The Boys Season 4, Episode 3 recap: Vought on Ice

The War on Christmas heats up.
The Boys Season 4 on Prime Video
The Boys Season 4 on Prime Video /

For anyone — like me — who was eagerly looking forward to the Vought on Ice performance, we should have known it was going to be a bloody mess. Because what else would The Boys do? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The final episode of the three Prime Video dropped on premiere day neatly sets up what to expect this season, and we’ll get to the episode recap proper in a second. But first, the recap to ignition. Sorry. Recap before the recap.

Sister Sage (Susan Heyward), the smartest person in the world, has been making some big moves in a tenuous alliance with Homelander (Antony Starr), who has agreed to treat her as an equal. Nathan Fielder voice: the plan? Destabilize America and install Supes in every town. And she’s been doing that by working to burn everything down…specifically amping up tensions between the Starlighters and the Hometeamers, including framing the former for murder.

The murder rap didn’t stick, though, thanks to A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), who has been wavering about the whole Seven thing for a while now. Last episode, he even “helped” Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Annie (Erin Moriarty) by giving them the key piece of evidence to free the Starlighters.

Speaking of Hughie, his dad (Simon Pegg) had a stroke, and his mom (Rosemarie DeWitt) is back for the first time since he was 8. Not only that, but she has power of attorney over Hugh Campbell Sr. and wants to pull the plug, per his wishes, which is really messing Hughie up.

The rest of the Boys are similarly at loose ends, as Butcher (Karl Urban) has six months to live and desperately wants to rescue Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) from his own father, Homelander. Frenchie (Tomer Capone) secretly killed his boyfriend Colin’s (Elliot Knight) family, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) has discovered there’s a Shining Light terrorist cell in New York, and MM (Laz Alonso) is barely holding his team together.

As for the Seven, The Deep (Chace Crawford) is secretly hiding his octopus girlfriend Ambrosius (Tilda Swinton) in his closet, and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) talks now. In fact, he won’t stop talking. Also he's narcoleptic.

There’s a lot more to get to, so let’s move from the hotel lobby to the after-party and get to this recap going already.

The Boys, Season 4, Episode 3, “We’ll Keep The Red Flag Flying Here” recap:

Directed by Fred Toye and written by Ellie Monahan, the big theme of this episode isn’t so much forgiveness as how and when to apologize, with a corollary of: if you ignore your past, it’s going to come back to bite you.

This is on display in every single storyline, but nowhere is it more clear than with Hughie and his mom. While every other character in the episode is struggling with what to say to the demons of their past, and how to move into their own future, Hughie’s mom is owning her mistakes, admitting them, and not asking for forgiveness. After an extremely hard day where Hughie not only almost gets lasered by Homelander (more on that in a second) and saved by A-Train, aka the guy who killed his girlfriend, he asks his mother: why? Why did you leave?

In a stunning speech, she explains that she had postpartum depression, and it was so bad that one night when Hughie was 8 she took 40 Ambien to try and kill herself. Instead, she threw up the pills and realized that it was a matter of her open life or death. She left and saved her own life, even if it meant hurting the ones she loved. She doesn’t want Hughie to forgive her, she’s just explaining what happened. And it helps that Hughie, the most empathetic character on the show, is open to understanding where she’s coming from.

Surprisingly, Butcher is other sterling member of the “confess and move on” club, though he’s got a bit of a wrench to work through in the form of his old CIA buddy Joe Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He’s working to drug Ryan and deprogram him, with Kessler adding a side of “train Ryan to kill his own father.” When Ryan doesn’t immediately take the drugged cookies Butcher bakes for him*, they instead play Foosball, bond, and Butcher ultimately explains that he just wants Ryan to be okay. He also explains that yes, he’s scared of death, he’s human — and given that Homelander has been ?telling Ryan that humans are just ants and Supes are better than them, this is exactly what Ryan needs to hear right now. Kessler disagrees though, and knowing Butcher this may be a brief moment of clarity before the knives come out.

(*We just need a candlestick maker and that’s the whole hat trick.)

