“You’re not the hero of this story.”
What do you do when you take out the world’s most famous invisible wanker in your place of employment? Throw his (not quite) dead ass in the boot and figure it out as you go.
Picking up where the series premiere left off, “Cherry” finds an off-balanced Hughie and Billy Butcher trying to figure out what to do with Translucent, their captured Supe. It’s clear Hughie has no idea what to do so Butcher takes control, paying a visit to Frenchie (Tomer Capon, When Heroes Fly, Fullmoon), who’s not so enamored with the idea (or Butcher’s outstanding debt).
Being the cheeky bastard that he is, Butcher maneuvers his reluctant associate into helping brainstorm on their next steps; which is killing their captive. But Translucent’s power set is a bit more complex than invisibility; due to the carbon nature of his skin, he’s all but invincible. That doesn’t stop Butcher and Frenchie from doing their level best to deep-six the Supe, from specially made .50 caliber bullets to industrial drills, nothing’s able to penetrate his flesh.
Alas, thanks to Animal Planet or some other show on the telly, Frenchie realizes that, like turtles, Translucent’s outer shell may be in impenetrable casing but his insides are just as soft and plushy as anyone else. The entrepreneuring pair that they are, the off-kilter madmen stuff the Supe’s arse like a Thanksgiving turkey with a chunk of C-4 as the stuffing. Though it’s no surprise when Translucent goes boom he’s sent to that big superhero pie in the sky, however, the fact that Hughie’s the one to pull the trigger is.
For much of the episode, Hughie’s searching for a way out of the freak show he’s fallen into. It doesn’t help matters when Butcher admits that he’s not really with the Feds, though he has, on many occasions worked for them (and many other organizations). Lies aside, Hughie’s biggest hurdle is the idea of killing a person. Sure, he wants a bit of revenge on A-Train but people wronged are often driven by an anger that fuels their outrage and pathological need for restitution. More than most discover that vengeance, unlike justice, doesn’t leave you with any warm and cuddly feelings of closure. It’s more of an empty hole that has no chance of ever being filled.
Hughie’s one-on-one with Translucent, where the latter deconstructs him, shines a bright light of truth on Hughie’s own fears and insecurities. It appears as if Hughie is willing to bow out and accept that sometimes, life sucks and you’ll never get the justice you truly deserve. But something inside Hughie changes as he watches Translucent step closer towards freedom. As he pushes the button that explodes the Supe’s guts, gristle and all those other humanly bits all over the room (and Hughie himself), Hughie takes a conscious step into a battle that very well may get him killed.
Accepting the fight is a major part of Annie’s journey in “Cherry” as well. Her first hurdle is when she’s paired up with her former crush and most recent sexual assaulter, Deep. Taking the advice Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott, House of Cards, The Last Tycoon) delivered to her last episode, capped off with her random chat with Hughie, Annie refuses to let Deep intimidate her. It’s a seminal moment from her character, refusing to be broken by one extremely horrible experience. Funny enough, she’s more afraid when Madelyn’s right hand, Ashley (Colby Minifie, Jessica Jones, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) rips into her for being caught on film sans costume beating the crap out of two would-be rapists. Ashley’s tirade ends in a sad truth, one we see all too often nowadays, especially those in the spotlight: “When you’re in the big leagues,” she screams when Annie suggests she should be innocent until proven guilty, “you flip it”. With that, Annie’s left alone to wonder about her future with the Seven.
Two episodes in and one member of the Seven has already bit the dust. “Cherry” continues with an expansion of this superhero world, including glimpses into Billy Butcher’s past. His rendezvous with a less-than-enthused Susan (Jennifer Esposito, NCIS, Blue Bloods), the newly promoted deputy director of the CIA, hints at Butcher’s duplicitous nature and willingness to use anyone for his own personal gains. Though obviously resourceful, Billy Butcher’s not a good guy; the fact that he does things that may help others is an ancillary benefit. There’s a story to him, one that may indeed give credence to his motivations and the odds are good that his sights are set on one of the remaining Seven. Just which one that is will be a mystery we’ll have to wait to be revealed.
Answering the Call of Duty
- Like pretty much every character in the show, Madelyn has her own ulterior motives. The name recognition and gobs of money the Supes bring in are just a means to an end. Her endgame is getting her Supes into the national defense, a step very few politicians are ready to endorse. To do so, she blackmails the committee chairman, Senator Calhoun (David Andrews, Apollo 13, Justified, Shooter) to vote on the resolution to at least get it to the committee floor. Though she didn’t give the order to kill the Baltimore mayor (more on that later) thus far, she’s the most powerful character in the show—powers or not.
- Despite Billy Butcher’s obvious bits of mania, the Homelander is the most unsettling character in the show thus far. Not only did he shoot down the plane to protect Madelyn from the mayor’s blackmail, he seems to have quite the unhealthy obsession with her. Though Madelyn has him under control at the moment, considering the instability that exudes from him, that could change in a heartbeat. I will say, his punking of the Deep was perfect; though that smug pretty boy needs a beat down in the worst way (maybe Starlight will burn out his eyes) it was somewhat satisfying to see him virtually pissing his pants when the Homelander not so subtlety threatened him for reporting the truth about what was behind the plane crash.