The sixth episode of “The Boys” third season was possibly the most anticipated one of all, and the title explains why. ‘Herogasm’ is a decadent, drug-fueled supe orgy taken from the pages of the original comics, and I’m fairly certain Eric Kripke is still giggling gleefully at somehow being given the green light to depict it in the series too.
It is as over the top as advertised, though I’m guessing there were plenty of people who were hoping that there were more participants, such as some of our favorite supes, not just in the “I’m here” way but in the “take my pants off” way. Though we certainly do get some memorable moments with The Deep, don’t we?
This is the spoilery recap and review of the ‘Herogasm’ episode, so make sure you’ve watched before you read – hopefully your eyes are still working after some of the shit you saw!
The lead up to this episode was so much fun, with multiple ‘warnings’ including one from a shirtless Jensen Ackles standing in the Caribbean that should have come with a warning itself and a final warning on the episode itself as viewers were about to stream it.
There were even some real-life screenings if you were lucky enough to be a town where that was happening!
There’s actually a lot going on in this episode that is not Herogasm though. It’s an episode full of crisis for Homelander, who is increasingly isolated and legitimately traumatized by the desertion of so many of his former team. He is also traumatized by finding out that there’s a new and unanticipated threat on the scene as he views the footage of Crimson Countess’ death.
Homelander: Soldier Boy…
The ever not helpful Ashley: Someone cosplaying maybe?
The Deep: CGI?
But Homelander knows what he’s seeing, and he’s rattled, freaking out and muttering that it’s not fair like a two-year-old before he pulls himself together.
He instructs Ashley to bury all the footage (complicated by Vought’s serious technical problems now that The Deep fired all the tech people and then blamed Ashley) and belatedly tries to shore up some support from Black Noir, saying he’s glad to have Black Noir on his team to count on and calling him “pal”. As a member of Soldier Boy’s Payback team, though, Black Noir knows he’s got a target on his back, and he knows who’s the biggest danger to him right now. He carves the chip right out of his arm in an elevator, handing it to a shocked and sobbing woman.
Woman: Uhhh, thank you…
The dark humor in this show, I love it.
The Deep, loyal to the end, tells Homelander about it, and Homelander, of course, takes it as yet another personal desertion, sending him into a spiral of desperation. This episode has one of my favorite scenes in the series so far – and no, it’s not Herogasm. It’s the quiet scene that follows the news about Noir, and it packs a tremendous psychological punch. Homelander, alone, upset. Feeling abandoned. His own image in the mirror talks back to him – literally – feeding his narcissism with reassurance that he can handle it, he’s at the top of the food chain.
When Homelander is still unsure, his mirror image reminds him that when they were kids “I got us through it…in the bad room…and now I’ll get us through this, as long as you and me stick together.”
It’s another vivid illustration of just how damaged young John was, enough to have him dissociating and projecting, constructing another stronger personality to try to get him through the bad times in the “bad room.” Homelander worries whether Stan was right, that it was a mistake to take over Vought, that everyone will soon find out he’s a fraud. Imposter syndrome strikes hard, but the mirror image won’t allow it, forcing him to admit (to himself) that he still wants to be loved. He taunts him, saying it never seems to work though – not Madeline, not Maeve, not Stormfront, not even his own son, as Homelander sobs.
Mirror image: Deep down there’s that dirty shriveled part of you that still mewls for approval and love and a mommy and daddy, boohoohoo. We gotta cut that part out like a cancer. Then you can be who you were meant to be. Pure, clean, like marble.
That was a brilliant scene, and Antony Starr was so incredible I almost forgot I was watching a fictional series. Homelander is determined to excise any perceived weakness – love, affection, caring, empathy – so he can’t care and can’t be abandoned and can’t be hurt again. So he can become unfeeling; a stone cold killer.
Externalizing that other voice to a mirror image? Perfection.
In other supe news:
A Train works on his new social media initiative about searching for his roots in Africa, frustrated that Ashley refuses to hold Blue Hawk accountable for the temper tantrum that injured his brother. Blue Hawk is claiming he felt threatened, which sends A Train over the edge.
A Train: In a room full of black people without super powers??
Ashley: It’s a time for healing…
A Train: My brother is paralyzed! I want charges brought – I want some fucking justice!
