The Boys recap: I want to know what love is
Love is in the air — in all sorts of sweet, weird, and downright twisted ways — in “Nothing Like It in the World.” Unfortunately, the sparks that fly in The Boys’ fourth installment are short-lived, leaving good and bad guys alike alone.
In the first of a series of related scenes, an interviewed woman talks about a failed wedding and praises communication as the key to a successful relationship. Subsequent similar chats with different women — some romantic, some strange — suggest that someone is carrying out a search for a prospective mate.
Frenchie’s coping with the prior Kenji-related catastrophe by going on a coke-and-booze bender. High as a kite, he tries to console Kimiko (who’s watching news reports about her brother’s rampage) by kissing her, which she rebuffs.
Homelander is fuming over the TV news’ celebration of Stormfront. The newest, and brashest, member of the Seven is organizing a protest designed to rile people up against Vought, which she slams for not doing enough to protect America.
Homelander flies to a log cabin. Inside, Madelyn Stillwell, seemingly back from the dead, greets him in lingerie with a glass of milk, from which she feeds him via her fingers. She coos to him about what a “good boy” he is, and they promptly make out. A short time later, they’re watching Taxi Driver, and as one might expect from a raging psychopath, Homelander intensely relates to Travis Bickle as a man who justifiably snapped because he couldn’t take it anymore. Lying in her lap, Homelander rails about Stormfront’s power-play move to become the face of the Seven, and Madelyn suggests it might be “time to tear out the weeds and start all over again.”
Their happy reverie goes sour when Madelyn suddenly transforms into Doppelgänger (Dan Darin-Zanco), who’s apparently been participating in this psychotic sexual routine at Homelander’s request. Homelander forces Doppelgänger to revert back into Madelyn, and then allows himself to fall back into his wacko fantasy.
Clearly, I spoke too soon in my prior recaps: Homelander has definitely not gotten over his mommy issues.
At the memorial for those who died in the recent Kenji-related housing complex battle, Billy meets Clare and apologizes for failing to deduce who assassinated Susan. Haunted by dreams of being on a stage in front of an audience comprised of superhero victims, Grace gives Billy a file on Liberty, a second-tier supe from the '70s whose name appeared all over Susan’s private server. She provides Billy with an address in North Carolina where he might get answers about Liberty, hoping this will lead him to Susan’s killer.
Wracked with guilt over having compelled Billy to hunt Homelander at the expense of searching for Becca, Grace also gives Billy the address of the walled Vought compound where his wife now lives.
Intent on rescuing Becca, Billy puts Mother’s Milk in charge of the team and passes him the info he received from Grace regarding Liberty. In a Vought Tower elevator, Homelander violently confronts Starlight about conspiring with Hughie. She convinces him that she’s not with Hughie (he broke her heart) and that she didn't want to murder him in cold blood because she’s not a homicidal maniac. Homelander buys this.
Starlight subsequently meets Hughie in the park and expresses frustration that making Compound-V public didn’t topple Vought. Hughie gets a call from Mother’s Milk, who tells him they’re going to North Carolina to track down the Liberty lead. Hearing that Starlight fears for her safety around Homelander, and wanting to further cultivate their relationship, Hughie convinces Mother’s Milk to let Starlight tag along on their mission. Mother’s Milk soon comes to regret this, as the duo drive him nuts singing along to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” during their trip.
A-Train spots his rival Shockwave (Mishka Thébaud) in Vought Tower and confronts Ashley. Homelander, eager to shake things up, drops the news that A-Train is out of the Seven due to his heart condition. Ashley promises the speedster a media-blitz farewell, while Homelander feigns compassion by saying, “We’ll always be friends, etcetera.”
Frenchie visits old flame Cherie (Jordana Lajoie) and following sex, laments the fact that Kimiko rejected him. Cherie informs him that his attempted kiss with Kimiko was selfish and that he should “let her grieve.”
Starlight and Mother’s Milk bond over fond memories of enjoying junk food with their dads (their father issues nicely balance out Homelander’s mother-centric hang-ups). Upon leaving a diner, they witness a horrific traffic accident, and Mother’s Milk — whose OCD manifests itself in his offer of wet wipes to Starlight — convinces the supe not to get involved, lest she blow their cover.
