The Boys Season 1 Episode 4 Review: The Female Of The Species
Amazon’s The Boys introduces the team’s final member, a female, as the heroes use a shocking tragedy to their advantage.
Amazon Prime’s The Boys finally introduces its long standing female member, conveniently called The Female, while setting off characters into their own subplots to keep the pacing brisk. Hughie and Annie get to bond a little despite Hughie’s PTSD rearing its ugly head as The Deep embarks on a side-quest of ridiculous nature. Finally, yet most importantly, Homelander displays some really devilish side as he takes his unsympathetic nature to heightented proportions.
We finally get to see Karen Fukuhara who plays the mute Female with a certain cold-bloodedness and ruthlessness that fits the character to a T. Now since I’m not familiar with the comics, I’m not entirely sure if her character has some super abilities or is simply jacked up with large proportions of the mysterious Compound V (my money is on the latter for the time). Regardless, Frenchie takes a liking to her and she subsequently sends the Boys on a wild goose chase for her that ends with Billy delivering one of the worst pep talks somehow connecting Spice Girls to team strength and unity.
This gives The Boys a chance to play out the Spice Girls track that’s been a staple of its full-length trailer. Unfortunately however, despite the track being fully employed to weird effect, I found its use a bit underwhelming compared to seeing it in the trailer. That’s partly because Deep’s side hustle didn’t resonate with me as much, and felt more of a distraction rather than adding anything meaty to the proceedings (at least at this point in time). His attempts to get rid of his jokey image didn’t incite the wild laughter that I was certain the showrunners were hoping for.
Hughie and Anne’s bits were particularly interesting, especially in regards to Hughie’s PTSD manifesting itself frequently, threatening to disrupt his interaction with Starlight. He’s finding a tough time believing Starlight is as screwed up as the rest of the Seven and every interaction with her makes his belief stronger, as evident in his reluctance to carry out his secret mission. There’s also the complication of him falling for Annie despite having only recently lost Robin, who also shows up in one of his visions. Those bits were quite emotionally investing and the two are clearly the show’s central leads.
But perhaps the finest sequence, and arguably the most shocking one, was Homelander and Maeve being sent to rescue a flight from hijackers, only for the American flag bearer to miserably screw up by letting his anger lash out and destroy the cockpit. He’s clearly no Iron Man to rescue everyone by virtue of a barrell of monkeys, and consequently makes the decision to let them all die to conceal the secret that they failed to save them. It’s a choice so shocking even Maeve repels and tries to get at least a few out to safety, but relents after seeing there’s no reasoning with Homelander. Public perception being so important, it’s better to let everyone die and carry the secret of his evil to their graves.
Speaking of which, it’s devilishly clever of Homelander to use this tragedy to further the case for superheroes being in the military and in control, a narrative even Madelyn wasn’t capable of spinning and looks visibly impressed. It’s a moment so repulsive it shakes your faith in superheroes to some extent, and makes you question whether corporations are really going to extreme lengths (or at least, be willing to) in order to preserve the goody-goody image of their heroes. In that sense, it’s offers a brilliant introspective look at the dark side of a reality where superheroes are corporatized and worshipped so much it goes to their heads.
There were some technical issues in executing the flight scene, in the sense that you could see the visual effects being severely limited by budget. Once again, the bloom effect is at full play, trying to conceal the exterior of the airplane which appears entirely white. I suppose they’re trying to spend all the money wisely; in a sequence where Billy, MM, Frenchie and Hughie pursue the female, a fair bit of extras are involved so I suppose creatively, it’s a choice between choosing to spend over shots. That aside, the subplot itself was so powerful it made up for any production shortages that were noticeable, at least to some extent.
On the whole, The Boys is cruising along nicely and has found its rhythm. Now that all members of the team are unveiled, it remains to be seen what kind of partnership they forge to take down the supes. As for Homelander, he’s clearly the big baddie of the Seven, a Superman gone Brightburn wrong, and we get the sense that Maeve might not even be as evil as the rest after all.