Ashley yanks out a big chunk of hair, going off about how she’s spent hours covering up all his BS including all three straight up murders, accusing him of not giving a shit about the collateral damage until it happened to him personally.
She’s not wrong. Caring about so-called “collateral damage” is a theme in this season, a less obvious but telling barometer of the genuineness and limits of someone’s caring.
Starlight joins Homelander and Neuman on a talk show. When the interviewer presses them on the 19 people dead and wounded by the recent mysterious explosion, Homelander snaps.
Homelander: What kind of nasty question is that? I don’t have time for your mediocre ambush. The American people, they know when someone is telling the facts and when the media is lying to them. There is no problem, and it is safe to go out. Period.
There have been some posts recently about Redditors who didn’t know that “The Boys” was a parody or see the rather striking at this point resemblance between Homelander and Trump, but I have to assume they did when they saw this episode!
Turns out that Neuman knows that Hughie knows she’s the one exploding heads but insists that she’s not going to hurt either of them or their families. She just wants some of Annie’s influencer status to get an education reform bill passed, in fact. Annie is fed up to here and not having it, with the best line of the episode.
Annie: I’m so fucking tired of listening to people tell me I need to be shitty in order to win. Fuck you and fuck Homelander and fuck Vought, I’m done. I’m not doing it anymore.
You tell her, Annie!
Frenchie disappears and Kimiko worries it’s because she kissed him, texting “are you mad at me because [kiss emoji]?” but there’s no answer – because he’s been abducted by Little Nina for not following her orders. Kimiko and Cherie soon join him, unfortunately. Little Nina taunts Frenchie once again as she likes to do, giving us more of his backstory of horrific child abuse, forced to kneel on shards of glass by his father when he accidentally broke one.
She tries to force him to choose who will die, Cherie or Kimiko, but Kimiko manages to break out and fight her way to freedom. It’s a brutal fight, bloody and violent, Kimiko’s hair red with it when it’s over. But she prevails, super powers or not.
And then there’s Soldier Boy. There’s a lot more time spent with Soldier Boy in this episode, which means we get to know him a bit better. He’s nostalgic for the past, grumpy about some of his favorite things that they don’t have anymore and drowning his sorrows in booze and lines of coke that the boys supply for their dangerous and volatile secret weapon. Talk about playing with fire!
Soldier Boy is also not so keen on a team up, asking what he needs a team for when the last one got him handed to “the Reds”. Butcher is good at plying him, though, reminding him that they served up Crimson Countess to him “wrapped up and delivered like a fucking Christmas turkey” and sometimes I don’t know which of the two are winning in the be awful competition. Collateral damage, once again.
When Soldier Boy insists he can find Payback on his own, Hughie does some plying of his own.
Hughie: You sure? You know what GPS is? Bluetooth? Internet?
Grumpy Soldier Boy: You made those words up.
At least half of the fandom: Ahhhhh stop making grumpy Soldier Boy so cute, Ackles!
They offer again to help him, and all they want in return is for him to add one more name to his list: Homelander.
Butcher: You’re not the only one who wants payback.
Hughie and Soldier Boy spend some time together, watching Soldier Boy starring in some old movies, playing the manufactured hero he never really was.
Their conversation is both disturbing and hilarious, swinging wildly from Soldier Boy’s contention that real men wouldn’t be caught in “pussy gear” like baby carriers and holding up Bill Cosby as the epitome of a good dad to insisting that he fought for his country and was left to rot in return by his own team.
He also opens up a little once again, a strange mix of vulnerability and misogyny that makes you want to slap him and console him simultaneously. Which is really confusing (and of course feels just the same in real life). He confides to Hughie that he wanted some rug rats of his own with Crimson Countess.
That seems heartwarming at first, but then he adds “Couple little boys, raise ‘em up to be men.” You get the feeling that a daughter wouldn’t have been all that welcome, and that the ominous sounding ‘raise ‘em up to be men’ would be a reiteration of the most toxic tropes of masculinity you can imagine. Shades of Butcher’s oh so toxic dad.
Hughie asks him what happened in Midtown, and Soldier Boy admits he doesn’t know. At first, he bristles when Hughie persists, then softens and answers.
Soldier Boy: I blacked out…about ten minutes. When I came to, the damage was done. I didn’t mean to hurt those people. I’m not a bad guy.
