‘The Boys’ 4.05 Is Surprisingly Emotional

the boys v chickens

We’re doing a little catchup on “The Boys” as we’ve been working overtime helping with the upcoming election in November. All we ask of our readers is to just make the effort to vote whether it is with a mail-in ballot or voting the day of the election. This one really matters (I know they always say that, but we know for a fact, this one will truly drive the future for all of us!).

We’ll be posting “The Boys” Season 4 episode 5 and 6 back to back and then we’ll get Lynn’s monumental “Walker” series finale deep dive after all that. That one is huge (as they usually are, but this one will be extra!)

“The Boys” Deep Dive

The fifth episode of “The Boys” Season 4 that aired last week is one of my favorites. If you look beyond the spectacle, this show can be surprisingly emotional – and this episode is one that will make you feel, juxtaposing heartbreaking, tender and over-the-top violence in scenes that end up being powerful and memorable.

As we get ready for the next episode in the wee hours of Thursday morning, here’s a recap of what happened in the last episode and where we are now. (Oh, and episode 6? Pivotal!)


It’s Hard to Be One of ‘The Boys’

Before we get to the emotional part of “The Boys” episode, in other news (that often mirrors the actual news in alarming ways), Firecracker is on a roll attacking Annie and pressing assault charges, painting their altercation and rivalry as “a biblical war of good versus evil”.  She’s painting herself as “the Lord’s Savior” for their new division, Vought Faith, all of them trying to manufacture some tears with a playing of “I Will Remember You” for Ezekiel. Annie’s also being blamed for the murder of Ezekiel, which was apparently done by Butcher somehow.

MM is increasingly worried about Janine, who’s been suspended for fighting a kid who called Homelander a hero. It’s hard to know the truth and stay quiet about it, isn’t it? MM tells her fighting isn’t the way to solve problems but she counters with why not, that’s what you do? Point, Janine.

I look forward to Janine’s journey as she increasingly has the blinders taken off. I can relate, as I’m sure many of us can.

Billy and Joe meet on a park bench in the cold. Their exchange, as always, is crude and full of back and forth psychological volleys as Butcher struggles with his conscience. (Fandom is doing a lot of speculation right now about who Joe really is, and no spoilers here, but it’s pretty fascinating to watch, isn’t it?)

When Billy complains about the cold, Kessler has a typical answer, steeped in misogyny.

Joe: Well, I was thinking we could meet in your mum’s pussy but I wanted somewhere more private.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Joe kessler on The Boys

He’s also got a lot of criticism for the Boys.

Joe: Your team’s a joke. MM’s on the verge of breakdown, Frenchie’s a druggie, Hughie’s a pussy and the two supes on your side…

He also pushes Butcher to stay the course and be as brutal as it takes to get rid of Homelander.

Joe: Brother, I don’t get you. Half your brain is a fucking tumor, last chance at Homelander and now you decide to go soft? You and me – we don’t belong with decent people.


It’s exactly what Butcher has always struggled with, torn apart by guilt over his little brother’s death and still believing so much of the hurtful things his father said to him.

Side note: Butcher’s not the only one struggling to figure out right and wrong. Homelander bonds more with Ryan, letting him make his own decisions and saying he’s proud of him for doing that, that he was manipulated by people his whole life and doesn’t want to do the same thing to Ryan. Ryan tries to do some good in the world by defending a woman that director Bourke is making uncomfortable, but teaching him a lesson about that inequitable power dynamic turns into reiterating one as Ryan enjoys watching Bourke get his ass beat way too much.

This is all pretty bleak, but there is hope – Butcher finally tells them he’s found the virus that kills supes that we saw developed at Godolkin U on the first season of Gen V. Unfortunately, as we know, Neuman has it.

Old MacDonald Had A…Not a Farm Like This One…

Which means they need to find that supe virus. And who knows Neuman better than her mentor/father figure, Stan Edgar?

