Look, after "Herogasm" and with the season finale set to hit our screens next week, it would've been easily understandable if director Sarah Boyd and writer Paul Grellong wanted to use "Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed" as a "set-up" episode for the big season-ender. But then again, if that was the case then it wouldn't be Amazon & showrunner Eric Kripke's The Boys. Because in a sea of streaming series that try so hard to be "bold" and "different," The Boys is able to pull it off time and again by being true to the story it wants to tell while respecting the viewers enough to know what they need to see (even if it's not necessarily something they want to see). Heading into this week's chapter, Homelander (Antony Starr) finds himself backed into a corner on two major fronts. First, he was nearly taken off the playing field permanently by Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and V24-amped Butcher (Karl Urban) & Hughie (Jack Quaid). And just as bad for the leader of The Seven? Annie (Erin Moriarty)- no longer Starlight- live-streamed the truth about Homelander, Vought… and pretty much everyone & everything else. But this week brought some major twists & turns that will have huge implications not just for the season finale but the fourth season and beyond. So with that in mind, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer as we talk bad dads, heartbreaking "bendy straws," animated backstories, octopus threesomes, and more.
While we're going to have a lot of "Random Thoughts" to throw your way in a minute, one of the key themes of note we wanted to mention for this episode is just how much a shitty father or father figure in one's life can cause some serious collateral damage. And "Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed" punches us in the face with that reminder, reminding us of how the roots of what we're seeing now began with a lot of adults doing some truly horrible things to kids and then leaving them to deal with it on their own when they're older. From Butcher's nightmare mental loop of what happened between him, his dad, and his late brother; and MM's (Laz Alonso) confrontation with Todd (Matthew Gorman) over his daughter being exposed to Homelander's misinformation, to the episode-ending revelation that Soldier Boy is Homelander's father, we got to see the "origin stories" that got us to where we are now- never once asking us to sympathize or feel bad for them, but for us to understand where their darkness comes from.
Random Thoughts & Observations: They're going to be coming at a Vin Diesel-less fast & furious pace this week, but just a quick follow-up to what you just read? I love how the show even found a way to put a twist on the comic book trope of "heroes fight before they team up" by having the two "heroes" be raging d-bags and then layering it with the "father/son" aspect. Though how funny it would be if Soldier Boy was lying to get close to Homelander? That said, we're assuming the info that Neuman (Claudia Doumit) gave Homelander was the address of where his son was living, so this could make for a very messy "family reunion."
Once again, Paul Reiser's The Legend is money in the brief time we're treated to his perspective, but he was key in separating fact from fiction for Hughie when it came to Soldier Boy's history. "Soldier Boy was to singing what pantyhose was to finger-fucking" might be one of the funniest lines of the season, and it just flowed out so naturally from Reiser that it elevated the humor ten-fold.
Speaking of lines… Homelander telling Maeve (Dominique McElligott), "I'm not letting you live. I'm keeping you alive" to punctuate his big reveal that he plans to harvest her eggs for future generations of "uber-supes" is one of the cruelest lines of the season. And yet, as concerned as we are for her it's clear that Maeve still has the upper hand in that she knows he's scared. He got touched. He got hurt. And she knows it. And her knowing that, and knowing him well enough to know how he will respond? Well, that just Maeve a major player in the season-ender. And bonus points to the writers for just how much this storyline thread horrifically mirrors what's going on in the country regarding abortion rights and the right for women to have control over their own bodies.
And several rounds of "Holy shit!" go to Nathan Mitchell aka Black Noir, who has perfected physically-emotional acting without uttering a word. By taking us into his mind and showing us why (as Kripke teased) Buster Beaver & his Pizza Pals were so "crucial," we're delivered yet another example of a failed, abusive father figure and the nightmare they can be to their families. In this case, animation was used to demonstrate the abuse Soldier Boy inflicted upon Payback (especially Noir) to both make it easier for viewers to take in while also adding to our horror and disgust.
As for The Deep (Chace Crawford) and his deal, it's a tough one to call. On one hand, I respect & support anyone looking to live their lives being true to who they are. But the bigger picture? It's The Deep we're talking about, who not only hasn't gone through any real redemption campaign but is poised to take an even bigger fall from grace. And we're looking forward to it.
Homelander/Neuman is a deadly combination, and I think we know who's going to end up as Singer's (Jim Beaver) VP pick.
Colby Minifie's Ashley has become a force of nature this season, Vought's "Devil" in that she brings you the fame & fortune- along with all of the strings attached. Sure, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) has a new supe heart thanks to the "tragic" death of Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler), who has now died at the hands of Soldier Boy. But if A-Train thinks that means he's free from Vought, well… let's just say Ashley makes him quickly aware that she has a whole agenda planned for the "new" A-Train.
And once again, Kumiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Serge (Tomer Capone) prove why they're the best couple running right now. Kumiko had me at "bendy straws" and when she explained how much Serge is family to her now. But what really put Fukuhara's performance into the stratosphere were those moments with Annie and then Serge where she explained why she wanted her powers back. Again, a very strong allegory to what's going on in this country on this side of the screen.
Hughie's scenes with Ryan Blakely's Mindstorm where he's trying to appeal to his better side and show him that he's not the bad guy he thinks he is felt like Hughie trying desperately to give this entire thing some meaning, some hope. That served to make Soldier Boy killing Mindstorm and the ferocity with which he did it even more disturbing.
Annie has turned social media into her new power, now having used it twice to knock Homelander back on his heels.
And to wrap things up on a slightly controversial note? As we get ready for next week's season-ender, I'll leave you with this thought. I don't blame and completely understand why Butcher didn't tell Hughie that V24 was killing them. Feel free to let me know how wrong I am in the "Comments" section below- see you next week!