‘The Boys’ Season 3: That Ending Explained, All Your Questions Answered – CNET

With that season 3 finale, The Boys easily proved once again why it’s one of the greatest superhero shows on TV. The jam-packed episode managed to juggle a violent superhero showdown, a couple of twists and teased the next big problems for Butcher and The Boys for future seasons.

It was a satisfying season finale on many layers, mainly for the often underserved Queen Maeve. Absolutely everyone experienced an intriguing development, from Starlight’s new powers to Homelander’s new apprentice. Let’s dive into everything that happened.

Read more: The Boys is still the perfect antidote to Marvel fatigue

Jensen Ackles leaning against a shop window.Jensen Ackles leaning against a shop window.

Unsurprisingly, Soldier Boy had a troubled upbringing.

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What’s Soldier Boy’s true identity?

What better time to discover how Soldier Boy first became Soldier Boy than in the finale. As a young man, he went by Ben and wanted nothing more than to prove himself to his father. So, naturally, he visited his father’s “golf buddies in the war department” and signed up for Compound V trials. Did becoming America’s greatest hero work? Sadly, no. His father still hated him, refusing to even let him take his name.

Later, we discover that Vought scientist Jonah Vogelbaum used Soldier Boy’s DNA to create Homelander. In Homelander’s warped view of how families work, Soldier Boy is therefore his father.

What actually happened in Nicaragua, 1984?

Thanks to Vought propaganda and Payback lies, it wasn’t clear what happened on that fateful day in Nicaragua in 1984. Called Operation Charly, President Reagan’s off-the-books project was designed to help the Contra rebels fight the Russian-backed Sandinistas in the country. Lieutenant-Colonel Grace Mallory was charged with trafficking cocaine into the US and using the profits to buy weapons for the rebels.

But when America’s greatest superhero team interfered with the mission, failing to prove they would be compatible with the army, the rebel camp was compromised and all of Mallory’s soldiers were massacred. This spurred her to create The Boys and go after Vought. It was the day Soldier Boy disappeared into the hands of Russians, but no one aside from Payback knows exactly how. It’s all to do with Black Noir…

The team members of Payback stand next to each other in Nicaragua.The team members of Payback stand next to each other in Nicaragua.

Before The Seven, the biggest superhero teamup in town was Payback.

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The mystery of Black Noir

The silent assassin of The Seven and Payback always just got the job done, no fuss involved. But when Soldier Boy returns to the US after decades locked away in a Russian lab, Black Noir inexplicably pulls a runner.

In the finale, we discover exactly why. In Black Noir’s cartoon hallucination, we discover that Stan Edgar made a deal with Black Noir to kill Soldier Boy, because years earlier the scientist Vogelbaum had created a superior flying superhero, the next best model: Homelander. Vought wanted Homelander to take over as the lead superhero loved by America. Soldier Boy needed to be out of the way.

It helped that Gunpowder, Swatto, Mindstorm, Black Noir, the TNT Twins and Crimson Countess, Soldier Boy’s girlfriend, all hated Soldier Boy. Black Noir, who hated Soldier Boy even more after he brutally beat him up over a stolen film role, agreed to Edgar’s terms. Grace Mallory missed everything that happened after falling unconscious during the Russians’ attack on the rebel camp. When she came to, it was Crimson Countess who claimed the Russians had created “some kind of gun” that killed Soldier Boy.


Black Noir is a mystery no more.

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But it was Black Noir and the rest of Payback — particularly Mindstorm — who managed to team up on Soldier Boy and subdue him, before giving him to the Russians. Black Noir was severely injured in the battle, half his face disfigured. Black Noir never reveals to Homelander what happened. When Homelander uncovers the truth about Soldier Boy being his father and that Black Noir had kept this from him, he punches Black Noir’s guts out. Black Noir’s cartoon friends wish him peace and bid him a tearful goodbye as he dies.

Homelander finally wins over Ryan

This season began with Butcher grappling with his feelings over whether to look after Becca and Homelander’s son, Ryan. On the one hand, it was his wife’s dying wish. On the other, this is the son of an evil psychopath. But Butcher gives Ryan a chance, seeing him off into the safe hands of the CIA and “Aunt Grace.”

But psych! In one of many twists, Ryan eventually accepts Homelander as his father once more. Homelander finds Ryan thanks to insider information from Congresswoman Victoria Neuman, who works with Grace at the Bureau of Superhuman Affairs. Homelander gives a rousing speech, convincing Ryan that the boy killing Becca was a mistake. Homelander isn’t mad, because that’s what Supes do: Cause tons of unfortunate, frequently gruesome, accidents.


