“There’s a lot to unpack there.” No freaking kidding Hughie.
Wow, where do I even start with Herogasm? I can’t believe they crammed so much into one hour, from both a production and story standpoint. There’s so much to absorb. This was the culmination of the events in the previous five episodes this season and boy does it come together in an explosive way. All during an orgy.
I’m going to take a different approach with this review. Since so much happened plot wise, I’m going to do a recap portion and then a review. So grab a cup of coffee, this is a long one!
This show has opened with disclaimers before, but nothing like this one!
It sums everything very well!
It all starts with The Deep leading a celebrity filled sing along to “Imagine” online. Meh.
The BEST moment of the season comes early, when Homelander, Ashley, Black Noir and The Deep see the video from the chimp refuge and realize its Soldier Boy. The ‘oh f***’ look on Homelander’s face is priceless. His predecessor, the first Vought team leader, his childhood hero, the only one truly capable of beating him, is alive and well. A legend bigger than him. Suddenly that God complex goes into full retreat and it’s wonderful. Naturally, he orders everyone to bury the whole thing. The world cannot know Solider Boy is alive.
Homelander asks Black Noir in the hallway why Soldier Boy would kill Crimson Countess and naturally gets nothing. He’s glad that Black Noir is there for him though, except he totally isn’t! He gets on the elevator with a regular Vought corporate employee, pulls out a knife and plunges it into his arm, blood spurting everywhere, yanks out his tracking chip and hands it to said horrified employee before storming off. Finally, something scares Black Noir. This can’t be good for him.
In the meantime, Butcher and Hughie are holed up with Solider Boy in a motel room. It is very obvious that Solider Boy has a ton of history to catch up with, and I’m talking about cultural shifts. He’s taking amphetamines to cope and apparently has been for a while. It’s how they won D-Day! It’s important to note here that these motel scenes are meant to show just how unstable Solider Boy is. First, he wonders why he needs to team up with Hughie and Butcher. The last team he was a part of turned him over to the Reds. Butcher isn’t winning him over with the what they’ve done so far speech so quick thinking Hughie comes up with something better. SB isn’t familiar with today’s technology, so he needs them. He doesn’t know how to work a GPS or Bluetooth or the Internet. In return for their help, they add Homelander to the hit list. Okay, but they have to help him find the rest of his team first.
Next we catch up with Annie and Mother’s Milk, and MM is really pissed! He’s ready to go after Butcher and Hughie, but Annie tries to talk him off the ledge. She figures they need to find the TNT Twins since they will be next on the list. She tries to focus him because Soldier Boy is going to kill more people. Look what he did to Kimiko. Frenchie isn’t answering, Alex is dead and Maeve is missing. “We’re all we’ve got.” Then Annie gets the call to go to the tower, giving MM a little time to settle down.
A-Train decides to visit Ashley, who is really, really on edge right now. She’s taking some pills, maybe the same that Soldier Boy was taking, while trying to watch A-Train’s latest hare brained TV show, “A-Train to Africa.” Jesus F***ing Christ is right. A-Train doesn’t care about that though, he wants to know what they are doing about Blue Hawk. She defends the fact he felt threatened and is going through 12 weeks of sensitivity training, but A-Train calls her out on that crap. He wants to press charges and accuses Vought of racism. Ashley tries to get him to come back later but he keeps pushing, so she snaps! She ends up pulling out a big chunk of her own hair and reminds him about the 100 hours she spent in crisis management meetings trying to clean up his past messes, including all three of his straight-up murders. She tells him with some creepy flaring nostrils “Go f*** yourself.” Yikes! What is in those pills and where do I get some?
The Deep goes to Homelander with some bad news. Black Noir is gone and he cut out his tracking chip. Homelander can’t believe he would do that. Then The Deep and his wife share the same theory as Annie, that Soldier Boy would be going after the TNT Twins. They are in Vermont. He is going after his entire team, including Black Noir. So Homelander tells them to check it out. If Soldier Boy shows up, call him. The Deep is grateful for this opportunity, but a little impatient with his wife jumping in to help. Go figure, trouble in paradise for The Deep.
Homelander goes into his room to have his existential crisis, and now we get a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Gollum/Smeagol type thing. He sees his dominant, evil alter ego in the mirror and this is a fascinating look into Homelander. There is a small shred of humanity in him, the part expressing doubt and fear, but it just keeps getting pushed down deep by the real psychopath inside. It’s an intensely fascinating and totally creepy scene. The human part, the part that wants to be loved, seems to fail the most in times of rejection, like now. Like his whole life.