Hughie: That won’t happen again, right?
Soldier Boy: Only if they got it comin’.
It’s clear that he doesn’t think of himself as a bad guy, and equally clear that he’s a judgmental prejudiced asshole who buys into his own hype. But he also doesn’t seem to want to hurt anyone other than Payback (though his concern for collateral damage is not very compelling).
Butcher returns with an address (bloody) and he and Hughie shoot up with Temp V while Soldier Boy suits up and watches.
And so everyone heads to the home of the TNT Twins in Vermont. The Deep arrives first, sent to find Soldier Boy by Homelander. He bonds with Tommy, the twin wearing nothing but gold lamé undies. It’s hard to feel too bad for this member of Payback, since he seems as bad as Soldier Boy himself, saying that The Deep got railroaded with “that Starlight” and that “nowadays you can’t even pay a lady a compliment”. He also apparently put a camera in the toilet.
The Deep: You guys having a party?
He sure is. It’s Herogasm!
Now that I’ve seen it, I can only imagine what it was like to be on the set that day. Jensen Ackles shared his own experience with us at a convention in Denver shortly after filming it.
Jensen: They had rented out this huge mansion, just gaudy and perfect, and I see the A camera operator, his mask down, eating a sandwich and he looks a little traumatized. I was like, hey man, what’s goin’ on, you good? And he just shakes his head nad says “I seen some shit, man. I seen some shit.” He was already PTSD and we hadn’t even gone to lunch yet. And he was right. I can’t unsee it, can’t put that toothpaste back in the bottle. There was the set dec stuff brought in by the art department and let’s just say there were a lot of sex toys all around, and in addition there were just like vats of lube. The problem was they looked very similar to the covid hand sanitizers that they had spread throughout the set, so every now and then you’d hear an expletive because somebody had done an entire pump of lube on their hand and was like oh crap!
Realizing that Soldier Boy is going after all of his old team, Mother’s Milk and Starlight head out to find the twins too, hoping to save some people and prevent that collateral damage when Soldier Boy inevitably comes for them. MM has pretty much had it. When Starlight says that she’s pissed too, but that they need to keep their heads on straight, he bristles, asking why he has to take the high road.
MM: White folks can get mad, but I gotta turn the other cheek? Fuck the high road. And fuck Butcher and Hughie!
We also finally hear the story of what happened to MM’s family, and it’s extra heartbreaking. No wonder MM has such a vendetta against Soldier Boy. Young Marvin was the one who woke up his beloved grampa because he was so excited that Soldier Boy was fighting outside, and when Soldier Boy threw a Benz right through their house, his grampa went with it.
MM: And I woke him up. I put him in that spot.
In other words, Soldier Boy didn’t care about collateral damage, or who was in the line of fire – and that’s what it results in. That’s when MM’s OCD began; gotta check the burners or Soldier Boy might come back. He’s determined to get that out of his head and is convinced that killing Soldier Boy is the only thing that will do it. They too knock on the door, and the supe who answers (I’ll leave that a surprise just in case someone hasn’t seen it yet) is reluctant to admit MM since he’s not a supe. Annie isn’t taking no for an answer though. I love this newly unfettered Annie a lot.
Annie confirms that he’s with her: He’s very good at cunnilingus. He just gobbles that vagina right up, mm mm om nom nom…
Herogasm is in full swing as they enter, complete with full frontal male nudity, flaming cocks, crystal dildos and flying vibrators. And lots of sex workers who are probably not being treated super great by a bunch of self-centered narcissistic C list supes.
MM: Frenchie will be so sad he missed this.
They’re determined to try to get everyone else out of there before Soldier Boy arrives and explodes the place to kill the twins, but in the meantime, poor MM with OCD gets uhhh…. substances… all over him multiple times and is freaking out and Laz Alonso makes it hilarious.
Butcher and Hughie arrive with Soldier Boy, who apparently founded Herogasm back in 1952 (with ‘that firecracker’ Liberty … aka Stormfront). Hughie’s face when he hears that is priceless. Hughie is also one of the few worried about collateral damage.
Hughie: There are a lot of people in there.
Soldier Boy: Well, as long as they stay out of my way, they’ll be fine.
I feel like that is a bit overly optimistic.
