Well, that ended the way a show like this should end: with a reminder who the real villains are as they gain power but with the more heroic characters gaining a new sense of purpose.
There was a lot to like about this final episode. Maeve managed to break free and even joined with the Boys to help confront Butcher and Soldier Boy, only to initially side with them and then decide the thing she really wanted to do was try to take down Homelander herself, only to do something really heroic just before Soldier Boy went nuclear again at the cost of her own powers, something she was more than happy to give up. Oh, and Vought stooge Ashley covered for her, so maybe Ashley has a conscience after all.
Hughie and Annie made up in a way that shows why they actually make a good couple, and Hughie realized he can do a lot even without superpowers.
Butcher paid for his hubris. His group is far more democratic now, and he’s got maybe a year to live. Ryan sided with his biological father over him. Will the series refocus to try and be about reclaiming the soul of Ryan Butcher?
Is that his full name?
Regardless, there were fireworks, some of them literal as both Annie and Soldier Boy lit up, and the episode had the bizarre moment when both Butcher and Homelander found themselves on the same side to stop Soldier Boy from vaporizing Ryan.
Heck, it was even great to see Frenchie stand up for himself.
But as much as this was a lot of moments of triumph for what passes for good in this show’s universe, it also showed Homelander consolidating his power over the remaining members of the Seven–basically the Deep and A-Train, with Ashley there on the side–and killing a man in full view of a crowd of fans on a public street, only to get cheered for doing so. That’s the sort of thing that makes The Boys both so good and so depressing: it often resembles the real world in ways that aren’t very comforting, where there probably are a lot of Americans who wouldn’t mind seeing violence committed against people for the crime of disagreeing with them.
If anything, this is a show about people caught in the middle but trying to do something about it. Black Noir was treated as mostly a mystery, a silent killer with some really good ninja-like skills. This season finally got into why he is the way he is, emphasizing that due to what was no doubt brain damage, he was basically a shell of his former self. His communication skills are basic, and his vocabulary, expressed in written form, suggested he was maybe something of a child. Given the cartoon characters that followed him around, that isn’t that surprising. Yeah, like many supes, he got caught up in the idea of fame, but the problem for the Noirs of the world, as more or less expressed by Kimiko earlier in the season, is V doesn’t make a person good or bad. It just makes them a supe. The mightiest supes–Homelander and Soldier Boy–have both been the worst sorts of people to have that sort of power, but the show has demonstrated that people like Kimiko and Annie exist as well, and they don’t mind using their abilities to protect the weak or do good in the world. Other people, and Butcher certainly counts here, use their powers to gratify themselves.
People like Noir, they get caught in the middle. Noir wasn’t innocent. He did a lot of bad things. But he probably didn’t deserve what first Soldier Boy and later Homelander did to him. And much of what he did do that was wrong was probably at the behest of Vought, and Vought is the real villain of this series. There’s probably some commentary in there about how large corporations do that to people in the real world, where to keep a job or to maintain an economy or something, many of us end up doing things that only benefit a handful of people’s bottom lines.
And yet, I really am looking forward to more. If Annie and Hughie can have it out and make up in the end, if Maeve can find some peace even with one eye, and if maybe Ryan can be taught somehow that having great power doesn’t require one to be a great douchebag (or worse), then there’s maybe some hope for the universe of The Boys.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I know what I want to do for Fridays next. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and now it exists, and I have a free spot on the schedule.
Yeah, I’m gonna cover The Sandman next.
If this is half as good as I’ve heard, I am going to be one happy camper.