With two more episodes to go in its first season, Episode 6 of Gen V is a standout for more reasons than one.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR EPISODES ONE THROUGH SIX OF GEN V!
We pick up in the sixth episode (“Jumanji”) with a repentant Cate restoring all her friends’ memories. They’re shocked, pissed, betrayed, everything you’d expect. Emma immediately heads out to find Sam, but not without a parting shot.
Emma: Also? You’re a cunt.
Cate insists she thought she was doing the right thing. Andre is especially furious, wondering if Cate’s manipulations were what made Luke kill himself and afraid to even consider that what she did was okay because then he’d just forgive her. His feelings for her make her betrayal a personal one.
They all feel (understandably) mind raped. Marie is the voice of reason though, saying it’s God U who is fucking them over, not Cate – that Cate was fucked over just like the rest of them.
The strain on Cate from restoring their memories and the trauma of realizing how she’s betrayed them makes her collapse, her heart rate slowing dangerously. Marie manages to save her (since apparently none of the others learned CPR at superhero school). Marie slowly learning to use her formerly horrifically destructive powers for good is a nice little story arc running beneath the surface, though it will certainly not go smoothly. This is The Boys universe, after all.
At times this show reminds me of Buffy (which I loved) as it uses metaphor to tell stories about real life issues, in this case one of the challenges of growing up. We all have to learn how to harness our destructive impulses, how to recognize our own power but not mis-use it. We all have missteps we feel guilty about along the way, that can keep us afraid of speaking up or calling out injustice when we see it. That’s been part of Marie’s journey all along.
She does manage to save Cate, who wakes up and then abruptly bursts through the wall of the house they’re hiding at.
They follow, but when they all go through the break in the wall, what’s outside is…the woods. Well, not THE woods, but actual woods. Suddenly everything has gone surreal, and I love it, not knowing what’s actually happening and what isn’t.
They see a hysterical woman, sobbing and calling for Caleb and realize that’s Cate’s little brother who disappeared – we see young Cate distraught, telling her mother she didn’t mean it, not understanding what’s happening. Her mother looks at Cate not with love or concern but with terror, telling the cop she doesn’t feel safe with her daughter. Bits and pieces of the landscape start to come apart in some truly eerie special effects…
They’re in Cate’s head, they realize.
The Boys universe excels at finding ways to get into its characters’ heads (often literally) so we can truly understand their back stories in a way that makes them very real and very compelling. We often don’t just hear about it, we see it. It makes all the characters a lot more sympathetic, as the scenes of Cate’s past do in this episode.
* * *
And then I admit to gasping out loud, because even though I knew it was coming, seeing Soldier Boy striding out of the woods took my breath away.
I know it’s wrong, but I’ve missed him! Welcome back to my screen, Jensen Ackles!!
And then begins a scene that will go down in history for both The Boys and Gen V fans – and Jensen Ackles and Supernatural fans too. Holy shit, what a scene!
Soldier Boy: What are you greasy sack of fucknuts doing in here?
Yep, that’s our disgusting uncensored murder grampa kitten, being just as gross as ever. Ahhhhh, I’ve missed him!
Marie, Andre, Jordan and Dusty: What are YOU doing in here?
Seemingly innocuous question, but the answer will go down in media history.
Soldier Boy: I’m Cate’s imaginary friend from when she was a kid. Boyfriend, really.
That’s striking enough, but Soldier Boy does not stop there. And Ackles is on a roll!
Taught her how to jerk off. Diddle that skittle, click the bean, how to find that man in the canoe.
The others are staring at him, open mouthed. (Most fans are also staring at their screens with a similar expression, though perhaps a wee bit more appreciative…)
Soldier Boy: She came like a faucet. She’d crank up the Jonas Brothers, she’d hump a Soldier Boy pillow, she’d rawdog that pillow til she saw God.
Soldier Boy: (smirking) It was pretty romantic.
Dusty: Aw yeah brother.
Soldier Boy: Shut the fuck up.
(Ackles looks like nine feet tall there, just sayin…)
Andre: She didn’t like the Jonas Brothers…
Me: OMG this is all priceless.
It’s like Kripke and Ackles took all those years that Supernatural was on the CW and subject to Standards and Practices and said haha now we can be as filthy as we want!
Soldier Boy cocks an eyebrow, looking at Andre.
Soldier Boy: Hey I know you, you’re Cate’s new fuck boy.
And this is the shot we get, which likely turned just about everyone to mush. If you weren’t already there.
Soldier Boy: She really loves you, but whatever. Boys, they come and go. She always come back to a little pillow talk.
Since this is really a manifestation in Cate’s head, I guess she really does love Andre.
