This week’s episode of “The Boys” let us get to know Soldier Boy a lot better – in all sorts of ways, some for the better and some for the worse. When I spoke with Jensen Ackles last month about his portrayal of Soldier Boy, we touched on a few of the scenes that happen in this episode, “Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed.” The episode is a deep dive examination into toxic masculinity and how cultural norms of violence fueled by misogyny and homophobia have left many of the male characters on this show emotionally damaged and with ready access only to anger and rage.
Butcher, Homelander and Soldier Boy are all struggling with those messages and what it means to be a man, but it’s Hughie who is willing to call BS on some of them in this episode. As he and Soldier Boy walk through the woods in pursuit of more revenge on Payback, Hughie shows concern for an unconscious Butcher. Soldier Boy ridicules him for it, first asking how hard Butcher must have sucked his dick for all that worry, and then saying they’re on a mission and have to just get the job done, like he did when he fought the Nazis and stormed Normandy.
Soldier Boy: You wanna know what I do when I’m sad or scared? Fucking nothing. Because I’m not a fucking pussy.
That’s a pretty good description of toxic masculinity and its roots in raging misogyny, and it’s a mantra that Soldier Boy has adopted wholesale. It’s also tragic, leaving him with no outlet for legitimate feelings of sadness and fear and a lot of reasons to project so he doesn’t have to even recognize them.
Hughie has had it with fear keeping him back though. He gets in Soldier Boy’s face, saying he didn’t storm shit and that his whole Marlboro Man act is fucking crap.
Soldier Boy punches him in the face – which is the perfect toxic masculinity response for sure!
I spoke with Jensen Ackles in an exclusive interview about that scene and the theme of toxic masculinity that Soldier Boy embodies in this season of “The Boys.”
Ackles: He’s a character from a time when men were supposed to shut up and not have feelings and not cry and be manly and be tough, and women were supposed to know their place. And I think he’s using it in a way which only Kripke can, in his satirical voice of pulling back the curtain on what we’re dealing with as a society to a certain extent now. Kripke uses Soldier Boy to represent that old ideology. In that scene where he’s talking to Hughie in the forest and he says, wanna know what I do when I’m scared? Nothing. Cause I don’t get scared. It’s like he doesn’t allow himself to have those feelings because he can’t, he was told to be tough.
Exactly. As were Butcher and Homelander. And that’s pretty tragic.
I also asked Jensen about the lines he didn’t want to cross in the show and that he eventually worked through with showrunner Eric Kripke, which I was fairly certain had to do with some scenes in this week’s episode. He said there was a scene that got cut that started out with Soldier Boy “going in hot and heavy” making out with an older woman who was a maid at the motel, when Butcher and Hughie walk in with snacks.
Ackles: That wasn’t the line, but that was the jumping off point of when we see Soldier Boy in The Legend’s bedroom. That was supposed to be … a lot more interactive, we’ll say…
Me: That was my guess!
Ackles: Soldier Boy had a thing for women in their older years and maids for some reason. We were supposed to be in a … much more compromising position… when they walked in. But I was like, I don’t think any of us are gonna be comfortable doing this.
In typical Jensen fashion, he was more concerned about the actresses, who he said he was pretty sure didn’t want to be doing that either!
It’s clear that “The Boys” is every bit as much of a collaborative show as Supernatural always was, so of course they made some joint decisions about what would fly and what wouldn’t. Personally, I thought the scene as it was aired worked perfectly.
Stay tuned for my deep dive recap and review of this episode coming up soon, and more from our exclusive interview with Jensen Ackles after the finale of Season 3 airs at the end of next week!