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“Really…I am a good guy and let me explain to you why…” (Image: Multiversity Comics)

CW: Attempted Sexual Assault

How many of us went on a school trip to the zoo? (I did when I was 6) How many of us fell under mind control from evil hyenas? (I was too busy watching the gorillas throw poop.) Anyways, our favorite sleaze bag Xander does both and what happens next becomes, in my opinion, one of the worst episodes, maybe in the series. Buckle up as we delve into “The Pack”.

Do we not chaparone field trips anymore?

We open at the oft-mentioned Sunnydale Zoo, full of teenagers running amok with no chaperones. This will turn out well. Anyway, Buffy is looking over the zoo map where she is accosted by the bullies of the episode. They come by and accost her for no reason other than ‘bullies’. The gang meanders off right before Xander and Willow excitedly come up and tell about them seeing zebras mate, which Willow so eloquently put it Like the Heimlich, but with stripes”. They mosey on for a bit more talking about how this is not a bad trip because of no classes, which Xander (not so) surprisingly loves.

We are then introduced to the seeming loner of the episode, Lance. He is either writing or drawing something as he stares at the chimpanzee enclosed before the group of miscreants approach. They surround the poor kid and treat him like crap for no reason other than their enjoyment. They surround him and before anything bad could happen, they are stopped by Principal Flutie. Lance tells Flutie that everything is ok and nothing is going on. Flutie glares at the gang before leaving.

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The cretins decide to reward Lance with a trip to the hyena house, which is closed off. They ignore that and go in anyway. We do need to mention the shoddy way the zoo booked off the hyena house. Anyway, Xander sees this and chases after them. Buffy and Willow follow suit but are stopped by a zookeeper. Xander goes in and interrupts the gang of n’er do wells, leaving Lance to run off. But before they can do anything, one of the hyenas flashes a glow from its eyes, which causes the same from Xander and the bullies.

Xander has changed…by being more Xander

Shock of all shocks, we open back up at The Bronze, where there is no cover for DJ Night. Buffy and Willow are hanging out as besties do, with Willow asking if Buffy noticed any changes from Xander once they left the zoo. Buffy smirks, knowing the reason that Willow noticed as much as she did as she is still head over heels for Xander. Willow tosses the head over heels moment in Buffy’s face, mentioning Angel and his leather jacket she still has. As if on cue, Xander shows up being his usual ‘charming’ self, but hyena-powered. On top of his usual creepiness, we now add smelling Buffy’s hair and munching on her croissant. Then here comes the superpowered gang of bullies who make people move because ‘it was their table’ as well as making a fat joke which makes Xander laugh, to the ladies’ chagrin.

When one goes to a library in school, what do you expect to use it for? Studying? Research? Not even close. If you go to Sunnydale, Giles and Buffy use it for kickboxing practice. After quickly finishing, Giles sends her to class so he can heal. Then we see a POV shot of something low to the ground chasing students in the hallway. Oh no! Killer hyenas! But Buffy is able to pick it up? False alarm, the new mascot got loose. Principal Flutie introduces us to Herbert the Razorback. What exactly is a Razorback? Simply an actual pig with foam dorsal spines, an ill-fitting football helmet, and false tusks.

Dodgeball wasn’t much different than when I was in school

As someone who was short and scrawny, you would think I hated dodgeball. Au contraire, I loved it. However, these were weird rules. No cones to hit to bring out eliminated teammates, no real rules, just random teams throwing the balls. Anywho, on one side had Xander, the bullies, and Lance among the extras. And the other hand Buffy, Willow, and their group of extras. It comes down to Buffy on her side, with the other side consisting of Xander, the bullies, and Lance. Instead of taking care of Buffy and winning the game, everyone turns on Lance and showers rubber ball doom onto him. Buffy rushes to save them, with the villainous group slinking away.

