The Boys Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Good For The Soul
In lieu of its semi-controversial premise, The Boys would be incomplete if it didn’t tackle some controversial themes head-on. And Episode 5 comes as wish fulfillment of sorts as The Boys tackles religion head-on by hosting an elaborate event termed the Believe Expo which also serves as the backdrop for the gang to blackmail a certain pretentious religious Ezekiel to get info about Compound V shipments. At the other end, A-Train manages to identify Frenchie launching the Seven’s hunt for him and his unidentified friends.
The entire Believe Expo segment is easily the episode’s highlight and centerpiece. There’s a half a dozen different moving pieces, from Ezekiel’s scripted speech reinforcing his belief in the faith of Christianity to Annie and Hughie’s interactions followed by a subplot that sees Hughie infiltrate Ezekiel’s private baptism ceremony for a hefty $15,000. He pulls in some favors from Annie to get in, who now starts to suspect that Hughie is sadly just using her newfound fame to gain favors. Unbeknownst to her though, Hughie has bigger things on his mind.
It’s weird how the Boys is this elaborate gang comprising of hard hitters MM and BB and yet somehow, Hughie ends up being the one having to do all the dirty work. First it was pulling the trigger on Translucent, and now threatening the Mr. Fantastic clone to spit out info or release his sex videos on the internet, damaging his reputation. Needless to say, he does give out the info leading to the episode’s concluding moments with Billy Butcher using Baby Clark Kent to fire out lasers to dodge the cops. Whoa.
As with much of the world inhabited by these heroes, religion is presented as being make-believe as well. Starlight is disillusioned by this fakery and her going off script is a strong moment. It’s another stark reminder of how obsessed everyone in this world is at keeping up appearances; the heroes must not be seeing or saying anything bad, the religion must be upheld to the highest standards. All of that is comforting to the general public who’d much rather be lied to than awakened to the truth. These are people who are happy to consume the Red Pill for eternity rather than take the Blue Pill and wake up to a life of uncomfortable suffering and dealing with the truth.
We can also see the cracks begin to appear in the relationship between the superheroes and Vought. Homelander’s ego is way too high to be commanded by Madelyn and he begins breaking his script as well, wanting desperately to unleash the monster within him, unhinged. Just like Starlight, he’s tired of keeping up appearances but wants to go the polar opposite. Maeve’s guilt consumes her badly upon being unable to save the flight’s passengers and I suspect she too is weary of keeping up her good side and pretending all is cool. In the process, we get a short yet powerful scene revealing she’s bisexual and it’s good that the moment stays short without losing its impact.
As for the Female and Frenchie, they start bonding like in the comics, with the only difference being their bond is being gradually built up in the show. We also finally get the answer to whether or not the Female is high or is just another one of the supes (for those who haven’t read the comics, I’d rather let this reveal slip by for one more episode, in case you’re watching). Suffice to say, it holds strong repercussions and should help even out the playing field a bit. And with Maeve and Starlight feeling the seeds of rebellion, I can see a fair rivarly ahead.
Despite the rather grandiose scope of the Believe Expo, the episode doesn’t shy away from intimate moments. The opening scene between A-Train and his girlfriend is gut-wrenching, more so for its outcome and A-Train’s subsequent uncovering of the mystery behind what Popclaw was hiding. There’s also a strange bit between Homelander and Madelyn that I’m not really going to speculate on due to my lack of comic knowledge at this time. I guess it’s this balance of giving characters their moments instead of focusing on the superhero spectacle is what’s working in favor of The Boys.
Yet again, another entertaining episode from what is now a binge-watch series for sure. I just have three episodes to go so the temptation to skip right to the end is all the more high. I’ll still try and contain myself to do episode-wise reviews, to keep the flow going.