“You Found Me” finally delivers on the vague moments of promise offered through The Boys‘ wildly uneven first season: there’s explosive(ly meaningful) action sequences, dynamic moments of character, and a number of truly unexpected narrative shifts. Equally trashy and operatic in its delivery, “You Found Me” is a moment of realized potential for The Boys, despite being a deeply flawed finale of an equally troubled freshman offering.
“You Found Me” is a moment of realized potential for The Boys, despite being a deeply flawed finale of an equally troubled freshman offering.
What’s exciting about The Boys is how it offers some important clarity on some of the season’s running stories, like the identity crises the Deep and Starlight individually experience in this episode. Catalyzed by their one awful shared scene in the pilot, “You Found Me” offers a quiet poignancy in how it revisits the state of those two characters.
It works most effectively for Starlight (since, you know, it’s not asking the audience to be a rape apologist), who finally takes hold of her image and her life, confronting her mother and Hughie alike when they try to project their hopes and dreams onto her. She’s not Hughie’s savior, her mother’s pet project, or a government experiment: she’s a fucking super hero, one whose core values have been challenged in every episode this season.
Some of those moments have been extraordinarily clumsy (her getting drunk and suddenly embracing the sexy Starlight outfit is… kind of a jarring turn), but they coalesce into an interesting distillation of Starlight’s inner conflict, once separated from the paltry romantics of her and Hughie’s coupling. For once, The Boys offers a female character whose strength is build on a solid foundation of character, one that isn’t a cartoonish villain (Madelyn) or an indecipherable enigma (Kimiko).
It’s a rather hopeful moment for the series, that it can grow out of some of the more regressive stereotypes it’s offered through the season – including this episode, like Homelander’s big opening sequence.
It is disturbing, on any number of levels, to watch him gleefully tear apart a group of unnamed Syrian soldiers during his first official mission (I guess?) as a member of the United States military. There’s literally no context given beyond “how cool is it to watch Homelander fucking shred some terrorists” – it’s a scene we don’t really need to get the point across, and dips into some of the more disappointing racial elements this series has struggled with.
Speaking of: what the fuck happened to the suicide bomber super villain? If there’s one ovearching issue with “You Found Me,” it’s The Boys‘ aryhthmic pacing coming back to bite it in the ass. With so much material to burn through with its central conflicts, there’s little time for other plot threads to follow through: Kimiko, Raynar, A-Train, and their entire plot lines vanish in the course of the final thirty minutes, while scenes with The Deep and Queen Maeve feel like they’re cut halfway through, material left for the already-announced second season.
Of the three I mentioned, A-Train’s sudden death is a bit disappointing: there was a more complex character hinted at with his role in the Seven, his addiction to Compound V (which nobody else has exhibited, even though they were pumped full of it in the womb?), and the relationship with his brother. This is a super hero show, so anything can happen, but his sudden death is a sad sidelining of a true tragedy, one with implications in defining some of The Boys‘ occasional metaphysical musings about power, purpose, and identity.
Where those ideas really hit home are in unexpected places: though her presence in the episode is brief, “You Found Me” gives voice to the founder of Butcher’s little group, the CIA agent we briefly saw during Butcher’s flashbacks. Having paid the cost of taking on superheroes (she saw her grandchildren incinerated by Lamplighter), she lives a lonely life watching the birds in the woods, the world’s most open prison to relive her life’s failures over and over again.
It’s subtle, but the unrest Butcher’s presence – and stern admonitions of her breaking promises – is rather powerful, giving voice to the helplessness of mortals in the presence of gods, enacting their will how they choose. She makes an interesting parallel to both Hughie and Butcher: a comparison test in what grief and trauma does to one’s humanity, and a grave reminder to Hughie that while victory and failure in battle is temporary, the pain he feels about killing Translucent, lying to Annie, and losing Robin is something he’s got to deal with, or he’ll be left choosing between binoculars and a shot glass himself.
Hughie is probably the character who suffers the most from his character’s inconsistency in The Boys‘ weaker moments; even The Deep sadly shaving his entire body has some meaning, a man whose completely lost touch with both worlds he swore to protect, a deserving punishment for the abuse he’s wreaked on them both (raping women, and half-assing his job in protecting the environment).
Hughie’s presence in “You Found Me” lacks that conflict for most of the hour, fumbling through his scenes with Annie and the other members of the group: but it does find its footing long enough when Hughie tries to save A-Train while he’s having a heart attack, no matter the cost it might be to Hughie personally in the future. It is a quiet (and, admittedly, quickly forgotten) moment of redemption for his role in the season’s events, a way for him to embrace life and reconciliation, rather than wallow in the violent darkness that consumed him earlier this season.
Of course, this doesn’t forgive what a manipulative shit head he was to Annie all season; but the scene also serves her well, finally putting her powers on full display, and giving us the aforementioned “I’m a fucking superhero moment.” It’s a strong resolution for another character The Boys‘ has sometimes fumbled to understand – and of course, the coolest fight scene of the season, the one time we see two super heroes go head to head.
