Get Ready for Episode 5 of The Boys (If That’s Even Possible!)

After the epic events of last week’s episode of The Boys, this has been another week of anticipation while enjoying periodic teasers from the official accounts and lots of delicious back and forth between the Vought Intl. in-world social media and The Boys intrepid social media manager, who is hitting it just right with the fans. Whenever you see fans tweeting that they’d like to be friends with the person running a show’s twitter, you know someone has got their finger on the pulse of the fandom. But I would have expected no less! In one of my first chats with The Boys’ showrunner Eric Kripke, back in his Supernatural days, we talked about finding that elusive balance of keeping track of what fans want and also staying true to the vision of the work you’re putting out there. It goes wrong as often as it goes right, but so far, The Boys is finding that balance – and I am here for it!

We left off episode 4 at a pivotal time, with Soldier Boy freed from his cryogenic chamber and on the loose somewhere, Kimiko bleeding and badly injured, and Hughie still staring in awe at his magically (Temp V) healed arm and basking in the way he helped save the day.

So as I sat down to watch the screener for episode 5, I was practically bouncing waiting to see what happens next. To say I was on the edge of my seat for most of this episode is not an exaggeration. The title alone gave me chills – any title in this show that has the word “last” in it is guaranteed to put me on edge. Who can blame me?!

This is the non-spoilery preview of Episode 5 (Last Time To Look On This World Of Lies), so no major spoilers – you can read and still be assured of experiencing the full breakneck speed roller coaster of emotions that a new episode of The Boys is guaranteed to bring. We already know from the official account (so it’s not a spoiler) that this episode includes at least one musical sequence, which only Kripke can pull off integrating into a show as dark as this one. It is PRICELESS.

We also know from the official account that ‘The Legend’ appears for the first time, a character from the comics played in the series by Paul Reiser. Without spoiling anything about who he is or who he interacts with, let me just say that he is A CHARACTER – and that I thoroughly enjoyed everything about him.

In many ways, the fifth episode of the eight episode season ramps everything up into high gear. Almost everyone is at a turning point, back up against the wall, certain that they know best how to get what they want or what they think others want – and most of them willing to do just about anything to accomplish that. To say there are unlikely alliances as a result is also not an exaggeration – even if we did suspect some of them were coming. Mother’s Milk, as he often does, has the dialogue that sums up where they are right now, quoting his father who is so much the guiding light in his life even as he tries to live his own differently in terms of his daughter. If you don’t draw the line somewhere, how the hell are you gonna know where you stand?

There are lots of lines drawn in this episode, and there are also times when someone decides there is no line – which means there’s nothing to cross. This has essentially been the question the show has asked since the beginning, for all its characters. Where’s your line? The fact that not every character has one at this point is, frankly, terrifying. That’s becoming a risk to more characters than we might have expected, which threatens to blur the other line – the one between supes and the boys – into nothing. It’s interesting to see which characters have managed to hang onto keeping a line and which haven’t, with all the moral and ethical questions that brings with it. Is it okay to lie? Kill? Betray? If there’s no line, what will ever be off the table?

The other underlying theme of this episode is what it means to be human, and what we really mean by “humanity”. Is it determined by what’s inside you, literally or figuratively? Genetics, biology, what’s running through your veins? Is it the decisions you make and whether you retain a capacity for empathy, to care for other humans? And is it antithetical to power, the ultimate corrupter? So many good questions that are achingly relevant, not just on the screen, but in our real world right now.

I love that The Boys has slowly humanized its supe characters, with even Butcher pointing out that they’re all just people. And yet, knowing what they can do, he still fundamentally believes they’ve all “gotta go”. The exploration of what power is and what it does to people continues – we’ve seen reluctant supes wish they could go back to being just people, and we’ve seen what a taste of power does even to someone who has the best of intentions. At the end of last week’s episode, we left the ethical heart of the boys, Hughie, staring at his miraculously Temp V-healed arm with something like awe and wonder – while Kimiko lies gravely wounded in the same van. If that’s not a chilling case of power corrupting, I don’t know what is!

And then, of course, there are the people who have the worst of intentions.

At some points in this episode, the real life parallels are overt, echoing the ways in which those in power have marginalized and stigmatized those who are not. Sometimes Kripke and company really do seem prescient.  I have sometimes heard the same words being spoken onscreen in the real world, from people trying to keep that power structure in place, gaslighting along the way to ensure there’s no change to it. From cancel culture to ‘bad apples’, from All Lives Matter, to ‘I don’t see color’, the talking points are all the more jarring because we’ve actually heard them.  We even delve into the standard “this is no threat whatsoever, America is safe, go out there and go to your restaurants and movie theaters and live your lives” message – I might have jumped up and started cheering at that point, honestly.

I love when The Boys does that – it feels validating, cathartic. It’s fictional media but it’s reflective of so many of the things that are wrong in real life, and it feels like a relief to know others see it too. A Train’s arc at this point in the season is particularly interesting, and true to The Boys, takes some unexpected twists and turns.

Without giving anything away about his backstory and his journey, I have also been knocked on my ass by Jensen Ackles’ performance as Soldier Boy. I know how good he is from watching him bring Dean Winchester to life for fifteen years, but I didn’t know if he could make me feel anything for a new character who is only a parody of a hero, not a real one. I didn’t know if Kripke and the writers would bring as much nuance to this character as they have to the others, so that my emotions are all over the place and my empathy is pulled to the forefront again and again, only to be stomped back down. It’s exhausting, exhilarating – it’s why I watch fictional media! And this show does it so damn well.

