'The Boys’ shows us the next steps of many storylines at once.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of The Boys is called “We Gotta Go Now”, both a reference to the song title and also yet another irrelevant note at one of the graphic novel names. How many storylines did we see in this episode? Let me count them all. One is the Queen Maeve lesbian storyline, another is Homelander trying to fix his image, another is Stormfront messing with Starlight as the latter is trying to figure the former out, another is Kimiko taking hit jobs, another is Black Noir coming after a few of them, another is Hughie being concerned about Butcher, A-Train is concerned about getting kicked out of the Seven and finally, The Deep is married to his fake wife.
That’s probably way too many storylines for one episode. None of the storylines were bad, exactly, but some certainly felt anticlimactic or more setup for later. Some things are interesting, like Stormfront effectively revealing herself to be a racist in front of A-Train with her obviously coded language, which ties more into A-Train’s final moments of “quitting”. The whole movie conceit almost feels like too much of an idea, something that could be more drawn out and focused on.
There are plenty of funny jabs at superhero movies, like the reference to Joss Whedon punching up the script or the Women Power moment which feels perhaps a reference to Endgame’s pandering moment of lady superheroes in the same frame for no reason. But there seems to be this Game of Thrones level of feeling they simply must tell us what everyone’s up to each episode. Especially with the non-binging release nature of this season’s schedule, it feels slower than usual.
Kimiko’s storyline is one I’m interested in, because she has such a powerful motivation -- yet we only get a bit. Contrast that with The Deep, which serves as simply more Scientology jabs and maybe, just maybe, something with Maeve, although that remains to be seen. Maeve’s storyline of fear about her girlfriend is a good motivation too, meaning she certainly is painted as the most “good” of the superhero group.
Starlight and her little tête-à-tête with Stormfront feels a bit simple, and you wonder if there was really a point to bringing Starlight’s terrible mother into things. Stormfront and her connection to Homelander, that’s the most interesting and most terrifying part of it all. Stormfront has been into Homelander for a while, as the blond, blue-eyed, white guy ubermensch, but she also has a very effective grasp of Facebook memery and how to make people “soldiers” in favor of Homelander.
So when we see Homelander hurt Stormfront without killing her (similar to the comics, in which the racist supe was also one of the most powerful) right before they bang in a destructive way, it’s more chilling than fun. We already have seen Homelander fantasize about killing people wantonly, and this episode is just another example -- pushing him further there is one of those truly worrying ideas of the show.
As for the Butcher/Hughie/MM storyline with Black Noir, it’s... fine. I never really felt like they were in danger, despite the show’s best efforts. At least the final moment reveal that Butcher was bluffing about his photos to Vought feels a bit more fun, a bit more like getting one over on the bad guys.
There’s a lot going on this last episode -- too much really. Maybe it’d feel better on a rewatch of the season in pure binge mode, but I have to take it as a I see it, and in that context it’s a weaker entry in the run.