- Episode 1 (of 8), ‘The Big Ride’
- Written by Eric Kripke
- Directed by Phil Sgriccia
Find out what we know about The Boys season 3 (opens in new tab) so far. Spoilers follow.
As Vought CEO Stan Edgar meets US Secretary of Defense Robert Singer to discuss the topic of getting the company’s superheroes working for the US military – “When they’re in actual combat, whom exactly do your heroes report to?” “Same person as always. Me” – one of the Seven, Black Noir, goes on a killing spree in Syria. His mission culminates in the death of explosive superterrorist Naqib.
Back in New York, Homelander delivers a eulogy at Translucent’s memorial service – falsely claiming he was killed by super-terrorist El Diablo – while Starlight sings a power ballad in his memory: “And though we could see through you, it seems we hardly knew you.”
The Deep, drinking heavily, watches on from a bar in Ohio. He bemoans the fact he’s been removed from promo photos of the Seven, before the bartender ejects him.
Meanwhile, the in-hiding Hughie watches news footage of Starlight on his phone from the dingy underground accommodation he’s sharing with Mother’s Milk, Frenchie, Kimiko and a bunch of criminals. He arranges a secret meeting with Starlight on a subway train, where they discuss their plans to take down Vought. Hughie hands Starlight a dossier on an employee who may be able to help them – conveniently she remembers him from her Capes For Christ days.
The Deep’s downward spiral takes him to a water park, where he’s caught taunting and aiming a water cannon at the guests. He ends up in police custody, until Cleveland-based cape Eagle the Archer bails him out.
The Boys watch a TV reconstruction of Madelyn Stillwell’s death, which frames the AWOL Billy Butcher as her killer, while revealing that others are also on the authorities’ most wanted list. Frenchie and Mother’s Milk want to do a runner, but Hughie advocates sticking around to clear their names by obtaining some Compound V.
Homelander arrives in Madelyn’s old office. As he tucks into a bottle of baby formula (heated by his laser eyes), former Vought publicist Ashley Barrett turns up. She’s been appointed to take over from Madelyn – on Homelander’s recommendation – and says she’s found a replacement for Translucent in the Seven. She introduces Homelander to Blindspot, a blind superhero with similar powers to Marvel’s Daredevil. The newcomer doesn’t meet Homelander’s exacting standards, however, so he smashes Blindspot’s ears, deafening him and effectively eliminating his powers. Homelander subsequently demands that all recruitment decisions for the Seven should go through him in future.
Starlight tracks down the contact Hughie gave her, a supe named Gecko who makes money by allowing people to cut off parts of his body – they grow back again afterwards, obviously. When Starlight meets up with him in a diner, it’s revealed that he works in a Vought research lab. She blackmails him into stealing a sample of Compound V, threatening to tell his employers about his black market activities.
Eagle the Archer introduces The Deep to Carol, a woman he credits with helping him through his own issues. She says she’s not a therapist – more of a teacher.
The Boys investigate the case of a boat that’s been lifted out of the water on a New Jersey harbourside. They uncover a human trafficking operation and discover that a super terrorist has been smuggled into the US. While Frenchie and Mother’s Milk want to contact Butcher about the discovery, Hughie suggests discussing it with Starlight (an idea immediately vetoed by the others) or CIA Deputy Director Susan Rayner. This plan doesn’t end well for Rayner, whose head explodes before she can give them any useful information.
Homelander and Queen Maeve are introduced to another new recruit to the Seven. Stormfront comes from Portland and spends her time live-streaming to social media. When Homelander confronts Ashley about the appointment, she tells him the decision was made by Edgar.
Homelander pays Edgar a visit to demand the exclusion of the newcomer, threatening to quit Vought at the end of his contract as leverage. His tough talking falls on deaf ears, however, as Edgar reminds him who’s in charge.
The CEO reveals that the company’s founder, Frederick Vought, was a Nazi scientist, the chief physician at Dachau who used human subjects to test early versions of Compound V. Vought later defected to the allies.
Edgar uses this point to illustrate that Vought is a primarily a pharmaceutical company, and that Compound V is much more valuable than any single hero. The boss is also annoyed that Homelander gave the substance to terrorists around the world to help win army contracts, thereby revealing the existence of the compound to the US government. In other words, Homelander doesn’t have as much power as he thought. In his anger, Homelander pays a visit to Becca Butcher and their son.
As The Boys clean themselves up after the exploding head incident – and speculate about who wanted Rayner dead – Hughie gets a call from Starlight, who tells him Gecko is on board. With Starlight clearly in danger, however, Hughie starts to get cold feet about the whole operation. At this point, a man falls down the stairs, followed by Billy Butcher in a very fetching tracksuit – it turns out Frenchie called him because “we need a real captain”.
Amazon’s hit, bad-taste superhero drama picks up exactly where it left off, its anything-goes mix of violence, sick humor and wonderfully flawed characters still totally intact. Although ‘The Big Ride’ has to put in the hard yards getting the show’s narrative gears moving again, the episode rarely flags, with shock moments (they don’t come bigger than an exploding head) punctuated by some major revelations about the wider world of The Boys.
Particularly impressive are a couple of music-backed sequences in the opening act. The first intercuts Black Noir’s assassination mission in Syria with Stan Edgar’s meeting with the US Secretary of Defense, to the sound of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. The second uses Billy Joel’s ‘Pressure’ to accompany Starlight and Hughie’s respective journeys to their subway meeting. Both are masterful examples of editing and direction.
- In the original Garth Ennis comic books, Stormfront is a man. He can fly and manipulate weather and electricity (like Storm in the X-Men), is nearly as powerful as Homelander, and – to top it all off – is also a Nazi.
- Jessica Hecht, who plays The Deep’s new mentor Carol, may be familiar to Friends fans – she played Susan Bunch, wife of Ross’s ex Carol, in numerous episodes of the sitcom. She also appeared in Breaking Bad.
- Billy Joel’s ‘Pressure’ features heavily on the soundtrack of ‘The Big Ride’. In fact, the singer’s music plays a major role throughout season two, a nod to Hughie’s season one admission that he’s a fan. “We had this hilarious a-ha moment where we realized how many Billy Joel songs were completely reflective of what [Hughie] was going through in various episodes,” showrunner Erick Kripke told Inverse (opens in new tab).
Episodes 1-3 of The Boys season 2 are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now. New episodes appear every Friday.