Fathers, Sons and The Power of Choice – The Boys Explosive Season 3 Finale

The season finale of Season 3 of The Boys has been one of the most anticipated ever. It’s honestly been so much fun watching the excitement ramp up each week for each episode – it was a brilliant decision on Eric Kripke and Prime Video’s part to release the episodes over five weeks instead of all at once, especially with the insane promotion we were treated to each week. I watched the whole season before it streamed in the press screeners, but I still felt entirely swept up in the anticipation and excitement (and, let’s face it, dread!) each week.

The cast traveled to Brazil for four wild days of promotion, which only served to amp up the anticipation even more. We were treated to interviews and red carpets and the cast all having a bloody good time. And Jensen Ackles looking like this.

Now that everyone has had a chance to watch it, this is the spoilery recap and review of the season finale, so SPOILERS ahead. LOTS OF THEM!

I’ve been watching this show since its beginning and have loved it since then, but Season 3 has been a whole different ballgame. As a passionate Supernatural fan, the addition of Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy meant that I was even more excited about this season, but even I wasn’t prepared for just how much I’d be drawn in by the character or just how complicated my feelings about Soldier Boy would be. He’s an asshole and a bigot and a bully, but Ackles also portrays him with vulnerability and humor and at times he’s almost charming. I feel like I should not have been hoping for any kind of redemption arc for Soldier Boy, and yet I found myself nervous as hell going into the finale, hoping that a) he wouldn’t be killed off and b) he might find at least a little bit of redemption. Help save the day, maybe?

Well… I should know Eric Kripke better than that by now!

I’ve been writing a lot about this season of The Boys being all about choice, and the season finale sees every main character have to make some difficult ones.

Passing It On From Father To Son – Or Not

This season is also about the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and the toxic masculinity messages that are passed down from fathers to sons. One of those messages is about strength and power. All the men whose fathers were abusive, with either physical or verbal violence or both, have a hard time not repeating the cycle.

Butcher’s father was both, and those toxic messages are ever-present in his head, bleeding out of him in eruptions of physical violence and caustic, cruel barbs thrown at enemies and friends alike.

In this episode, he vacillates wildly between giving into those violent impulses, laser focused (heh heh) on taking down Homelander and willing to use anyone as a weapon to do that, and trying to hang onto the caring part of him that wanted to protect Lenny and now wants to protect Hughie.  He never does tell Hughie about the Temp V being fatal, but he unceremoniously knocks him out with a punch and shoves him in a convenience store bathroom to keep him from taking it again. So, a few points at least in his favor?

On the other hand, he’s been fine with using Frenchie and Kimiko and now Soldier Boy to get the revenge he wants, and he’s as manipulative as ever in this episode, as he repeatedly tells Soldier Boy that Homelander is not really his son. We see Soldier Boy’s ambivalence several times, hesitating to kill his own son and emotional about having a child – but Butcher knows to play to the rage he feels at being tossed aside and replaced, focusing that rage on Homelander by telling Soldier Boy that he is his replacement and the reason he was tortured. Well played, Butcher, but chillingly cruel.

Homelander was not just abused but neglected, deprived of not just a father but a mother too. A sensitive boy like Butcher seems to have been, he too had that knocked out of him with cruelty, absorbing the same message that to be “a man” you must not only be strong and powerful but unfeeling too. Showing vulnerability is weakness, unmanly. Both men struggle to have any kind of healthy relationships – even Butcher’s with his wife was doomed once Ryan existed – and both have been increasingly isolated and alone as this season progressed.

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The Boys Episode 3.7 Drops A lot of Bombshells (And A Music Video)

Only one more episode of Season 3 of The Boys to go, and I don’t think anyone is ready for this wild ride to be over! This week’s episode, ominously titled “Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed” brought one of the biggest revelations of the series, and delivered it in a way that ensured it left a powerful impact. I know some people guessed what was coming, but I wasn’t one of those people, so it left me gobsmacked and repeating WTF more than once. Luckily I love it when this show can surprise me, so this is far from a complaint.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, SO BE SURE YOU’VE WATCHED THE EPISODE FIRST!

