Gen V’s ‘The Guardians of Godolkin’ doesn’t refer to who you think it does. And that’s not the only twist and turn in the season finale of Gen V. Alliances break and are formed, the ever-present question of who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy and is there anything that is NOT a shade of gray at this point still not solved. Am I complaining? Hell no.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 OF GEN V AHEAD
The Question of Right and Wrong
We pick up where we left off on Gen V. Everyone is shocked that Cate killed Shetty, but she insists she did it for all of them, that she’s being a hero. Surprisingly, Sam agrees, saying Shetty sucked, that he’s not an experiment – that he wants to be a hero too.
He tells himself that he’s doing it for Emma, echoing Hughie in The Boys – after Emma saved him, he thinks maybe it’s time for him to save her. He tells himself it’s for the right reasons, partly to keep Emma and the others from being tortured the way he was if they’re found out.
It’s the question that the entire The Boys universe poses again and again. Is doing something terrible okay if you’re doing it for the “right” reasons? If that isn’t a relevant question right now in the real world, I don’t know what is!
I think Sam does want to do the right thing. But Sam is angry too – and free for the first time to make his own decisions. This show is all about the choices we make, especially when we’re young and able to direct our own lives for the first time. Most of us don’t get through all that without some regrets.
Jordan, on the other hand, isn’t so sure that freeing the kids trapped in the Woods is a good idea, wanting to call campus Security instead (which, unfortunately, is not a good idea either). There’s always that temptation, when everything is falling down around you, to fall back on what has always been the status quo, trust whoever you thought you were able to. Marie knows that’s a mistake, though.
The Price of Power
Meanwhile, Andre watches over his father, ignoring Marie’s phone calls. He gets the bad news from the doc that every time his dad uses his powers, a micro tear occurs in the neural pathways, damaging his brain. (Asking if Andre himself has had any symptoms lets us know it’s not only his dad who’s being destroyed by using his powers). What can they do?
Unfortunately, he just recommends physical therapy, which sounds like what everyone with a chronic condition hears over and over again. How does this show always get it so right?
Doc: And no more using powers.
They always come with a price on this show, in this universe.
When Polaris wakes up, he apologizes to his son for knowing about the Woods and staying quiet but claims he did it to protect his son. Andre tries to tell him that their powers are (literally) killing them, but his father keeps interrupting, insisting that Andre take on being Polarity, do whatever they tell him to do.
Polarity: No one gets through life without regrets, but goddamn I don’t regret being able to take care of my family and I know you’ll do the same. This family is counting on you.
It’s just another form of manipulation, and another one that works. Andre wipes away a tear.
Of course, it’s always Vought who has the real power in this universe. Ashley Barrett from The Boys joins the fun in this episode. She calls a board meeting because they need a distraction from the shit show that Godolkin has become – so why not send someone straight to the Seven? They review the candidates, a board member worrying that though Andre is surprisingly smart, his skin tone “reads dark”.
Ashley: We’ll get Annie fucking Leibovitz to shoot him you racist piece of shit!
Sometimes I kinda love Ashley, I can’t help it.
Into The Woods
Cate and Sam go to The Woods, where a guard “not Greg, I’m Bob” is at first happy to see her, accustomed to the pliant and easily manipulated Cate, but that version is GONE. He’s then momentarily terrified before Sam puts a fist right through his helmet. And his face.
Cate compels the guards to unlock the cells. Sam wanders into his old cell and hallucinates Luke, who accuses him of helping Supes and hurting humans, and tries to talk him out of it. In other words, Sam’s having an argument with himself, trying to figure out right and wrong.
Luke: I killed one human once, and I killed myself from guilt. And what about your tiny friend Emma?
Sam: He’s not here and neither are you – You killed yourself, leaving me in this cell!
Sam slams the door on the hallucination and follows the other freed Supes out, realizing the engineered virus was intended to kill them all. Cate moves seamlessly into the role of leader, seemingly without remorse, rallying the troops.
Cate: This school said they could torture you – why? Because they said you were crazy, inferior. You’re not inferior! You are superior to them and it’s time we showed it.
She turns to one of the guards.
Cate: Eat your own fucking hand, you monster.
The freed supes aren’t exactly discriminating, infuriated by their captivity and torture and planned extermination. Which is, you know, enough to make anyone pissed. But it’s now an us versus them war, with Supes vs. humans. One guy walks around asking everyone he sees on campus “are you a Supe?” Rufus, always in the wrong place at the wrong time and always being a dick, says no shit and goes on his way.
The next person asked says no, she’s an adjunct professor, and oops, he incinerates her face. It’s hard enough being an adjunct professor (I still remember), this is just insult to injury!
Marie, Jordan and Emma get to the Woods too late, so they try to clear the campus and save some human lives. For a little while it seems like Jeff the marketing guy might be the unlikely hero to save the school with his handy dandy Supe deafener. When a freed supe kid confronts him, he sneers “you were safer inside, dummy” and blows her up. Chaos breaks out across campus as the freed ‘experiments’ wreak havoc.
Ashley and company are oblivious, focused on finding the next member of the Seven and considering Translucent’s son, Maverick, the invisible kid we’ve seen (well actually we’ve only seen his cap mostly and his llama). Meanwhile, the intern in the corner is on the phone freaking the fuck out. (It’s always the intern who knows what the fuck is going on!)
Outside the window, Cate makes Jeff eat the exploder device – and then detonates it.
Ashley: Where the fuck is Shetty???
In another part of campus, director PJ Byrne is holding auditions, being his narcissistic asshole self, when Sam comes in. He grabs him by the throat just as he’s bragging about being close personal friends with Josh Hartnett. Lucky for him, Emma comes in and asks Sam to stop.
