With the unleashing of Soldier Boy and the rise of Homelander, everything is starting to tighten up and come together. By the end of “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies,” the stakes have been clarified, setting up plenty of fireworks for the final three episodes of the season.
Let’s start with Kimiko this time because she seemed to be in serious danger at the end of “Glorious Five Year Plan.” All the urgency of that cliffhanger drains away at the beginning of this one, of course: Kimiko is stable. Luckily, that’s not all for her story in this episode: At the hospital, she realizes the blast from Soldier Boy took away her powers. She couldn’t be happier about losing her super strength; as we heard from her explicitly a couple of episodes ago, her abilities have always been inseparable from the violence she inflicts with them.
The episode even hints at Kimiko regaining her ability to speak, though that turns out to be a fantasy while she and Frenchie are snuggled up watching Judy Garland sing in Girl Crazy. At least we get a delightful musical sequence as the two of them dance around the hospital singing “I Got Rhythm,” a sequence that fits perfectly with The Boys’ why-the-fuck-not attitude.
The singing may not be real, but the character moment that follows certainly is: Kimiko kisses Frenchie! It’s a bit difficult to know what to think of this; both parties seem happy but a little awkward and unsure. I’ve never really felt like the two have strong sexual chemistry — I like the intimacy of their friendship — but it’s undeniably a cute moment, and it’s nice to see the two of them happy. But happy endings never last on The Boys, and sure enough, near the end of the episode, Frenchie gets snatched by Little Nina, who is not happy that his adventure in Russia messed up her Kremlin connections.
Everyone else is dealing with even bigger problems. Thankfully, Soldier Boy’s reappearance doesn’t stay a secret very long; Hughie comes clean to Annie immediately in accordance with his self-congratulatory “no secrets” promise, also confessing how much he loved taking the temporary Compound V. And Soldier Boy makes his presence known to the world pretty quickly when he hops on a plane to the Big Apple and inadvertently lets out another explosive blast of energy, this time killing 19 people.
The biggest source of tension remains how to handle the threat of Soldier Boy — or whether to handle it at all if they can use him to take down Homelander. Starlight and Mother’s Milk are both emphatically opposed to that idea, predictably, and they also don’t like Butcher and Hughie’s V24 use. “No one should have that kind of power,” MM says.
But Butcher has never been overly concerned with how the game should be played because he knows the game is rigged. Hughie has finally come around to that way of thinking, too. Both men know their backs are up against the wall; with Soldier Boy on the loose and no trace of the magical Homelander-killing weapon they hoped to find in Russia, they’re in an even worse position than they were before.
It’s enough to drive Butcher to drink again — and to debase himself by having hate sex with Maeve moments after insisting that every single supe has to go. The guy is in full self-loathing mode, requesting more V24 not because he shares Hughie’s enjoyment of it, but because without it they’re fucked. “With great power comes the absolute certainty that you’ll turn into a right cunt,” he wisely summarizes.
But he’s a man of action during the day, persuading Mother’s Milk into a reluctant team-up by reminding him that taking on Soldier Boy alone is a death sentence. With Hughie, they figure out Soldier Boy paid a visit to “The Legend,” the Vought VP of Hero Management before Madelyn Stillwell. As played by Paul Reiser, the Legend is an amusing sleazeball, the type of retired rich exec who spends his days doing coke, bragging about the celebrities he’s slept with (Kelly LeBrock, half the cast of Falcon Crest, and apparently Marlon Brando), and ranting about how “heroes used to be heroes, not stage-managed silicone dolls.” (He does have a point, even if the heroes back then were pretty bad, too.)
While the Boys are hot on Soldier Boy’s trail, Starlight is struggling over at Vought. Homelander has been reacting to his new leadership position in the way you’d expect: by barking at whoever dares to question him (or even ask a legitimate question about the business). He’s made the Deep the new head of crime analytics, which resulted in most of the team getting fired for tweets criticizing Homelander. Without them, Starlight has very little info to go on in her search for Soldier Boy.
