NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Boys” are present in this review
The Boys may have found itself sputtering last week, but the show does manage to right itself with a much better episode this week. “The Bloody Doors Off” delivers a standout core storyline with the Boys themselves, one that fills in a key mystery surrounding both Stormfront and The Seven. Frenchie gets particular focus here in fact, getting what’s easily his best storyline to date, one that finally fills in some crucial holes in Frenchie’s otherwise mysterious backstory. At the same time, Queen Maeve, A-Train and Homelander continue to deal with their own separate angst, particularly after Homefront’s jealously predictably creates a big problem for Stormfront.
Once again, the storytelling surrounding the core members of The Seven is a little more uneven and scattershot this week. Even Homelander feels a little more shoved into the background in this case, after Stormfront’s secret dealings at Sage Grove prevent her from being at Homelander’s side on command. It’s still interesting to see how surprisingly insecure Homelander can truly be, even as an all-powerful Supe, but in this case, Homelander simply served as a gateway to more exposition with Stormfront. The same is true of The Deep, who headlines another fairly boilerplate subplot with the Church of the Collective, after they seemingly coerce A-Train into joining them. I have to wonder if the Church is going to be saved as a threat for the already-confirmed Season Three of The Boys, because so far, it doesn’t feel like they’re influencing very much within the core storytelling this season.
Fortunately, the bulk of this episode is taken up by a superb main story arc at Sage Grove, after the Boys decide to break in, with some help from Annie. Now that Stormfront has correctly deduced that Annie is the mystery person that leaked Compound V to the press, Annie has to avoid Vought at any cost, effectively roping her in to the Boys’ mission. This also means placing Annie back into Hughie’s company, though thankfully, the show didn’t force more tedious romantic drama here. Instead, Hughie and Annie nicely stayed on mission, and largely tried to put their feelings aside, after Frenchie, Mother’s Milk and Kimiko break into Sage Grove, to try and discover what Vought is up to there.
All the while, this episode cuts between flashbacks surrounding Frenchie’s character, specifically how he ended up being recruited by Mallory. Frenchie’s backstory is very different from the one presented in the source comics, but even so, the show’s new origin for Frenchie is even more interesting and memorable, cementing Frenchie as a skilled bank robber and tech expert that has gone toe-to-toe with unseen Supes, and won, several times in the past. Naturally, the mystery of lost former Seven member, Lamplighter also effectively comes into focus here, since Frenchie was the one responsible for failing to stop Lamplighter from burning Mallory’s grandchildren alive. As it turns out, this mistake occurred because Frenchie was trying to save an old friend from overdosing on drugs, a friend that would go on to die of another drug overdose anyway, just a few months later.
This strong storytelling for Frenchie is also complemented perfectly by Shawn Ashmore’s formerly unknown character, who, as the press has already liberally spoiled, is none other than Lamplighter himself! Yes, despite leaving The Seven, Lamplighter has been moonlighting as an orderly at Sage Grove, supervising super-powered mental patients that Vought injected with Compound V, in an effort to stabilize and perfect the formula, so that it can reliably be used on adults, not just infants. Ashmore’s Lamplighter is initially exactly who you would expect him to be as well, namely a violent, seemingly sadistic Supe that’s just as arrogant and destructive as the rest of The Seven’s roster, one that seems to enjoy killing people with his flame-manipulating powers, simply to watch them burn. Also, for overall superhero enthusiasts, yes, it is brilliantly ironic that Ashmore went from portraying Iceman in 20th Century Studios’ X-Men movies, to a character on The Boys that has the exact same fire-themed powers as Iceman’s rival, Pyro!