I was super excited to see the return of Stan Edgar, one of my favorite characters (and the amazing Giancarlo Esposito).

Giancarlo Espositio joins the Boys

I adore the complicated relationship between him and Neuman – love, distrust, betrayal, competition. It’s all messy but really compelling, and both actors are amazing. The Boys offer him a pardon if he can help them get the virus from Neuman.

Edgar: She’s like a daughter to me.

Butcher: Who sold you out.

Edgar: What I raised her to do.

They let him know that Neuman’s daughter Zoe is now a supe, so vulnerable to the virus herself, and that convinces him. They travel to Edgar’s giant vacation home in the snowy Toronto (in real life) countryside, where they find a room converted to a lab and a bunch of animals who clearly have been V’d up and not fared well. Butcher, in a moment of empathy, frees a rabbit named Mr. Fuzzy Buzzy.

A little reminder that Butcher hasn’t gone totally dark side. Yet.

Suddenly, all their noses start to run and Neuman appears, because of course she was tracking Edgar. She demands to know where Sameer is, who turns out to be her lover and Zoe’s dad. They all work together reluctantly, Edgar telling Neuman that he assumes she’s searching for a way to control Homelander, who’s “a Freudian cesspool of random impulses and deep insecurity.”  They disagree about Zoe.

Edgar: You turned her into…

Neuman: What? A monster? You’re ashamed of me, and my daughter will never have to live like that.

Neuman also outs Butcher for the deal he almost made to steal all the files they had on her if she gave him Ryan.

Annie: He’s never gonna fucking change.

Edgar: It’s an absolute wonder to me that you all managed to live this long.

See why I love him?

Neuman tells Annie she gets it, no wonder there’s a little “projection dysfunction” going on, dual identities are hard.

Neuman: You’ve been Starlight for so long, do you even know who Annie is anymore?

Annie punches her in the face.

This season of “The Boys” has a lot to say about dual identities and the way all of us, even if we don’t have an actual dual identity, struggle to figure out who we really are. To combine seamlessly the disparate parts of ourselves that often don’t mesh well or are maybe even antithetical.

Things go dark(er) rather quickly.

Billy finds the bunny he tried to save, dying. As he watches, tentacles blast out of it, killing it. Ewww, is that what he has inside him? He stomps them to death. Also ewww.

And then we get one of the over-the-top scenes that only “The Boys” can pull off. Believe it or not, they stumble onto a bunch of V’d up chickens in a barn and a chicken fight ensues. Then a V’d up bull turns up, which is weird enough, but then he’s intercepted by some V’d up – and flying – feral sheep, who rip the bull apart mid-air, limbs flying in all directions.

They all run, Neuman helping Edgar, and take refuge from the flying sheep in a barn. I admit I was both laughing and trying to hide my eyes during this scene. The thing about The Boys that I love is that I can deal better with violence when it’s over the top, almost cartoon level, and this was that. Well done, VFX magicians.

Sameer is hiding in the barn too, apparently Edgar’s top man “until he deflowered my daughter”. He has one dose left of the virus; they eventually all decide to dose a dead guy and let the sheep eat him and all be infected.  It’s a Monty Python-esque scene of sheep attacking and then spewing blue vomit and falling over dead, dropping out of the sky while screaming hilariously.

(I thought of Monty Python immediately, but apparently that’s what Eric Kripke was actually going for – that hilarious rabbit scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that I will never forget)

By the time the chaos is over, Sameer is gone, only one of his legs found and given to a crushed Neuman. Edgar is put back in handcuffs and taken away. On the way back to prison, however, the van driver’s head suddenly explodes – and Neuman opens the door.

Under a bridge, Butcher meets up with Joe. Sameer is tied up, one of his legs amputated.

Butcher: Don’t you worry, we’ll patch you up and you’ll be back to work in no time. You’re gonna make us some more of that virus.

Joe grins; Butcher grins back.

Joe: Diabolical.

“Old MacDonald had a farm” plays over the closing credits, because of course it does.