It’s a painful moment for Sam and Emma shippers. Sam’s angry that she saved him when he didn’t ask for it (again, shades of Hughie and Annie), angry that people hurt him and wanting to hurt back, insistent that he’s “normal” because he’s always been told the opposite.
Sam: This is what normal looks like when you’ve had my fucking life!
Which, damn, that’s a great line. It’s essentially what I teach my students to understand as they’re studying to become therapists – it’s how to tap into empathy even when it’s initially hard to understand how someone got to where they are (and who they are).
Emma: I risked everything for you.
Sam: Emma, you would do anything for everyone to like you. You’re not a hero.
Nooooooooooooooo Sam! He walks out on her. Emma stands on the dark stage alone, sobbing. And then she’s tiny, like the metaphor for her being silenced and alone and confused once again just couldn’t resist enacting that feeling.
Me: Yeah, WTF??
The Final Showdown
Cate calls Andre to tell him that she freed the kids in the Woods, trying to pull him back in by saying that they can be together.
Sam struggles with hallucinations of Luke, encourages Sam not to go along with Cate killing people. Sam wavers, asking Cate if “this is right”?
She insists they’re holding humans accountable, but Luke (another side of Sam) disagrees.
Luke: Killing innocent people? This is your fucking moment. You are not defined by what’s happened to you. You are what you do. Be a hero, right now. Stop Cate. I love you.
You’re not defined by what’s happened to you – it doesn’t matter who you ARE, it matters what you DO. That’s a core message of that other Kripke show I love so much too (Supernatural). And, like that other great line above, it’s also very very true.
Unfortunately, Sam is too messed up to do listen. He knows this is his hallucination, and he hates himself, so how can he trust it? He asks Cate to help him feel nothing, and tragically she does.
Sam: I feel so empty. It feels good.
She essentially turned him into a psychopath. It’s heartbreaking because when people are in that much pain, it IS tempting to want to be numb and feel nothing at all. It’s so understandable that Sam asked for that, but there was so much vulnerability and tenderness and empathy in him and it’s so sad to see it erased. Unfortunately, even in real life, you can’t take away one feeling without taking away the others.
Marie hits the panic button in Shetty’s office, which sets off an ear splitting noise that temporarily incapacitates the supe kids.
Influencer girl: OMG I have no signal!! Who’s gonna know if we die??
But not for long. They manage to take it out, and Ashley swings into action and shows why she actually is pretty damn capable of being the boss.
Ashley: Whoever stops these rogue kids gets in the Seven!
She calls Marie, cool as ice, offering her a spot in the Seven if she ‘cancels’ the rogue students. When Marie hesitates, she promises to get her a meeting with her sister.
A rescue helicopter arrives but Cate takes it down – until Andre uses his powers at the last minute to help it land. He and Marie proclaim themselves Guardians of Godolkin, but Cate and Maverick go up against them in a brutal fight. Marie thinks about cutting herself to blood fight Maverick, but remembers Shetty and doesn’t. She closes her eyes and can see his blood instead, managing to stop him. He becomes not invisible – and naked lol.
Andre takes down Sam with an electrified baton. Ouch. Jordan tries to protect the board members, siding with the humans and herding them all into the helicopter.
Andre tries to convince Cate that they’re better together, they can figure it out. She considers, says okay, holds out her bare hand. But he doesn’t take it, doesn’t trust her.
Marie confronts Cate, saying she just wants to be a good person, but Cate is convinced that SHE, not Marie, is doing the right thing. The heartbreaking thing is that none of these kids wants to fight the other, they all wish they were still on the same side.
Cate: You are not a person, you are a product to them, a freak! I’m trying to save you!
But Marie can’t stand by.
In desperation, she pulls all the blood on the ground to her, remembering all the violence, and stops the Supes going after the helicopter.
PJ: Fucking Christ, I’m putting that in my next movie.
In the most shocking moment of the episode so far, Cate goes to touch Jordan to stop them from helping the humans escape and Marie loses it, exploding her arm right off, blood spurting everywhere, holy hell!
Suddenly out of nowhere, Homelander appears. Antony Starr, I’ve missed you!
Marie: Sir, hi…
Homelander waves his finger at her in reproach.
Homelander: What kind of animal are you? Do you like attacking your own kind?
His eyes glow and he turns them on Marie WTF?!
Where Do We Go From Here?
Cut to Cameron Coleman: Tragedy has happened again on campus. Four Godolkin students went on a brutal murder spree (we see Emma, Marie, Andre and Jordan’s photos).
Coleman: Many more would have been killed if it hadn’t been for the Guardians of Godolkin – the new Guardians of Godolkin.
We see Sam and Cate’s photos.
Coleman assures everyone that “all of us are safer with heroes like Cate and Sam protecting us, our values and our way of life.”
Homelander watches, looking satisfied.
Marie (still alive after having taken Homelander’s blast “like a fucking champ”), Emma, Jordan and Andre wake up in hospital gowns in a hospital room – with no doors.
Marie: Where are we?
That would have been a great ending, but we got something even better.
In the dark hallways of the The Woods, in walks a shadowy figure, who we recognize immediately from his flowing coat and his boots and his swagger.
Billy Butcher: Weren’t they a bunch of cunts.
Me: OMG I CANNOT WAIT FOR SEASON 4 OF THE BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And Season 2 of Gen V!
“We’re the kids in America” plays over the credits.
What a wild ride this show turned out to be – let me know what you thought of it!
And if you’re fascinated with the world of The Boys, pre-order the new book Supes Ain’t Always Heroes – with chapters that take a deep dive into what makes the characters tick and exclusive in-depth interviews with some of the show’s actors and co-creator Darick Robertson. The book’s release date is December 5th.
You can check out all episodes of Gen V here on Amazon Prime.