Let’s move on to Frenchie and Kimiko, who leave this episode to go on their own side mission. Frenchie, high as a kite, agrees under duress to help Kimiko take down the Shining Light cell. But he’s extremely distracted by his, you know, drugs, as well as the weight of not telling Colin he murdered his family. So instead he hallucinates bath toys, which tees up a wild story later on in the episode about how Frenchie only felt calm when his father put him in the bathtub for an hour while he (the father) had sex with prostitutes. But Frenchie also hallucinates Colin, his dead family, all the people Frenchie has killed… and Little Nina (Katia Winter), who basically tells him he’ll always be a killer, and will never be happy.

Unlike Butcher and Hughie, Frenchie’s clear-the-air convo is still TBD…as is Kimiko’s. While she takes down the terrorist cell essentially solo, she recognizes a woman with a scarred face, and there’s clearly a history there. I believe that’s Tala, played by Erika Prevost, and we’ll likely see more of her as the season continues.

Annie is about halfway between these forgiveness journeys, as she confronts Firecracker (Valorie Curry) to try and figure out why the newly inducted Seven member hates her so much. Turns out Annie absolutely ruined Firecracker’s reputation back when she was called Sparkler and on the pageant circuit. What follows is a fascinating scene because Firecracker is…right? Annie was awful back then? And the former (and future?) Starlight admits as much, but still partially blames it on her mother. Which is true, we take a lot from our parents. But she was also 13 at that time, and as Annie admits to Frenchie and Kimiko later on, it’s extremely hard to own up to your own mistakes instead of blaming them on other people.

The Boys Season 4
The Boys Season 4 - credit: Jasper Savage/Prime Video /

We’ve talked about how at least one character gets lost in each episode, and that’s sort of MM here. While he gets a great scene with A-Train and also gets several banger lines (expressing confusion over Sage’s addition to the Seven, MM says, “Elon Musk has more charm than she does. And he’s half android.”), but he’s pretty much left out of the whole “confront your past/embrace your future” theme.

A-Train gets some really interesting stuff and seems like an early breakout of the season. MM wants to flip him, and it seems to be working. A-Train saves Hughie from Homelander, and when Hughie asks “why,” he doesn’t answer. Perhaps A-Train just isn’t ready to commit to heroism yet, but he’s not asking for thanks; he’s just doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

I know we’re a long way into this recap and we still haven’t talked about the Seven, so let’s jump back to the beginning of the episode. We get almost a shot-for-shot remake of a stunning sequence from the 1972 film Carbaret, with a beautiful blonde-haired kid singing in falsetto. In Carbaret, the song is “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” and the kid is a young Nazi singing at a picnic. Here, it’s a Homelander at a rally, so same diff.

That rally includes Sage, who is wearing a costume despite explaining she never wanted to, and that their plan doesn’t work unless she’s behind the scenes. Homelander and Sage even outline their philosophy out loud, if it was too subtle for you:

Homelander: “Popularity is power.”

Sage: “It’s a prison.”

So, you know, that partnership probably isn’t going to work out. But at the same time, it’ll be interesting to see how it changes both of them. There’s a wild scene towards the end of the episode where Sage is eating a Blooming Onion from Outback Steakhouse, watching trashy reality TV, and hooking up with The Deep, so perhaps popularity is already changing her.

Sage is also installed as the CEO of Vought, leading to Ashley (Colby Minifie) freaking out, noting she hasn’t been to a doctor in three years (“I have enough yeast infections to open a Panera”), and deciding to quit. However, when Homelander kills Crime Analytics employee Anika (Ani Sani) for seemingly being the leaker who helped free the Starlighters (she's not), Ashley immediately shreds her resume. She’s trapped, for now — and maybe forever.

Meanwhile, Homelander really seems to be struggling with breaking through to Ryan. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a monster. But Antony Starr creates a continuity of performance here where you can see how he is trapped in the prison of his own narcissism and wants to break free, but he just can’t. This leads to the final moments of the episode where he, Green Goblin-style, talks to multiple versions of himself who tell him he needs to go back to the start. Like everyone else, he needs to confront his past to embrace the future.

Oh yeah, before we get to that, we need to talk about two things: the plot of the episode and Vought on Ice.

Dakota Bob (Jim Beaver) is prepping his presidential agenda and has decided he wants to ban all Supes; they need to go back to The Masked Singer where they belong. Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), who is a secret Supe (Bob knows that) is not on board. So instead she’s teaming up with Sage and Homelander, who want to take over America, installing a Supe in every town and every level of law enforcement. They also want Neuman to come out as a Supe, something she’s not yet willing to do because of her daughter Zoe (Olivia Morandin).