Of course it’s all magnified with Soldier Boy. Ackles, if given even a crumb to work with, will pull you in and make you feel whatever the hell that character is feeling, whether you want to or not. I found myself cursing at the screen multiple times, overwhelmed with too many emotions, some that should definitely be mutually exclusive.

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And of course they gave him a ton to sink his talented teeth into. You would think I would have been more prepared! (Not complaining, not even a little). Seeing our world through the eyes of a man who’s from another time – not to mention one who’s been through the unprecedented experiences that Soldier Boy has – is fascinating. Riveting. Ackles can show Soldier Boy’s suffering, derision, amusement or mystification with just a look, so we get to see it all. I’m trying not to be hyperbolic, but he’s amazing in this role.

That there are a couple of Supernatural Easter eggs in this episode that no one but a Supernatural fan would notice only amped up the emotionality for me. I think I might have yelled “Damn you, Kripke!” at least once. Sorry, Eric. Don’t ever stop.

There’s a lot of evolution in many of the characters in this episode, some of it the predictable slippery slope of trying to make nice with a homicidal narcissist, some of it an unflinching exploration of what happens when you get a taste of power and you’ve felt powerless all your life. That’s compelling for anyone, and the show doesn’t shy away from making that clear. Surprising, perhaps, what a taste of real power does to people – all people.

Homelander continues to consolidate his power base, his ruthlessness now knocking out even my little traces of empathy for him – that’s what narcissists do when cornered. Tell a narcissist that no one loves them and set the fuse on the powder keg is a theme we see played out in this episode more than once. And with my psychologist hat on, they got that one right.

There’s an interesting little theme running throughout this season that is very clear in this episode too about the cost of not being genuine – of pretending you’re okay with things you’re not. For some of the female characters, that has meant pretending to be into a man who was actually hated and feared, not loved. When there’s nothing left to lose, the truth comes out. I think most of us can relate to feeling the pressure to pretend you’re okay with things you’re not, and it seems like a strikingly relevant message when we look around at all the things that many people keep pretending are okay in the real world when they are clearly not.

This wouldn’t be The Boys if there wasn’t also an insane sequence that takes the emotions in a completely different direction for a few minutes, and also one that involves some sort of sex that’s vividly depicted, so don’t worry, this episode has those too!  Also, if you’re not shipping a couple of twosomes after watching this episode, I’m surprised. Especially if you’re a Supernatural fan.

Don’t miss the new episode of The Boys dropping on Friday – or, as Kripke teased, tonight if Jensen’s ass doesn’t break Amazon again!

And stay tuned for my spoilery wrap up of episode 5 right here on the weekend!

– Lynn

You can read Jensen Ackles’ thoughts on

fandom and Supernatural (along with the

rest of the cast) in Family Don’t End With

Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You

Are Done – links here or at:

 

The Boys Episode 4 Introduces Soldier Boy – And Breaks The Internet!

It has been an intense 48 hours in The Boys fandom. For those of us who were Supernatural fans before discovering the wonder that is The Boys (back in the first season for me), this season is extra special – because it has Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles joining in the fun as Soldier Boy. The first three episodes of the eight episode season had flashbacks of Soldier Boy, but as far as the boys knew, the original supe was killed back in the 1980s by some mysterious weapon. If it’s a weapon powerful enough to kill Soldier Boy, the boys figure it might be powerful enough to kill Homelander – and by the fourth episode, they set out to find it.

Of course, all of us know that Soldier Boy is more or less alive, thanks to Jensen’s casting and the teaser trailers that show him awakening in some kind of chamber and ripping off a mask and medical equipment and breaking his shackles. All sans clothing. If you’ve ever met an Ackles fan, you know that amped up the anticipation for this episode exponentially.

Ackles made the rounds of talk shows leading up to his character’s memorable entrance this week, chatting with Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and Late Night with Seth Myers. There was so much buzz about Soldier Boy that he even got his own hashtag emoji – with Ackles own face!

Prime Video, The Boys TV and showrunner Eric Kripke made it worse (better?) by teasing the reveal of Ackles’ bare ass, showing off their fandom savvy by using the popular peach emoji and even a photo from the actor’s own Instagram of his backside in a revealing wet bathing suit. Well played, everyone.

Of course, fandom has been using that photo to anticipate this day for a very long time.

The fandom didn’t really need any assistance getting worked up over Episode 4, however. So by Thursday evening, anyone who was able to had logged into their Prime account and was breathlessly awaiting the drop of the new episode. And waiting. And waiting. The hours ticked by and no Episode 4! Some lucky fans found the episode on their Fire sticks, but others had to wait a while – which caused a lot of teeth gnashing, understandably. And a lot of memes.

Kripke and company were using the hashtag #TheHuntForSoldierBoy and suddenly it was literally that! Eric also quipped that Jensen Ackles’ ass had broken the internet, which I guess we all should have seen coming.

Friday morning Prime had fixed the glitch, so I spent the day grinning as my social media feeds posted screencaps and gifs in appreciation of Soldier Boy’s various assets (and argued about them too because…fandom.)  There was also, to our credit, a lot of gushing about Ackles’ acting, because even in his first scene, he shows us so much about Soldier Boy and who he is, – and he is so obviously NOT Dean Winchester or any other character that Jensen has played. Ackles  manages to convey a formidable sense of power and at the same time clear twinges of vulnerability, confusion and hurt. As soon as this episode ended, I wanted to know MORE.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Not all the spoilers, but there are some coming up since this is the recap article. So if you haven’t watched the episode yet, be warned!

