The Boys: Herogasm
June 25, 2022 9:51 AM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Episode 6 starts with Imagine.

[Deep sighs] [moaning] [grunts, gasps] [Soldier Boy chuckles] [squishing] [inhales] [distant explosion] [tires screeching] [heart beating faster] [yelling] [all panting]
posted by Etrigan (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, at least Love Sausage survived Sage Grove, although his full abilities may not have survived this.

This episode wasn't as excruciating as I thought it might be, although it didn't seem to really try to get that weird or gross-cute. Frankly, between the copious amounts of Rule 34 porn of superheroes and numerous live-action superhero porn parodies, there's just not a lot of places left to go there. This episode had a better FX budget than porn parodies, but not necessarily a better imagination than your average Hentai Foundry artist.

And that's fine; they use the set-up for what it was good for (Soldier Boy's roaring rampage of revenge, MM's OCD setting up a joke about some truly unfortunate timing when opening a door without knowing what or who is on the other side) and left the rest of the episode to advance the plot and characterization: Noir making his sudden exit (although I suspect that we'll find out that he merely left to gather up some bigger guns, possibly including actual gunships--he is the series' Batman, after all); Neuman trying to coax/threaten Annie into a possible alliance (which deepens my suspicion that her "betrayal" of Edgar is really part of his long game); Soldier Boy turning out to be a lot like the infamous version of Captain America from comics' The Ultimates ("You think this A stands for France?"); Hughie and Annie having it out when they're both literally naked, thanks to Hughie's clothes-shedding teleportation; A-Train finally apologizing to Hughie, and maybe meaning it, followed by his own possible final scene; Homelander scooting away once he realizes that he might lose (although he could be gathering allies as well); and Annie's final mic-drop.

I think that we've got two episodes left in the season, and a fair number of balls in the air, including whether or not Annie actually sends that kiss-off out.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:37 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Kimiko admitting that maybe it wasn't just the Compound V that made her do it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:39 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


The introduction of temp-V has muddled things a bit. Just how powerful did it make Butcher? The impression I've always had is that Homelander is powerful enough to murder any other Supe in like 5 seconds max. Or, OK, maybe it might take a minute to fully break down some of the strongest. Also conveniently ironic that it gives Butcher powers matching Homelander's, but that's less bothersome to me than the idea that temp-V could give someone Homelander-lite powers for 24 hours, but regular-V has only once (or twice, if you count Soldier Boy) created anyone that powerful.

Starlight taking the picture of Deep with the Octopus was great, though. And I also liked Ashley calling out A-Train for his hypocrisy, despite her being just as morally bankrupt.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:11 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Something I noticed about Homelander that continues to amuse me is that if you look at his lines, he only ever* says things "a good guy" would also be saying. "I'm glad you're with me on this." Etc. It's only the actor's subtle menacing and the things we saw him do previously that suggest he's anything other than what he says he is, the protector. Even in this one he's like, OK, there's a supervillain, this is my job, I will go handle it. In another, better world, if he wasn't raised by different people with different goals, he could have been the guy his script is written for. Or maybe not.

I really love Starlight/Annie and her whole thing. When Neuman was like hey girl, pretty much the only thing left you can do is team up with me and she was like "You know what? Absolutely the fuck not. Fuck this." Which is ACTUALLY what a "hero" in her position WOULD have to do. It's so fucking satisfying to see someone with some power doing the right fucking thing even if it's not real.