Despite first impressions surrounding Lamplighter however, the storytelling excellently plays with viewers’ expectations. As the episode goes on, Lamplighter goes from appearing as a psychopath to eventually being revealed as just another victim of Vought, one banished to guard their experiments under some sort of extreme penalty, following his former dealings with Mallory and the Boys. In another great twist of irony for Frenchie, Lamplighter murdering Mallory’s grandchildren was also an accident, and he’s avoided trying to escape Vought as a means of punishing himself for killing innocent children. Against the backdrop of a Supe prison break at Sage Grove, which sees the Boys and Lamplighter trying to run and hide from the Supe mental patients, Frenchie and Lamplighter are forced to confront each other’s grief, and reach a strange understanding with one another. This is beautifully rounded off after the Boys finally escape Sage Grove as well, with Lamplighter voluntarily surrendering himself to Mallory, only for Frenchie to successfully beg Mallory to spare Lamplighter. This is a big change from the source comics, wherein Mallory does kill Lamplighter, but hey, if you went to all the trouble of casting Shawn Ashmore as Lamplighter, it would be a shame to waste him after only one major episode stint, right?
If it seems like the Boys get away from this Supe breakout unscathed however, they definitely don’t. After a shockwave-powered Supe fires a blast at Butcher, Annie and Hughie, before being put down by Butcher, Hughie ends up being impaled by a shard of the Boys’ van, necessitating that Annie and Butcher try to take a car from the side of the road, in order to get Hughie to a hospital. After an unlucky motorist then ends up pulling a gun on the trio, Annie accidentally kills the man while trying to protect Hughie, leading to Butcher and Annie having to face their shady similarities, despite outwardly being very different people. Seeing Butcher and Annie bury the hatchet a bit after saving Hughie together, while Annie in turn struggles with her increasing disregard toward people that are, “In the way”, is very fulfilling, especially for Annie, after her character has taken some wonderfully dark turns this season.
Lastly, we finally get the truth about Stormfront towards the end of this episode, after Homelander reacts badly to Stormfront standing him up in his trailer. As suspected, Stormfront is immortal, or at the very least ageless, having been born in 1919, before she became the wife of Vought’s founder, Frederick Vought as a young adult! Stormfront was the first successful test subject for Compound V during the era of the Nazi’s, which explains why she has such an extreme, aggressive view against minorities. Stormfront’s new connections in The Boys’ TV universe certainly represent more big changes from Stormfront’s comic book backstory, but considering that Stormfront is a man in the comics, he could hardly be the spouse of Frederick Vought! Stormfront’s Nazi connection is another fantastic bit of irony in itself to boot, referencing Vought’s clear similarity to the real-world Walt Disney Company, which was founded by Walt Disney, a known racist and Nazi sympathizer. The new changes throughout her backstory continue to make Stormfront’s gender swap in this TV adaptation very effective in any case, while further endearing her to Homelander. Homelander may nonetheless be headed for a fall however, after Deep recovers footage of Homelander abandoning Flight 37, which is witnessed by Elena while Queen Maeve is in the shower. This teases another promising relationship shake-up to come, even if it’s once again stuffed into a season that doesn’t seem to currently have enough room to properly flesh out many of The Seven’s story ideas.
The storytelling still needs to tighten its focus just a tad, especially where The Seven is concerned, but it’s great to see The Boys finding its footing again this week, after the show seemed a little too distracted and inconsistent last week. “The Bloody Doors Off” provides an excellent proper introduction to Lamplighter, completing The Seven’s original roster at last, while also finding some surprisingly heartfelt closure for Frenchie, Lamplighter and Mallory alike. With Frenchie successfully urging Mallory to spare Lamplighter (in a big, but welcome change from the source comics), the Boys may have just gained one of their most valuable allies yet against Vought! At the same time, the satisfying revelations surrounding Stormfront finally bring the major threat behind this season into focus, with Stormfront wanting to undermine the modern Vought under the mantle of stamping out every person not deemed fit for America’s new master race. Truly, the villainy and megalomania behind Vought goes back far longer than anyone would think possible. This cements Vought’s corporate culture as a multi-headed hydra of greed and hubris that seems to keep spawning new world-scale evils, right after their handful of dissenters strike down the previous ones.
- The Boys' messy, enlightening infiltration of Sage Grove
- Lamplighter's proper debut, and the surprising pain behind it
- Stormfront's true agenda finally coming together
- Storytelling surrounding The Seven remains scattered and shallow