Friday, June 17, 2022

The Boys S03E05: The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies

© Prime Video

The Boys shakes things up as the gang considers a new deadly mission.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of The Boys is called “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies” but I’m for the first time unsure if the episode title is meant to have special meaning. The episode gets into a few interconnected storylines, some of which have relatively interesting satire instead of just the same old jokey parodies.

We see a few scenes of fallout of the last episodes, like Homelander struggling in a board meeting because he doesn’t really know any business things (the theme of being unsure of who you are), which is then later connected to Starlight wanting his help to track down and stop Soldier Boy. When she’s commiserating with Hughie about their messy situation in Russia, the show drops a few “subtle” advertisements to the delicious, cool, crisp cans of White Claw which I found amusing because the show is usually pretty subtle about in-show advertising.

There’s more of the problematic nature of Hughie taking the temporary V, loving the feeling of not being afraid. This comes to a head again in the final moments of the episode, when Starlight tries to get Hughie to come back from his and Butcher’s plan of helping Soldier Boy to murder his former teammates in exchange for the old supe’s help to take out Homelander. The “I don’t need you to save me, I need you” fights against Hughie’s self-esteem issues, and it’s clear that he’s heading down a path that ends in the self-destruction of Butcher -- if he can’t stop.

The big setup to where we end up is Maeve pushing forward the narrative again, actually hooking up with Butcher in a classic sort of hate-hookup situation, with a reiteration of that theme as Butcher points out that the V simply makes him more him -- doesn’t make him worse or better, just more. She only has one of the big cliffhangers of the episode as Homelander and Black Noir attack her, leading us to suspect she may be dead (although I never trust that sort of thing in this show without confirmation).

© Prime Video

The episode really plays on this identity issue through a lot of our villains and heroes alike, including with Kimiko in the hospital who is delighted to not have powers, giving us that classic Karen Fukuhara smile we rarely get in this show. She gets caught in another fantasy in her head and actually kisses Frenchie in an awkward moment -- but is it really what either of them want? After all, Nina is still coming for them.

The jam packed episode also follows up with A-Train as he gets into it with racist supe Blue Hawk, who non-ironically mocks about being “canceled”, says he doesn’t see color, only crime -- which just happens to be in black neighborhoods. This is the sort of satirical touch that feels extremely close to reality, just a step further than politicians would say out loud. Similarly, Homelander proclaiming things to be safe on the Fox News parody when they clearly aren’t doesn’t feel so far from reality either.

The episode drops a semi-major new character called “The Legend” (played by Paul Reiser), in what I call a lot more charitable portrayal than the comics. His shtick is pretty amusing, though, and he plays a pretty important role in the episode to grant knowledge to the heroes. The other cameo (of sorts) is Seth Rogen showing up paying for a fancam of Crimson Countess in a sort of Boys parody of OnlyFans. MM gets more drama at home when he gets infuriated by stepdad Todd taking Janine to a Homelander rally and making her a fan of the dude -- his triggering of the connection to Soldier Boy connects to Soldier Boy’s own PTSD triggering related to that Russian music. Clearly the dude isn’t over his horrific and tortured captivity.

It’s a pretty crowded episode, but I felt one that was a bit more coherent thematically than usual, which wasn’t as funny in general (Paul Reiser aside) but more dramatically entertaining than usual. One of the issues with a show like this is balancing all of the characters and their storylines, but so far this season has been handling that pretty well, and this episode is a good example of that.

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