Warning: this review contains major spoilers for The Boys season 3, episode 8. If you haven’t watched the season finale on Prime Video, stop reading now!
The Boys has a pedigree for producing great finales. The first season ended with Becca revealing that she was raising Homelander’s son, while the second culminated in Stormfront’s bloody take-down. Heading into Soldier Boy’s and Homelander’s big showdown, expectations were high: could this finally be the end for the leader of the Seven?
Sadly, the latest finale ‘The Instant White-Hot Wild’ is lackluster – and the fault may lie in last week’s twist, that Homelander is Soldier Boy’s biological son. The moment should have added tension to the storyline, yet it has taken the wind out of the show’s sails. There’s no longer a rush to the finish line, towards these two titans trying to kill each other, but instead, we’re in a place where the characters aren’t sure if they even want to.
The episode begins slowly with Homelander and Soldier Boy dealing with finding out they’re related. Homelander wants to start up the family he never had and heads to Mallory’s to reconcile with his own son, Ryan. For Soldier Boy, though, the pain runs deeper. Heading out with Billy Butcher to kill the last remaining Payback member Black Noir, Soldier Boy confides his own tense relationship with his dad – how he was never good enough for his father, which led him to volunteer for Vought’s experimental testing, only for his dad to say that he cheated. Jensen Ackles, who plays the character, is heartbreakingly good at shifting between vulnerability and bravado. While his storyline ends up in the air, I hope we see much more from him in the already-commissioned fourth season.
When Homelander and Soldier Boy do finally clash at Vought Towers, it’s the best part of the episode. Antony Starr, fantastic as the psychotic and impulsive Homelander, and Ackles play brilliantly off each other, the blonde, evil Superman knock-off pleading to form a superfamily, while Soldier Boy rejects him just as his own father did. It’s all over quickly, and the fight that we were promised never really happens.
There are still some great moments throughout the episode, with Maeve and Homelander’s clash being a real highlight. The only disappointment here is that it doesn’t match the brilliance of Homelander, Butcher and Soldier Boy’s confrontation in ‘Herogasm’, which showed their limits. This time around, the stakes don’t feel high enough. But that’s not to say everyone survives.
Long before we get to the final battle, Homelander rips out Black Noir’s guts having just discovered that Noir knew the truth about his father all along. It’s a fittingly shocking moment, but even this comes with its own frustrations. Noir had only just been given something to do, and it was highly enjoyable seeing his twisted brain being filled with Snow White-like cartoon companions. There’s a sense that there’s so much more they could have done with Noir, and it feels like wasted potential.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty more that’s tied up, though some storylines work better than others. Frenchie and Kimiko have a beautiful scene in which they discuss reconciling with their past, while Laz Alonso continues to shine as MM in a powerful moment with Frenchie about wanting to be the best for his daughter. Other beats are not so neatly done. A-Train’s emotional clash with his brother doesn’t have the space needed to fully explore the situation, even though it’s the most interesting character development A-Train’s had all season. He has the heart of the man he killed for being so horrified at his values, Blue Hawk. Perhaps the fallout’s on the cutting room floor, or being saved for next season, but there needed to be more.
The finale, just like the rest of season 3, is full of almost-moments that could have been great, but fell slightly short. There have been big highs, including the introduction of Soldier Boy to the fray while ‘Herogasm’ led to one of the series’ greatest episodes yet. But these were balanced with neglected storylines for characters like Maeve and A-Train, as well as some pacing issues right up until the final fight.
The ending of ‘The Instant White-Hot Wild’ is what saves it by setting up where the show’s heading. The most exciting development is Starlight becoming a proper member of The Boys as the team focuses its sights on Victoria Neuman, who’s now on the ticket to become Vice President of the United States. In Butcher’s brilliantly deadpan words: “Well, that bitch has definitely got to go.” Butcher himself is told his days are numbered due to Temp V’s lasting effects.
And then there’s Homelander. With Ryan in tow, the episode ends with the maniacal Supe lasering a Starlight fan in half – all while his Storm Chasers watch on. His true colors have been shown to the world. Of course, his fans still love him, and the idea of a Homelander without any limits is certainly a tantalizing prospect.
All this proves The Boys has not lost its way and that there’s plenty of exciting stories still to tell in this ground-breaking series. Just hopefully, next time the show can stick the finale like it has done before.
If you’re planning a rewatch already, check out our guide to The Boys season 3 episodes. Or if you’re stuck for what to stream next, check out our guide to the best shows on Amazon Prime Video to watch right now.
3 out of 5
The Boys season 3 finale featured great performances all round, but fell short in the delivering the fight we were all waiting for.