*I'm sure you could go back and find counter-examples but that's not important right now

I just find this show utterly engaging and entertaining. I like watching tv when it feels like the writers and creators are living here in this world with us, telling us stories about this world we're in, using the tropes of the stories we all grew up with to do it. It just feels very satisfying to me.
posted by bleep at 11:53 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


Power levels for superheroes have always been a fraught topic for discussion, especially when comparing them to each other, and with the occasional absurd outlier in canon (Superman pushing the planet Earth six inches out of its orbit, Hercules towing Manhattan Island back into place (and never mind the Verrazzano Narrows; for an industry that used to have almost all of its creators in NYC, a lot of old-time comics pros knew amazingly little about their own city)). I wondered that about Homelander vs. Stormfront; the former could harm the latter, somewhat (the infamous "laser my fucking tits" scene), but I don't think that we know if she could harm him with her purple lightning. Kimiko, Maeve, and Starlight seemed to be about a match for her, Becca Butcher stabbed her eye out with an ordinary knife (which made me wonder if she'd eventually regenerate all her missing parts), and Ryan Butcher did the most damage with his own heat/laser vision. Either the showrunners aren't all that concerned with a Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe level of consistency, which seems likely, or it's something else like a supe being attacked by more than one other supe can whittle them down. (Note that Maeve was taken down by Homelander and Black Noir.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:13 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


This season has been great. I love how the introduction of Temp V has splintered the good guys, and made the "good" label more shaky for them. The convergence of Team Butcher (will ignore mass murder to achieve the greater good), Team Annie/MM (the undisputed "good" team), Team Homelander, and the A-Train/Blue Hawk plot line on Herogasm was wonderfully crunchy with all the conflict, resolution, and setup for future conflict. (I was certain that when Annie found Hughie walking around naked she would think he was there for the party, but fortunately she was smarter than me.)

I'm actually fine with the idea that Temp V is "Near-Homelander-level power for just 24 hours and it takes a toll on your health" (see Hughie finding weird goo in his ear), EXCEPT that if this is indeed the case, then the whole Soldier Boy plot line is unnecessary. Butcher could have just recruited a half-dozen tough guys and they could all have beaten Homelander into the dirt, right?

Speaking of which, the fight between Butcher, Homelander, Soldier Boy, and Hughie was way exciting, if only for it being the first time anyone has ever gotten their licks in on Homelander. The shot of him looking at himself in the mirror with a bruised cheek was wonderful.

The song "Escape" by Mikhail Shufutinskiy playing as often as it does just to put Soldier Boy in a murderous blackout rage strains credulity, but you know what, I've got plenty of credulity to spare.

I was not expecting the show to make the implied octopus sex from a few episodes back explicit, but good on Deep and this new, thiccer octopus.

The first time I saw Colby Minife in a show was her turn as the obnoxious neighbor in Jessica Jones, in which her character was extremely off-putting. But damn if she's not turning in one of my favorite performances here as Ashley! Her ability to shift from craven to defiant to officious in seconds is amazing.

including whether or not Annie actually sends that kiss-off out.

That kiss-off was live, Halloween Jack! People were commenting and heart-ing it in real time!
posted by ejs at 2:24 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Oh my god that fight yes. I hate watching fight scenes on any show and I usually just look away the whole time but this one was super fun to watch.
posted by bleep at 2:32 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I think the key with Soldier Boy is he has the ability to remove powers. Sure, they bruised Homelander, but its unclear that he could be seriously injured with powers
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:09 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


That kiss-off was live, Halloween Jack! People were commenting and heart-ing it in real time!

Right you are! Hope that Annie had a bug-out bag ready.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:32 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Usually I don't care about fight scenes, but I loved seeing Hughie, Butcher, and Soldier Boy try their best. Maeve told Annie that it would take multiple supes to come for him, and I love that we got a taste for it. I am intrigued to see if we get a powerless Homelander courtesy of Soldier Boy.

If that's A-train's end, I'll be disappointed to lose that character, but his apology to Hughie was so genuine. Really hope he sticks around though. I did love his "A-train to Africa" reality show. Vought's programming is so cringe and so accurate, it's one of my favorite things about the show.

It's so fucking satisfying to see someone with some power doing the right fucking thing even if it's not real.

God, yes. I am really hoping that Annie gets some wins in the last two episodes to make up for most of the season.
posted by gladly at 8:12 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


"benzos"

Benzodiazepines are downers. Solider Boy saying that the storming of Normandy were by dissociated benzo zombies or is the show choosing to use a wrong drug as part of the backstage stuff of being hassled by "the war on drugs?"

