‘The Boys’ Season 3 Finale Shows the Scariest Villains Are Among Us

The Season 3 finale of The Boys, now available to watch in all its grim glory, is a conclusion that is full of explosive moments of all the various characters taking each other on in a confrontation that has been building for the whole season. When the dust settles, the loose cannon Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) has now been dealt with, though the world feels like it has continued to shift in a worse direction. Specifically, Antony Starr’s homicidal Homelander has come out on top once more. Only now he has his son, Ryan, with him at his side. After all the efforts to keep the young kid away from his father, Homelander now finally has him in his clutches to shape for the worse without interference. In a climactic scene that also becomes the show’s most horrifying yet, he takes him down to meet his fanatical supporters. They hold signs honoring the now-dead Nazi supe Stormfront, attack press capturing the scene, and chant against Starlight who had recently exposed Vought. All this is perfectly acceptable to Homelander as he feeds off these fervent supporters who idolize him. As father and son descend to the cheering crowd, almost taking on the role of deities who can wreak destruction in the blink of an eye, the moment soon takes an even darker turn.

When a lone protestor throws what appears to be a can in his direction and ends up striking Ryan, Homelander brutally murders him by lasering his head to pieces in front of a crowd of witnesses. This proclivity for violence is not unexpected to us as the audience though it is something he has tried to keep secret from everyone else. He looks briefly panicked, not because he has any qualms about his actions, but because he is fearful the people gathered would turn on him. After all, it was a wildly disproportionate show of force that turned Homelander into judge, jury, and executioner. It was an extrajudicial killing that one would hope most people would be completely horrified and disgusted by. Indeed, there is a moment of stunned silence where everyone seems to be taken aback by what happened. The gravity of what he did is sinking in, with no one moving or making a single sound in response to what they saw. However, after this brief pause, a cheer breaks out from a familiar face.

It is started by none other than Matthew Gorman’s Todd, the timid and dorky current boyfriend of Monique Milk (Frances Turner) and antagonist of MM (Laz Alonso). It may seem surprising that this otherwise wormy little man could do this. Indeed, as the series reflects our own state of existence, we may not expect people we know to become swept up in hate and violence. However, when looking closely at both the show this season and the world we inhabit, it is frighteningly easy for people to get to the point where they would stand in a mob and cheer on a sociopath. Over the course of this season, we had observed how Todd had been slowly watching more and more of Homelander’s speeches that were full of lies meant to give him more power while avoiding accountability. It all warped his brain, turning him from a guy who just seemed like a bit of a harmless square into a more sinister embodiment of our own worst selves. He even took MM’s daughter to a Homelander rally, raising concerns not just about his judgment but about the impact he could have on an impressionable child. While there are plenty of violent villains in the show that can destroy you without a second thought, it is men like Todd that represent a more frightening, all-too-common villain that live among us.

This all culminated in the final scene where, despite the naive hope that people would turn on the sociopathic supe when they saw who he really was, they only embraced him further. It is a grim juncture that captures all of what the show has been building to. This chilling moment could easily be forgotten in the bombast of all that preceded it, though it emerges because of how true it feels. We see how Todd and the crowd are what give corrupt leaders only more power, emboldening them to take increasingly violent actions against any who oppose them in the future. While Homelander is initially surprised at the reception, his face soon lights up with an absolutely nightmarish sense of glee. As he begins maniacally laughing, it becomes almost demonic as we now see how the worst is only yet to come. The scene then cuts back one more time to Todd, breathlessly clapping and looking around at what he started. Though we don’t like to admit it, these are the people that capture an all-too-human evil. They are the ones who revel in the cruelty inflicted on others, joyously watching innocents suffer so they can feel superior. The Boys is a fantasy, though it is firmly grounded in this world. It is blunt, laying out its intentions quite clearly, though it remains incisive and terrifying when seeing all these pieces come together. It’s a reflection of our own world and the ugliest parts of ourselves we ignore, though still remains a dangerous pressure point of peril that can consume everything.

Many who watch it don’t like to admit this, as seen in the cognitive dissonance of some who still see Homelander as a character to admire which only further proves the point. We like to think that the monsters we analyze at a distance, especially in fiction, are anomalies. That they are perhaps, at best, exaggerations for the purposes of drama. After all, no one we know or live amongst would cheer on the murder of someone, right? They are like Monique who formed a relationship with Todd, trusting of someone who would throw them to the wolves without a second thought. Their callous cruelty is not an aberration, it is who they are. The cruelty, as the Atlantic writer Adam Serwer once put it, is the point. Todd is a more truthful depiction than any of us would like to admit, an insecure and pathetic person who finds strength through the subjugation of others. He is one villain of many that we need to fear the most. It lays the foundation for more violence and cruelty, a tipping point that has the power to obliterate countless people in the pursuit of yet more power. This is violent fascism not from a cartoonish enemy, but from a friendly face that is all the more dangerous because of it. It is one of the greatest threats that has toppled entire countries and cost countless lives. It marks the beginning of an even more grim turn for the show and, more concerningly, our own world. As seen in the season’s final shot where a smile begins to cross the face of the once sweet Ryan, any lingering optimism has now been thrown out the window. All of the ugly truths have now been laid bare, our own capacity for evil exposed as being terrifyingly close to home.

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