Prime Video has a nifty feature that allows you to see (and hear) longer versions of some of the musical numbers peppered throughout this season, many of them by the brilliant Chris Lennertz, who also enriched Supernatural. This episode starts out with Mother’s Milk watching old video footage of Soldier Boy on ‘Solid Gold’, remembering happier times with his family before it was violently torn apart. As someone who has been a big Blondie fan since back in the day (and remembers Solid Gold and the Solid Gold dancers), it was an absolute treat to see Soldier Boy destroy Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ – and I do mean destroy. Ackles (who I’ve seen sing live many times and impromptu rap to some Ice Ice Baby) managed to make it hilariously bad, while letting Soldier Boy be his cocky ridiculous self and eat up the adoration of the scantily clad dancers fawning over him. If you haven’t watched the extended version yet, do it!

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It may have been an… unusual…version of ‘Rapture’, but it did get the official seal of approval on twitter from Blondie’s Debbie Harry herself, so pat yourself on the back, Jensen!

This little scene also gave us more insight into Soldier Boy – how much he’s already addicted to the celebrity status that being a supe has brought him, and how much he’s buying his own hype. He’s affected by the adoration of the dancers who are of course paid to fawn over him – he needs it, and he doesn’t seem to have a clue that it’s not genuine. We saw that in his interaction with young Grace too, in a previous flashback – how hard it hits him when she shatters his illusion that people like him and want to sleep with him. It’s just a little flinch, a little quiver of the lip, a dropped gaze as the bravado slips – but Ackles makes it pack a punch.

Other than that kind of little interlude, this is a dark dark episode. Written by Supernatural alum Meredith Glynn, every single character has an evolution that plays out in this episode, and none of them are going in a positive direction. The sense of hopelessness is pervasive, broken only by some dark humor and some moments of mirroring things that are dark in the real world, which always feels therapeutic to me.

Butcher’s evolution from trying to be a father figure to Ryan and stay on the straight and narrow, to being sucked right back into revenge being all that matters and willing to make himself a monster to achieve it, was heartbreaking to watch. The parallels between Homelander and Butcher get more glaring all the time, and it’s terrifying.

It’s not just taking the Temp V either – it’s Butcher’s willingness to muscle everyone and anyone into doing what he believes needs to be done, no matter the cost to them. Wielding power means getting other people to do what you want, even if it destroys them in the process.  He sends Kimiko on a murderous mission as pay for Little Nina’s help, even though she does not want to go and Frenchie tries to stand up for her.

Kimiko: I’m not your fucking gun!

Butcher: That’s exactly what you are. In case you two forgot, I tell you what to do and you fucking do it.

Hughie following the same path into prioritizing revenge over everything else was even more heartbreaking. Completely demoralized from finding out that the year he spent working with Neuman was just him being manipulated by one more dangerous homicidal supe, all he cares about now is bringing them down. And doing whatever it takes to make that happen, even if it means putting Annie’s mental health on the line by asking her to play along with Homelander. I felt sick to my stomach when she had to kiss him for the cameras, hand clenched into a fist behind her back just like she had to do at those long ago pageants her mother forced her to fake some love for.  Hughie, who had managed to hang onto his moral compass, letting so much of it go – that hurt.

I figured it was coming, but when Hughie finds out that Butcher is shooting up Temp V (with the show purposely looking exactly like he’s shooting up heroin), he is far enough down the road of revenge-at-all-costs that he wants some too.

Butcher: It’s poison. I have to do this, you don’t.

Hughie’s reason for wanting V also has to do with power, but for him the compelling reason has to do with his own masculine identity and how that gets mistakenly tied up with specific notions of power and strength. He wants it in part because Homelander humiliated him in front of Starlight. He felt weak and helpless, flashing back to being a kid at school, bullied unmercifully and just taking it. The fact that Starlight had to save him is intolerable to him – and we’re right back to themes of toxic masculinity. Hughie says he’s so angry that he can’t even breathe, and doesn’t that sound frighteningly familiar?

Butcher: Oh Hughie. This shit, it’s not power – it’s punishment. You don’t deserve it.

That’s a recurring question on this season of The Boys. Is Compound V something that makes you powerful and potentially keeps you safe, or is it a curse that turns you in to a weapon to be controlled and wielded by others to keep their own power? Multiple characters struggle with that question by the mid point in the season.

Frenchie and Kimiko, by this episode, are tired of being wielded as weapons. Frenchie is increasingly fed up with being treated like a dog by everyone – as Little Nina points out, starting with his father, continuing with her, and now playing out with Butcher.  There’s a pointed moment when Butcher literally pets him like a dog to calm him down and to insist that he go along with what Butcher wants him to do – you can see him bristle at it. Such good, subtle acting by both Tomer and Karl.

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Kimiko is fed up too, reluctantly obeying Butcher when he orders her on that mission – which gives her the chance to take out the bad guy in an epic fight scene with The Seven-themed dildos as her weapon of choice – but realizing that to the prostitutes she just saved, she’s more terrifying than the bad guy was. She and Frenchie grow even closer as they share their frustration and disillusionment.

Kimiko: I can’t do this. Those girls, they were bought and sold, same as me. Butcher sold me. He doesn’t treat any of us as people. We only have each other. It’s you and me.

Supernatural fans recognize that line as a Kripke-ism, one of the main themes of that show. There’s a reason I love all of Kripke’s shows – the themes he tackles are universal ones, and I invariably relate. It’s always a compelling story when it’s you and me against the world.