Back to Soldier Boy and Hughie in the motel room watching TV, and they’re watching an old Soldier Boy movie! SB is captured in Afghanistan by the Russians, and he’s rescued by the TNT Twins. That just jacks up the temper. I applaud the production team here because the film looked exactly like one of those cheesy 1980’s action adventure films. Too authentic I say!
Hughie is keeping a Geiger counter around to sense when Solider Boy might be close to one of those explosions. Every time SB gets upset (which is often), that meter keeps ticking up. Hughie does his best to keep him calm by changing the subject. Next there’s a dad with a baby carrier and Starlight diapers on a commercial, and Soldier Boy can’t believe what men are being reduced to. He’s definitely a product of the macho culture and brings up awkwardly Bill Cosby, America’s Dad. That’s a real man, and he made really strong drinks. Umm…
Soldier Boy talks about how he was an American hero, leading the 116th on Omaha Beach, fighting in the Eagle’s Nest, he fought for his country. What did he get? Forgotten and left to rot by his own team. He confesses he wanted to have a couple of boys with Countess, raise them like real men. That Geiger counter just keeps creeping up! Hughie changes the subject, asking what happened in Midtown. Another big reveal, SB blacked out during the explosion in New York last episode that killed 19 people. He doesn’t know what happened, even though we know that a street vendor was playing the same Russian song on his radio that SB heard in the lab while he was going through experiments and that triggered enough PTSD for him to go nuclear. Remember this, it’s important for later. SB defends himself with the simple phrase, “I’m not the bad guy.” It does kind of play into a theme that was very popular in Supernatural, everyone is the hero of their own story.
The Deep arrives in Vermont first. He talks to the twins on their porch, and they are shadows of their former selves for sure! They’re older, fatter, trashier and bickering like an old married couple. They think The Deep is there for the party. Party? He goes in and he sees what’s happening and it dawns on him what he’s stumbled onto. “This is Herogasm.” He’s utterly stunned!
What’s a great way to show Homelander is in charge? A TV interview! He goes on camera with Starlight and Victoria Neuman, and totally implodes. The interviewer asks Neuman about the explosion that killed 19 people, but Homelander will have none of that! The media is making up facts. It’s safe to go out and that’s that! He storms off and now we have another parallel to our ex-president. Interesting since the facts are people died in a random explosion and the person is still out there, but I guess they’ll gloss that over.
Since the interview was cut short, Neuman takes the opportunity to have a frank talk with Starlight. She’s relieved that Hughie is okay and knows he’s hiding because of the head popping thing. Starlight is horrified and mentions all those people she killed at the Congressional hearing, but Neuman said they had it coming. Her mission is clear, use alliances to get her political agendas through. She wants to align with Starlight and her 193 Instagram followers to push her agenda, like getting an educational bill passed by them going against Homelander, thus upping her popularity. Starlight has had enough of all the manipulation. If Homelander is gone, Neuman is not a better choice. She gives her the total ‘FU’. “You’re just gonna end up sitting on top of the steaming pile of s*** that you built.” Neuman leaves asking that this stay between themselves and gives a little warning that America’s sweetheart can be taken out. She gets the message across by leaving a bloody nose for Starlight. Suddenly, Hughie is right about taking out both Homelander and Neuman. They are the same. Remember, this stand is important for later.
In the last piece of unfinished business before we actually get to the Herogasm portion of things (yes, all this has been just half of everything), Frenchie and Kimiko are in a real mess. Earlier Kimiko, wondering what happened to Frenchie in her hospital room, is captured by Nina’s goon. There’s a super intense scene in a warehouse where a beaten and bloodied Frenchie is dragged in naked and chained to a post and Kimiko and Cherie are in front of him restrained on chairs. Little Nina taunts him over all this battle scars that are exposed for everyone to see, and he gets to pick which of the ladies dies or they both do. He says nothing so the guy goes for Kimiko, but she was eating a popsicle when captured and was able to use her popsicle stick to undo the cuffs. Kimiko engages in one badass fight with him and proves that even without her powers, she can be pretty damned deadly. It goes to show again, the Compound V just enhances what is already there.
Despite the fact that the incident caused Little Nina to run and Kimiko got to save everyone, it was still a pretty disturbing scene. Kimiko was punched brutally numerous times in her stitched up gut, which had to hurt a ton. But the real sad part was when she was able to grab a sharp object and stab the guy, which she did over, and over, and over again until she was soaked in his blood. She unleashed that inner monster again and she wasn’t feeling great about it.