She’s also losing the few allies she has. Maeve gets attacked (and imprisoned?) by Homelander and Black Noir after he literally sniffs out her ties to Butcher. And Starlight’s plea to Ashley to learn Maeve’s whereabouts doesn’t work; there’s a brief moment when Ashley lets her fear of Homelander break through, wide-eyed as she says, “I don’t have powers,” but ultimately, she backs down and sticks to the story that Maeve is at a global wellness retreat for her substance-abuse issues.
Not even A-Train, who has occasionally become an unlikely ally to the Boys, is an option anymore. Starlight calls him out for ratting Supersonic out to Homelander, and for most of “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies” he’s off in his own story, still trying to handle the Blue Hawk situation. It’s interesting to see A-Train become more sincere in his desire to help out his community — even as he becomes aware of how impossible it is to do that without compromising his morals.
The arrangement Vought works out is that Blue Hawk will issue a public apology to the Black residents of Trenton at a meeting at the community center. It’s a win-win, the way A-Train figures it; Blue Hawk faces some small measure of accountability, and Vought gets the good publicity showing their desire to “do better.” A-Train’s brother, Nathan, is less sure, but he goes along with it when A-Train and Blue Hawk show up with a camera crew.
But it spirals out of control fast when Blue Hawk rushes through a litany of bad-apology clichés, using language like “perceived as being racist,” “ask my friends, many of whom are Black,” and “I do not see color.” After just a little pushback, he snaps, shouting that crime happens more in Black neighborhoods and furiously insisting that “supe lives matter.” Then he lashes out violently, knocking multiple people across the room. One of those people is Nathan, whose spine is damaged to the point that he’ll never walk again. So much for accountability.
After a call from Mother’s Milk, Starlight eventually ends up at Crimson Countess’s hideaway, where Butcher has tied her up to use as bait for Soldier Boy. But during an argument with Hughie, who’s still annoyingly determined to save his girlfriend for once instead of the other way around, the truth comes out: Butcher and Hughie’s plan isn’t to take Soldier Boy down once he gets there. It’s to team up with him.
MM realizes what’s going on as he struggles to fight off the effects of the roofies Butcher gave him. “I can’t draw no line, M,” Butcher says sadly. “Not with all I gotta do.” So when Soldier Boy finally arrives, Butcher hands over Crimson Countess, allowing her to become the next victim of Soldier Boy’s semi-uncontrollable explosions. This one happens after the Countess tells him, “I didn’t love you. I hated you. We all did.” It’s an obvious parallel to the earlier conversation between Homelander and Maeve, showing that Homelander and Soldier Boy aren’t so different after all.
“No more secrets, huh?” Annie says to Hughie, barely recognizing the man she loves. “You’re teaming up with a murderer!” But once again, all Hughie can fall back on is that single-minded goal that supersedes everything else: to save her from Homelander. He’s willing to let other innocent people die if he can at least achieve that — making him possibly more selfish than Butcher, for all Butcher’s cold efficiency.
So far Soldier Boy’s body count comes to at least 20 since his return. Will the ends really justify the means if he keeps up the slaughter? At a certain point, it’s possible to become so fixated on some far-off dream that you lose sight of the people you’re hurting along the way.
• Butcher walks in on Hughie vomiting and says, “Looks like Kermit the Frog had a right wank in your mouth.”
• You can’t blame MM for his anger about Todd showing his stepdaughter Homelander propaganda on Vought News. But it is sad to see him abandon his plans with Janine to go look for Soldier Boy.
• The Boys directly references some of the most dangerous COVID rhetoric from our leaders with Homelander’s appearance on Cameron Coleman: “America is safe. It is safe. Everyone, get out there, go to your restaurants, and go to your movie theaters, and live your lives. Have fun.”
• Ashley: “Congrats from Lindsey Graham. He’s such a gooch-licker.”
• A satisfying fuck-you from Maeve to Homelander: “From the start, I hated you. But what’s more, I fucking pitied you.” It comes after he genuinely opens up a little about the connection he used to feel to her, being “lonely at the top” together.
• Seth Rogen makes his, I believe, third cameo of the series while jerking off on a video call with Crimson Countess, who belongs to a sort of OnlyFans for supes.
• Did Soldier Boy do some sightseeing before paying Crimson Countess a visit? Seems a little unlikely the Boys would beat him there.