It’s been amusing, as a long time Supernatural fan, to watch the rest of the world discover Jensen Ackles’ acting brilliance as they watch this season of The Boys. He gave a tour de force in this episode, once again making me feel a ridiculous range of emotions that shouldn’t be possible for one character – especially one like Soldier Boy. And yet…

Look, even the official accounts can’t help but get a little heart eyed over this character (and the guy who so vividly portrays him).

More than anything, this episode was about agency and choice, as many of the characters confront their own fears and make decisions about their trajectories in life that acknowledge those fears but refuse to be constrained by them.  Homelander and Vought (as now personified by Ashley) continue to hold power by wielding that fear, Ashley utilizing their voicepiece Cameron Coleman to cast doubt on Annie’s accusations. Surely no one can take her seriously when she’s clearly just a woman scorned, and oh by the way, doesn’t she have ties to known terrorists and human traffickers? No wonder she started a home for runaway girls!  Imagine a world where the real bad guys take the moral high ground to silence a voice for change and people just believe it…oh wait.

Maeve is one of the characters who has faced the worst case scenario and decided she’s willing to lose it all to go up against Vought and Homelander. He visits her to see if he can find out where Butcher and Soldier Boy are, trying to scare her by saying that Soldier Boy has already killed seven supes and fried the power out of others – reminding her that could happen to any of them. His fear mongering doesn’t work on her anymore though.

Maeve: That’s the difference between you and me. You need to be a supe; I can’t wait til it’s over.

In one of the many parallels in this episode, Homelander recalls almost fondly that at one time he wanted to have kids with Maeve, just as Soldier Boy recalled the same about Crimson Countess previously. In an eerily prescient theme for what’s going on in the real world right now, Homelander assures her that he’d never force himself on her – but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t harvest her eggs against her will to make himself some kids. It’s a shocking attempt to control her body and her reproductive decisions and how the hell are Kripke and this show always so good at predicting the dystopian future?

Maeve refuses to give him the upper hand though, saying that the day is still a top three for her, because she saw him scared. Touche.

Later, Homelander speaks at a rally and attacks Starlight once again when he’s supposed to be rallying in support of candidate Robert Singer (Supernatural’s own Jim Beaver). Homelander is losing it a bit though, hallucinating Soldier Boy in the crowd, his eyes glowing for a second before he gets himself under control. Walking it off, he ends up in a nearby barn where a cow is plaintively mooing. As ‘Crimson and Clover’ starts to play, the scene goes surreal, Homelander milking the cow and looking positively orgasmic while doing it and then drinking the milk right out of the bucket.

Only on The Boys, seriously.

Neuman catches him at it and tells him to pull himself together, offering him some information and a working alliance. That should go well.

A Train wakes up in the hospital with a new heart and an Ashley-written fake news story about how he got it that involves Soldier Boy killing Blue Hawk just as he and A Train were getting along again. Nice cover story, tying up all the loose ends. A Train is ambivalent about going along with all this, but you get the feeling he’s going to cave, drawn back in by the fame and fortune – and Ashley knows it.

Black Noir, on the run and hiding from Soldier Boy, also faces his fears – with the help of Buster Beaver and his cast of cartoon characters. Nathan Mitchell somehow manages to convey all kinds of emotions without saying a word, and it’s a brilliant use of cartoons to depict Noir’s backstory (as this show has done before).  Much like Homelander’s heart to heart with his own mirror image, Black Noir’s dream sequence in his head gives voice to his own self doubt and trauma without him having to utter a thing.

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Non-Spoilery Preview (and Soldier Boy musings) of The Boys Episode 7 – Releasing Friday!