Andre and Jordan get pulled into arguing with Soldier Boy, insisting he was radicalized by the Russians, which makes Soldier Boy even grumpier than usual.
Soldier Boy: Fuck you, I’m no godless dickless Commie. I’m red blooded…but not Commie red…red white and blue red. I fart the Star Spangled Banner.
Andre: You’re pretty fuckin’ weird, man.
Soldier Boy: Yeah? Knock knock who’s there go fuck your face!
Marie tries to get him to tell them what’s going on, but he says he doesn’t know, that Cate wants them in there for some reason and they better figure it out before they get stuck there. A violent flash splits the sky, and Soldier Boy warns them that wasn’t lightning, but a burst blood vessel. Cate’s head is unraveling in real time, and if she becomes a vegetable, so do they.
Soldier Boy: If you wanna live, listen to me – the single most important thing I can tell you is…
Me: Uh oh.
Flash! He’s struck by ‘lightning’ and fries, a bloody pile on the ground.
Okay, okay, I know he was an imaginary Soldier Boy but I still didn’t wanna see him incinerated.
Andre: That guy was a dick, right?
Everyone: I mean, yeah? But HEY KRIPKE WHEN CAN WE HAVE A SOLDIER BOY SPINOFF????
As I predicted, there are now about a million gifs out there of every single filthy word that Soldier Boy said in that scene, a few of which I’ve included here. Fandom never lets me down!
There are also a bunch of articles with Kripke confiding that they at first had considered Twilight’s Taylor Lautner for Cate’s imaginary boyfriend, but I am SO glad they went with Soldier Boy. When he called Ackles and asked if he could suit up, Jensen managed to take a few days from filming Big Sky and film the scene with Kripke there too. The two have always worked incredibly well together, so it’s no surprise that this scene came out as hilarious (and as dirty) as it did. Kripke said he counted on Ackles’ sense of humor – with excellent results!
Of course, those of us in the Supernatural fandom already knew that scene was going to be priceless. Months ago, Ackles told us at a convention about filming the cameo.
Jensen: My little bit there was heavily improv. I had Kripke on set that day and he and I were spitballing ideas and workshopping it literally between takes and coming up with a whole variety of takes. It’s a lot of fun working at that level with that kind of mind who can just throw something out and I’m like oh yeah I’m gonna do that one!
I can only imagine the fun those two had – and what other takes might make it to a gag reel!
* * *
Meanwhile, Emma finds Sam.
Sam: You came back!
Emma: That’s what heroes do, right?
They hug as he realizes that she remembers, and he says he missed her and there’s a poignant moment, and then they kiss. It turns out Sam is a virgin (“Well, except my hand…he’s competent, but…”). Emma assures him no pressure, they don’t have to have sex, but he says he wants to.
Sam: Show me how.
They make love and it’s really kinda sweet, though Sam has a few alarming flashes of Emma turned into a puppet in the middle of a passionate moment.
Afterwards, in spite of how good it was, Sam says he’s messed up, Emma should be with someone who isn’t. She counters that she wants to be with him, that she’s messed up too.
Sam: I wish we could stay here forever. Let’s run away together.
Emma: No. No more running, Sam. We have people looking out for us, trust me.
I’m still team Sam and Emma. Samma?
* * *
Marie, Andre, Jordan and Dusty make their way through the woods, and into another memory – young Cate nine years later, in the cell decorated like a bedroom her parents have kept her in, wearing gloves at all times. Her mother is chillingly scary as she lets in a visitor, warning “don’t let her touch you”. It’s Indira Shetty, who immediately starts manipulating a guilt-stricken and lonely Cate, telling her everything that she desperately needs to hear — that she can take off the gloves, she’s not afraid of her. That what happened to her brother was an accident, not her fault.
I imagine no one has dared to touch Cate in years and years, and she must be longing for it terribly. Shetty holds Cate’s hand, gives her the touch she’s so desperate for – and offers her hope, that they can make the voices stop so she can control her urges to do something and get out of that cell. Cate takes the pills she gives her, grateful.
Shetty: Would you like a hug?
No wonder Cate has been so loyal to Dean Shetty! Her parents blamed her, imprisoned her, abandoned her. How hungry she was for a mother’s touch, a hug, some affection. And what an evil evil person Shetty is! (An evil psychologist, boo. My profession takes a hit…)
Suddenly the group is back at God U, watching Luke and Cate’s first meeting. Andre goes to leave and Luke calls after him, saying he misses him. Andre says the same, but Luke confronts him ominously, saying he doesn’t believe him.
Luke: You thought I didn’t know.
The room goes dark, and on screen are Cate and Andre gettin’ it on. Jordan and Marie stare, shocked.