Willow later catches up with Xander to talk to him about his recent attitude change. At first, he mentions going through changes, and perhaps he has some sort of feelings for her. But, he twists it to tell her he is dropping geometry and will not need her to tutor him anymore, while also mentioning her having a ‘pasty face’, causing her to run off. Buffy walked in during the middle of it, walking up to the group as Willow rushes away. She glares at Xander, daring him to say something to her. He simply snickers at her and walks off.

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Live footage of what Willow felt after Xander being cruel (Source:simpsons.fandom.com)

Careful of eating raw pork

Ah, lunchtime. The most segmented part of the school day. You eating at the same table with the same people every day. We all remember that scene from Mean Girls. The group o’ meanies walks up to a table outside where one of the guys sitting down asks Xander about some singer of a band, like seen at one of the nightly sojourns to The Bronze. Instead of engaging in a deep philosophical discussion about frontmen, Xander and the group of hyena types just glare before stealing their hot dogs and walking off because they smell something less cooked. Their heightened sense of smell leads them to the room Herbert the mascot is in. After surrounding the cage and frightening the poor thing, they all dive in and devour the poor pig.

We then turn to a devastated Willow who is pouring her broken heart out to Buffy. Willow has convinced herself that she is the third wheel and Xander is nicer to Buffy because he wants her (Yeah, that adds up). Buffy reassures Willow and heads to Giles to see if she can pinpoint the problem. She brings him all the warning signs, which he somewhat humorously writes off as him being a teenage boy. Buffy keeps failing to convince Giles that something more than hormones is at work until he mentions about ‘preying on the weak’. It clicks to Buffy of the attitude change after the hyena cage. Before they can get any further into this, Willow rushes in to say that they found a dead…and eaten Herbert.

Principal Flutie, we hardly knew thee

Principal Flutie, rightfully so, is on the warpath as he approaches the group, sans Xander. He demands that they meet him in his office, as he knows what they did. They did themselves no favors with all but admitting it. Meanwhile, the 3/4 of the Scooby Gang not possessed by evil hyena spirits figure out what we knew all along. Giles has the bad news that if they cannot figure out how to stop the possession, there could be some deadly consequences, so Buffy rushes off to find Xander.

CW: Attempted SA Buffy rushes into the classroom that held the former mascot looking for Xander. While looking around and discovering pieces of the poor pig’s spine among other bones, she is surprised from behind by Xander, who is creepier than usual. At more than one point, Xander is able to overpower her, apparently getting stronger is one of the side effects of the possession. Xander starts to tell her creepy things that you know have been in his head since the beginning. The scene cuts just ass he starts to sniff and nuzzle her. The next scene has Buffy dragging an unconscious Xander into the library and into the same cage we all had in our high school libraries. Before anyone says it never went that far, Buffy actually says he tried his hand at ‘felony sexual assault’.

While this scene is going on, they keep cutting back to Principal Flutie in his office with the other hyena-possessed crowd. They slowly surround him as Flutie tries to get to the bottom of the issue, even threatening to call their parents. Before he can dial one number, they all jump onto the principal, kill him, and eat him. Even sadder the camera pans down to a photo on his desk of himself. No significant other, no pets, nothing.

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Zoo Tycoon never played like this

Xander finally wakes up in the library cage, while poor Willow is still doing her hyena research all alone in the library. While Willow does seem, genuinely concerned for her friend, Xander seems uncharacteristically the same to her. He seems to finally be over Buffy and lays out how he finally wants to show her affection. Willow once again shows how lowkey clever she is, but goaded Xander into revealing that he is still under the spell.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles are talking to the zookeeper, trying to convince him about the hyena possessions. According to the zookeeper, this is a special breed of a hyena (of course it is) that was worshipped by ancient priests. The best way to solve this issue is a reverse transpossesion , but he needs the kids to come to the hyenas. The keeper states that because after feeding and sleeping they will meet up with the rest of the pack…Uh-oh! That means they are coming for Willow at the library. As if on cue, the rest of the ruffians crash into the library to release Xander and go after a scrambling Willow. Just when it seemed like Willow’s time ran out, here comes Buffy and Giles to save her. They decide to split the party with Willow and Giles heading to the zoo right away while Buffy guides the baddies there.