The penultimate episode of ‘The Boys’ Season 3, ominously titled ‘Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed,’ releases this Friday on Prime Video, and the little teasers already have everyone bouncing in anticipation (per usual). This is my non-spoilery teaser review of my own reaction to episode 3.7 – and as a Supernatural fan, this one is especially for everyone who was already a Jensen Ackles admirer or has joined the party recently and jumped on board in appreciation of Soldier Boy.

The last few episodes of Season 3 are going to be a rollercoaster for Ackles fans the likes of which we have never ridden. My advice is you’d better hold on tight, because this one is like that rollercoaster in the dark at Disney World where it’s extra scary because you never know when there’s gonna be a sudden twist or how violent the turn is gonna be. That also makes it extra exhilarating – for a long time that was my favorite ride there. But when I say my heart was pounding out of my chest and I had to jump up and sort of run around my kitchen a few times to calm down, to the accompaniment of colorful exclamations, I am not exaggerating.

Ackles himself weighed in on Instagram about his character’s wee bit of anger issues….

Ya’ think??

From the perspective of someone who has been a Supernatural fan for 17 years, there are all kinds of things that fandom has imagined a character Ackles plays doing – things that a show on the CW could not include, even if it might have made more sense for hardened traumatized hunter Dean Winchester than his PG vocabulary ever did. Most of those things have played out in fanfiction over the years, for sure, but somehow seeing and hearing a character onscreen who is not limited to the CW standards and practices was more shocking than I expected. No, I am very much not complaining.

Seeing Jensen be able to sink his teeth into a role like this, into a character who is raw and fucked up and in many ways the worst of a swatch of humanity in real life – it was awesome. For someone who’s a long-time fan, it was also a mind fuck, in that I could not help but love the character just a little even when I hated him.

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There’s a reason the fandom calls him Danger Grampa or Sweet Baby Murder Kitten, after all.

We learn about some of the horrible things he’s done in this episode, right alongside more of the things that have been done to him – and right alongside the moments when he lets his guard down a little and says something real and shows some genuine emotion. That is one of the things this show has excelled at from the beginning and why I’ve loved it since Season 1 – it’s always shades of gray, even the worst characters having moments of humanity when I feel for them. But having one of my favorite actors embody that kind of complexity made it so much more difficult for me to negotiate. I kept wanting to sympathize with him – especially when the traumas of his past are laid out – but each time there’s a punch to the gut that reminds me that I can’t get too pulled in. Talk about a mindfuck!

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Supernatural New Jersey 2022!

I definitely could not have anticipated how eventful the NJ Supernatural convention a few weeks ago would be! It’s my “home con”, which means I can drive to it. I hate driving by myself so I was happy to be able to drive with a friend, and we headed out early, full of gleeful anticipation. All went well until we got there and drove around the parking garage – and could not find a single spot. I am not a fabulous driver on my best day, and an unfamiliar garage that was nearly impossible to navigate was not helping. My friend was equally nervous, so I couldn’t convince her to take the wheel either – so we gave up and parked at the hotel entrance. She stayed with the car while I went inside and asked what I should do if there were no spots.

Lovely security guy standing nearby: Ma’am, that’s not possible.

Me: I can’t swear that I didn’t just miss them in my panic, but I did not see any.

Lovely security guy (sighing): Okay, come on.

He rode in the back seat as we drove back into the garage, and patiently navigated our way to the entire wing of the garage that was hidden in the back. Oops.

Anyway, I’m a fan of the con hotel for life thanks to that lovely security guy.

In between being in the vendor room, which still feels like a family reunion after we all missed cons for so long. I caught a little of Kim and Briana’s first panel.

They’ve talked before about how much they loved doing some of their own stunts (and would have done more if Wayward Sisters went to series), but Briana also said that she didn’t really know how to move for some stunts. She did an imitation, laughing at herself the whole time.

Kim said she was inspired by the film Wonder Woman, especially how she looked out for her little sister, which was a very Supernatural thing to say. Similarly, they talked about how important it is to “get back on the horse” when you’re had a setback.

Briana: Just make sure you have your people around you. Fandom is a great example.