Annie and MM are in the car, on the way to the orgy, and we get at least one good character exposition scene out of this fully packed episode. MM is tapping the steering wheel and Annie asks if he’s always had that. He tells her the story of growing up in Harlem in a house filled with family. One day Soldier Boy was outside catching some thieves and he called over his grandpa to look. Soldier Boy picks up the car and hurls it through their house. His grandfather was hit with the car and it just missed MM. Since then he’s had the OCD problem. He has to check everything three times or Soldier Boy’s gonna come back and kill his family. He needs to get SB out of his head and end this or it will end him. Good segue into what’s coming!
Annie and MM arrive at chez Herogasm and they are greeted by one very long penis. It’s Love Sausage! Looks like he is enjoying life since he was sprung from Sage Grove last season. He’s thrilled Starlight has come to their party, since she’s an A lister at a C lister event. MM is horrified because bodily fluids everywhere is exactly what a person with very bad OCD can’t handle. Naturally, he thinks that Frenchie will be very bummed to miss this. There’s a scene that happens next to MM that, well, it’s totally gross. I’ll avoid getting graphic, but let’s just say it requires a long shower and a change of clothes.
Next is Butcher, Hughie and Soldier Boy. They are surveying the house from afar and they see with all the naked people and f***ing that Herogasm is happening. Soldier Boy reveals he started it in 1952, with Liberty! For those that don’t remember, Liberty became Stormfront last season. He calls her a firecracker. Awkward. Butcher, just like MM, mentions Frenchie will be heartbroken to miss this! Hughie wants him to find the twins since there’s a house full of people that could get in the way and asks for three minutes.
Annie tries to get Blue Hawk to help her, and this is apparently Vought “sensitivity” training. Naturally he’s not very sensitive, sticking with Homelander, says everything is okay and Soldier Boy is dead. Jerk. Annie explores a bit more and finds someone in a middle of an act in a bedroom. The voice sounds familiar! There’s a giant fish tank in the room and a lot of squishing noises. Something very weird is going on. “It’s like a velvet vacuum draining my balls.” Annie turns the corner to see The Deep with a giant Octopus wrapped around his nether regions. So Annie pulls out her phone and takes a picture. “Homelander is going to love this.” Hee, she has a blackmail photo. The Deep has a new girlfriend.
Hughie teleports in naked and what do you know, he fits right in there! Lots of naked people walking around so he comes across as a normal guest. He even gets propositioned by one of the male guests. “Oh, that’s sweet,” he replies flattered. “I need to give my asshole a breather.” The guy understood! He spots the twins, who are arguing something fierce, but then he bumps into A-Train. Suddenly, the mission is forgotten. This is clearly the V-24 talking, because now he decides to confront A-Train about what he did to Robin. Hello Hughie, remember saving innocent lives? Three minute head start? He demands an apology and what do you know, A-Train gives him one! It sounds sincere, clearly because A-Train is feeling the pain of what just happened to his brother. So Hughie punches him! It’s a hard punch and suddenly A-Train wants to know how he was able to do that. Annie breaks it all up and sends off A-Train before he learns the truth.
Annie and Hughie fight about what to do next. Annie wants to clear the house, Hughie thinks it’s okay because Solider Boy just wants to get the twins. Annie reveals more bad news, Homelander is coming. The Deep said so. When those two start fighting, the collateral damage will be huge (Supernatural parallel there!). Suddenly, Soldier Boy is spotted near the stairs. So Hughie uses his powers to get Annie out of there instead of everyone else. Oh man, wrong choice buddy. They both are by the car, naked, and Annie is furious! Hughie is pleased with himself that he got to save Annie, but she pointed out she didn’t need saving. Hughie takes her comment to mean he always has to be the weak one. Suddenly it dawns on Annie, the drug isn’t screwing him up, this is really him.
Meanwhile, back at the orgy, MM finally gets his moment to confront Solider Boy. He throws Halophane to stun SB and it does nothing. So he tells SB he killed his family. SB gave a very callous “which one” answer. MM curls up his fists and is ready to fight, but then Butcher steps in and tells Soldier Boy the twins are upstairs. Butcher then allows MM to beat the crap out of him, knowing it won’t hurt him. Despite everything, he cares about MM’s welfare and that taking on SB is suicide.