Billy sneaks into the walled compound and reunites with Becca, who drives him to a security camera-free covered bridge. They tearfully embrace and apologize to each other, and shortly thereafter have passionate sex and share a post-coital smoke. The two are obviously still in love, and Billy promises to protect her until the day she dies. He hatches a plan: to sneak her and Ryan out of the compound via a garbage truck.
Later that night at a motor lodge, Hughie (who’s sharing a room with a heavily snoring Mother’s Milk) meets Starlight at the vending machine for snacks and discovers that her favorites (Almond Joy, Charleston Chew, and Bit-O-Honey) are the worst candy bars in history. This cute banter leads to sex in Starlight’s room.
During a TV interview conducted by Maria Menounos, Homelander and Maeve are questioned first about Compound-V (they claim ignorance), and then about the #HeroesSoWhite hashtag that’s emerged thanks to data indicating that Caucasians make up 92 percent of all heroes (African-Americans are at 6 percent; Latin and Asian countries boast 1 percent each). To counter the idea that Vought is racist, Homelander touts A-Train and Black Noir as minority members of the Seven. He also shocks Maeve by awkwardly outing her as the group’s gay member.
Afterward, in the studio hallway, Maeve tries to lie about her relationship with Elena, but Homelander knows everything and is exceedingly mad about once again being deceived. Maeve admits to the affair, and her feelings for Elena. Homelander wishes them “the best of luck,” but the smile on his face says something far different.
Stormfront riles up the crowd at her rally. As she speaks about impending super-terrorist threats, Kimiko approaches the stage, ready to strike. Frenchie appears and stops her, and Kimiko doesn’t respond well to losing her chance to kill Stormfront.
Arriving at their North Carolina destination, Mother’s Milk uses a story about his dad’s legal fight against Vought — which cost him his life, courtesy of a heart attack — to persuade Valerie (Dawnn Lewis) to speak with them. Valerie recounts how, as an 11-year-old, she witnessed Liberty murder her older brother simply because he was Black. Much to her enduring anger and shame, her family took Vought’s hush money. More explosively, she says that Liberty is Stormfront — a revelation that confounds Mother’s Milk, Hughie, and Starlight because it would mean that Stormfront is over 70 years old, and thus possessed of anti-aging power.
After reading a bunch of infuriating pro-Stormfront, anti-Homelander memes, Homelander goes to see Stormfront, who says that his constant need for love is pathetic. When his eyes glow red, she backs down, realizing this might not be the best approach. Instead, she states that her five laptop henchmen are doing more to promote her message than Vought is achieving with its $273 million “Saving America” campaign. The reason? “Emotion sells. Anger sells. You have fans. I have soldiers.” She sounds just like a certain American president, and though her fascistic fear-mongering no doubt appeals to Homelander, he doesn’t want to be groomed by her, and bolts.
The morning of Becca’s escape, she appears on the bridge and tells Billy she’s not going with him because she knows that he doesn’t care about Ryan and will eventually find a way to get rid of him. She’s right, of course; Billy calls the kid “a billion-dollar piece of Vought property. They are not going to let him go.” This is an unresolvable impasse, and Becca leaves Billy, who’s been watched from Vought’s control room this entire time by Black Noir.
Back in NYC, Starlight ends her romance with Hughie (“We’re all alone. That’s the truth.”). It’s revealed that the female interviews we’ve seen throughout the episode are being held by the Deep and Carol; the Church of the Collective is making the Deep marry one of their members to help him get back into the Seven. The Deep is disappointed Carol doesn’t let him wed the hot-to-trot candidate.
Returning to the cabin, Homelander can’t get back in the mood with Doppel-Madelyn, proclaiming, “I don’t need anyone. I’m myself.” This inspires Doppelgänger to transform into Homelander and to entice the superhero with a lingerie-clad version of himself. Although it momentarily seems like Homelander might fall for this creepy narcissistic seduction, he snaps the shapeshifter’s neck, confessing, “I don’t need everyone to love me. I don’t need anyone.”
- During their road trip, Mother’s Milk, Hughie, and Starlight pass a pro-life billboard that warns, “That Baby You Abort Might Be Super,” followed by a barn mural of Homelander sporting a Confederate flag cape. Clearly, the South has had no trouble exploiting supes for their own political causes.
- Valerie’s tale of racist superhero oppression is a similar example of The Boys’ melding of comic-book fantasy with real-world injustice.
- How long before Stormfront says “Make America Great Again?”
The Boys (TV Series)