How did Giles and Willow get so dumb so quick?

Back at the entrance to the hyena house, Giles runs inside and leaves Willow outside to help guide them in. The zookeeper in his finest Violet Beauregard robes and facepaint as Giles runs in. With the ceremonial markings on the floor, it takes too long for Giles to figure out that the keeper was one of these high priests trying to gain the hyenas powers, but the teens were able to do this before him. As a reward for him finally figuring this out, the zookeeper knocks him out and stuff him in a closet.

Willow hears Buffy running in with the gang close behind. Being one of the intelligent ones, Willow readily agrees to get her hands tied and the keeper putting a knife to her throat because they need a predatory act for the transpossesion. Willows finally yells that it was a trap all along, causing her to stop and get tackled. Before they could finally finish her, the keeper screams something in another language, causing all the hyena souls(?) to transfer to him. So, here we go, the final battle between him and Buffy. Could someone with all the souls topple here when she had trouble with one soul? Nope, a quick couple of blows and she throws the priest/druid cross-class who gets eaten by the hyenas.

Willow to Buffy after everything finally clicks in place (Source: Business Insider)

Couldn’t be more tone deaf

The episode closes on the gan reviewing what happened in the past few days with Xander not remembering what happened while he was under the spell. The girls brush it off before he runs into Giles. Giles talks about no mention of memory loss, meaning that Xander remembers everything he did during the episode. So, do we use this as some sort of character development and see Xander grow as a person. Does this cause a rift between everyone? Do we use this as a teaching tool on SA? Nope, we end on whimsical music and never speak of it again.

In closing, this would have been a pretty good and interesting episode if they never had that scene. But by keeping it, trivializing it, and brushing it under the rug, it really put a huger sour note on the episode. The way such a sensitive topic was handled really put this as the weakest episode of the season, maybe of all time. The big blemish on an overall solid first season.

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1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

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Doctor Who

Same Same, But Different. Five EU Stories Which Show Doctor Who monsters in a New Light

See how different creators of Audio Plays, Comics and Books reinvent familiar monsters in unique ways

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One of the paradoxes of being a Doctor Who fan is you want more of the same, but not too much the same.  If you like a particular character or monster, you want them to come back, but not do the exact same thing a second time, instead using a second opportunity to explore a different angle that we didn’t see the first time around.  However, even then for characters and monsters we’ve been seeing for sixty years, how many more angles can we see? 

Luckily, the Doctor Who fan also has the Extended Universe, one of the largest and most diverse in pop culture with a mixtures of books, audio plays and comics across sixty years of entertainment to enjoy.  And in that time, we see views and interpretations of monsters we have never seen before or since. 

Today we’re just going to focus on five monsters, and recommendations for each, but let me know if there’s any monster or character I’ve missed that you’d like to see more of.

The Silurians/Earth Reptiles

First introduced in 1970’s “Doctor Who and the Silurians” the creatures also known as “Earth Reptiles” were one of the first challenges to the Earth-bound era of Doctor Who having to be about alien invasions all the time.  The Silurians aren’t aliens, they’re more Earthlings than we are, having predated humanity but going into hibernation during the time the mammals rose.  After first menacing Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor, they were reintroduced during the Eleventh Doctor’s era in 2010’s “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”

Since then, while rarely a main monster of a storyline, they have continued to make regular cameos, most significantly with the reoccurring character of Madame Vastra, the Doctor’s ally detective in Victorian London. 

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New Interpretation – Bloodtide (2001)

Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is the best Doctor for the Big Finish Audio Range, and the Big Finish Audio range is the best example of the Sixth Doctor.  With freedom from the difficult production era of the mid-eighties, and coupled with companions like history professor, Evelyn Smythe, (Portrayed by the great Maggie Stables), who was able to challenge the Doctor’s morality and even teach him a thing or two, the Sixth Doctor was given opportunities to be nicer and more definitively a hero, while still being the loud bombastic Doctor of the television series.

