eye in the process because Homelander doesn’t fight fair, but she never stops going after him and manages her own during a vicious fight. She’s planned this for an eternity and has come prepared.
During all this madness, Hughie goes into to the control room while everyone else is fighting and sends an announcement to the entire building to evacuate, saving all those lives that he didn’t save in “Herogasm.” He sees from the control room Annie is in trouble and has a dose of V-24 with him. He remembers though, swooping in and just saving Annie might not be the best plan. It backfired last time. Instead, he does that quick thinking that makes Hughie so awesome. He fires up the lights in the control room at full strength, thus giving Annie a lot more power. She not only goes full throttle with her power, she even starts to fly! He unleashes power no one ever knew she had. Annie delivers the blast they need to take down Solider Boy, just in time for everyone to hold him down, including a now arrived Frenchie and Kimiko, and give him the nerve gas that Frenchie just made. Does it work? Well…
Soldier Boy starts to go nuclear. He’s going to blow and take everyone with him. Queen Maeve, who sees what’s happening, reluctantly gives up on Homelander after seeing Annie’s pleading face. She charges forward, grabs Solider Boy and smashes through the window. They both go flying down just in time for SB to go nuclear. The blast ends up taking out a bunch of windows at Vought tower, but the two casualties are only Maeve and Solider Boy…um, presumably. After it’s all over Ryan chooses to leave with Homelander instead of Butcher, delivering a kind of blow that Butcher deserved. To add insult to injury, Butcher’s nose starts oozing green stuff and he passes out. Gee Butcher, talk about an ‘I told you so.”
Butcher is in the hospital and told by the doctor that he only has 12 to 18 months to live. So he sits up and lights up a cigarette, deciding to ignore anything else the doctor has to say. It’s fitting that he’s there alone. He’s alienated everyone he knows and is on his own for this fight.
The Happy Endings Part
Now it’s time for some happy endings! Yeah, I know! Queen Maeve is honored on Vought TV as a real hero who saved everyone and will be missed. She finally got to be the hero after years of being knocked down and losing her faith. It’s such a sweet sacrifice…except, it isn’t. I’m sitting there thinking, Solider Boy’s explosion shouldn’t have killed either of them. I’m right! Annie arrives at MM’s place and one very banged up Maeve comes limping out, complete with eye patch for her missing eye. She’s not healing fast because she doesn’t have her powers anymore, but she will live. She couldn’t be happier about this, especially when Elena comes out of her bedroom. They have reunited and they’re going off to live a quiet, simple country life in exile. Annie finally gives her that hug, and I hope they don’t decide to bring Maeve back. She deserves this happy ending and I don’t see where they could take her story any further. Ashley BTW saw the footage of The Boys rescuing Maeve after the explosion near a dumpster and ordered it deleted. I hope it stays a big secret!
As for Solider Boy, he’s back in stasis now at a CIA facility. He’s shown being loaded into a tube while Grace Mallory watches. I guess this is sort of her revenge for losing her team members all those years ago, but she doesn’t look very happy at all. I know should would rather have him dead. She’s probably thinking the same about Butcher now too.
Mother’s Milk gets nice resolution to his season long arc as well. He’s been having daddy issues all season, but his were because of his role as a father. He didn’t want Janine to see him at this worst, like punching her stepfather. He must be stronger than that. Frenchie, hardly a role model, still offers a great perspective. MM can’t keep the truth away from his daughter. He is a deeply broken and f***ed-up man. He’s also the best man he knows, and he should let Janine see all that. After the big showdown, MM decides to tell Janine about his father and his lifelong fight for justice against bad superheroes like Solider Boy. The fight he’s carrying on now. “I just want you to know that you should be proud.” He called his Dad a hero. “You’re my hero, Daddy,” Janine replied, giving him a hug. There goes the tears again. This was a wonderful conclusion to the strong character arc MM has been given this season. It also gives another lesson, the truth can set you free.
Meanwhile, back at the office, Annie throws her Starlight uniform down the garbage chute. She is done being a Vought supe. The rest of the team declares that she is one of them now and she’ll be joining their fight. Butcher even agreed, turning up after his hospital stay and death diagnosis. Naturally, he hasn’t said a word to the team, but they’ll figure it out.
There was one little strange scene that happened earlier, and it all plays out in the end. The Deep took out a potential VP running mate by drowning him in his pool, acting on Homelander’s orders, even though political assassination is taking things a bit too far (The Deep accurately called it treason). There is a news break while everyone is at the Flatiron office and it’s announced that Bob Singer has a new running mate. You know where this is going, Victoria Neumann! Oh man, that’s going to create some problems in season four. You know she’ll be exploding Bob’s head when the opportunity is right.
Finally, a pro-Homelander crowd outside sees their hero ascending from the sky, cheering him on. He has some big news, and following him next from the sky is Ryan. Homelander proudly introduces his son to the adoring crowd and Ryan is liking the reception. Suddenly a pro-Starlight person throws something and hits Ryan. Homelander responds by using his laser eyes to obliterate that person’s head. So, now he’s committed murder in front of an audience with multitudes of witnesses. What happens next? Todd, yes, Janine’s Homelander brainwashed stepfather, starts cheering wildly. The crowd then joins him. Homelander beams from ear to ear over the approval, but the real disturbing part is the closing shot of Ryan with an evil smirk on his face, showing that he’s definitely not taking the path his mother intended. He’s proud of his Dad and approves of this heinous act. Uh oh.
Whew, yes, that’s all. Quite a bit of ground covered in such a small amount of time, don’t you think?
A-Train only had a small part in this episode, proving he’s still a useless character. In one scene, his now disabled brother is furious at him for killing Blue Hawk instead of making him pay for his crimes. His brother tosses him out of the house and tells him not to come back. That’s one smart man. I’m still at a loss over what they can do with A-Train’s character. Three seasons and nothing he’s been through has been all that interesting.
Speaking of useless plots, I’m assuming they are setting up another fall for The Deep? Sure, he has it coming, but his arc closes with his now estranged wife on television with her tell all book about him. I’m sure the octopus thing will come up! The Deep responds by munching on Doritos like crazy, so this isn’t going well for him. He’s just another supe floundering and his comic relief role is getting old.
I did like that Frenchie finally told off Butcher, who told him to shut his cakehole. Best response ever by an oppressed employee: “No, my cakehole will remain open! You will never command me again. I am done with your cruelty. I deserve respect! And we all deserve paid vacation days, and a dental plan!” Okay, that may have gone too far, but I loved it. Also, that cakehole line is a nice reference to Supernatural! Got to love those Easter eggs.
Did you notice there wasn’t a big eulogy for Black Noir? Sounds like the masked one might not have a big demise after all. Kripke said in an interview that it’s pretty easy to find someone else to take the role of a mute guy behind a mask. So, we might not be seeing the last of a Black Noir supe. This one just won’t have the cartoon world following him.
Overall grade, an A-. Next, I’ll have a post mortem of season three, covering the overall themes and how well they were executed. I really enjoyed this season, more than season two, but it also fell a bit flat in parts.
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Catch up on all of Alice’s Reviews on The Boys and Supernatural, listed on her Writer’s Page.