I’m a bit more ambivalent about the ending: both in the clumsy way it explains everything to the audience, but how it continues to present Homelander as a character without nuance. To borrow from Antony Starr’s previous show Banshee, he feels like Declan Bode appearing in the Amish town: it lacks distinction, and feels nihilistic often just for the fuck of it. Though it takes the idea of an all-powerful superhero to its natural extreme, the expression of that doesn’t offer any room for Homelander to effectively express some of the emotions that lead him to burning holes through Madelyn’s skull (again: more violence against women! It really just never fucking stops).
He feels betrayed that she’s ungrateful, and wants to reiterate his ultimate power on Madelyn, revealing he’s the one who created the super terrorists for his own entertainment (and her fortune) – but now that she has a baby, he doesn’t feel he’s important. So he kills her, to reiterate his nature and prove to Butcher that he’s never going to get the vengeance he wants: it thoroughly paints him as an otherworldly monster, one whose absolute corruption is just a bottomless pit of viscera and toxic masculinity.
It makes him both a one-dimensional character, and one who is hard to understand: and for some reason, The Boys leans hard into this during its most surprising reveal, that Becca Butcher and Homelander’s rape-child are actually alive and well, hidden somewhere even the CIA Deputy Director can’t find them. Like many of its half-resolutions and dramatic climaxes, Homelander’s final reveal is halfway to being a truly moving, world shaking moment, one that renders Butcher’s entire suicide mission moot, and drastically changes our understanding of the world (since this child would be, in theory, the first naturally born superhero in history).
If there’s a unifying frustration to the many big moments of “You Found Me,” it’s that: while so many of the scenes are intriguing, many of them are slightly unsatisfying resolutions, just because they’re never given a moment of room to breathe, to let the air settle in the room to give an idea of how things have actually changed.
For example, it’s impossible to discern where Hughie and Annie’s relationship is: she broke up with him, saves his life, expresses disappointment in him, and he confesses his truth to her. But there’s no real shape given to these revelations, simply letting them exist as a connective thread to wherever it heads in its already-announced second season. It feels like a series of commas, without any other meaningful punctuation to surround these moments.
In other episodes, it made the big turns and dramatic decisions feel hollow: in “You Found Me,” The Boys is able to engineer some resonance with the modicum of growth its displays in its storytelling. There’s still a long way to go before it is the well rounded drama it could so easily become, but there’s a handful of encouraging moments it can hopefully build upon when it returns for season two (which it is already in the middle of casting; I have some thoughts on some of that news below).
As a whole, the first season of The Boys is a bit more shapeless and regressive than its premise promised; but episodes like “The Female of the Species” and “You Found Me” offer a glimpse of something more, a series with some engaging deconstructions of testosterone-fueled superhero culture, beyond a superficial, edge lordish application of these ideas that feels more enamored than critical (something its source material suffers from throughout its lengthy run). If The Boys can strike a more consistent tone in season two (and can stop murdering women for like, two fucking seconds), then Amazon might have something on their hands.
- random thought I had: it would be cool if they could merge The Boys and the recently-canceled The Tick into one shared world. The content of the former, with the tone of the latter, could make for a really fun series.
- boy am I interested to see how this show handles Becca Butcher’s character in season two. It may be the most important unanswered question of the entire series to this point.
- Wait… Homelander went back to Vogelbaum, and hints towards killing him? Why didn’t we see this?
- I really like the Butcher/Homelander dynamic in their scene at Madelyn’s; both are working so far from the known realm of antihero fiction. It’s one time this show’s cynicism doesn’t drown everything else out in a scene.
- I don’t get how A-Train finds Hughie and Annie? Boy, does that character… fall flat at the end of this season (please forgive me, it’s a terrible pun).
- Boy, I wish The Deep wasn’t such an unforgivable rapist, because Chace Crawford really brings some sad hilarity to his performance these last two episodes. It will be hard to forget the gill penetration scene, though.
- Not sure what the whole “racist security guard” scene was going for… at best, it feels like a cheap ploy to try and be socially relevant in some way? Whatever it was, it was awkward and forced as hell.
- One thing I’m worried about: not having Elisabeth Shue in season two could give this show a major, major identity crisis. Her performance was the epitome of what this series can be, and it’s going to be a major hole to fill in the next batch of episodes.
- Raynar appears to apologize to Butcher… then vanishes for the season. Was really hoping to see the government fallout of realizing how powerless they’ve become in the face of super villains debuting. Which… how were there no super villains before this? None are ever mentioned, that’s for sure.
- Giancarlo Espostio and Jim Beaver both make appearances in this episode, which is a very exciting proposition for next season.
- Shockwave’s new show? Wack.
- Can’t express how much I love Mallory’s presence in this episode.
- Black Noir remains a punchline, easily the most pointless presence on The Boys: here, he plays the piano for some reason?
- And that’s it for reviews of The Boys Season 1 – thanks for reading!