Bloodtide sees the Doctor and Evelyn travelling to the Galapagos Islands at the same time in history as Charles Darwin is developing his studies into what will eventually become his theory of evolution.  However, there is another race on the islands, and their influence over humanity will put that theory, and the existence of humanity to the test. The relationship between humanity and the Silurians varies significantly across the appearances, with some stories suggesting no overlap between Silurians and humanity, but this story explores the idea of Silurians being influential in the development of humanity, and seeing us as equivalent to domesticated animals who became feral.  Also, in a novel twist, instead of Silurians suddenly awakening to explore the world, Bloodtide has Silurians already in control of a degree of humanity, albeit a small one, and presents one idea where Silurians and Humanity existence in a master-servant state.

Honorable Mentions

Blood Heat – Presenting a parallel world where the Silurians successfully wipe out much of humanity with a virus, the Silurians, and their cousins the Sea Devils now control the planet with only a minimal force of human rebels opposing them.

The Cybermen – A Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) comic strip which explores the origin of the Cybermen, and connects their creation to a race of Silurians on Earth’s twin planet Mondas


Weeping Angels

The only modern series monster that can really be considered a major reoccurring antagonist, the Weeping Angels, first appeared in the Tenth Doctor story “Blink” where transport people to the past and feed of the time energies that have been left behind.  Their primary characteristic, being stone when in view, and moving quickly when not seen, created a sense of terror for characters Sally Sparrow, and also the viewers at home. 

While originally in their first story there was only four of the angels present, their second appearance in “Flesh and Blood” heightened the fear factor, with the Eleventh Doctor stuck on a world infested by Angels.  Other stories had the Angel develop a farm where human temporal energy could be harvested repeatedly, and even turning the Thirteenth Doctor briefly into a Weeping Angel herself.


New Interpretation – Grey Matter from Twelve Angels Weeping

One of the limitations of a horror based monster like the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who, is that the Doctor must survive, and almost always wins.  It’s hard to be too terrified when we already know the result, and that our hero would likely survive. 

This story is different though.

On the Planet Gehanna, a plague has broken out among the twelve separate human cities.  Our story starts on City One, the last remaining city free from the outbreak, though keeping tightly controlled with specialized breath masks being work at all times to protect its citizens.  The Twelfth Doctor arrives, and is quickly captured and taken for interrogation as an outsider by the City’s Chief Medical Officer, and finds the Medical Officer’s other prisoner, a tortured and disfigured weeping angel. 

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Not to give too much spoilers away, but despite this being a Christmas themed anthology, this story feels more like Halloween.  Angels are seen as victims initially here, but also vengeful, vindictive, and ultimately victorious, with fear inducing scenes conveyed in text but conveying an impact not seen since their initial appearance in “Blink”

Honorable Mention – The Weeping Angel of Mons

Bridging the gap between their first appearance in “Blink” this story sees the Tenth Doctor finding the Angel using the cover of WWI to feast on humanity.  This story has a lot of elements in common with “Angels of Manhattan”and “Blink” but seems like a natural sequel to “Blink” with intensity and involvement of angels increasing but only slightly. 


The Cybermen

Considered one of the Big Two Monsters of Doctor who, these cyborg threats first appeared in 1966’s “The Tenth Planet”, the final story of the First Doctor’s era.  The Cybermen were originally humanoids from the Earth’s twin planet, Mondas, but following their planet being flung out of orbit, and moving away from Earth’s sun, they used gradual replacement of their parts with robotic and computer elements to become the cold, emotionless Cybermen.  Since then we’ve seen a range of Cybermen, from Telos ice vaults, to parallel universes, to the Twelfth Doctor introducing the idea that they are the natural evolution whenever a planet’s technology takes over.  However, the idea of the Cybermen conquering planets, in particular Earth, has remained consistent across all variations, as well as their constant rejection of all emotions as a weakness. 

