Look, it's not like the Supernatural fandom didn't try warning us. They knew back from his time on the long-running The CW series how The Boys showrunner/EP Eric Kripke (who created Supernatural) loves to lure you in with some serious "shock & awe" and then blindside you with an emotional punch to the feels you either never saw coming or could never prepare yourself for. And just in case you think Kripke would take issue with that assessment? Well, no look no further than his response to that very thing yesterday when the "Herogasm" warning was offered: "Yup. More than 1." And holy s**t, they could not have been more right. Directed by Nelson Cragg and written by Jessica Chou, this week saw the streaming series' take on the popular comic book miniseries. But to define this episode by just supe sex and tidal waves of splooge (guess that lube on the jacket clearly wasn't the worst thing that could happen to MM's clothes) would be ignoring what really made this episode work. Because this was an episode about "release"… and we're not just talking of the bodily fluid kind. No, this week brought a turning point for a number of players- some we've been eagerly awaiting to see happen. Others? Well, let's just say they left us a bit concerned. So with that said, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer before we do our deep dive (though not as deep as some of those "dives" we saw).
After five episodes of growing tension, frustration, fear, doubt, paranoia, and a whole bunch of other not-so-pleasant things, all roads led to "Herogasm"- or more specifically, to the home of ex-Payback team members TNT Twins Tommy TNT (Jack Doolan) & Tessa TNT (Kristen Booth), hosts of the 70-year-old supes "tradition" (which we learn was first kicked off by Jensen Ackles' Soldier Boy in 1952). Of course, that quickly became "ground zero" for all of our respective players, bringing The Deep (Chace Crawford), Hughie (Jack Quaid), Butcher (Karl Urban), Soldier Boy, Mother's Milk (MM, Laz Alonso), Starlight (Erin Moriarty), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), and… eventually… Homelander (Antony Starr). And as you can imagine, that was just the spark necessary for some game-changing moments (and with more than just those we've named above). In fact, having slept on the episode I have to say that the examples of "release" we saw this episode is pretty astounding considering just how much is going on. Credit to Cragg for setting the right moods for the respective situations, and as for Chou? If their agent's phone isn't getting blown up with offers, then I won't need Claudia Doumit's Victoria Neuman to pop my brain.
Now as for those "release" moments I've been teasing since this started, here's a look at our rundown:
Ashley (Colby Minifie) reminds A-Train of the "realities" of his past and how much she & Vought covered up his "indiscretions" for years, amazingly punctuated by Minifie by the look on Ashley's face and her outwardly expressing her amazement at finally having said all of that out loud. And as tough as it was for A-Train, that dressing down allowed him to release all of the buried guilt he's been dealing with. Now, what will he do with it? Well, we saw one way…
Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) performs a little self-surgery and goes off the grid without anyone's knowledge, leaving Homelander much more wounded than those around him realize. Considering what we learned about their crossed-paths past in "Diabolical," it's not surprising.
And speaking of Homelander, we're running out of praise to give Starr, especially after the mirror scenes where Homelander has a conversation with the voice in his head convincing him to release whatever "human" he still has left in him. A decision that it appears he's clearly made by the end of the episode…
For Kumiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Serge (Tomer Capon), the release came as they both dangling on the brink of death at the hands of Little Nina (Katia Winter) and her goons. Faced with having their own worst feelings about themselves put on display by Nina, they endured the torture and pain to come out of it alive. And in some ways, better off. Okay, here me out! With Kumiko, the understanding that it wasn't her powers that made her "The Female" but who she was as a person is definitely a punch to the gut. But it's also something Kumiko can attempt to handle that resigning herself that it's the result of a power she never asked for. As for Serge, it's hopefully the beginning of his understanding that his worth doesn't depend on who he works for (and it was fascinating how MM and Butcher were both thinking about him heading into "Herogasm," mentioning how much he always wanted to check out one of those).
And speaking of award-worthy turns in this episode, Alonso continues to impress and always has. But that moment between MM and Starlight where he explains his backstory with Soldier Boy and his OCD practices with the burners had the tears flowing in that way where you feel them but you don't break the stare because you don't want to miss a second of greatness? Yeah, it was one of those times…
Look, we all knew it was only a matter of time before The Deep was going to fuck an octopus. All the signs were there. But beyond the comedic moment, it also spoke to how The Deep is just another ticking time bomb. Give him more quality time with Homelander and we'll see how quickly this public relations campaign he calls a life continues to last. Now just imagine how much more dangerous he would be if he had a brain with some decent common sense?
Hughie getting an apology from A-Train (especially after the Ashley beatdown) was something we didn't see coming, and yet it probably couldn't have worked anywhere else but in the middle of a supes orgy. By the emotions on A-Train's face, we see that the truth might finally be too much for him to continue to ignore and so by releasing some of that guilt to Hughie, he can begin some kind of process to become someone different. And as for Hughie's reaction? As much as we would like to think it was all V24, it clearly also comes from A-Train forcing him to release his hate, unburdening him of that rage. And that's clearly not something Hughie was ready to do.
And then we saw what A-Train did with that release of guilt, and that was to take the Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler) matter into his own hands. Considering this nation's history with racist violence that's included Black people being tortured & killed by being dragged behind a truck, A-Train's choice of the way to dispose of his "white trash problem" was especially symbolic.
If you need me to explain just how much "releasing" was going on in the epic smackdown between Homelander, Soldier Boy, Butcher & Hughie, then you need to rewatch it again. Butcher and Hughie finally able to go toe-to-toe with Homelander? Homelander getting a chance to take on "The Original Supe"? Soldier Boy getting a chance to take down his "fucking knockoff"? This was four dudes releasing their rage, anger, and overall toxicity on each other, which is why it felt much more like a street fight than you normally find.
But perhaps the biggest release of all belongs to Starlight… or as we are to now call her, Annie January. Because this was the episode that Annie drew a line in the sand and told everyone (and we mean everyone, Hughie) to go fuck themselves. From pushing back on Neuman's offer to being the tough-love friend that MM needed, Annie's done being the victim and always being on the defense, waiting for the moment when Homelander decides to snap and kill everyone. So you can have all of the supe sex and fight scenes that you want (and they were all great) because the greatest "release" came at the very end when Annie took to social media to not only "release" herself of the burden of being Starlight but also declare war on Homelander. Now that's the kind of move that needs a cigarette after.
And that's not even mentioning the "Random Thoughts" we had, which we'll save for a post this weekend. We'll see you back here next week for our thoughts on the season's penultimate (I know, right?!).