The truly astounding PR for The Boys Season 3 has included a complex multi-platform in-world and real-world intersection of all kinds of content, from the fictional Vought social media as well as The Boys. The various Prime Video accounts also got into the act. There was a website for The Deep’s new book and an Audible version, and yesterday I stumbled on a website with The Seven themed sex toys like the ones Kimiko used to kill the bad guy. It’s mind blowing how much they’ve done and how brilliant it all is.

Mother’s Milk hangs onto some sense of morality for a little longer, Butcher’s treatment of Kimiko and Ryan prompting him to say what I might have been muttering – what an asshole Butcher is. We get more of Marvin’s backstory as a result, Butcher confiding that the reason they picked “some gruff Marine stuck in the brig” for the team was because every single person he went through basic training with said he was the one who held their platoon together. Butcher pulls MM back in, telling him he’s the one that is here to look after the boys. Butcher’s manipulation may sometimes be more subtle than Homelander’s, but they are both damn good at it.

Prime Video

There is just as much chaotic evolution on the supes side.

Homelander continues his downward slide, buoyed by the realization that he really can do whatever he fucking wants – including being his powerful, violent, vengeful self. He’s now discovered that his followers will continue to follow him even when he overtly expresses his violent, racist, misogynistic side – especially when it resonates with theirs. Does this sound familiar??  He’s a master at manipulation, constantly using the “lighten up, I’m just kidding” excuse after overt threats. He has a key to Starlight’s apartment, insinuates that he’s been watching her sleep, signs his name on Hughie’s cast like he owns it, knowing it’s unwanted. It’s chilling.

Prime Video

A Train’s desperation to be relevant again leads him to try to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement and claiming he wants to explore his background. His motivation is mostly selfish, but his brother convinces him that there is a very real problem in their neighborhood (reflecting real life) and A Train actually tries to convince Ashley to do something about it.

A Train: He’s brutalizing black people in Trenton, and Vought has a responsibility here.

Ashley: (laughing then pausing) Oh, wait, you’re serious? Oh, of course, social justice is so important around here. Black Lives Matter is my favorite hashtag. My Insta? Nothing but black screens.

Priceless exchange skewering every disingenuous social media post ever. (Also we get more priceless Ashley content in this episode, including Homelander demanding to know “is your idiot brain getting fucked by stupid?” and Ashley turning that around on Cameron Coleman, who seems happy to say yes if it will get him fucked for real by Ashley’s impressive Homelander themed strap on. Powerful corporation in bed with news station…)

Vought’s response is an ad for A Train’s Turbo Rush energy drink in which he joins a march and gives a can to an officer confronting the protestors – and suddenly everyone is smiling and dancing. It’s a deliberate reflection of the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, and it was one of those dark humor moments that I so appreciate.

A Train even gets up the guts to talk to Homelander about the racist supe Bluehawk and the over patrolling of black neighborhoods, which is quickly foiled by The Deep parroting Cassandra’s message of “don’t we need more supes, not less?” which Homelander is much more receptive to. A Train is furious at the sabotage, and he and the Deep end up in a fistfight in the hallway, trading threats and then punches. Homelander breaks it up and gives the Deep a hand, leaving A Train on the ground and telling him to “rest those useless fucking legs.”

Queen Maeve, after giving Butcher the lead on Soldier Boy and the weapon that supposedly killed him, has also been on the straight and narrow – constantly training instead of sex and drink and drugs – hoping to at least buy the boys a second or two to get in a good shot at Homelander. Starlight confronts her about her hopelessness and willingness to sacrifice her own life for that shot at revenge.

Starlight: You really care that little about yourself?

Supernatural fans recognize that as another Kripke-ism, an iconic line from Supernatural in similar words when Bobby confronts Dean about his determination to sacrifice himself to save Sam.

Starlight pulls an informal team together against Homelander, with  her supe ex boyfriend Supersonic, Queen Maeve and even A Train seeming like they’re on board with the take down. I won’t spoil exactly how that goes, because it packs a gut punch and needs to be seen and experienced.

Meanwhile, no one can be trusted not to betray anyone else, and I don’t think anyone saw it coming that Homelander would ally with Neuman and she would turn on her father figure/mentor Stan Edgar. It’s a recurring theme that when you manipulate people and use them as a weapon, they will eventually turn on you – Edgar learns that the hard way. Homelander echoes the same theme that Kimiko and Frenchie recognized.

Homelander: You’re not his daughter, you’re his weapon. That’s what they do, all of them.

He leaves Neuman with some original recipe V, saying he’s glad she chose “your own kind.”  What do you suppose she wants that for? I won’t spoil it, because it made me gasp.

Edgar is defiant even if he’s no longer in charge, forgiving Neuman since he’s the one who taught her to “play all sides”. When Homelander tries to gloat, Stan retorts that if he gave Homelander respect it would just go into that “bottomless pit of insecurity you call a soul” and calls him out for looking for Edgar’s approval “like I’m your daddy.”

Edgar: You’re not a god, you are simply bad product.

And that constant dehumanizing has taken a toll, that’s for sure. Also this show is all about the daddy issues, just saying.

But those weren’t the scenes many of us were waiting for with so much anticipation. Soldier Boy’s dramatic entrance scene did not disappoint – and could not have been more iconic. The boys break into the lab to hopefully find the weapon that killed Soldier Boy. Instead they find a harmless looking hamster in a cage. Frenchie makes the mistake of talking to cute little Jamie, who turns out to be a supe hamster who goes suddenly crazy, bouncing off the walls and breaking the glass of his enclosure to escape. That brings guards and an epic fight scene ensues. Jamie helps out by flying through the air like the Monty Python rabbit in The Holy Grail and eating a guard’s face, but the boys run out of ammo and the guards are still coming.

