After hints and teases here and there of the larger conflict at play, Amazon’s The Boys finally begins connecting its plot threads and build toward a singular narrative that forms the heart of the season’s storyline. It also introduces a new member of The Boys while focusing on new members of The Seven, all to ensure we as viewers are able to take it all in slowly, but surely.
At the heart of Episode 3 is a race between A-Train and Shockwave for the title of the fastest superhero. The bulk of the third act is about the race, taking place in a stadium, impressively created using a combination of VFX crowds and some real shot footage to give the feeling of a raucous, energetic football field. Of course it’s strange that you’d go through so much trouble to organize an event that at best will last a few minutes, mostly seconds, but that’s how this superhero infested world goes by. Chace Crawford gets a few lines to finally put out some of his character as we also get a glimpse at his brother and girlfriend who has a bigger role to play than perhaps A-Train himself.
While all this is happening, we’re treated to what could be the seeds of the narrative thread guiding the season. After a brief mention of Compound V in the first two episodes, it’s revealed as some sort of performance enhancer vial that provides a temporary surge of adrenaline to superheroes. What’s devastating to hear for Hughie is that this is the same drug that A-Train was on when he smashed Robin to pieces. Moreover, an ordinary individual taking the drug could bring out their own superhero abilities, a potentially important plot point that could explain how the Boys could take down Homelander and his Seven.
Speaking of which, The Boys continues to mine the embarassment of riches offered by its premise to delve into some familiar setups. The race is one of them, but Homelander and Queen Maeve out to dial down a shooter situation is another. The duo casually strut along, oblivious to the firing bullets as they walk into the building to diffuse the situation, suggesting how in this world inhabited by Vought, these heroes have bigger problems to deal with. It’s also a bit too convenient that the heroes themselves resemble Superman and Wonder Woman and look like lookalikes of Chris Pine and Linda Carter joined the show.
There’s some fair bit of subtext to some of the proceedings. For one, Maeve and Homelander’s flirtatious exchanges reek of a romance that once was, but is no longer sustainable thanks to Homelander’s egomaniacal persona; he won’t date her but he’s uncomfortable having her see anyone else. Possible domestic abuse is also hinted at but perhaps that’s too much of a stretch to draw. A very stimulating sequence occurs with Billy staring at Homelander long enough to arouse the latter’s suspicions. It at once, indicates that the two characters share a deeper history than is suggested or shown, with the cinematography putting Homelander in a position of power, while Billy is shown as being one of the many in the crowd, someone who should be unnoticeable to Homelander but still stands out.
Hughie gets his own share to do and even reunite with Annie who he discovers, is Starlight. Starlight gets some strong sequences that poke fun at the feminist debate by providing her a revealing outfit that oozes her comfort with her skin, despite her comfort actually being in her old, covered costume. Everything in The Boys is media & PR-driven with the intent of squeezing out the maximum eyeballs and garnering social media buzz through conversations; every situation is an opportunity to draft out a narrative that resonates well with the politically correct audiences of today’s times. With such a smart representation and marketing team, no wonder Vought has risen to the success they have.
Finally, a new member is brought aboard the Boys: Mother’s Milk. Yep, that’s his name, and don’t even ask for his origins, just Google it. Suffice to say, Laz Alonso imbues a sense of class and dignity and makes MM instantly likeable. His opening scene is highly effective, well written and both Alonso and director Phil Sgriccia display a strong command over the sequence that never falters.
Once again, a great overall episode of The Boys. The only downside? The introduction of Compound V becomes a sort of a cheat mechanic that the show brings in to level the playing field a bit. Without it, there was a fair bit of intrigue and concern about how exactly would a bunch of random dudes bring down a superhero empire. Now, seeing that vial of drug, it becomes clearer to see how. Still doesn’t take away the fact that The Boys is an intensely fun outing that’s just impossibly hard to put down.