The Boys (2019) s03e04 – Glorious Five Year Plan

Following the conventional (Dan O’Bannon) wisdom about second acts ending with things in the worst shape for the heroes… it’s hard to imagine how “The Boys” will further ratchet the situations before the season finale. Everything has gone wrong across every storyline, gloriously so. No pun intended.

There are two main plots, two subplots. Or like, one and a half subplots because one of them is the hard cliffhanger. The episode’s also got an incredibly dangerous soft cliffhanger, but only one life or death one.

The Boys’ plot in this episode is a Russian field trip. They’re looking for the gun the Russkies used to kill Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) back in the eighties, intending to turn it on Antony Starr, which ties in with Erin Moriarty and Starr’s superhero plot. “The Boys” is incredibly precisely constructed this episode; Meredith Glynn gets the script credit, her first “Boys” as writer (she’s an executive producer this season). It’s a really good script; some of the supporting cast gets short scenes, but they’re good short scenes, and they build.

Now, Jack Quaid knows Karl Urban is juicing with the superhero serum. His morning begins with Starr humiliating him—Starr’s just decided he’s dating Moriarty to raise his points–and, when they get to Russia, the anti-Homelander Russian state media is running the story making fun of Quaid for getting super-cucked. Seething anger builds in Quaid, leading to big decisions.

While Quaid’s still good, he’s not great with the anger stuff. Not sure if it’s a limitation of the script, Julian Holmes’s directing (which is otherwise good), or just Quaid not being able to do it, but when he’s got to be angry, he’s throwing a tantrum. There’s a “cute” quality. Too much Meg Ryan, perhaps. Though my good lady wife pointed out Quaid got his dad’s Innerspace butt.

Anyway.

The subplot to the Boys is Tomer Capone and Karen Fukuhara getting increasingly sick of Urban, to the point even Laz Alonso’s concerned about morale. Fukuhara’s excellent this episode. Capone’s good too (thank goodness, last episode’s stumbling was momentary), but Fukuhara’s great. She’s got to assassinate some Russians in trade for superhero-killing gun intel.

Meanwhile, Moriarty and Dominique McElligott (who’s not in this season anywhere near enough) are putting together their rebel strike force to take on Starr once Urban, and Quaid bring back the state-of-the-art bang bang. Moriarty enlists ex-boyfriend Miles Gaston Villanueva in what ends up being an excellent subplot for both of them. So much of “The Boys” hinges on the casting and Moriarty’s in that essential group.

The superhero plot is more behind-the-scenes drama than epical plot; Jessie T. Usher is getting into it with returning team member Chace Crawford, whose evil Karen wife (Katy Breier) knows how to get into Starr’s good graces at Usher’s expense. Then there’s some more for Colby Minifie to do as the team’s executive liaison.

The superhero subplot involves superhero company CEO Giancarlo Esposito and his secretly adopted, secretly superpowered government official, mole Claudia Doumit trying to run damage control on Starr. It’s another excellent subplot, with series-best acting from Doumit and season-best from Esposito.

Then, of course, the episode also gives Urban and Starr a bunch to do. No wasting the transfixing scenery incinerators here. They both get excellent spotlights, multiple ones for Starr.

It’s an outstanding episode. I’m looking forward to seeing how things get worse because of the incredible creative skill involved, but I’m also dreading them because of the taxing emotional investment. “The Boys” is—even more than witty, gross, hilarious, icky—heavy. It’s always very, very heavy.

Gloriously so.

One Comment

  1. Vernon W

    Loved this ep also, but the entire intro of the new guy seemed telegraphed about his fate from the start. Once he started talking to A Train, you knew what was going to happen next. Otherwise, good stuff.

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