“You see, I know what it’s like to lose someone. You and me…we’re in this together.”
The Boys are ready to call in the cavalry after gaining a massive amount of info about Vought and Compound-V, the Female’s past is finally revealed, and both Hughie and Annie realize that some things are beyond their control.
Now that Billy and the Boys have the veritable smoking gun on Vought, Butcher takes it to Raynor, ready to get the ball rolling on a federal assault on company. He presents Raynor with a list of demands and she guarantees all but one—the prosecution of Homelander.
It’s a deal-breaker for Butcher as he’s unable to see the bigger picture, understandably focused on his wife’s rapist. The hate and anger he has for Homelander and, by proxy, all Supes, is the biggest flaw to his character. Yet, it’s also what makes him such a real and complex character. Butcher is not a hero; everything he does is driven by the unending need for revenge. But there’s not just anger and rage churning inside him. In a moment of vulnerability, Butcher shares his story with Hughie. Despite his duplicitous and, at times, vile nature, this moment of pain and loss rise to the surface of Butcher like an exposed nerve. It’s disconcerting to say the least, an anomaly in his behavior.
But just as quickly, he returns to the original bastard we’ve come to know, love, and loathe, showing his less than flattering side when he catches Hughie and Annie on a date. His veiled promise that Hughie’s perfect little picture with Annie will come crashing down when—not if—she finds out about Hughie blowing Translucent to bits is a stark reminder that Billy Butcher will run over and through anyone that gets in his path towards revenge.
Though Hughie continues working through the visions of Robin that crop up anytime he’s with Annie, his role in “The Innocents” is more of a supporting character. Annie shares the major story beats with Butcher and Homelander (more on him later). It’s been two weeks since she delivered the truth bomb at the Believe Expo and the fallout is still coming. Surprisingly, it’s taken Madelyn this long before having a come-to-Jesus moment (such an apropos metaphor here) with Annie. She dresses the young woman down and, considering her position and the handling of much more powerful Supes, Madelyn is shocked when Annie refuses to bend the knee.
It’s a fascinating development how this young, naïve powerhouse has matured over these first six episodes. We’re discovering that Annie’s greatest strength is not her powers as Starlight, rather it’s her growing belief in herself and the desire to do the right thing.
Still, Vought knows how to spin it and, Annie is furious when the take everything they have on her and mold it into a “coming soon” feature. “The house always wins,” Maeve mutters to her, a woman who knows all too well that trying to fight this beast of a system is all but hopeless.
And then there’s Homelander. He’s still a scary prick but something about him in this episode is off from his usual sociopathic veneer. He’s distracted and it takes some time before the reasoning becomes evident as the episode—interspersed with ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage of the reality show being developed to further market the Seven. Unlike the other heroes, Homelander has no past. The story Vought is trying to sell the public is complete fiction and acting out a life he never lived enrages him. His tirade when he catches sight of a blanket seems like nothing more than him upset that things didn’t go as planned but it’s only later, during a quick flashback of him as a baby, that the significance of that blanket is fully understood: it was his as a baby, a baby raised inside a lab, most likely a science experiment that begat Supes.
In addition to the entertainment, the Supes are framed as reality stars bigger than anything we have today, so much of The Boys’ social commentary is so relatable to our world now and, had we super-powered beings running around, easier still to envision in these roles. “The Innocents” continues down this road but it also reminds us that almost every individual has more than just the side we may see. This does not absolve those like Butcher and Homelander—who use, intimidate, or hurt others—of their behavior, rather it’s a reminder that people are not simply one thing or the other; they’re complex, oftentimes with a lot more scars than are visible on the surface. If they keep it up, this show will be around for many more years to come.
Answering the Call of Duty
- The Female’s story was a B-side arc but it looks as if the fallout will be vital to how this season shakes out. Thanks to the help of Mesmer (Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense, Future Man, A.I.), a Supe that can read minds by way of touch, Frenchie and the Boys learn her story. Her real name is Kimiko and, along with her brother, she was forced into child soldier-hood for a terrorist group. Her overwhelming thought is to get back to the brother she left behind. More fascinating is, the more I see Frenchie with the silent Kimiko, the more obvious it becomes that his allegiance no longer lies with the Boys.
- Frenchie’s loyalties are the least of their concerns. Mesmer sells them out to Homelander at the drop of a hat, despite Mother’s Milk reuniting him with his daughter, Cleo. Rather than trying to repair that relationship, Mesmer wishes nothing more than to be welcomed back aboard Vought. Butcher will no doubt attribute this betrayal as an example of how bad all Supes are. What he refuses to see is that Supes, like people, more often than not do what’s in their best interests. Butcher’s entire crusade is based upon his hate for Supes, not for his desire to save others from them.
- As Annie grows into her own, it looks that Maeve may not be too far behind. Her unexpected face-to-face with Elena, who calls Maeve out on her crap, may be the wakeup call the Queen needed to be worthy of the adoration girls like Annie once held for her.