The Boys season 4, episode 7 recap: The Insider

Let’s face it: The Boys has meandered all season long. Thanks to NSFW sex dungeons, flying sheep, a murderous ice rink fiasco, Billy Butcher’s (Karl Urban) tumor-induced visions, and whatever the hell Frenchie (Tomer Capone) has been up to, Prime Video’s superhero drama feels lost. Even the two promising new Supes who joined the Seven are a wasted opportunity. So the enjoyable moments, whether bloody or emotional, have been few and far between. I’m talking about Homelander (Antony Starr) revisiting his past, Hughie (Jack Quaid) dealing with his father’s heartbreaking death, and A-Train’s (Jessie T. Usher) gradual redemption. (Claudia Doumit has been aces throughout, so we’ll always have that, too).

Season four hasn’t maintained the thrilling glory of the past despite occasional amusement and gore. These episodes haven’t summed up too much as a coherent story. That changes in the penultimate hour, titled “The Insider.” There’s a lot to set up before the finale makes us suffer through another January 6 insurrection, after all. Homelander and Sage’s (Susan Heyward) plan for the big day includes a shape-shifting shooter and everything. As the cliffhanger at the end of this installment reveals, they take on Annie January’s (Erin Moriarty) form while the real Annie is locked up in a room somewhere. The Boys is determined to make us forget that Starlight is a powerful Supe, huh?

“The Insider” is relatively good compared to this year’s otherwise disappointing run. So maybe it’s not saying much but the action and twists here provide insights into characters we know and love—and hate. Take A-Train’s journey for example. Jessie T. Usher has been an essential part of the show but displays vulnerability and range now that he didn’t get to before. It’s about time.

A-Train started season four as the disinterested star of his biopic and is ending it with a stab at being a real hero for once. Thanks to working with Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), this speedster has realized his goal is to save people and do good. That’s why he convinces MM not to run away with his family. MM wanting to take the opportunity to get away and stay safe is understandable, but come on, he was never going to leave The Boys despite his health scare. I appreciate that his decision to stay back acts as a follow-up to his partnership with A-Train, which I hoped would yield more emotional results.

Most importantly, A-Train steps in along with MM to save everyone when Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) attack Annie and The Boys on Homelander’s orders. It also means Vought overlord and Seven leader Homelander finds out who the hell the leak finally is (he killed Cameron and Web Weaver for no good reason). If only Sage had told him sooner that she knew A-Train was responsible and he was her perfect “misinformation delivery system.” She tries to convince him but Homelander doesn’t give a damn. (No, really, he refuses Firecracker’s breast milk, that’s how irritated he is). Instead, Homelander fires Sage from The Seven.

It’s clear The Boys doesn’t know how to develop its female Supes properly; just look at Starlight struggling to depict her strength. Sage is in a similar boat. She regains her faculties after that gunshot wound to her brain last week, but it doesn’t explain why she didn’t let Homelander in on her plan in regards to A-Train. Did she assume he wouldn’t allow it? Or that he’d pat her on the back when she delivered results? For being the world’s smartest Supe, neither option makes sense for her because she knows Homelander is an impulsive maniac. You all know I’ve been hoping for a plot twist where she’s got another agenda. With her gone (please let it be temporary), will that arc lead anywhere with only one episode to go? And what happens to their January 6 plan?

There’s some sense in this “plan” to take down POTUS Robert Singer (Jim Beaver) because we meet the linchpin of it: That damn cunning shape-shifter. We see this new Supe in various forms: A shady man Sage is talking to, then as a seemingly scared woman who runs away from Annie, Hughie, and Butcher before turning into an older Black woman. This Mystique-esque hero seemingly disappears soon after, except as we find out in the closing scene, the shape-shifter pretends to be a Starlight fan who wants a selfie, using it as an opportunity to absorb her skin and turn into her. And just like that, the real Annie is captured while a faux one dons her old suit and gets it on with Hughie.

The shape-shifter’s introduction is both cool and frightening. Whoever it is, they peel off their old skin inch by inch as blood and flesh splatter along the way before their new form settles in. It’s gross and exciting. It gives The Boys a thrilling momentum that has been missing. (Who will they turn into next?) This is exactly the subplot it needed to develop a bit more as opposed to throwing it at us with barely any time to process or enjoy it.

Homelander has one more problem to take care of before D-Day and his name is Ryan (Cameron Crovetti). His son has slightly bonded with him while living in the Vought tower, but Ryan’s had enough. He’s just a teen missing his dead mother and a nurturing, affecting presence to guide him. I don’t think Billy is in a place to provide it either right now. Yet he manages to influence Ryan to stand up for what’s right and speak out against Vought’s racist propaganda while on live TV. Homelander is frustrated. He thought his voicemail telling his kid to just get on with it would’ve done the trick. Billy is proud as he looks on, even if his vision of a smug Joe Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts him about it. And then bam, a very sick Billy falls to the floor, hopefully setting up a proper reveal of the powers we weren’t privy to earlier this season.

“The Insider” is winding roads coming together in what is sure to be a wild car crash in the finale. The hour gives The Boys a proper push direction-wise, along with some sincere conversations, The Deep getting his moment in the sun, and a batshit voice performance from Tilda Swinton. I wish I was more excited about the outcome though. Anyway, same time next week?

Stray observations:

  • I’d like to dig into the Deep and Ambrosius stuff a bit. Chace Crawford doesn’t get enough credit for how much comedy he brings to the role and the show. He does it even when Deep is going through various stages of agony, like lying to his octopus girlfriend and eventually, in this episode, having an incredibly real, heartbreaking fight with her. The way he suffocated her while hearing her gurgling to death beat by beat was frankly insane.
  • Tilda Swinton had one hell of a workday as Ambrosious’ voice actor while bringing this particular script to life, huh?
  • I do love that Sage was sleeping with both Deep and Black Noir, except she needed a lobotomy only when she was getting in bed with the octopus lover.
  • Homelander crying upon the reveal of A-Train as the leak: Believable or ridiculous?
  • MM was mad at Billy for keeping his tumor a secret from the crew, and yet here he is, telling no one that he just had a heart attack.
  • Don T. Beakunt is such a perfect fake name for Billy, I can practically hear him say it out loud with that cheeky, half-tilted grin.
  • “What dude, I can barely understand your accent” from Deep to Billy got me chuckling, folks.
  • Once again, I did not have Ashley becoming the most relatable character on my list but her freaking out in different ways because of the cage she’s trapped in is so fair. This week, she’s drunk at 10 a.m., listening to “Dave Matthews Chill Mix,” and quietly accepting her fate instead of escaping with A-Train.
  • I liked the quiet comfort of the heart-to-hearts between Hughie and Victoria and also, finally, Frenchie and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). I desperately wish season four had done more with Kimiko.
  • What are your final predictions for next week’s finale? I sense a couple of big deaths and returns to shake things up for The Boys’ fifth and final season.

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