The scene gets even more epic then, as the rest of the boys find out about Butcher’s temporary powers in a dramatic way. In a scene reminiscent of Castiel’s dramatic entrance in Supernatural, Butcher walks through the lab as the guards fire at him repeatedly, bullets shattering glass all over, flashes of light from the shots illuminating the room, rock music playing, laser eyes glowing green. We also get unexpected naked Hughie in this scene, for reasons I won’t spoil but you can probably guess and that also result in him punching one of the guards so hard it has a….dramatic result.  They take out all the guards, and then Butcher turns to a large container.

He pulls the door off with brute strength.

The boys all gather around as steam pours from the opened container with a hissing noise, and slowly we see there’s a person inside, oxygen mask on and tubes keeping him alive. Naked. He wakes slowly, raising his head, looking confused, disoriented, gradually figuring it out.

He takes off the mask, rips off the tubes and sensors.

Snaps the restraints that are holding him down like they’re butter.

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Butcher stares, whispers “Soldier Boy.”

Much of the fandom also stares and whispers, more like “omfg those shoulders holy shit”…

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The others gape, Mother’s Milk looking horrified and Laz Alonso making his expression memorable.

Soldier Boy staggers out, holding onto the sides of the container, then turns toward the boys.

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We get a full shot of Ackles in his birthday suit, most of us shocked into silence by that point just like the boys who are staring too.

Steam billows around him as he faces the people who have inadvertently freed him.

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Here, have a screencap too, this is a pivotal moment.

This is one of the steamier ones – not that kind of steamy, though it is undeniably that kind of steamy too! Steamy to preserve a little blurriness and leave something to the imagination…

Soldier Boy stumbles, and energy starts to gather, the room humming with it.

He clutches his midsection and Kimiko realizes what’s about to happen, throwing herself in front of Frenchie just as a ball of energy explodes out of him, sending Kimiko flying backwards with such force that she breaks through multiple concrete walls.

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Supernatural fans gasped a little extra at the exposed rebar protruding from the concrete, remembering all too vividly how Dean Winchester died.

Soldier Boy staggers out of the building, and the boys put a badly injured Kimiko in the van, Frenchie exclaiming over and over again that she’s not healing, Mother’s Milk trying desperately to save her.

Mother’s Milk turns to Butcher as he drives, Butcher and Hughie still frighteningly focused on their revenge mission instead of the gravely injured Kimiko.

Mother’s Milk: It’s over, Butcher. Ain’t no team for me to hold together anymore. You made sure of that.

If that scene doesn’t pack enough gut punch for you, the final one that I won’t spoil most certainly will. Hang on tight.

The fandom has been busy doing what fandoms do best ever since the episode aired – giffing and screencapping the Soldier Boy scene from every conceivable angle and discussing the relative merits of Jensen Ackles’ ass. It’s not an unfamiliar discussion for Supernatural fans – way back in Season 1 of the show, this shot of Dean Winchester’s backside resulted in what the fandom called the Ackles Ass Equation. It popped up on my timeline again today, 16 years later – some things never change!

All the fuss about his ass notwithstanding, even without any dialogue, Jensen Ackles made Soldier Boy a compelling character right from the start. He has always been able to convey more with a facial expression than many can with a page of dialogue, and we could see his confusion and vulnerability as he wakes up from what looks like it must have been a pretty horrific captivity. Shades of Dean Winchester thrown into hell for 30 years!

The scene was also beautifully filmed and directed, the steam everywhere making everything surreal, and if possible, making Ackles look even more beautiful. He has talked about how intimidating it was to have your very first day on set involve you in a robe and then the director saying okay, take off your robe now, and then the only thing between you and your new coworkers is a sock! (Karl Urban posted this bts photo from that day with a robe-clad Jensen -and that scary looking rebar!)

I can’t even imagine how intimidating that is, but you’d never know that by looking at the expression on his character’s face – he is in the moment, and embarrassment is the last thing he’s feeling. I guess that’s the mark of a good actor!

Jensen has told the story of that first day on set several times at recent Supernatural conventions, along with Supernatural costar Jared Padalecki – who has been waiting for those revealing scenes right along with us.

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Let me just say that if you were fascinated by Ackles’ performance and by Soldier Boy in this episode, you won’t be disappointed by next week’s episode of The Boys, which drops once again at some point between Thursday night and Friday for where I am in the US. Just another reason to look forward to Fridays!

And here’s some more good news that dropped yesterday just to make the day even better – not that we were doubting it, but The Boys is renewed for Season 4!

Congrats everyone!

We’ll have to wait and see if Soldier Boy returns, because much like Supernatural, anything can happen – fingers crossed!

– Lynn

You can read Jensen Ackles’ thoughts on

fandom and his experience on Supernatural

in his chapters in Family Don’t End With

Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You

Are Done – links here or at:

 

 

Get Ready for More Soldier Boy!  The Boys Season 3 Episode 4 Releases Friday!

The title of this episode (Glorious Five Year Plan) refers to something Mr. Edgar said about Vought’s long term planning, but I can’t help but think it also could refer to what The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke’s former show Supernatural originally was – Kripke’s Glorious Five Year Plan for the show that ended up running for a decade more and changing many people’s lives in the process. Mine included. The episode was written by Meredith Glynn, who also was a writer for Supernatural. It seems fitting to make the title into a Supernatural reference, because we get to see more of Soldier Boy.

