[Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Boys Season 3, Episode 8! Read at your own risk!]
The Boys Season 3 started with an exploding penis and ended with a lasered head that was somehow even more shocking. The final episode of the season saw the anticipated showdown between Butcher (Karl Urban), Homelander (Antony Starr), and Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligot) and Annie (Erin Moriarty) stepping in to help. While Butcher was originally supposed to work with Soldier Boy to take out Homelander, the latter brought Ryan into the fray, and Butcher teamed up with his archnemesis in order to protect Becca's (Shantel VanSanten) son.
In the end, Soldier Boy exploded and Maeve absorbed the blast, saving everyone in Vought Tower at the expense of her own powers. She'll be living a quiet, secret, civilian life from now on. Grace (Laila Robbins) took custody of Soldier Boy's body and put him back on ice. Butcher received a terminal diagnosis for his Temp V usage, revealing he has less than a year to live. His gang, who officially adopted Annie at the end of the finale, doesn't know about the diagnosis, but they have their hands full because Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) is now the VP pick on the presidential ticket.
A supe with head-popping abilities is still not the most disturbing thing that happened in the finale. The final scene had Homelander introducing Ryan — who chose being with Homelander over staying with Butcher and the boys after the epic supe fight — to an adoring crowd. When a Starlight supporter hit Ryan in the head with a beer can, Homelander impulsively lasered the protestor's head in half, killing him instantly. Rather than be appalled, his fans cheered, and the final shot of the season was Ryan taking in the scene and giving an ominous smirk.
TV Guide spoke to executive producer Eric Kripke about the shocking final scene and its parallels to Donald Trump parallels, and what all of it means going into Season 4.
That final moment with Homelander feels like a specific parallel to Trump when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and people would still vote for him. Can you talk about making that connection so apparent now when it's been more subtle in seasons past?
Eric Kripke: Yes, that quote from Trump, that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers would continue to love him and vote for him, that was the inspiration for that [Homelander] moment, for sure. We wanted to see it for real. There is this really troubling phenomenon where the more absolutely horrible a politician acts, like Lauren Boebert saying that Jesus wouldn't have been crucified if he had an AR-15, the more shocking and insane you can be, the more press you get, the more you get the left angry and the right laughing, and it's just this sort of uncivil discourse that we're satirizing with what Homelander's doing. In many ways, every season finale is the pilot for the next season. It's all reflecting the world we're living in, and the world we're living in is just becoming more and more fractured.
So does that mean there will be more moments that feel really familiar, and not in a good way?
Kripke: That's something that the show does. We like to hold up a kind of funhouse mirror to what's going on between QAnon and the big lie of the stolen election. The amount of bullsh-- that's fed is actually causing these massive divisions in society. That's the really big stuff, and it's very much our MO to tackle it.
The show is also meant to be entertaining, so how do you draw the line between saying what you want to say and keeping it from being too preachy, or do you not care about the line?
Kripke: I definitely care. We lead with character. If something sort of naturally takes us to a political point or a satirical point, we'll definitely take that shot. We don't start with, "Here's a story about some political movement." We start with: Who are these characters? What are they going through? If you use that as your guiding light, it's hard to go wrong. What's great about the concept that Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson created that I sort of lucked myself into is it's just a perfect metaphor for the moment that we are living in. I wish I could say we were brilliant. It's just easy to make the real political things absurd and ridiculous once you add superpowers into it. It's a beautiful formula that I lucked into, and I'm taking advantage of it.
So much of this season ended up being about fatherhood in a really horrifying way. Can you talk about having Ryan there at Homelander's side and what that means for him going forward?
Kripke: That's a hint that a lot of the next season is going to be a battle of Ryan's soul. The way we sort of phrase it is, Season 3 is about fathers and Season 4 is about sons. Season 3 is kind of looking at the past of where these guys came from, and Season 4 is looking at the future and what's going to happen. We're going there. We were very aware. We do a lot of navel-gazing in the writers' room, and we're very aware that the theme of fathers was really emerging, so we kept leaning into it and echoing the theme over and over again in so many different characters.
What happens to Vought after Homeland lasers that guy's head?
Kripke: They are in the same place they always were, which is a certain amount of damage control, a certain amount of character assassination on the guy that Homelander killed. It's the usual menu to make sure that their heroes remain the profitable commodities that they are. What's insane about the world we live in is people want to eat it up. They don't want their heroes to take responsibility.
Does it even matter? Does Vought care if the numbers are good?
Kripke: It's a corporation, which by its nature, is a sociopathic individual. It's living in a capitalist system, which is only based on continual, endless, unsustainable growth. I would say back to you that once you strip away all of the bullsh-- of performative wokeness and pretending to be sweetie pies so that you can sell you more sh--, most corporations only care about their stock price and raising the bottom line. Everything else is just a tolerated means to make sure that they don't become overly controversial and can keep selling you soda.
It ended pretty darkly for everyone, and we even have a terminal diagnosis for Butcher. Are we ever going to have hope at the end of a season? Is there any hope ever?
Kripke: What's so funny is that I see it as such a hopeful show. You're not the first person to say, "Is there any hope?" For instance, everything that Frenchie and Kimiko do for each other. I see Annie step-by-step coming into her own power as a genuine force for good and Hughie learning what it means to genuinely support her on her own terms rather than being some toxic a--hole. Mother's Milk being able to take care of his daughter. I think it's a question of where you look, because any of the big sweeping gestures in the show, yes, are corrupt because they're broken in the real world. Anyone who stands in front of you and says, "I'm the one who can save you. I'm going to rescue you, and you can count on me," they're lying. They're dangerous and they're trying to sell you something. But the million unremarkable boring things that we all do to take care of our families and our neighbors and our friends, that's how the world gets saved. So if you look on the street level, I think there's a lot of hope. It's done in these very small ways. It's Frenchie offering to take Kimiko to an amusement park. It's Hughie having the confidence to admit how totally wrong he was. These are really heroic moments in the show. They're just quiet. That makes me feel better.
The Boys Season 3 is now streaming Prime Video, with new episodes released every Friday.
(Additional reporting by Lauren Piester)