Upstairs, SB finds the bickering twins and has his confrontation. They told him it was Black Noir’s idea. SB isn’t dumb, he knows that Black Noir wouldn’t do anything without Vought being involved. In a fit of super bad timing, that same Russian song from Midtown starts playing on the speaker and Soldier Boy starts getting really upset. So the twins decide to do their joining hands thing and blast SB with their power, even though they haven’t done it in years. “TNT detonate!” Hee, what a nice rip-off of “Wonder Twin powers activate!” As expected, they let out a weak spark. A nice bit of comedy before total doom. Soldier Boy sets off the nuclear explosion and BOOM, the twins are obliterated as well as half the house.
Annie wants to rush to the house after the explosion and Hughie says he won’t let her. So she blasts him with her power, causing him quite a bit of pain. You so had that coming Hughie! The carnage at the house isn’t pretty. There are bodies lying around, plenty of injured people, poor Love Sausage’s penis is scorched, and The Deep in half a uniform makes a quick getaway with his octopus companion in a grocery bag filled with water! Things are about to get strange with Mrs. Deep.
Two people did come out unscathed, Blue Hawk and A-Train. So A-Train decides now is the time for the confrontation. He grabs Blue Hawk by the foot and drags him at full speed on the road until he’s just a pile of bludgeoned meat. It’s too much for A-Train’s weak heart though and he collapses on the ground, perhaps dead this time, but likely not.
Termite in small size is writhing in pain on the ground, but suddenly he’s stepped on by someone. Homelander! Bye bye Termite, no more perverse acts for you. Homelander enters the house and sees what he came there for, Soldier Boy and Butcher. He brings up the deal Butcher and he made, a fight to the death, and that this is cheating. He takes Butcher out with his laser eyes. Homelander moves onto Solider Boy, calling him his hero growing up. “I watched all your movies, hundreds of times.” That means Homelander also has horrible taste in films! I LOVE this next line:
Homelander: You were the only one that was nearly as strong as me.
Soldier Boy: Buddy, you think you look strong? You’re wearing a cape. You’re just a cheap f***ing knockoff.
That sets Homelander off and the big fight between the two begins, and it’s pretty damned even. Lots of crashing around and exchanging punches. Annie pulls a spectating MM out of there, begging for him to help her with the people outside. “He doesn’t control you. We have to help these people. It’s up to us.” He reluctantly agrees and leaves with her while the fight carries on. Suddenly Homelander is hit, by Butcher, with laser eyes. He gives Homelander that psychotic Butcher look and says “scorched earth.” Oh man, he’s having fun. The fight to the death is on! They exchange punches and even get in a laser eye duel that's wickedly awesome. Congrats to the VFX team for that one. Soldier Boy comes back for more, Hughie jumps in and joins the fun, and the three gang up on Homelander, restraining him to the ground. The little glow-y thing happens in SB’s chest, Butcher pleads with Hughie to leave because he doesn’t want Hughie to die like he’s going to, but Homelander manages to break free and fly away before SB can set off his blast. The visual is pretty wicked of the three of them lying on the floor via the aerial view through the hole that Homelander just put in the roof. Clever concealing the jewels there Hughie!
Annie and MM are outside tending to the wounded when Soldier Boy, Butcher, and Hughie walk outside. Butcher gets a very cold stare from MM, and then Hughie gets a very cold stare from Annie. Oh man, this team has truly fallen apart.
Back at The Boys office, Frenchie is tending to Kimiko's wounds while Cherie is asleep on the couch. Kimiko is obviously shaken about the whole thing, accepting the fact that this is truly who she is. She then tries to comfort Frenchie, who is still stinging by what Little Nina said about him and did to him. She assures him that he is not that guy. This is such a tender and sweet scene and shows how much these two look out for each other despite everything.
Homelander is seen standing alone in his Vought lair, a bruise on his cheek and fear in his eyes. His alter ego better start that pep talk!
After all this, it’s still not over! Strangely, the most shocking part is yet to come. It's night and Annie and MM are still outside the blown up house, and there are covered up bodies on the ground and others being loaded into the ambulance. Annie hands MM her phone and he thinks it’s a bad idea. Homelander made her America’s sweetheart, and he’s going to regret that. She goes live on her Instagram account, with 193 million followers, and says she’s in Vermont where twelve heroes and civilians are dead and a lot more wounded. Vought will tell them it’s a Supervillain, but it was Soldier Boy. Then she tells real hard truths.
