Even though “Herogasm,” the sixth and final episode of season 3, is the most bizarre, I like that this week’s season finale is driven by the emotional journeys of the show’s characters, carrying us to some very surprising and affecting places.
The episode begins with Homelander (Antony Starr) searching for his son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), who has been having a difficult time recently. Before this season, Ryan had been rejected by Butcher (Karl Urban) for his affections. As a result, when Homelander appeals to Ryan’s shattered psyche, he gives in, taking his psychopathic bio-dad and caretaker Mallory (Laila Robbins) with him.
His dad isn’t popular with the rest of the world, and Ryan isn’t aware of it. Stock in Vaught plunged after Starlight (Erin Moriarty), Homelander’s fearsome diatribe on Homelander ended the previous episode. Protesters set up camp outside Vaught Tower to demand the release of Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott.)
Afraid of Maeve’s safety if she tells the truth, CEO Ashley (Colby Minifie) and The Deep (Chace Crawford) decide to relocate her. Maeve effortlessly overpowers her escorts and flees, thanks to the show’s resident fools.
The sure-hunters — Butcher (Jack Quaid), Hughie (Jensen Ackles), and Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) — return to the city following their struggle with Mindstorm in the woods last week (Ryan Blakely). Hughie is knocked unconscious by Butcher as the gang pulls into a gas station. Butcher’s approach to defending Hughie, his surrogate little brother, after finding that Temp-V is lethal is icy and lovely at the same time.
At a later time, Starlight returns Hughie to the gas station with the truth about the Temp-V to inform him. Starlight accepts Hughie’s apologies for his rude behavior. Even though they’re not precisely back together, it appears that #HughLight has a bright future ahead of it.
A group of mercenaries led by Hughie and Starlight arrive in New York and begin strategizing with the rest of their crew, which includes Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), and Frenchie (Laz Alonso). Maeve, who finds her way to the crew’s hideout and lends a helping hand… sort of, gives the group some much-needed muscle.
To subjugate Soldier Boy, the Russians developed a nerve agent called “Novichok,” which Frenchie has obtained. The Boys intend to use it on him, even if it means letting Homelander go free. Maeve, on the other hand, is determined to use Soldier Boy to remove Homelander, so she discards the novichok.
When Butcher and Soldier Boy arrive, they make it plain that they intend to go to Vaught Tower and take down Homelander. Starlight, Hughie, and pretty much everyone else are adamantly opposed to this plan because it will result in the deaths of tens of thousands of unarmed civilians in the nearby tower.
Weakened by Maeve’s support, Soldier Boy and Butcher ensnare Hughie and Starlight in a closed safe and drive to Vaught. When Starlight finally manages to blast her way out of the safe, the Boys rush to the tower in a last-ditch effort to make more novichok in the Vaught lab and kill Soldier Boy.
It’s time for Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) and Homelander to face Soldier Boy… as the Boys jet across town Then again, he’ll only have to deal with one suped at a time. Defender kills Soldier Boy after confronting him with the truth that Soldier Boy is his biological father.
Due to Homelander’s lack of support, Soldier Boy and V’d up Butcher are on the verge of taking him down. Soldier Boy’s fatherly instincts are piqued when Homelander asks him to join him in battle and introduces him to his grandson, Ryan. For a brief moment, it appears that Soldier Boy will join his family… Armed with the knowledge that Homelander had wept, Soldier Boy decides to put him down for being “a wimp.”
They go toe-to-toe, father and son, in the Vaught newsroom, with diplomacy out of the picture. Homelander’s powers are permanently extinguished as Soldier Boy obtains the upper hand. Ryan is in the room, which presents a problem.
Let Ryan die and fulfill Butcher’s need for vengeance, or save Ryan and let Homelander go free. Soldier Boy is knocked off Homelander just in time for Starlight and Maeve to join the action, while Hughie slips into the control room and is evacuated.
Starlight, Butcher, MM, and Kimiko take on Soldier Boy as Homelander and Maeve go toe-to-toe. It’s just too much for Soldier Boy… Hughie is watching from the control room as he prepares to execute Starlight, but he has a dilemma of his own. He discovered a vial of Temp-V earlier in the episode while searching the safe-house. Why not set his pride aside and help Starlight save herself, rather than risk his own life by shooting up and flying in to save her?
Hughie, like Butcher, prefers the light… Turning up every light source in the newsroom, so that Starlight has the power to stand up to Soldier Boy. Soldier Boy is restrained by Starlight, Butcher, MM, and Kimiko, who administer the novichok Frenchie just brewed… Soldier Boy, on the other hand, is fighting back and preparing to blow them all up…
When Maeve takes a difficult decision to set aside her revenge against Homelander to tackle Soldier Boy, she sends them both flying out the window as Soldier Boy explodes into a gigantic mushroom cloud. Maeve and Soldier Boy are assumed dead while Homelander and Ryan escape.
Later, we learn that Maeve was not killed in the explosion, but that she had lost her powers. As soon as Maeve is reunited with Elena, she plans to leave town and have a quiet life away from Vaught. The good news is that she’s done well. Sure, it’ll be fine. Soldier Boy, who has been returned to captivity, is also still alive and being looked over by Agent Mallory, who is resentful and broken.
Homelander had already ordered The Deep to display his allegiance by executing the American Vice Presidential candidate, and the last act of this episode suggests a significant storyline for season 4. At the time, it wasn’t clear why that mattered, but now we find Neuman (Claudia Doumit) nominated as the new VP candidate for the Homelander Party. President-elect Trump’s “presidential accident” is expected to happen within days of her victory in the election.
At the end of the episode, Homelander reveals Ryan to the rest of the world in a horrific incident that takes place outside Vaught. Super lasers a demonstrator on the spot who called Homelander out by yelling “Ryan!” at him. Applause breaks out after a brief moment of stillness. It breaks my heart to watch Ryan submit to his father’s indoctrination as he basks in the admiration of the Homelander enthusiasts.
As a result of the season, 3 finale’s many loose ends, I expect to spend the next year gazing up at the sky, eagerly anticipating how they will all be resolved in season 4.