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The Boys Season 3, Episode 8 Review – “The Instant White-Hot Wild”

The Boys Season 3, Episode 8 Review – “The Instant White-Hot Wild”

Warning: The following contains full spoilers for The Boys Season 3, Episode 8, “The Instant White-Hot Wild”, which aired on Prime Video on July 8, 2022. To refresh your memory, check out our review of last week’s episode.

After yesterday’s season 3 finale of The Boys, I watch a different show than the high energy smash ’em all just one season ago, where extreme violence was always the answer. “The Instant White-Hot Wild” ends with a more mature, infinitely darker story in which Butcher (Karl Urban) and the team confront personal hell that has been behind them since episode 1. It’s not the climax of Season 2, where girl gang montages and plot sieges culminate in all-out warfare. Butcher, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and Homelander (Antony Starr) eventually collide, but it’s not about a royal rumble in the Vought Tower where supportive cast members fight on different floors. It is a finale about reconciliation, reflection and moving on – (for the most part) the youth is gone from old times.

“The Instant White-Hot Wild” is about taking a stand and confronting fear, whether it is Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) marching back to the Vought Tower or Frenchie (Tomer Capone) demanding the respect of his employers. Butcher and Homelander both have miles to go before they become the leaders their squadrons deserve – how they recognize their demons is such a compelling story as reunions take place. Butcher reveals hidden colors by “compassionately” knocking Hughie (Jack Quaid) unconscious to save the boy from V24’s fatal effects. Homelander downplays what’s left of the seven in A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Vought International boss Ashley Barrett (Colby Minifie). I do not want to say that The Boys is all about Butcher versus Homelander, but their sometimes parallel, other times divergent paths become the storytelling in yesterday’s episode. Two heat-seeking monsters, both selfish, finally acknowledge those around them for better or worse.

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Digging deeper, The Boys connects the dots between growing up, violent or negligent fathers, and the juniors who inherit these qualities. All the foundations laid by the now deceased Jonah Vogelbaum (John Doman) and Butcher’s father Sam (John Noble) to shape Butcher and Homelanders hatred become clearer when Soldier Boy remembers his tragic fatherly relationship – Soldier Boy was forever a “disappointment”, as a “cheats” to get Compound V superpowers. Centering all anger, abandonment issues and external harshness is a childhood without love, damaged by figures who learned machismo with hard skin. Bastards raised all three men, and now they are embarking on a possibly apocalyptic cast. Coincidences? The way showrunner Eric Kripke hardens his ties through growing up is a chef kiss touch, and finds a common enemy in generational failure where “men should be men” to massive injuries.

“The Instant White-Hot Wild” also catches us on guard because there are happier (ish) endings than we expect – especially if you are used to Garth Ennis’ relentless comics. “But Matt, you said The Boys is now a darker and more mature show?” We get “darker”, but let’s start with “mature” because Kripke lets his characters (mainly) become better versions of themselves through adversity. Black Noir’s decision to stop fleeing Soldier Boy, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) who exposes bloodline trauma to daughter Janine, Homelander and Butcher and puts rivalry aside for Ryan (Cameron Crovetti)’s sake – I never expected to be more moved emotionally than excited by action when season 3 ended. Genuinely heartwarming and protective moments born of sacrifice pull together all these essence of the family, chosen or of family. Hughie’s reconciliation of his father’s perceived “weakness” as actual strength shows how a parent who is only there for his children in emergencies gets his hero status. Exploding dong is fun and all in practice, but Kripke’s authors confirm that they need these outrageous distractions less and less.

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Although this is not a wish for The Boys to abandon the dildo chucks or phallic punishment. Girls still get to this episode while super powerful Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) blows “Maniac” through the headphones and starts pumping her feet like in Flashdance before tearing herself through the Vought Tower guards, and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) harnesses the powerful power of Vought News’ light rigs to overwhelm Soldier Boy. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) finally gets a thunderous blow on Homelander, which makes the meta-god bleed his own Zoolander style. In an episode where the men get paralyzing psychological lifters (on top of physical pain), it is the women who stand tallest and fight against the ultimate evils, regardless of bumps, bruises and scars that are left as reminders. Starlight’s “I Told Ya So” moment to Hughie is so liberating and noisy, much like the final scene Maeve appears in this episode.

Now to the darkness, for The Boys still have storm clouds swirling over. “The Instant White-Hot Wild” may at the same time be the most hopeful and the worst episode of The Boys to date. That [redacted] scene with Black Noir is blatantly given how his imaginary cartoon friends react, and A-Train has been thrown out by his lame brother for being a nasty killer. While Butcher’s gang seeks redemption, the seven are tortured during Homelanders’ extremely unstable reign. No matter what progress Homelander makes by finding out that Soldier Boy is his biological father, playing the grandfather card with Ryan by his side burns like the liberal protester frying in his laser beams. Trump parallels are in full force when Homelander congratulates mockingly proud boys who gather as if it is January 6 to protect him from corrupt media stations and waking agendas. Homelanders smile after the crowd roars at the sight of direct murder is disgustingly amazing. It’s the same as Ryan’s future arc becomes apparent when the supe offspring smiles the slightest smile when he stands next to his father, who just escaped with first-degree murder. America is rotten from within its government to its influential masses, and The Boys only reinforces its comments about “patriotism as terrorism”.

Last up is the season’s biggest question: how did Jensen Ackles do it as a soldier boy? Even better, how did The Boys do with Soldier Boy? Both responses are positive since Ackles delivers some of the season’s most memorable remarks, whether they’ve grossly about Astroglide or genuinely ruined as a superhero betrayed by someone he’s ever tried to love. Some may question whether he was fully exploited – if he were to actually be on ice again – but I would argue that it is a complete story told when he reveals his childhood difficulties to Butcher. The showdown in Vought Tower when Ackles scolds that Homelander is a “pussy” kickstarter enough excitement when the Titans throw themselves down, which is surprisingly bloodless considering those involved. Soldier Boys massacres are reserved earlier in the season when Payback is eliminated, where “The Instant White-Hot Wild” crescendos by shutting down all Soldier Boys’ harmful masculine stereotypes. Ackles earns the role of Soldier Boy well through grunted insults and bottomless booze, overcoming the unhealthy aggravation of bottle chore that paints him the ugliest shade of shit.

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