Kim and Briana together are always magic. There are so many lifelong friendships that were forged from this show and this fandom. They gave us some examples by reading their most recent text conversation aloud. Complete with emojis.

Kim talked a bit about shooting the scene of vamp Dean biting her, which she didn’t mind one bit – except that Jared and Jensen were busy making all kinds of jokes, including yelling for condiments!

I personally would not have wanted the Supernatural finale to end any other way, but I know some people found it really hard to have Dean die so young. Kim had an alternate ending: Sam and Dean turn out to actually be little kids playing, with a little toy Jody and Donna… then we pan up a tree to Cas… and Lucifer… in real life. Waiting.

Dark, Kim! But adorable too.

They gave us the good news that they’re about to record more of the Wayward Podcast, which I really enjoy. Yay!

If you’d like to hear more from Kim and Briana, they wrote very powerful and frank chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood – which are also very inspiring.

Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones also had a panel on Friday.

Adam said that David is more like Sam and he’s more like Dean in real life, though I can’t imagine either Sam or Dean in that velour track suit even if they were in New Jersey!

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Supernatural Indy Con 2022!

This was my first convention in Indianapolis, though not my first time there since I’ve been to other conferences and business meetings in the city. It’s a quick 1.5 hour flight so I got there on Friday in time to at least catch a few panels – though I was very sad to miss Gabe Tigerman’s panel. I love Gabe and I love his chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done – I at least got to say hi later that afternoon luckily.

I did catch some of Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones panel, which turned out to be delightfully full of all kinds of innuendo and just blatant naughtiness. These are good things imho.

David said he was lucky to get the role of Ketch. He had his final callback for Supernatural after working until 6 am the night before filming a Hallmark movie and he was exhausted. (But apparently not too exhausted to throw on a suit and be perfect for the part!)

Adam agreed, and gave him all the props for his portrayal.

Fan: Sorry David killed off your character, I liked him.

Adam: I liked him too!!

They had some amusing stories to tell, including the one about David and the motorcycle helmet – they couldn’t find one that was big enough to fit his head, so when they put it on it looked like a little kid’s helmet – which apparently was hilarious.

They also had a few serious things to say about their roles on the show. David said that one of his favorite character moments was when Mary told Ketch “this is just a one night” thing. He wanted to show a glimmer of broken heart in Ketch. Near the end, David said that Ketch also felt guilty and wanted to redeem himself.

David: In the hospital, that was the first time he called them ‘friends’.

Adam: Mick and Ketch were brainwashed as kids, but Mick was trying to break out of that.

Both Adam and David had lots of positive things to say about working on Supernatural.

David: The best working experience I’ve ever had is Supernatural. Jared, Jensen and Misha are the best, and the crew that’s been with them since the start and stayed the whole time, that really says something.

Adam talked about the first prank the boys played on him and then about the atmosphere on Supernatural and how special it was.

Adam: It’s so much fun to do what we do, and on Supernatural they are all so nice, and the leads never phoned it in – ever.

A fan asked about shipping Ketch with…. (pause)… Rowena?

David: I thought you were gonna say Ketch and Mick.

Adam: I was hoping!

Jason Manns helped out with the music and the emcee duties on Friday, along with Adam.  It’s always nice to have his beautiful voice on stage.

Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster were up next. A fan asked Kim to answer a question about working with the boys on Zach and Cody and Briana attempted to answer – hilariously.

Briana: So Zach and Cody were in the make up trailer…they liked to put on their own rouge and makeup… just like Jared and Jensen!

Kim: lol

Someone asked them their favorite words and Briana said “audacious”.

Briana: I love the word audacious. It’s used sometimes to mean that women are being too bold, but I love being told that!

Her favorite quote is by Isadora Duncan: “Darling, don’t let them tame you!”

Kim: I love the word “home”. It means different things to all of us, but we all know what it means.

Kim invariably makes me tear up at some point in the weekend. In a good way.

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