And this meeting happens at a rehearsal for Vought on Ice’s new show,  “A Very Super Christmas.” So in the timeline of the show, it was November in the first episode (Election Day), and presumably, about a month has passed since then.

More importantly, this leads to a song about putting the “Christ Back In Christmas” that feels like it’s right out of a South Park movie. It’s not, and a rep for Prime Video confirmed that the song was not only written by The Boys composer Chris Lennertz, but is performed by Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls), Tony Award-nominee Shoshana Bean (Wicked, Hairspray), and Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Hamilton). Basically: Tilda Swinton, or Will Ferrell, but for Broadway nerds.

I’ve copied the lyrics below in the Easter eggs section, but RIP to all of those performers as we get to see the ultimate nightmare of ice skating. After realizing Hughie is hiding in the vents in order to bug their meeting, Homelander starts lasering non-stop. MM shines a spotlight in his eyes, causing Homelander to miss and instead cut the ice skater playing Queen Maeve in half with his heat vision. The performers panic, and what follows is people getting their fingers sliced off, Jesus slitting a man’s throat with his skates, and so much death and blood.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Next week: Homelander goes home… Lander.

Easter eggs & cameos:

  • The Tournament of Heroes video game has Homelander, Maeve, A-Train, and Black Noir on the loading screen, which reflects real-life where Homelander was added to the Mortal Kombat roster. A reminder that they filmed this show like a year and a half ago.
  • Playable characters include (in order from top left): A-Train, The Deep, Crimson Countess, Homelander, Black Noir, Queen Maeve, Web Weaver, Tek Knight, Lamplighter, Gunpowder, Polarity, Translucent, Termite, Ezekiel.
  • This isn’t a fun reference by any means, but the man who comes to Starlight House looking to find the children they’ve locked in the basement is one-to-one with the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, down to the place those wackos targeted also not having a basement.
  • Black Noir studied performing arts at Godolkin University… Is he a character we glimpsed on Gen V? Or is that just part and parcel with the world of the shows?
  • Not really an Easter egg, but I didn’t have any place else to put this… Sage suggests they watch Transformers 2, the “one with the racist robots,” and then The Deep explains he’s actually friends with Shia LaBeouf, who wants him to be in Honey Boy 2 but "the script isn’t there yet." Under 60 seconds, and packed with more jokes than a Comedy Central Roast. This show is good.
  • There’s a poster in the hospital hallway with a pic of A-Train that reads “A speedy recovery starts here.”

Here are the lyrics to “Put The Christ Back In Christmas,” transcribed to the best of my ability, which plays in full over the end credits:

"Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas
Raise our voices loud
Put the Christ back in Christmas
Let’s make Jesus proud
Because Christmas is for everyone
As long as you believe in god’s true son
Shout it out for all to hear
Put the Christ back in Christmas, this year

Heed these words my people
For I was born this day
You can’t let them forget me
For a fat man and his sleigh

Got to listen to god’s only son

The war on Christmas has begun

Whatever the hell the woke mob brings
My herald angels sing

Hark his herald angels sing

Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas
Raise our voices loud
Put the Christ back in Christmas
Let’s make Jesus proud
Every Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Jew
You can celebrate Christmas too

So say his name you know so well

That way you won’t burn in hell

Homelander and Maeve:
Put the Christ back in Christmas
Put the Christ back in Christmas
Put the Christ back in Christmas
This year

Some Guy:
Amen, Jesus!

Chris Lennertz

Does Homelander drink milk?

Nope! No milk this episode.

Does Hughie get covered in blood?

Despite being mere feet away from the bloodbath on ice, Hughie gets away blood-free for the third episode in a row.

Love Sausage Award for most gross-out moment of the episode:

I mean, the whole Vought on Ice massacre, but seeing the woman scream as her fingers are sliced off by ice skates is one of my number one nightmares, so there you go.

Burning questions:

What’s up with the bloody metal stick in Sage’s room? The camera lingers on that as she and The Deep hook up, and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what it was, or where it came from.

As Homelander considers going home, we see a red door again in his visions… What’s behind it? Probably nothing good.

The Boys streams Thursdays on Prime Video.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988.

The Boys season 4 reviews

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