The Boys (2019) s03e03 – Barbary Coast

We’re firmly in season three with The Boys now, with this episode setting up a couple longer storylines and a few immediate ones. First, the world’s reacting to Antony Starr going megalomaniac on live television—the white men positively responding because they’re garbage—and Erin Moriarty discovering she no longer has any leverage thanks to her better ratings.

Of course, her ratings don’t matter since a more unhinged Starr’s giddily sharing his plans for a scorched Earth (literally) with her.

So while Moriarty’s dealing with going from a position of power to Starr’s prime target for abuse, Jack Quaid’s busy getting back into it with Karl Urban, Laz Alonso, and Karen Fukuhara. Tomer Capone takes a personal day to deal with ex Jordana Lajoie’s problems, only it turns out that plot will feed directly into the next episode.

It’s an unfortunate subplot, mostly because director Julian Holmes doesn’t seem to know how to break Capone out of his worse acting impulses. As a result, Capone’s scene opposite Lajoie was like a spoiled madeleine, reminding of his weaker performance earlier in the show.

Capone and Fukuhara are both getting sick of working for Urban—who’s recovering from his superhero serum this episode, unable to control his heat vision, and irate about it. Capone’s better with Fukuhara than without, especially since his side quest involved a lot of kink-shaming for comedy with his Russian dominatrix crime lord former boss, Katia Winter.

Everyone but Capone goes to Laila Robins, who’s hiding out with Cameron Crovetti since Starr lost it last episode. Unfortunately, there’s not enough bridging material between Starr declaring his hostile superiority and everyone reacting to it or everyone discovering Claudia Doumit works for Giancarlo Esposito. Neither Doumit nor Esposito show up in this episode, with Esposito sorely missed in Moriarty’s plot. She keeps hearing what Esposito would tell her about Starr, who’s got all sorts of schemes to make her miserable, whether it’s bringing ex-boyfriend Miles Gaston Villanueva onto the superhero team for drama or even bringing back Chace Crawford, who assaulted her and kicked off the show back in the first season.

Compounding Esposito’s absence is his character appearing in a flashback. Urban found out something Robins hasn’t been telling him or The Boys, so he confronts her about it, and she does a story time with a flashback. The flashback itself is pretty good, although Sarah Swire isn’t nearly as good as Robins; Swire plays the younger version. But then Justiin Davis does an Esposito impression in his performance as the young version of that character, and it does not work.

The flashback’s revelations also put Urban in an even worse place, meaning he’s going to take everyone else with him—young and old—to that place. It’s a confined episode, but with a lot going on and lots of smaller season three plot setups. The stuff they can do without all the guest stars.

The episode does more with man’s inhumanity to man than gore, though there’s a harrowing sequence for Crawford and Starr, where Crawford (or maybe just the audience) discovers his wife Katy Breier is a villain in the making.

Then Jessie T. Usher gets a somewhat surprisingly proto-storyline with brother Christian Keyes. It’s a packed episode and mostly fine, but it doesn’t have the wow factor of the previous couple. Instead, it’s all either setup or exposition; there is some great “Boys” humor before everyone has a bad day, though, with Quaid needing help calling in sick to work.

Moriarty’s easily the episode standout, even as she’s entirely reactionary.

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