There has been a running theme in The Boys of Billy Joel songs because he is Hughie Campbell’s (Jack Quaid) favorite artist. If I was going to compare The Boys Season 3 to one of the piano man’s songs, then it would have to be “Summer, Highland Falls” from the album Turnstiles. I am as much a fan of Billy Joel as I am of The Boys, so it didn’t take much for my brain to put these two strings together like a madman lining up his conspiracy theories. All of the show’s characters are at turning points in their life, struggling with the world around them or what they have become. Sure, comparing one of the most violent satires of the entire cape genre to a song about sorrow may seem cheesy but hang in there with me, won’t you? Generic isn’t my bit, and it isn’t The Boys either. It’s one particular lyric that stands out in this comparison.
Now we are forced
To recognize our inhumanity
Our reason coexists with our insanity– Billy Joel, “Summer, Highland Falls”
The Boys is a show filled with psychopaths, narcissists, and some other people who are caught up in the whirlwind of all the larger-than-life capes and personalties. This season introduces a plethora of new things to keep fans hooked, like a compound V variant (the drug that makes Supers…well, super?) that gives you 24 hours of power. We also get a new hero of old, called Soldier Boy, played by CW heartthrob and scene-stealer Jensen Ackles. But I want to focus on the characters who, I think, stand as the total opposite ends of The Boys as they go through transformations while struggling with their ideas of self. On one end, we have the ultimate face of evil, carefully constructed by a massive company to seem like the voice for good who yearns for nothing more than more power in Homelander (Antony Starr). On the opposite end, the silent bloodsoaked killer of The Boys themselves wants nothing more than to be free of her powers to live free of the burden in Kimiko Miyashiro (Karen Fukuhara).
Both of these characters are forced to face their own inhumanity and the blood stains across their entire idea of self. Homelander is an evil Superman pastiche to the core, even if he is the only one that I find truly successful. Superman faces challenges with a smile and a kind word. Homelander does face challenges with a smile as well, such as the countless interviews about how he could be so naive to date a literal nazi. Each interview is done with a smile and the breaking facade that this man is anything close to sane. The Boys season 3 sees Homelander at a crossroads where his popularity and metaphorical power is slipping through his fingers. Instead of letting it slip, his iron grip tightens around the throat of the entire world around him.
Starr’s performance as Homelander only gets more unhinged in The Boys Season 3 with some truly spectacular acting. While most viewers are going to be enthralled with his acts of violence and dominance, it’s the smaller facial tics and glares in the performance that scare me. Watching this average white man take over the world because of his privilege of power is eerily familiar to the entire world around us. The show satirizes the idea that these horrible monsters in the show and in our world get away with literal murder and abuse because of carefully plotted PR schemes. It’s an interesting use of the medium that works really well in The Boys Season 3 as we watch Homelander slip further and further into hell. There is a scene parodied from Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman that will make you nearly throw up in your mouth with how sinister Homelander truly is.
While Homelander was created for this life, Kimiko was not. Neither were given a choice if they wanted to be apart of the super life, though. While Homelander has only embraced his power more and more for control, Kimiko has only grown more and more fearful of her own power. The chances of a normal life were stolen from her brother and her at a normal age which was a major plot point of the previous season. Now she is seeing that what she does with her powers is doing the same to other people. During an incident with a superhero, someone is killed in a bloody mess as innocent children watch. She speaks to Frenchie (Tomer Capone) about it in a way that those children will never recover from that. She knows what damage that can do and how the chances of ever feeling normal after that are so slim.
Kimiko wants to be rid of her powers, and she wants to have a say in it. She wants to speak, which up until this point, she has not been able to. We see this in one of the best uses of music in a series I have had the pleasure of seeing. The musical number that was shown in the trailer is truly a highlight of the series so far because it’s a wild departure to show what happiness can feel like while the rest of the show is so dark. Even when Fukuhara cannot speak, her body expressions along with absolute control of the emotional spectrum on her face alone makes her performance an absolute stand out in a world of horrors.
Each of their reasons exists with the insanity of the world around them. Both are set on opposite paths with similar pieces. The Boys season 3’s exploration of these two characters makes it worth coming back to if you felt burned out on the violence, crudeness, and almost unfeeling nature you may have gotten from the show prior. Back to Billy Joel, though, the song has another lyric that I think harkens to where these two paths may end. Grappling with their power and the circumstances neither asked for, it will be interesting to see where both push themselves in the end.
And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It’s either sadness or euphoria– Billy Joel, “Summer, Highland Falls”