SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed,” the July 1 episode of “The Boys.”
“What father wouldn’t want that for his son?”
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The final words said by Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy on a call with a stunned Homelander (Antony Starr) at the end of Friday’s episode of “The Boys” Season 3 revealed a game-changing twist heading into next week’s finale: Vought’s original extra-super superhero Soldier Boy is the biological father of new-and-debatably-improved Vought star Homelander.
Vought had Soldier Boy taken out of the picture so Homelander could grow up and take over as the supe in charge, something Soldier Boy reveals to Homelander while also saying he would have been happy to let Homelander step into the limelight.
“As a fan of the show, I didn’t see that coming,” Ackles confessed to Variety. “I just kind of assumed that the only connection was the fact that they were contextualized in the same way, that Soldier Boy was the original Homelander and got in the way and they replaced him with a shinier, newer version of the same thing. But in no way, shape or form did I think that there was an actual bloodline connection. So it kind of threw me for a loop.”
Ackles, who previously starred on all 15 seasons of The CW’s “Supernatural,” which was created by “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke, said this kind of twist is “one of the things I love about doing serialized TV.”
“When you’ve got a movie script, you’ve got the beginning, middle and end all right there in front of you. You can make all your choices about what you want to do in the beginning for the beginning, middle and end, so that it all ties together,” he told Variety. “But on a show like ‘Supernatural,’ like ‘The Boys,’ I’m kind of along for the ride just as much as the audience is, hoping that the choices I’ve made in the past are going to line up with the future. So I immediately had to sit down and rethink everything I was doing, and make sure that I didn’t make the wrong choices. But Kripke assured me that I didn’t.”
Kripke says he and his team of writers didn’t know right away when breaking “The Boys” Season 3 that Soldier Boy was going to be Homelander’s father, having given his sperm to Vought scientist Vogelbaum in the ’80s and remaining completely unaware it was used to make baby Homelander before Soldier Boy was kidnapped by the Russians. It was a choice that came out of a lot of conversations about the paternal and familial conflicts facing characters including Butcher (Karl Urban), Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) in the third season of the Amazon Prime Video series.
“There’s the obvious [reason], which is Soldier Boy was like the first Homelander. So there’s a certain logic that he is the father of the current Homelander,” Kripke told Variety. “But it was more about really slowing down and paying attention to the themes of the season as they were evolving. And really, in so many ways, this season is about fathers and sons. It’s about how fathers can pass their trauma, generationally, to their children, especially this toxic masculinity of policing that their boys have to be society’s version of masculine. There’s all of these themes that are all floating around and it all kind of lands in these father-to-son stories. We talk about Hughie and his dad, Butcher and his dad, Butcher and his son, Homelander and his son. It wasn’t the very first plan from the beginning, but as we were just talking through the mythology of the season, someone pitched it and said, ‘Crazy pitch, but what if…?’ And I jumped all over it. I’m like, of course, because many of our main characters are dealing with issues of their parents and parenting — Mother’s Milk, also — Homelander should have to deal with his dad. So it all fell together.”
As fans who read the original “The Boys” comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson know, Soldier Boy is not Homelander’s father in the source material. This key change affected the storyline in this season’s highly anticipated “Herogasm” episode, which is pulled directly from the comics. In that version, Soldier Boy and Homelander have sex at the superhero orgy, something viewers were clamoring to see on the TV series. However, Kripke had to explain to fans that wasn’t going to happen without revealing why.
“Everyone kept asking, ‘Why aren’t they having sex?’ And I said, ‘Just watch. You’ll understand why. It’s an important difference to what we’re doing with our characters,'” Kripke said. “And they’re just like, ‘They’re afraid to do it!’ I mean, listen, we weren’t afraid to do it. Like, if you’re asking, can we put Antony and Jensen in a love scene together? Both are down and I’m down to shoot it! No one had any problem with it. It was the pesky story point that they’re father and son, which is why we didn’t do it.”
Yes, that would’ve made things far more awkward than they’re already going to be on next week’s season finale of “The Boys,” now that Soldier Boy and Homelander know they’re father and son and Soldier Boy has to decide if that affects his pledge to kill Homelander for Butcher.
“The awkwardness of that realization gets played out more in Episode 8,” Ackles said. “We see that struggle that, not just Soldier Boy, but Homelander is having with that bomb-drop of information. Basically, Soldier Boy has some hard choices to figure out. He’s promised Butcher that he would help him and the tables are turned.”
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