Butcher and Hughie plan to tell him exactly where the twins are so that nobody gets in his way, but this seems like a risky plan to me, just saying. Soldier Boy once again seems to be entirely focused on taking out his former team and not hurting others, but so far, his level of control is… questionable.
Starlight, bless her heart, even tries to convince a naked Blue Hawk to leave, but he mansplains to her when she insists Soldier Boy is real, telling her she could be a little better informed. Touche, show!
Hughie teleports inside, fitting right in since he’s now naked. He walks around holding his junk and politely turning down invitations and Jack Quaid absolutely slays it. Meanwhile, The Deep has forgotten his mission because there’s a seductive octopus there, so you can figure out how that goes.
Hughie runs into A Train and inexplicably chooses this moment to demand an apology for Robyn. Surprisingly, he gets one, A Train saying that he is sorry, that he fucked up and that seeing somebody you love get hurt like that is fucked up. He has tears in his eyes and he does seem sorry, but he apparently couldn’t access any empathy until he was impacted himself with his brother’s injury. Now the idea of ‘collateral damage’ hits home in a personal way.
Starlight even gives A Train a warning to get out, refusing to go along with Hughie and Butcher’s plan because “you don’t get to decide who to serve up on a platter.” She is determined to stop Soldier Boy, but Hughie teleports them both outside.
Hughie: I saved you, Annie. All I want is to save you.
She protests that she doesn’t need him to save her, and he gets angry, saying that he has to always be the weak one, she has to be so much stronger than him. She reminds him that he said he didn’t care about that, but he admits that he does. Sometimes. A little.
Once again, Annie reiterates that she thought the V had fucked him up – but it was just him.
MM also has his long-awaited confrontation with Soldier Boy, throwing a grenade at him – which he calmly blows out. MM accuses him of killing his family, and Soldier Boy asks, unconcerned, “which one?” They’re interrupted by Butcher, who tells Soldier Boy the twins are in the next room. He nods and keeps to the plan, going in search of them.
MM is furious at being denied his chance at revenge, accusing Butcher of being able to go after Homelander, but not letting him go after Soldier Boy. But Butcher won’t let him do it, using his temporarily super strength to hold MM back.
Soldier Boy confronts the Twins, who insist that it wasn’t their fault – it was Black Noir’s. Soldier Boy realizes Noir wouldn’t do anything without Vought’s say so and feels even more betrayed.
He snarls, flashbacks to Russian music taking him over as the explosion builds in him. Once again, Ackles shows us the depth of emotion that comes with Soldier Boy’s enactment of revenge – the reservoir of hurt and rage that are embodied in the shock wave. It takes out half the building, and Hughie and Annie hear it. He tries to stop her from going to help, and she throws him across the roadway.
In the aftermath of the explosion, naked and bloody people make their escape. A Train confronts Bluehawk and takes his revenge in a way that’s pointedly historically accurate and incredibly violent, but the effort he puts in to move that fast takes its toll on A Train too.
Homelander arrives (with some bad timing for Termite…) just as Soldier Boy walks out.
Soldier Boy: What happened?
Homelander confronts them both, saying that Soldier Boy was his hero growing up, the only one nearly as strong as him. Soldier Boy’s toxic masculinity brings a retort that cuts.
Soldier Boy: Buddy, you think you look strong – you’re wearing a cape. You’re just a cheap fucking knock off.
Homelander: Oh no, I’m the upgrade.
There’s an epic fight, with Butcher and Hughie and Soldier Boy teaming up against Homelander while Annie convinces MM to help the people who need it instead of pursuing revenge.
Annie: MM please, he doesn’t control you.
That was such a small moment, but it was so important – the idea that someone who has wronged you only controls you if you let them, if you make revenge the only thing that’s important to you. If you do that, it controls your life, but it doesn’t have to.
Homelander, alas, manages to escape. Soldier Boy, Butcher and Hughie walk out together, Starlight and MM glaring at them.
Frenchie patches Kimiko up; she’s had an epiphany, saying that she blamed the V for making her a monster, but that wasn’t true – it’s just who she is.
Homelander is home alone, again, staring at the wall.
Starlight, in the midst of ambulance sirens, asks MM to hold her phone to take a video. And then she tells the truth, to all her social media following. Welcome back, Annie January.
Two more episodes to go in Season 3 – stay tuned for another new episode next Friday!