Neat 'Rambo' callback, where the brave Mujahideen were the allies against the Soviets.
posted by porpoise at 11:02 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I laughed out loud more than once which is just as well because I'm still recovering from the sheer amount of gore every episode.
posted by h00py at 12:21 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


> Something I noticed about Homelander that continues to amuse me is that if you look at his lines, he only ever* says things "a good guy" would also be saying. "I'm glad you're with me on this." Etc. It's only the actor's subtle menacing and the things we saw him do previously that suggest he's anything other than what he says he is, the protector.

Antony Starr’s closeups just make the series for me; the jaw clenching! the dead eyed smiles! the pathetic self pity! and the way he can switch between them in a beat. fantastic.
posted by tomp at 12:51 AM on June 26 [10 favorites]


"benzos"

Benzodiazepines are downers. Solider Boy saying that the storming of Normandy were by dissociated benzo zombies


Just checked, the line is, "Man, I missed bennies."

Benzedrine is amphetamine sulfate.

Which leads this insane dialog between Huey and Soldier Boy, "I mean, do you know what a GPS is? Or Bluetooth, or the Internet?"

"You made those words up."

"No. No. No those are real words."
posted by mikelieman at 1:17 AM on June 26 [11 favorites]


Antony Starr’s closeups just make the series for me; the jaw clenching

Yeah, his self-satisfied performance is the heart of the show. I don’t think I have ever seen him in anything else; but of course the one interview I saw with him (with his natural dark hair, his Kiwi accent, and specs instead of contacts) he was unrecognizable. Indeed, in the interview he referred to it as his Clark Kent look.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:51 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


And "Antony Starr" sounds like a made up superhero actor's name, so props to the casting director too.
posted by flabdablet at 5:02 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Hughie had the best lines in this episode -- his reactions to Soldier Boy's comments about the "chop-suey oriental sauce" and Bill Cosby as America's Dad and a guy who could mix a hell of a drink were *chef's kiss*
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:28 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


(which deepens my suspicion that her "betrayal" of Edgar is really part of his long game)

In episode 4 Edgar asked Neuman to go after Homelander. They were the only two people in the scene so it seems Neuman really betrayed Edgar. But it could still be that Edgar anticipated her betrayal.
posted by Pendragon at 11:40 AM on June 26


The impression I've always had is that Homelander is powerful enough to murder any other Supe in like 5 seconds max. Or, OK, maybe it might take a minute to fully break down some of the strongest. Also conveniently ironic that it gives Butcher powers matching Homelander's,

in the comics, and, i suppose, this show, Butcher is a vet. Mallory is a vet. In the show (and not the books), Soldier Boy is a vet. actually having been trained to fight did matter in the world of the show, the psychology of having been trained to fight through meat grinder conflicts has been signaled to be an advantage, and plays into the psychology of the characters. there's less of this in the show, but it's still there.
posted by eustatic at 3:11 PM on June 26 [2 favorites]




I know I'm being a bit nerd-dantic about the power-level stuff, because of course that's a problem that's just boiled into the superhero genre by its very nature. Maybe it's just because it so quickly puts Butcher at near-Homelander levels, after such a long build-up of his invincibility. Or, I'm just nit-picking.

(Note that Maeve was taken down by Homelander and Black Noir.)

My impression was that Homelander was toying with her and Black Noir just grabbed her, I don't think that there's any evidence of an epic fight or anything like that.

Soldier Boy ... has the ability to remove powers

Just because I don't remember the exact sequence of events: what did he do to Kimiko to remove her power? I seem to remember breathing fire? Anyway, it doesn't seem like he's removed anyone else's powers (unless he *also* removed the powers of the people he incinerated), so I'm looking forward to seeing how/when it happens again.