Like, a lot more of him.

That was not a spoiler or a surprise to anyone following what Jensen Ackles and Eric Kripke and everyone else has said about that scene, but still, it’s maybe a bit eye opening. Okay, more than a bit. Let me just grab a cold drink here before I go on.

No significant spoilers here, by the way, so you can enjoy the full impact of the episode that is about to be released, which is AMAZING. I’ll be back with a more detailed recap in a few days once everyone has had a chance to watch and enjoy. This episode is a pivotal one, and not just for Soldier Boy. Most of the episode watches Homelander consolidate his power; he knows even more than we think he does about the people currently in power, and is not afraid to use every single method he can think of to flip that power balance to his favor. He makes some surprising alliances to do it – but that is so often what this show is about. The one you think holds all the power sometimes suddenly doesn’t, and the people you think are allies may just have been temporarily pretending to be. Virtually anyone is capable of stabbing anyone else in the back at any time, which keeps the suspense factor going every episode. The Deep, parroting his ambitious scheming wife, ingratiates himself with Homelander and gets into a physical fight with A Train, which leaves A Train roaring with rage. For a while it looks like Starlight has Queen Maeve, Supersonic and maybe even A Train (after that altercation) more or less united against Homelander, but underestimating him is never a good idea. Some people find that out the hard way.

I have to say that Antony Starr is brilliant as this unhinged-and-owning-it version of Homelander. He’s constantly manipulating everyone around him, keeping them off guard with provocative comments and overt threats that he then keeps insisting was “just kidding, lighten up you guys!” It’s like Gaslighting 101 and he is an absolute master. There’s a priceless scene with Ashley (Colby Minifie, always a favorite of mine) where he asks her in disgust, “Is your idiot brain getting fucked by stupid?” She says no, obviously flustered, but Ashley learns fast. Later she asks Cameron Coleman the same question, threatening/promising to punish him if he says yes, and did I mention there’s maybe an impressive strap-on somewhere in this scene? I can’t help it, I kinda love Ashley.

While the supes continue to smile for the cameras and engage in brutal infighting,  the boys are in search of the weapon that was powerful enough to reputedly kill Soldier Boy – and thus maybe powerful enough to kill Homelander. Butcher is perfectly willing to send Kimiko on a mission of murder even when she protests that she’s “not your fucking gun”. In fact, that’s exactly what he says she is – he tells them what to do and they fucking do it. Frenchie bristles, especially after Butcher keeps treating him like a dog exactly as Little Nina taunted him about, but he also backs down. The parallels between Butcher, who is perfectly happy to use people as weapons instead of treating them like people, and the people in power at Vought who do exactly the same, are striking, and Karl Urban knows just how to make it chilling.

Kimiko doesn’t like it, but she does the job – decked out in silver stilettos and a skin tight sequined dress and looking like fire. This is not a spoiler since Karen Fukuhara has described this scene and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of fighting with dildos, but there’s nothing like actually seeing it. There’s the Star Spangled Banger for Homelander, the Deep’s Flounder Pounder, Black Noir’s Silent Screamer. It’s pretty epic. I’ve never really thought about a fight with dildos as the weapons of choice, but Kimiko makes it work – in a bloody, disgusting and entirely lethal way. As soon as I saw the cabinet, I started to snicker, after hearing Karen talk about enjoying the insane scene. She’s a brown belt in real life and it shows when Kimiko gets to do a fight scene.  Sometimes the over-the-top scenes include an unexpected emotional impact too, which is something I value in this show – this is one of them. Kimiko’s innovative murder of the bad guy saves the prostitutes he hired or trafficked, but they’re more terrified of her than they were of him, and that isn’t lost on her.

And then there’s Soldier Boy. Eric Kripke tweeted some behind the scenes fun times with Soldier Boy back in the day, so you can look forward to more of that. Such as it is.

Everyone in the Supernatural fandom who has found their way over to The Boys is eagerly awaiting more of Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy. Without spoiling anything that isn’t already known, this episode includes a scene that is both insane (including a supe hamster that flies through the air like the Monty Python rabbit in The Holy Grail to eat a guard’s face) and dramatically epic (recall those temporary laser eyed powers we all know Butcher becomes desperate enough to take on) before Soldier Boy makes his memorable debut.

There’s a subtle Supernatural homage in there that reminds me of Castiel’s epic entrance complete with shattering glass and flashing lights, and then there’s a reveal that no one is going to soon forget. We’ve already seen in teasers and trailers what the boys see, so this is not a spoiler – steam pouring from an opened door, the shadowy figure of a person inside, oxygen mask on and tubes keeping him alive.  He wakes slowly, raising his head, snapping his restraints and pulling out all his tubes and mask. He stands, staggers to the door, hands gripping the sides, looking disoriented, and then stumbles out.

I confess that I gasped. And maybe watched that scene more than once. Maybe.

Jensen Ackles has told the story of his very first day on set being naked in front of the coworkers he didn’t even know yet, “nothing between me and them but a sock”, so that’s no spoiler either. There’s a whole lot of steam going on, but let’s just say that all that working out he put himself through did not go to waste in my humble opinion. The Boys is all about showing its male cast with fewer clothes than its female cast, and I am here for it.

I won’t say what happens next so you can watch it for yourself, but I am looking forward to some gifs and screencaps from this episode. Like, a lot of them. ALL of them. Don’t let me down, fandom!

Halfway through the season and I don’t want it to end! Next episode drops in one week – stay tuned for a proper recap of this episode, for more from our exclusive chat with Jensen Ackles, and for more on The Boys Season 3!

