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The Boys 3x07 Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed

Others might say that this is not as intense as previous episode, which might be true in terms of action and moving the plot forward. But I find this episode is still intense in a different way: more emotional investment.

"Family" and its unfortunately related cousin "abuse" seem to be the the theme that knits together different story arcs of the episode: the obvious Butcher flashback, Kimiko and Frenchie, MM with his family, Soldier Boy, and Homelander.

The episode kind of speeds up the pace in showing Soldier Boy's villainy through a recreation/imagination of Black Noir's flashback; although I'm not too comfortable that they present Noir's flashback at face value (instead of being an unreliable narrator), I think it still kinda works.

It is shown that Soldier Boy is an abusive, selfish bully with anger issues you would typically see among band leads or celebrity groups. While some have defended Soldier Boy's action by comparing him to Homelander ("at least Soldier Boy is not psychotic, emotionally unstable narcissist! He is a normal person not grown in lab!"), I think they missed the point of the show: the biggest issue here is exactly what would happen if people with power (influence) have additional power (literal superpower) while being protected by multi-billion dollar company. They possess all the impunity to wreak havoc. Like MM said, "no one should have the right to wield such power."

This theme of abuse is explicated with Butcher's flashback. No one is inherently "good" or "evil" - you are shaped by your upbringing. As the scenes between his memories, his reflection, and his projection in current time are cut seamlessly back and forth, Butcher slowly realizes that he mirrors the man he hated the most. Yet he fully accepts his succumbing to that darkness while bringing Hughie with him through his personal vendetta against the supes - not caring about the risk towards others who he claimed he loved. Even with parents, one may grow to be a contemptuous person if they live in an abusive family, and it's a cycle that is very difficult to break. Butcher's flashback is certainly the spotlight of the episode for me.

Even with Kimiko's story in the background (her saying that V only explicates what kind of person you are), considering that we've been shown how the character's social lives shaped them into what they are now - Kimiko with her abducted kid background, Hughie's insecurity with his zero to hero job, etc - the message stays strong, countering the superhero cliche of inherently morally good and evil person.

I'm hoping this dynamic could be further explored in the next episode (or season) with the Soldier Boy and Homelander encounter when it's revealed that Soldier Boy is Homelander's father, at least he feels so. An abusive father meets a narcissist kid-who'd-wanna-be-a-father. The ending of this episode becomes revealing when tied up to the earlier convesation between Homelander and Maeve: with Homelander echoing Soldier Boy's words that he "used to dream of having kids" with Maeve, it becomes apparent in this episode that the relationship between Homelander and Maeve (and Soldier Boy and Crimson Countess) it is not something exactly out of pure love.

"Having kids" is not a romantic statement: it's a purely masculine, self-centered ego of having someone of your blood - of your similarity - that you can be proud of. Who the partner is doesn't matter; they are only means to that end. And in that Soldier Boy shares something in common with Homelander as shown through his delight of accepting Homelander readily as his son, albeit lab-grown. He only wants to see a better version of him.

Last but not least, I love the jab at corporate this episode still throws. Ashley spinning breaking news about Starlight in a similar way Disney would spin stories about their abuse and mismanagement; and that A-Train being zombified, again, with the heart of Blue Hawk embedded in his body, serving only as Vought's puppet. I'm not sure if that's the most satisfying end to A-Train's arc, but seeing his disappointed, grim look, his lack of agency, I guess the character suffers a lot. I just hope this will be the last of his arc and the show doesn't squeeze him further.

That said, with the reveal at the ending, I am not sure I am 100% satisfied as I was expecting Soldier Boy bringing down Homelander, or rendering him powerless by the end of the season. Looks like Homelander will continue to be the main villain. I just hope they don't prolong the "mentally unstable" trope too much and find ways to keep the show interesting. Looking forward to the finale.

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