“Most heroes don’t care about you. They only care about their images and Homelander is the worst of them. He’s hurt people. He’s done something to Maeve. I don’t know what they’re gonna do to me for telling the truth, but I’m going to keep doing it and I should’ve done it sooner.
And one more thing…
“I’m not Starlight anymore. My name is Annie January and I f***ing quit!”
Just wow. So much to absorb here. Annie has declared war against Homelander and Vought on her terms. Has she given up on Hughie? Anyone else think this Soldier Boy/Butcher/Hughie alliance is going to fall apart? It’s looking might delicate!
“Herogasm" dug further into what was said last episode by MM, “The whole point of what we do is that no one should have that power.” Butcher and Hughie are on their single minded quest to stop Homelander while MM and Annie are on the other side trying to stop Soldier Boy and Homelander in the quest to protect innocent lives. Are Butcher and Hughie’s actions considered reckless or heroic? Is their plan truly representing the greater good? Or are MM and Annie the true heroes by staying true to the original mission? The Butcher revenge train is bound to produce collateral damage, and that’s what plays out in this episode. The prize at stake: maintaining one’s humanity.
All in all, this was clearly a plot designed for pushing the action forward and shoveling the deeper character dynamics down until next episode. It’s interesting to see both sides very fractured, all working toward different goals. Homelander has very few allies left and those are shaky at best. The same can be said with Hughie and Butcher. How can this go when so many people are fighting for their own agendas? This stops being good vs. evil and become anything goes, which I do believe is the point.
This episode is truly though a technical marvel as much as an entertaining one. Filming graphic sex scenes, especially en masse, in the background while trying to film the main story is quite a production nightmare, especially during a pandemic. There are some great interviews out there from Mr. Kripke about everything that went into filming this episode, not to mention the many stories Jensen has told about it during fan conventions and other interviews. I’m glad though that Herogasm turned into a crazy back drop that only this show would have rather than dominating a story that is clearly accelerating at this point in the season. The big fight scene was so well produced and stood up to the hype of a Soldier Boy/Homelander/Butcher showdown, which happened a few episodes before anyone expected. Scorched earth indeed. Top notch VFX, stunt choreography, and acting. This is what happens when an actual budget is involved.
I love how Annie and MM are bonding and helping each other through. They had one episode last year where they got to know each other a little better and this alliance is endearing to watch. MM needs someone stable to help him through all this and Butcher is not the man for the job. Given the fact that he’s been the one holding things together for the team until now, it’s nice to see him get some help for a change. I also adore how Kimiko is finding her inner strength to help Frenchie, even without her powers. Much like Annie, she’s a fighter. There’s more to come on that in the next few episodes but the attention that’s been given to Kimiko finding herself has been a real highlight this season. There’s so much to explore with her character!
I’m still most worried about Hughie, who has clearly lost his way. This team needs creative, faithful Hughie, not someone wanting a death wish like Butcher. Following Butcher’s lead is a dangerous path and being separated from Annie isn’t doing him any favors. Not to mention, this naked teleporting thing has to get awkward after a while! I do love how he could hold his own with Soldier Boy though, even knowing how unstable the guy can be. His brains are the only thing keeping him alive.
- The Deep’s opener of “Imagine” was a bit weird. I get it’s The Deep connection on social media like he has been and the celebrity cameos were cool, but it still seemed pretty awkward given everything that happened. I guess that was the point?
- Ashley is really out of touch with reality, isn’t she? She actually believes the hype. She can’t imagine why Soldier Boy would kill Crimson Countess. Uh, maybe because their love wasn’t real? Much like everything else Vought pushes?
- Eric Kripke had a voice cameo in this episode. He’s the one shouting at MM after his unfortunate encounter. Details are here if you’re interested. https://tvline.com/2022/06/25/the-boys-eric-kripke-voice-herogasm-season-3/
- I love that MM’s change of clothes was a t-shirt of TNT Smile-Time Hour. What awesome graphic design! So 1970’s. They had their own cheesy variety show? I suppose that’s a shoutout to the Wonder Twins segments of the Saturday morning TV show Super Friends mashed with a Sonny and Cher variety show type thing. I really wish there was footage of that, much like Soldier Boy’s Solid Gold appearance. The little extra details they put into these episodes are awesome.
Overall grade, an A. Best episode of the season so far. Coming up next, the fallout from Herogasm. At this point, it’s anything goes.
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Catch up on all of Alice's Reviews on The Boys and Supernatural, listed on her Writer's Page.