“You’re not the only one whose life was ruined.”
More of Billy Butcher’s past (and bastard persona) play out as Hughie, Annie, and Maeve have individual moments of self-reflection and Frenchie witnesses a shocking surprise regarding the Female.
Taking a narrative center stage in “Good for the Soul”, the Believe Expo introduces Ezekiel (Shaun Benson, Channel Zero, General Hospital), a Mister Fantastic-like Supe who preaches the tenets of the Bible…though his own proclivities fly in the face of his Bible-backed words . Thanks to the shipping details acquired from their previous mission, Butcher surmises that Ezekiel’s fingers are knuckle-deep in the entire Compound-V trade. Once again Butcher uses the inexperienced Hughie, directing him to gain access to the God-fearin’ Supe and show Ezekiel the damning evidence of him partaking in the very sins he rails against. To do so, Hughie must once again use Annie, who is going through her own crisis of faith. Now that she’s older and wiser to the muck behind the pristine curtain of both life and Supes, the strict doctrines of scripture taught by those at the Expo come across to her as false and unattainable. Similar Homelander before her, when Annie is tasked to speak to the enthralled crowd, she goes off script, dropping some harsh truths. Though most of the crowd is shocked into silence, her words reach Hughie, who comes clean (to some extent) about his girlfriend’s death and the fatalistic emotions that have followed him these last few weeks. Despite the two bonding even more after Hughie’s confession, the chasm of secrets that remains between the pair may be the death knell for what could be a very special relationship.
On the subject of relationships and secrets, an angry Butcher confronts Rachel (Brit Morgan, Riverdale, Supergirl), his sister-in-law, on the family’s decision to erect a tombstone for his wife, Rebecca. After eight years in the dark, the family needed closure and, despite finding no trace of her, assume she is dead. Butcher can’t accept that and, in one of the more grossly selfish acts of the series, destroys the headstone. Though Billy doesn’t perpetuate violence on innocents, somehow his actions can be just as bad, not in the deed itself but in spirit. Karl Urban is fantastic as the emotionally wrecked Butcher but there are times it’s very difficult to like the character. The similarities between him and Homelander (mentioned in a previous review) continue to be visible, which are only emphasized the more these two men see that their desires are met, damn the wreckage left behind.
I spoke on the bond between Hughie and Annie that, despite the secrets, could be a very special one. One that could be messier, unusual but possibly more wholesome is Frenchie’s connection with the Female. Another maladjusted character, Frenchie seems almost serene in the Female’s presence, when he speaks to her, his soft inflections akin to that of someone trying not to scare off a frightened animal. The kindness Frenchie shows her, especially when Butcher orders him to leave her for the Supes to find, pays off when she saves him from certain death when Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell, iZombie, Timeless) tracks him down. Though she is cut to ribbons by the silent Seven assassin, when Frenchie returns to her body, Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine” playing in the background, he watches in amazement as the Female draws in a much-needed gasp of life and her life-threatening injuries heal. “You’re a miracle,” he tells her with a grateful smile and she grips his arm, her only lifeline in this violent and screwed of life.
With the Compound-V storyline ramping up, “Good for the Soul’s” overriding theme is about the connection people have with one another. In addition to the ones already mentioned, Maeve, at a breaking point after the lies trotted out about the Flight 37 crash and probably years of similar incidents reaches out to her ex, Elena (Nicola Correia-Damude, Shadowhunters, Northern Rescue). Unlike Annie, who has yet to experience years of this darker side of things despite her trauma and disillusionment, Maeve falls back into her alcoholic vices, emotionally spent. And then there is the Homelander, whose disturbingly weird scene with Madelyn can only be accurately described with a hearty WTF. Blustering and sociopathic as he may be, Madelyn has found a way to reach the child (?) inside the nearly indestructible body and disturbed mind of the Seven’s greatest hero.
Answering the Call of Duty
- Considering “Good for the Soul” focus on relationships, it’s apropos that it starts with the ultimate betrayal when A-Train causes Popclaw to OD on heroin. Even if Homelander’s intimidation forced his hand, A-Train killing the woman he purported to love firmly places him into the ‘can’t wait til he gets his’
- Butcher and MM’s discovery that Supes are being created in a lab (thanks to Compound-V) is overshadowed by Butcher using a baby Supe’s eye beams to cut through gun-toting baddies in what was, from a visual standpoint, the highlight of the episode. Superhero drama that it is, The Boys has rationed out the fantastical power quotient, making it all the more memorable when it’s actually shown on screen.
- Touching a bit more on the most curious relationship, Frenchie and the Female’s bond may be the purest of them all. Though a history of pain and abuse has made these two the people they are now, it’s also become a tether that connects them. More importantly, lies and subterfuge have yet to color or despoil their interactions. The Female risking her life to save Frenchie is a testament that Butcher’s generalized and poisoned attitude on Supes is not gospel and sometimes it’s kind words and a kinder heart that can pierce that veil of darkness, not just bullets and bombs.