blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Boys (2019) s03e01 – Payback

“The Boys” get back at it a year after last season. Much of this episode is setting that new ground situation. Jack Quaid is working for Claudia Doumit at the Department of Meta-Human affairs or whatever, unaware she’s an evil super-powered lady; Quaid’s happily dating Erin Moriarty. She brings him along to her superhero society functions, leading to very award interactions for Quaid and his previous superhero nemeses like Antony Starr and Jessie T. Usher.

Meanwhile, Karl Urban, Tomer Capone, and Karen Fukuhara are all now working for Quaid, The Boys becoming a government surveillance team. It’s working out okay, with Urban keeping himself in check so as not to jeopardize his relationship with his dead wife’s super-kid (as a result of Starr raping her). In addition, Laila Robins has a quick appearance, establishing she’s babysitting the super-kid, hidden away from Starr.

Laz Alonso has retired from superhero hunting; it takes a while for the episode to get to him; I was bummed he’d left the show, but no, it’s just another seventy-minute streaming episode, and there’s lots and lots of time.

On the superhero front, Starr’s still mad he didn’t get to take over the world with Nazi girlfriend Aya Cash, and his damage control media campaign still hasn’t gotten his numbers back up. Moriarty’s got the best image, making superhero pharmaceutical company CEO Giancarlo Esposito much happier with her than Starr.

Usher and Chance Crawford both get check-in scenes, sucking up to Starr, mostly. Dominique McElligott has almost nothing—she’s at the movie premiere at the beginning, then disappears for a while, only to come back in a significant plot development for the season. But as far as the supes go, it’s Starr’s episode, and he’s just as mesmerizingly evil as ever.

The episode opens with a cute uncredited cameo but turns the dial up to eleven in intensity and icky. I expected them to go balls to the wall the whole episode, but they tone it down pretty quickly as they get into the character stuff. Quaid’s got jealousy problems with Moriarty at home (she’s working with an ex, who’s a supe), and then at work, there’s something going on with Doumit, but he’s not sure what.

The narrative sticks to Quaid and Starr for most of the episode, then shifts to Urban for the last act, establishing he’s still the man, even if he doesn’t have as much to do this episode. Big things will be happening; we just haven’t gotten to them yet. Lots of promises for the season to come.

It’s an outstanding episode. “Boys” doesn’t rest on its laurels or give itself time for a self-congratulatory victory lap outside the opening sequence. Once it’s back at it, it never slows down.

Esposito’s particularly good this episode, too; he’s supporting the other plot lines but with a whole bunch of personality.

I wasn’t worried about “The Boys,” but I didn’t expect them to get season three going with such a strong start. Craig Rosenberg’s got the script credit, it’s real good, and Philip Sgriccia’s direction is solid. In addition, the production design for this episode (Arvinder Greywal and Jeffrey Mossa) is superb.

I can’t wait to see what they’re doing next; besides some great gory gross-outs, those are inevitable.

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