Luke accuses Andre of doing it behind his back, says he thought Andre was his best friend. Then he goes after him, incinerating Dusty instead. Their powers don’t work, so they run, Andre insisting he feels like a piece of shit for what he did, but that he loved Cate.
Then it’s Jordan’s turn to be found out.
We see them (in female form) subduing Luke when he attacked the Professor, and the Professor offering Jordan a TA ship in exchange for a promise of silence and protection. Jordan agrees.
Marie: So you knew!
Jordan in the here and now, in male form, realizes they could have stopped everything, but instead saved their own ass.
Present Jordan: I wanted to believe the Professor was good.
Past Jordan: He was nice, and that’s all it took.
That’s a theme of this episode – when you’ve gotten precious little kindness and affection all your life, someone who knows how to pretend to give you a little of that can manipulate you as much as they want. One of the best things about The Boys universe is how, while on the surface it’s not at all realistic, underneath it often has something very real to say about how we all are impacted by the trauma and loss and violence all around us.
Jordan: I want to make it right, for Luke.
And then they’re in The Woods – the lab – watching Sam and Luke, restrained on operating tables. Luke wakes up, yelling for Sam to wake up, nearly breaking out. Cate comes in and holds Luke’s head, saying your brother is dead, forget about the Woods. Forget forget forget. Many times, many memories.
It is truly horrifying.
Jordan: Think that’s what broke him?
Andre: I think it broke both of them.
They see Shetty and the Professor just recently insist Cate is doing a wonderful job – and then in the present they order Cate to make them forget. The three run across campus, confronted by a door that Marie recognizes – and now it’s her turn for the awful memory she’ll find inside. She opens the door and it’s the scene of bloody carnage, her parents dead in a pool of red, Marie’s sister sobbing in the corner.
Marie tries to apologize, but Annabeth insists that she killed them, that no matter how hard she tries to be a hero, she’ll always be a murderer.
Marie realizes the lesson now, though – that it wasn’t her fault. She addresses Cate, pleading with her to wake up, saying that it wasn’t her fault either.
Marie: None of this is our fault!
She’s realizing it for herself, finally.
Marie: The one thing that’s really apparent now is we’re all fucked up.
Cate balks, saying she doesn’t want to wake up, but Andre confronts her, saying that no matter how much she wants to just forget her problems and not wake up, she needs to. That he knows her parents and Shetty hurt her, that he loves her and doesn’t want to because he’ll never trust her again.
Andre: But now you finally have a choice, so wake the fuck up. I need you to remember. Please. Wake up!
It’s the other theme of this episode – choice. What we can do to get it, and what we’ll do with it once we have it. Once again, it hits home as much more realistic than you might expect.
Cate reluctantly wakes up, her eyes red, bleeding. The others wake up too, Jordan able to shift again. And then, Emma and Sam show up.
Jordan: You have sex hair.
Unfortunately Sam remembers Cate from the Woods and attacks her, throwing all of them around the room, but Emma is able to talk him down, saying that even though he was hurt, he doesn’t have to hurt her back. He finally lets Cate go, still angry.
Cate knows she’ll have to earn back their trust, so she tells them everything. She says they were using Sam in the woods to augment Luke’s powers, and doing other things to, to him and other kids. That Shetty was directing it all.
And now they know who to go after.
* * *
Meanwhile, back at the Woods, a chained girl named Betsy coughs violently, her hands sparking. In a scenario that hits a little too close to reality, she’s been infected with a virus that only affects Supes because of the Compound V in their blood. Dean Shetty observes, then turns to Dr. Cardoza, her voice ice cold.
Shetty: Concentrate the dose, let’s see how sick we can make her.
At the end of the episode we see Dr. Cardoza again, distraught, saying he was just following Shetty’s orders. Betsy lies dead on the floor of her cell.
Cardoza: We killed a Supe!
Shetty (ice cold as ever OMG): So the virus worked? Now can we make it contagious?
If they make it airborne, I’m gonna have to look away, I swear.
Every episode, much like The Boys, ends with some great music, this time The Bangles version of Hazy Shade of Winter.
Time time time, see what’s become of me…look around, leaves are brown and the sky is a hazy shade of winter… Hang onto your hopes, my friend, that’s an easy thing to say but if your hopes should pass away, simply pretend that you can build them again…
Two episodes left of Season 1 – and congrats to Gen V for its renewal for Season 2!
If you love the world of The Boys, check out the new book ‘Supes Ain’t Always Heroes: Inside the Complex Characters and Twisted Psychology of The Boys’. It’s got chapters that are a deep dive into Soldier Boy, Butcher, Starlight, Homelander and all your other favorites as well as exclusive interviews with some of the cast including Jensen Ackles. You can preorder now and get free original art of Soldier Boy and Kimiko at https://smartpopbooks.com/theboys/
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