When you promise scorched earth, you best deliver—and The Boys did not disappoint.
The third season of Prime Video’s hit superhero send-up has been teeing up a face off among Butcher, Soldier Boy, and Homelander (the alliances can get a bit muddled depending on the moment) for a while now, and the Season 3 finale brought it all, with an epic supes brawl that shredded more than a few floors of Vought Tower.
One of the most impressive things about The Boys across its three season run (a fourth season has already been ordered, as the show just keeps adding viewers and hype) is how it threads the needle of both staying immensely true to its basic concept while also reinventing itself year-to-year. This series has always been about the abuse of unchecked power, and the chaos super-powered people could wreak on a society. The players and foils ebb and flow, and the series’ third season went deeper than ever in exploring the nuances of how even the “good” guys can be seduced by the temptation to taste some of that power for themselves.
Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy, a twist on the ideas of Captain America and the Winter Soldier, is given the ability to effectively fry the superpowers out of a superhero thanks to Russian experimentation. He marked the biggest addition to Season 3, serving as both a new character and intriguing MacGuffin. Butcher’s plan was to essentially cut a deal with Soldier Boy and point him at Homelander, though Ackles brought some dimension to the man from another time who is more than just a weapon. Like pretty much every other superhero, he’s a fraud at his core, and it’s something that clearly still haunts him, spending much of the season trying to drink himself into a better mood—or at least a passable stupor.
The eighth and final episode of the season brought all the players into Vought Tower, with Butcher, Maeve, and Soldier Boy taking their best shot at Homelander. Hughie, Starlight, and the rest of The Boys serve as a counter faction, aiming to stop Soldier Boy instead before his powers kill more innocent people. It all comes to a head with one of the most ambitious fight scenes the show has attempted to date, with Homelander bringing his son Ryan into the room as a wild card, which leads to everything from Butcher and Homelander briefly teaming up to protect him, to Maeve in a full bare-fisted brawl with Homelander.
Considering Homelander has been the show’s most consistent villain, it’s not much of a surprise the season ends with him still alive (along with most of the series’ key characters), though it’s worth a rundown to take stock of who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s depowered, and who is still in the fight. Homelander and Ryan end up flying off together, with Homelander embracing his darker instincts and killing a civilian in broad daylight… which is received with thunderous applause.
The Boys are all alive, but not exactly well. Hughie seemingly stopped taking Temp V early enough that he should survive, while MM and Frenchie all made it through the final battle intact. Kimiko is also still with the team, with her newly-restored powers. Starlight is also officially joining the crew, and throws away her costume to signal the start of this new era in her life. Things aren’t quite as peachy for Butcher, who has taken too much Temp V and is told he only has between 12-18 months left to live. Looking ahead to where the show goes next, there’s no doubt that will put a (literal) ticking clock on Butcher’s mission for vengeance.
As for the Supes, all of The Seven did not make it through to the end. Homelander murders Black Noir before the big battle, after learning he knew Homelander was Soldier Boy’s son but never told him. The Deep is still alive and doing Homeland’s bidding, killing the presumptive vice presidential pick to clear the way for secret-supe Victoria Neuman to take the spot. Our last look at The Deep finds him eating his emotions in snacks, watching his ex-wife launch a book tour smear campaign about their life together. A-Train is also alive with his brand new heart, though his brother wants nothing to do with him. As for Maeve, after seemingly sacrificing herself to absorb Soldier Boy’s blast, she has survived but lost her powers much the same way Kimiko did earlier in the season. Her story finds a semblance of a happy ending, as she retires with Elena to recover and live out a normal life.
Though Neuman is clearly the show’s most direct threat heading into Season 4—which Butcher makes clear as The Boys lick their wounds at their office in the Flatiron Building—this show has always been deliberate about the final shot it leaves fans with as a season wraps. To end this season’s story, the action shifts back to Homelander as he reveals his son Ryan to the world. When a protester throws something at them, all of Homeland’s murder fantasies come to life as he simply blasts the man’s head off in front of everyone. It’s a turning point in his journey into embracing that darkness and violence—and the joyous terror of seeing his fans will love him even more for it.
But the final moment is reserved for Ryan, who watches all this play out and doesn’t seem all that horrified by the cold-blooded murder. Instead, it elicits a sly smile from Homelander’s son as the scene fades to black. Homelander and Neuman might be today’s problems, but it’s clear Ryan could be the biggest threat yet still looming in the distance.
Trent Moore is a recovering print journalist, and freelance editor and writer with bylines at lots of places. He likes to find the sweet spot where pop culture crosses over with everything else. Follow him at @trentlmoore on Twitter.
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