The Boys' Star Karl Urban Says They Ran Out of Fake Sperm While Filming the 'Herogasm'

Poor M.M. I'm not anywhere near his level of OCD about cleanliness, but the thought of getting a massive jizz-bath makes me want to vomit. I would NOT have reacted as mildly as him.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:20 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Oh, and since the showrunner has been open about basing Homelander on Trump, does that make Soldier Boy the old-school paleo-con Republican? I get sort of an Ollie North vibe from him.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:21 AM on June 27


what did he do to Kimiko to remove her power?

He shoots an explosive blast from his chest, which seems to remove powers.
posted by Pendragon at 11:28 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I've been kinda wondering about the "Soldier Boy can strip powers" thing too. It seems like we've been told that he can, but not so much shown that he can. The only person he seems to have done it to was Kimiko, whose power (aside from the usual strong-tough-fast stuff that seems to be pretty generic amongst supes) was that she couldn't be killed permanently. So maybe what Soldier Boy did wasn't "remove her powers" so much as "kill her so much that her powers gave up", which for your regular-type supe (Crimson Countess, the casualties of Herogasm) or non-supe person (as in Manhattan) just regular-kills them.
posted by Etrigan at 12:19 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


So maybe what Soldier Boy did wasn't "remove her powers" so much as "kill her so much that her powers gave up"

Sort of like the idea of over-taxing Wolverine's regeneration ability, which I'm pretty sure has been a plot point in several comic storylines.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:34 PM on June 27


Oh, and since the showrunner has been open about basing Homelander on Trump, does that make Soldier Boy the old-school paleo-con Republican? I get sort of an Ollie North vibe from him.

I think Soldier Boy is just an old school frat bro.

I think this season is very interested in gender (as a social construct/force) and Soldier Boy represents one version of masculinity. I mean, gender is political so there is a lot of overlap, but I think his characterization is more about a certain way of "being a man" (performing masculinity) than anything else.
posted by rue72 at 2:07 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I've been kinda wondering about the "Soldier Boy can strip powers" thing too. It seems like we've been told that he can, but not so much shown that he can.

I read somewhere (although can't remember where, possibly a Kripke interview?) that it doesn't strip powers per se, but it dissolves Compound V. For someone like Ryan, who never got Compound V directly, I don't know if it would actually do anything? Also arguably for Homelander, who I think has his powers through genetic modification (and that was why he passed them on to his child when Vicki didn't).

That said, I feel like the show has been hinting at Homelander losing his powers. His whole sense of self (and self-worth) seems to be based on them, which begs the question of who or even what he would be without them. So maybe he'll be sensitive to a Soldier Boy blast after all.

I know I'm being a bit nerd-dantic about the power-level stuff, because of course that's a problem that's just boiled into the superhero genre by its very nature. Maybe it's just because it so quickly puts Butcher at near-Homelander levels, after such a long build-up of his invincibility. Or, I'm just nit-picking.

I think power levels aren't so straight forward, though. Komiko is relatively small and physically weak without her powers, but she is such a vicious, ruthless fighter that she was still able to get the drop on a couple armed goons. Butcher is physically fearless and there seems to be a part of him that even likes taking a punch. Homelander has tremendous power but he apparently doesn't know how to fight to win like Komiko and Butcher do. And that makes sense to me because I can't imagine that he's ever been in a fight before where the outcome wasn't predetermined. It seems to me that either he was the subject of some experiment, so "fighting" was futile, he was just surviving whatever Vought was throwing at him and then going back to his room in Vought Tower to eat his Vought-supplied dinner and crawl into his Vought-supplied bed and do it all again the next day. Or he was obviously going to "win" because he was just slicing some poor soul in half by looking at them funny.

Butcher doesn't have all of Homelander's powers, the ones he does have may or may not be as strong as Homelander's, and he hasn't mastered them as well -- but he's a bloodthirsty fighter with good physicality and a total willingness to take a punch, and he was more prepared going into this fight in particular, Homelander vastly underestimated him and in fact assumed he'd killed him, and he was also part of a team up. Just like I can believe that Komiko can get the drop on guys bigger and stronger than her because of factors beyond her "power level," I can believe that Butcher can hold his own against Homelander, at least this one time, even if Homelander is out of his league on paper.
posted by rue72 at 7:09 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


In terms of Homelander's origin: there was a short bit in this episode, where he's talking to himself in the mirror (very Moon Knight of him) and he mentions the "Bad Room."