And Now for the Emotions

This episode is most memorable, though, for Hughie’s short-lived family reunion. Hughie’s dad wakes up in his hospital bed after the infusion of Compound V, proclaiming “it’s a true blue miracle!” It turns out it was Hughie’s mom who gave it to him, after it fell out of Hughie’s pocket. She seems to believe it was what he wanted, and she tried to give it to him.

Hughie’s Mom: It’s gotta go right sometimes, right? Otherwise there wouldn’t be any supes.

She turns to Hughie and gets serious, saying some things he has probably needed to hear for a very long time.

Hughie’s Mom: You grew up without one parent, I couldn’t bear the thought of you losing another one.

The family gets some priceless moments of Hughie watching his parents laugh and reminisce about their honeymoon, and his mom gives him her engagement ring for when he proposes to Annie.

Hughie’s Mom: I know I can’t change anything, but I’m really sorry that I missed this.

Hughie’s dad admits that she tried to reach out to him but he kept her away, and that he didn’t give his son the power of attorney because Hughie has never been able to let go – as evidenced by their dying cat Jar Jar who Hughie couldn’t face putting down.

It’s another theme of this season “The Boys” – all the things that are so hard to let go of, but that we need to let go of in order to move on with life. In this case, it’s both Hughie needing to let go of his rage at his mother, and unfortunately also letting go of his dad who has always been the one he knew he could depend on.

Of course, things go horribly wrong.

They find Hugh not in his hospital bed and run through the hospital calling for him. They find him in another patient’s room, covered in blood after having yanked someone’s heart out of their chest. (There’s a Grey’s Anatomy Denny shout out for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s benefit in there too, as Hugh panics and runs away right through a wall – and right through another hapless patient).

Confused, Hugh Sr. sees his ex-wife and demands to know what Daphne’s doing there, saying that she left after he did everything for her and looked through him like he wasn’t even there, that she ruined his and Hughie’s life. He doesn’t recognize his son.

Side note: Anyone who has ever been touched by dementia, especially of a parent, knows how devastating that is. Ouch.

Hughie jumps in front of his mom to protect her, and finally gets to say what he needs his dad to hear. He tells his dad that he’s his hero, that he needed him to wake up so he could say that and know that his dad heard it.

The Boys Jack Quaid Hughie confronting his father

Hughie: You’re my hero, dad.

Hugh tears up, his face lighting up in recognition – and then in terror.

Hugh Sr: Hughie? Where are we? Ohgod, I don’t know what’s going on. There’s something wrong with me, I can’t stop it, I don’t know what to do.

It’s a rite of passage for Hughie in a sense, the son stepping up to be an adult, to make the decisions. For Hughie, it’s realizing that what it means to be a hero is not the theatrics of a supe, but the quiet dependability of a father who loved his son unconditionally and was always there for him, no matter what.

Hughie: That’s okay, I think I do.

Hughie and his mom hold his dad’s hand as Hughie gives him a drug to stop his heart. Hughie has a chance to say ‘I love you’ to his father one last time.

Hugh: I love you too. My wee Hughie.

Emotional Ante Up

Kripke and company upped the emotional ante for me by including Hughie gently giving his dad permission to leave.

Hughie: You can go.

(For “Supernatural” fans, it’s reminiscent of Sam giving Dean permission to go with the same words in the series finale episode, so I teared up even more than I already was).

He slips away, peaceful. His mom comforts him as Hughie cries, holding him. Something he must have wished for from his mother as a child so many times.

That was a powerful and beautiful scene, masterfully acted by Jack Quaid, Simon Pegg and Rosemarie DeWitt.

The Boys Jack Quaid Simone Pegg Rosemarie Dewitt

For a series known for its over the top sex and violence and its sociopolitical commentary, “The Boys” can also have a lot to say about humanity and what we all have to face in terms of loss and grief and growing up.

Catch the new episode early Thursday morning on Prime Video!