– Lynn

You can read about Jensen Ackles’ experience

of fandom and Supernatural in his chapters in

Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be

Peace When You Are Done – links here or at:

 

 

Get Ready for Everything from Ewww to Awww with The Boys: Diabolical – Releasing Today!

I reviewed the first episode of Diabolical earlier this week, with a teaser about what the new animated series is all about and how it kicks off. Today all eight episodes are available to watch on Prime Video, so here are some thoughts on the other seven episodes of this innovative show. They’re ‘fun sized’ episodes so you can watch as many as you’re up for – and it’s a welcome fix of The Boys universe for fans waiting impatiently for Season 3 to finally release in June.

Episode 2 Introduces Supes with some Weird Powers

Weird is actually an understatement. Again switching the perspective from “the boys” who are fighting against Vought to the supes themselves, this episode is all about some of the children whose parents sold their chance at a normal life for money in exchange for doping them with Compound V and making them into lab rats. When the parents find out that their kids didn’t get any of the really cool powers and won’t be joining The Seven any time soon, they returned them to Vought instead of dealing with the challenges. That in itself is incredibly disturbing – I can’t even deal with the thought of ‘returning’ a pet adopted from the SPCA let alone a child!

Vought houses the kids at an orphanage of sorts for kids with “shit powers.”

The emotional punch of this episode is in the sense of betrayal that the kids feel when they learn that their parents adopted them for a chance to get rich and then abandoned them, complaining that they wanted their lives back. The fun of the episode is that the writers got to go totally off the rails and create the most outrageous super powers they could think of. I can imagine them sitting in the writers’ room just giggling as they try to outdo each other.

Sometimes the humor makes me eyeroll even as I snicker. There’s Picante Balls, who can melt anything with his testicles and walks around with more bowlegs than Jensen Ackles.

Exhibit A.

Anyway…

There’s Boobie Face, with giant swinging boobs in place of eyes. Some of the failed supes are funny only until you think about it, like the supe that turns into various animals but his cognitive ability transforms too, or Ghost, who can’t touch anything or be touched by anything and stares forlornly at the food she can’t eat.

The abandoned supes, now adolescents mostly, decide to take revenge on their parents, all set to Hootie and the Blowfish’s ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’. Have to admit, I loved the poetic justice of some of the (bloody gory disgusting) ways the supe kids went after their parents.  (I mean, you can imagine what Picante Balls does, right?)

Favorite part of this episode? It’s a meta episode! Narrated by one of the failed supes, whose power is that he always tells people what’s going on.

Supe: That’s right, I’m the Narrator.

Title card 3 minutes in: Shrug, we can do whatever we want.

As a long time Supernatural fan, I love the little bits of fourth wall breaking that executive producer Eric Kripke made an integral part of that show too. That is literally a big part of the point of The Boys and Diabolical – doing whatever the hell they want!

Episode 3 ‘I’m Your Pusher’ – Written by Garth Ennis!

Episode 3 of opens with another bit of meta. A comic book is grabbed from the racks – ‘The Boys’ written by Garth Ennis! This episode is also written by Ennis, ripped from the pages of the original comic and featuring Billy Butcher and Hughie – voiced by Simon Pegg!  Simon was how the character of Hughie was originally conceived, but wasn’t right to play him in the live series by the time it aired – but he gets to here.  There’s also some original cover art by Darick Robertson. This episode is more directly tied to the canon of the original series, and also to the truly original comics.

Butcher confronts the pusher for information about a supe he supplies known as the Great Wide Wonder. Not only do we get to hear about his heroin enemas, we get to see some of that too. Yay? Butcher intimidates the pusher into adding a substance Frenchie has mixed up to the next treatment. He does, so when Homelander and Queen Maeve host a rally to recognize the Great Wide Wonder, he arrives looking totally tweaked out after his special treatment. His super power is that he flies fast, like around the world, but this time he goes so fast he starts running into buildings and destroying things on his way.

Homelander (who clearly doesn’t like him and with purposeful irony): How high he has flown…

Antony Starr voices Homelander here too and made me laugh out loud at that delivery.

Great Wide Wonder is supposed to fly through a flaming ring in the middle of the river in front of the gathered crowd, but instead he flies right into the hapless supe holding the ring, emerging with entrails around his neck as he lands in the water in a pool of blood.

Homelander: Oh Jesus Fucking Christ

Queen Maeve wearily spins the narrative, echoing what we’ve seen in the original series, and Homelander goes along, swearing to avenge the Great Wide Way. Butcher is triumphant, but Hughie looks around at the destruction and bystanders throwing up and isn’t so sure.

It’s an interesting addition to the canon of The Boys universe, with some nice treats for the comics fans too.

Episode 4 – Social Media On Steroids

Episode 4 is titled “Boyd in 3D” and it’s tragic – and one of my favorites. The original series has commented a great deal on the impact of social media on all of us and the way that we’re manipulated through it. While that focus has usually been on its use by an evil corporation like Vought, this episode is at its core more about its everyday impact on all of us.

Boyd, who lives in Apartment 3D (haha), is a relatable everyman, scrolling Instagram and walking dogs for a living, almost getting run over by a truck in the process. He’s got a crush on his attractive neighbor Cherry, who has an asshole boyfriend and an inferiority complex because she hates her freckles. (Every Jensen Ackles fan who’s now watching The Boys just scratched their head at that).

Exhibit B.

Anyway…

When Boyd gets a piece of her mail, he very much wants to give it to her, but is sure she won’t give him the time of day.