Also, something that seems necessary for Soldier Boy to unleash the power-cancelling (and generally destructive) chest beam is for something Russian to trigger his PTSD. Looking forward to seeing him equipped with an MP3 of "Song of the Volga Boatmen."
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:01 AM on June 28


I think Soldier Boy has "new" powers gained from the experimentation that the Russians did on him while in captivity. In every scene where he has blacked out and let loose his full blast, they've had Butcher and company use a clicking Geiger counter, showing that he irradiates everything with a huge blast of uncontrolled ionizing radiation. It would make sense that it removes powers since it is damaging the supes at a cellular level constantly, and it seems that pretty much most supes have accelerated healing of some kind. They can still die from the right type of damage, but normal fighting and damage from non-supes tends to be quickly recovered from and heal quickly. But radiation does constant damage over time because of the ionization. Likely in a later episide, Kamiko will regain her powers. Note that she did survive pretty much a direct blast from Soldier Boy and was blasted through a wall. Then they discovered she wasn't healing like she usually does. Radiation damage (her own cells becoming ionized and continuing the proton or neutron decay) would explain why she needed to be stitched up.

Anyway. Radiation. What I'm not sure of is if Soldier Boy had that power before he was captured by the Russians in Grenada. He seemed to be pretty much an analog of Captain America, only Brotastic and full of John Wayne-ish 1940's Hollywood jackassery.
posted by daq at 12:10 AM on June 29


In terms of Homelander's origin: there was a short bit in this episode, where he's talking to himself in the mirror (very Moon Knight of him) and he mentions the "Bad Room."

I both love and hate that the show managed to make me not only pity but empathize with Homelander in that mirror scene. What struck me most was that it felt like a father-son chat straight out of "Leave It To Beaver" ("Why the long face, Tiger?"), except that Homelander's version of Mr. Cleaver spends the whole time sneering, taunting, and talking about mud people. Because of course that would be Homelander's apparently lifelong attempt to parent himself, a mashup of hatefulness and stereotypical, sitcom-y "wholesomeness." His only knowledge of the world comes from Vought and what he's seen on TV. Marc Spector may be a mess, but at least he is functional and grounded enough to have some idea of what a loving relationship is actually like. It's awful that Homelander wanted a parent so badly that he created an imaginary one, but he's so clueless that even his imaginary parent is just curdled, monstrous "Leave It to Beaver" fanfic.

I also found it heartbreaking that his response to fear and despair was to shame himself to the point of tears and then soothe himself that he'll be "fixed" once he cuts out the part of him that's "causing" him so much pain, his humanity. It was so sad to me because it seems like the pain would have to be incredibly intense for a person to be that desperate for it to stop, and because trying to excise his humanity like "a cancer" is not only misguided, it's futile. He just seemed like such an earnest little boy when he was talking to his mirror self, and it made me sad for him.

I find it wild that the show would be able to manage that, for such a close Trump analogue, and while we're dealing with a political hellscape that will only get worse. But empathizing with even the worst villain on a human level or when they're in pain is just the plight of any non-psychopath, I guess. Empathizing with the character doesn't equate to sympathy for their [fascist] ideology, thank god. But props to the show.

I think the Homelander mirror scene is also a great contrast with Annie's scene talking to the live-stream. She was framed by the livestream similarly to how Homelander was framed in his mirror, but she was embracing her humanity and showed real bravery. This episode is so genius.
posted by rue72 at 11:04 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


I don’t think I have ever seen him in anything else

Anthony Starr was the lead in Banshee which has the best action scenes ever filmed on TV and is similarly over the top as The Boys in so many yet different ways.
posted by andrewdoull at 1:11 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


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