Queen Maeve is doing a lot of heavy lifting (in minimal screen time) this season.

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Maeve isn’t dead. Hooray!

You’d be forgiven for thinking Maeve was a goner this season. It looked like she would be killed off not once, but twice. Albeit the first time wasn’t convincing. It was no surprise to see Maeve still alive and held captive by Homelander in a white cell 12 floors below Vought’s The Tower. Thanks to Starlight’s social media campaign #FreeMaeve, which had “every LGBT teen in the world up Vought’s ass,” a warrant was issued to search Vought. Maeve, far too strong to be drugged, woke up while she was being transported to another location and punched her way to freedom. Mission “Free Maeve” accomplished.

Soldier Boy, meet Ryan

In yet another slick twist, Soldier Boy decides to keep to his word and (attempt to) kill Homelander. After Mindstorm told Soldier Boy that he’s technically Homelander’s father, it seemed as though Soldier Boy would have a change of heart and take Homelander under his wing, parent him like his own father never did. But when he, Butcher and Maeve confront Homelander, Soldier Boy makes his feelings on Homelander clear, calling Homelander a “weak sniveling pussy, starved for attention.” Then Homelander plays his trump card, bringing out Ryan. “Hey, Grandpa.”

This throws a spanner in the works, turning Butcher against Soldier Boy, after Soldier Boy attacks Ryan. A big battle ensues…


Starlight levels up.

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Starlight shines even brighter

Starlight, Kimiko, Frenchie and Mother’s Milk all arrive to provide backup against Soldier Boy. (Meanwhile, Maeve unleashes her rage against Homelander — about time.) All season, Hughie has been grappling with feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness — he has a superpowered girlfriend he can’t protect without the help of Temp V (the green phial of Compound V that gives people superpowers for 24 hours). But, finally, Hughie sees the light. Instead of using a spare phial, he turns up every single light in the Vought News Network studio and feeds Starlight’s powers. He helps her save herself. For the first time, she levitates and unleashes a powerful flash to stun Soldier Boy.

Mother’s Milk gets his moment to use Frenchie’s concoction of deadly nerve agent to sedate Soldier Boy. But it’s not enough…

Maeve saves the day

This episode epitomizes just how much Queen Maeve is the unsung hero of The Boys. Not only does she horrifically lose an eye in battle with Homelander, but she realizes that Soldier Boy is about to explode radiation that’ll kill everyone. Proving her hero status once again, she tackles Soldier Boy out the window and they plunge through the air. Somewhere around the middle of Vought Tower, Soldier Boy blows up.

Just this once, everybody (important) lives

But, surprisingly, both Queen Maeve and Soldier Boy survive. Maeve, now powerless (Soldier Boy’s radiation removed the Compound V in her system, just like it did to Kimiko), is also free to live the life she always wanted with her girlfriend Elena. The news reports her death, that she sacrificed herself to defeat the “Russian-radicalized Soldier Boy.” Even Ashley deletes footage of Maeve being discovered alive in an alley by Mother’s Milk. (Well done, The Boys, for not committing the “Bury Your Gays” trope.)

Soldier Boy has also been picked up and carted off to yet another organization’s secret chamber. Grace overlooks Soldier Boy’s transference to a new cryo chamber.


Victoria Neuman is playing the long game.

Amazon Studios

Those teasers for the future

Not only does Homelander continue to stir up his particular demographic — basically Nazi Stormfront supporters — at a pep rally, he introducers his followers to his son Ryan. When a Starlight supporter throws a can at Ryan, Homelander teaches his son that it’s OK to laser people to death. Ryan leaves us with a creepy kid smile, indicating that, yes, he’ll probably be following in his disturbing father’s footsteps.

On top of that, The Boys, now permanently joined by Starlight, have to grapple with the consequences of Victoria Neuman becoming the runmate of presidential candidate Robert Singer (his previous runmate was drowned during an evening pool swim by The Deep, on Homelander’s orders). This could see Neuman become the new vice president of America, unless The Boys take the head-popping Supe down — something Butcher fully intends to do.

Lingering questions…

Will we see Maeve again? Will she be a last-ditch point of call when The Boys run out of ideas? Will Grace Mallory begin her own experiments with Soldier Boy and use him against Vought? What lovely father-son destruction will Homelander and Ryan get up to? Will anything The Boys does again be bigger and more graphic than episode 6’s Herogasm?

The good news is that Amazon Studios has already renewed The Boys for a fourth season. After this chapter, there’s no doubt the show will continue to deliver some of the smartest, most radical superhero fare on TV.

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