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More Scoop from the Cast – on Season 2 of ‘The Boys’

If you haven’t been watching Amazon’s “The Boys,” what are you waiting for? (For some in the SPN Family, maybe the announcement that Jensen Ackles was joining the show in Season 3?) Ackles will play Soldier Boy, the ‘original superhero’.

In the comic, Soldier Boy is described as relatively innocent and naive, avoiding the cursing that The Boys is known for (though Kripke seems to be promising we’ll have an R rated Jensen Ackles at last). He’s a member of a team called Payback, but desperately wants to be part of The Seven (the most powerful supes). Soldier Boy is also a coward and not the sharpest tack in the box and is so weirdly patriotic he yells out the names of states in the middle of fights! There’s also a frame of him wetting himself.

Ouch

I can see Ackles playing to his comedic talents with some of that, but Kripke has also promised Ackles will bring some pathos to the role, which just might break my heart. A parody of Captain America, Soldier Boy has enhanced strength and agility, but apparently he’s not as strong as some of the other supes and capable of being bested by the likes of Billy Butcher.

Oh, and Soldier Boy’s costume? Shorts and short sleeves. I approve.

Fan art of Ackles as Soldier Boy has already begun to appear, which so far looks alot more attractive than the comics version. Time will tell whether Kripke and company are going to take into account fannish hopes and dreams when the time comes for costuming.

Are you listening, Eric?

Graphic by @OfflArjun

Thanks to Ackles’ casting, alot of Supernatural fans are discovering the show for the first time – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride that’s both fun and disturbing — and strikingly irreverent. “The Boys” follows what happens when superheroes (who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and worshipped like gods) abuse their superpowers instead of using them for good. That sends “the boys”, everyday people who realize what’s going on, on a quest to expose the truth about the superheroes known as “The Seven” and the multi billion dollar corporation that “manages” and covers up for them, Vought.

The Boys is based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and was developed by Ennis fan Eric Kripke, who’s showrunner, writer and executive producer. (Kripke is also responsible for my favorite show of all time, Supernatural, which explains how I discovered The Boys in the first place and why I’m beyond excited that Ackles is joining up). Long time Supernatural director and producer Phil Sgriccia is also along for the wild ride. I binge watched Season 1 of The Boys and was thrilled when Season 2 was announced. The first three episodes of Season 2 premiere Friday, September 4, on Prime Video and then new episodes will drop each Friday with the season finale airing on October 9.

At last year’s Comic Con in San Diego, I was able to chat with Kripke and some of the cast – this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Amazon put together a virtual press junket so we could hear more about the upcoming Season 2. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a million zoom calls and ensuring that we all got to spend time with Kripke and the cast – it was an enjoyable afternoon even if we were all juggling curious pets or kids or dealing with technology challenges! We also got to see the first three episodes, and while I’m going to keep this article free of specific spoilers, let me just say that they were pretty mindblowing! When they say that Season 2 is more intense and more insane than Season 1, they are not kidding.

As we begin Season 2, the Boys are on the run, hunted by the Supes and trying to regroup. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal with Butcher, the father figure of the group, (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own.  On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito returning as Vought boss Stan Edgar.

With that introduction, here are a few excerpts from each of our roundtable chats with the cast to whet your appetite for more of The Boys. I’ve purposely kept any spoilers for Season 2 out of my coverage, so you can be as gobsmacked as I was by those first three episodes. I posted our conversation with Eric Kripke in yesterday’s article, so check that out too since he had alot to say about The Boys, and some  Supernatural insights too. If you’re considering beginning The Boys, I think what the actors have to say about the show and their characters will give you a glimpse into just how complicated this show is and how deep the characterization goes. That said, the themes of the show are dark and disturbing and right there in your face, so be prepared.

I’m a psychologist by profession, so I was fascinated by what The Deep and A Train, two of the supes, had to deal with in Season 1 – for A Train, a struggle with addiction to both the enhancing drug Compound V and with the lure of fame and fortune. The Deep, meanwhile, had to deal with his discomfort with his own body — the gills which allow him to be a superhero but also set him apart from “normal” people. After a rather traumatic sexual encounter and being called to task for his assault of Starlight, The Deep ends Season 1 with some self loathing starting to be evident.  Their struggles made their characters complex and pulled for some empathy even as those two supes did some awful things in the first season. So I was excited to chat with Chace Crawford (The Deep) and Jessie T. Usher (A Train). How did their characters move on from some of those things they’ve done in the past?

Jessie: They both have to deal with it, they’re not at a place in their lives when they can just move past things anymore. They both – excuse my language – they fucked up to the point where things can’t be covered up by Vought anymore or swept under the rug. A Train is figuring it out as he goes. It’s too much for him, because he’s kinda turned his back on everyone who had his back, so he’s got to do it alone. You’ll see him figure that out in Season 2.

Chace: I think he’s genuinely close to rock bottom. He doesn’t know who he is, and never really has known who he is. I think he’s broken open enough to have to at least try some self exploration.

Chace said he had really enjoyed seeing all the episodes and seeing everyone else’s work.

Chace: I like doing these crazy scenes.

[All I’m gonna say is Lucy the whale, someone said]

Jessie: (laughing) I have never seen a good idea go bad so fast…

Chace: And it turned out so well! I was like, how is this gonna turn out, this is crazy…

Jessie: That’s the thing about filming this show, you’re like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out, then you see it and it’s like wow that was freaking amazing! Clearly they saw something that I had yet to see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised throughout this entire Season 2 and I know everyone else will be as well.

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