WARNING: This episode contains themes of suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Boys Season 3 Episode 2, “The Only Man in the Sky.”]
If you thought Homelander (Antony Starr) couldn’t possibly be more unhinged… oh, boy. Just wait.
With his annual televised birthday celebration approaching, “The Only Man in the Sky” turns the insane supe into a ticking time bomb of contempt, arrogance, and pent-up rage. Fun! Meanwhile, Butcher (Karl Urban), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), and Frenchie (Tomer Capon) work to get info about Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) from his old Payback teammates. Oh, and one of those vials of V-24 gets used… here’s how it happens.
On the Hughie (Jack Quaid) side of things, he pays Red River — a facility owned by a Vought subsidiary — a visit and discovers it’s a home for children with superpowers. (He wasn’t supposed to go there without Annie [Erin Moriarty], but, oh well.) He lies to the nurse and says he and Starlight are thinking of adopting, and he’s able to copy information from one of their computers onto a flash drive. When he plugs it in, he finds footage of Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) taking Neuman from Red River years ago, where she was known as Nadia. And miles away, Neuman (Claudia Doumit) has a chat with her adoptive dad, saying she can’t have people showing up at her work calling her that name. “Someone at Vought dropped the ball,” she says. Stan tells her it’ll be fine, and he wraps a comforting arm around her.
Annie, meanwhile, is preparing for her role in Homelander’s birthday celebration. She thinks it’ll only be a few lines and then she’ll be able to help Hughie look into Red River, but instead, Homelander’s changed her role to something far more demeaning: He wants her to sing him “Happy Birthday” à la Marilyn and JFK, with a bunch of scantily clad backup dancers. Annie stands up for herself, saying what he’s doing is juvenile and she won’t be part of it. He tries to threaten her, and then Stan Edgar, who’s been watching the dress rehearsal, cuts in and tells Homelander that since Starlight’s numbers are better, she “can call her own shots.” With that, Homelander storms away.
Butcher and Kimiko and Frenchie find separate forms of action-packed chaos as they try to get information about Soldier Boy from his former friends. Kimiko and Frenchie corner Crimson Countess (Laurie Holden), Soldier Boy’s girlfriend, at her job performing at an amusement park. All they get for their efforts is her firm insistence that Soldier Boy died honorably and a gruesomely exploded park worker when she uses her powers against them.
Butcher heads to a gun convention to track down Gunpowder (Sean Patrick Flanery), Soldier Boy’s former sidekick. He tries to blackmail him if he doesn’t reveal the truth, but that backfires. As he walks back to his car, Gunpowder shoots and nearly kills him. He’s left with a bullet in his leg and a cut on his cheek, but he gets away.
On top of a roof with a suicidal teenager for his “annual birthday save,” Homelander discovers that Stormfront (Aya Cash), who was barely clinging to life in the premiere, died by suicide. Ringing in his ears, Homelander rants at the girl and says she should, in fact, jump. She’s decided not to go through with it, but Homelander’s no longer suggesting: He’s ordering. “Oh, God,” the girl says. “No,” Homelander replies. “No God. The only man in the sky is me.” Caught between his laser eyes and the fall, she jumps. (Side note: I know The Boys prides itself on its use of blood and guts. But given the subject matter, did we really need the gore when she hits the ground?)
After his Red River investigation, Hughie heads to work. Neuman almost catches him in a lie about his whereabouts, but Annie steps in to rescue him just in time, saying that they had a fight and were talking things out. He shares the info about Red River with her. He then calls Butcher, and since the premiere, their opinions have switched; where Hughie once wanted Butcher to stop chasing supes and accept that things were good, now Hughie wants to take down supes and Butcher, thinking of Ryan, wants out.
Everything changes when Hughie reveals the truth: Neuman is a supe, it’s all rigged, and they have to join forces again. “If we’re going to take them down,” he says, “we have to do it your way.” MM (Laz Alonso) also decides to join up with The Boys again, wanting revenge on Soldier Boy for his father’s death. The prolonged, heartfelt goodbye he says to his ex-wife does not inspire confidence that he’ll survive Season 3.
With that, Butcher heads back to the convention to confront Gunpowder. The guy shoots him several times, and Butcher falls… but, having taken V-24, he gets back up. He overpowers Gunpowder, beats him, and again demands the truth. Gunpowder confirms that Soldier Boy didn’t die in an accident, and that it happened in Nicaragua in 1984. That, he says, is all he knows. “I was just a kid!” he exclaims. “Ask the others! Ask the CIA!” That stops Butcher in his tracks. Grace Mallory (Laila Robins), Butcher’s ally and Ryan’s semi-guardian, was apparently Gunpowder and the rest of the supes’ case officer back then. Despite Gunpowder telling Butcher everything he knows, Butcher kills him anyway, first pummeling him and then using laser vision.
At the big birthday celebration, the world is introduced to the real Homelander. With the lights shining on her, Starlight mentions Homelander’s past but says that “everyone makes mistakes,” and she tells the public he deserves a second chance. At that, Homelander butts in with an emphatic “No.” He says he doesn’t make mistakes, he’s better than everyone else, and he’s done being controlled by rich and powerful people. He tells the audience that they need him, because he’s the only one who can save them. “You aren’t the real heroes,” he says, inverting his catchphrase from Season 1. “I’m the real hero.” And with that, the episode ends.
The Boys, Fridays, Prime Video