“The Boys ”recap: A Christmas shift

The Boys investigate a shifty supe to prevent a presidential coup.

It’s Christmastime in the world of The Boys! And with that comes a heart-warming Muppets-style special starring Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) and the Muppet Seven, working together to teach kids about… the evils of ANTIFA? Oh. Well… I guess what else were we supposed to expect from Vought?

Thing is, Ryan’s not happy about the content of this special, so he walks off set during the rehearsal. And when his daddy Homelander (Antony Starr) finds out, he’s none too pleased. So he leaves Ryan an angry voicemail telling him to “suck it up” and do it. Which Ryan doesn’t particularly appreciate. So when it comes time to shoot the live special, Ryan goes off-book and makes clear that what Vought is preaching isn’t cool.

He’s too young to really understand what’s going on or to voice in any eloquent way how horrific this all is, but his opposition to his father’s command marks a turning point for Ryan nonetheless. One that, we hope, will send him back into the arms of Butcher (Karl Urban).

Related: The Boys recap: Butcher plots his endgame

But Butcher’s busy at the moment. On the brink of death, he has a revelation of his own – deciding once and for all to ignore the dark voice in his head, A.K.A. Joe Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Returning to Boys HQ, Butcher comes clean about kidnapping Sameer (Omid Abtahi) and forcing him to re-create the supe-killing virus.

And off his panic attack last episode, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) decides it’s time for him to step back and return the reins of the Boys to its creator: Butcher. No one’s pleased with this, but MM insists, and eventually they relent.

So the team splits up to tackle two missions: Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Frenchie (Tomer Capone) – who’s out of prison thanks to Butcher and CIA agent Grace Mallory – will babysit Sameer while he cooks up the virus. Meanwhile, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Annie (Erin Moriarty), and Butcher follow up on a lead from A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), who’s identified an assassin Sage hired to kill President-Elect Singer on January 6th.

And MM? Anxious about his anxiety, he insists on sitting this one out. Returning to his ex Janine, MM readies her and his daughter for a flight to Belize to wait out the storm. But Janine won’t go… unless MM comes with them. It’s a major moment in MM’s series arc, having been on the outs with his family for years and now finding Janine begging him to return to them. And when Janine kisses MM, he tells Janine he’ll think about it.

While MM considers his exit from the Boys, the rest of the team gets to work. Frenchie meets Sameer and, being a whiz at whipping up formulae in dingy labs, pitches a method to neutralize the virus’s contagion factor while maintaining its potency. Sameer takes Frenchie’s advice and makes the virus work. Still overcome with guilt for his past sins and none too happy about holding Sameer captive, Frenchie decides to let him go.

But as soon as Frenchie and Kimiko unchain Sameer… he stabs Kimiko in the leg with the virus-filled syringe. As Sameer escapes, Frenchie thinks fast, grabs a saw, and amputates Kimiko’s leg before the virus can spread to the rest of her body. Of course Kimiko’s leg grows back, like always, but they keep the severed one, which is now a host for the virus. So… success?

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<p>Amazon Prime</p> Erin Moriarty on 'The Boys'

Amazon Prime

Erin Moriarty on 'The Boys'

Elsewhere in the Big Apple, Annie, Butcher and Hughie investigate the home of the would-be assassin of President-Elect Singer – finding a kidnapped woman hiding in a closet. They reach out to help the woman – who suddenly leaps up and makes a run for it, escaping by shapeshifting into an older woman she passes by on the stairs and disappearing into a crowd.

So… the assassin is a shapeshifter. Which means it could be anyone, anywhere. Great!

As if that wasn’t bad enough news for the Boys, we haven’t even gotten to Homelander’s role in this episode. After the brainless performance by Sage (Susan Heyward) at the Tek Knight party, Homelander fires her from the Seven. And without Sage there to talk sense into him, he decides to send Deep (Chace Crawford) and Noir (Nathan Mitchell) to kill the Boys, once and for all. Maybe not the best choice of assassins, but… sure!

Normally Deep would be scared stiff to go after the Boys, but he’s had quite the day and it’s just the distraction he needs. Earlier, his octo-lover Ambrosius learned of his affair with Sage and confronted him. So Deep, feeling trapped in this otherwise totally normal and healthy relationship, got angry and smashed Ambrosius’s tank, then listened from outside his closet as she suffocated to death. RIP Ambrosius. We hardly knew ye.

Related: The Boys' Eric Kripke unpacks that Jeffrey Dean Morgan season 4 twist

Fresh off murdering the love of his life, Deep shows up with Noir at Boys HQ and tries to kill Annie, Butcher, and Hughie. The Boys fight back as best as they can, but with Annie’s powers still on the fritz, they’re no match for two supes, even if they are the lamest members of the Seven. Our heroes are about to get merked when A-Train zaps in to beat the fish-guts out of Deep, and MM busts in to machine-gun Noir out a window.

So the Boys live to fight another day, with MM squarely back in the fold… but A-Train’s cover is blown in the process. So he jets back to Vought HQ and tries to convince Ashley (Colby Minifie) to go into hiding with him. And maybe it’s because she’d spent the whole episode drinking herself into oblivion, or maybe she’s just tired of being ordered around by superheroes, but Ashley refuses to leave. A-Train respects her decision, but he’s not sticking around for the inevitable bloodbath, so he bails.

The Boys retreat to a bar to drink away their battle wounds, where Hughie mopes about failing to neutralize the assassin while Annie placates a fan who forces a selfie with her. Soon, the show’s favorite couple decides to call it a night. They leave Butcher behind, sucking down scotch like there’s no tomorrow… ‘cause for him, there isn’t. As Hughie and Annie leave, Butcher suddenly passes out, the world around him going black.

Related: Black Noir speaks! The Boys star Nathan Mitchell on 'New Noir' and almost going 'down with the character'

The episode ends with Hughie and Annie in their bedroom… where, to Hughie’s surprise, Annie dons her Starlight outfit and seduces Hughie into sleeping with her. Putting on the costume is quite out of character for Starlight, but Hughie’s not really thinking with his brain at the moment, so he doesn’t realize…

That’s not Annie. It’s the Shapeshifter who’s assumed her form. That fan who took a selfie with Annie at the bar earlier? That was the Shapeshifter, getting close enough to Annie to clone her essence… or whatever it is they do. But if the Shapeshifter’s with Hughie, then where’s the real Annie?

Oh, she’s locked in a dungeon, chained to the floor with the rotting corpses of Shapeshifter’s other victims. And as Annie tries to no avail to break free, the credits roll.

Stray Observations:

  • As always, the LOL line of the week award goes to Deep who, in response to Ambrosius asking if he can pick her up some Sugarfish, says: “We’ve been over this! I can’t take part in the slaughter of albacore. My ride or die is an albacore.”

  • Close second goes to Frenchie who, to encourage Sameer to think outside the box and figure out a way to re-create the supe-killing virus in their dingy basement lab, says: “Necessity is the MILF of invention.” Well said, Frenchie.

  • One twist that caught me by surprise was the fact that Sage knew all along A-Train was the leak, and was using him to control information flow to the Boys. Damn, she’s brilliant. Sure Homelander firing her won’t backfire at all.

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