New Interpretation: Killing Ground

The Cybermen in most of Doctor Who are seen as attempting to invade the planet, but rarely is it explored what would happen if they were successful.  They’re not like Daleks, killing things because they honestly believe they should die.  They’re not like Sontarans, using conquered planets as tools in their war against an enemy.  Mostly during Cybermen stories their motivation is to survive, to take a planet in order to avoid extinction. 

In the “Killing Ground” the Cybermen are still aiming for survival, but that is happening off page.  In the outer context of the story, the Cybermen are weakened, after a Cyber-War they were on the losing side for.  However, on this planet, the planet Agora, they have remained in complete control of the planet for almost fifty years.  People are used as source material for Cybermen to allow the Cyber race to grow in other areas of the cosmos, not to keep control on Agora as most rebellions have been violently suppressed at this time.

Onto this planet arrives the Sixth Doctor and his companion Grant Markham, who was transported  from Agora as a child in order to escape the future of being a Cybermen when his body should prove useful. 

The idea of a reoccurring monster not only invading a planet, but maintaining the control for decades is uncommon for any monster, and the image of what a Cyber-run world would look like adds a new fear, and shows how despite being emotionless, the Cybermen can be cruel with their logical responses. 

Honorable Mentions

Throwback the Soul of the Cybermen -Similar to “Killing Ground” this also shows a Cyberman occupied planet, where there is only slight conflict between the Cybermen and their human slaves.  However, in this story we meet Cyberman Kroton, a Cyberman with a soul, struggling to understand humanity and our emotions, rather than reacting to them. 

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The Flood – The last Eighth Doctor comic strip features the Cybermen attempting to invade Earth.  The comic artist takes full advantage of the range an artist has to make versions of the Cybermen which can never be seen on TV or have an actor inside them.  In addition, this story presents the Cybermen as benevolent – removing emotions removed due to an honest belief they cause harm and distress, so those without them will have improved quality of life. 


The Autons

Servants of the Lovecraftian Nestene consciousness, the Autons are plastic robots, with inbuilt hand weaponry, and skills in duplication.  They first appeared in 1970, facing a newly regenerated Third Doctor, memorably bursting from the shop windows and shooting at passerbys in the final episode of “Spearhead From Space.”

This initial stand out scene was replicated for the relaunch, with the Ninth Doctor and Rose opposing the Autons and their Nestene rulers in the first Ninth Doctor Episode “Rose” when they again appear as shop window dummies attacking the public.

New Interpretation – Brave New Town

In the original stories from the 1970’s, the Autons connected to their controllers, the Nestenes, through Nestene crystal spheres which travel to Earth as meteorites.  Usually if this connection to the Nestenes is cut off the Autons cease to be. 

But what if they don’t?  What would Autons be if they weren’t guided for a time by the Nestenes?  Consdeirng their skills for impersonation, could they impersonate so well they confused themselves?

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This is the question asked in the Eighth Doctor Big Finish story, where the Doctor and his companion Lucie Miller find the quiet seaside town of Thorington is repeating the same day over and over.  Soon they find the planet has many secrets, and its population having been used by monsters both otherworldly and Human. 


Daleks

The Daleks are THE Monster talked about when discussing Doctor Who, the first alien/monster opponent of the entire series, the second antagonist and second alien featured over all.  They have fought against every version of the Doctor, including each of the main Television Doctors, as well as the War Doctor as portrayed by John Hurt, parallel universe Doctors in the Unbound Series and the movie version of Doctor Who, portrayed by Peter Cushing. 

They have featured in Board Games, Video Games, Comics, Comic Strips, Books, Audio Plays, Stage Shows, Escape Rooms – any form of media that could feature the metal monsters from Skaro have featured them. 

So with so many stories showing their evil, their hatred for all other beings, their belief in Dalek supremacy as the natural order of things, what is there left to explore?

New Interpretation – Children of the Revolution

In 1967, Patrick Troughton completed his first season as the second Doctor, with the story “Evil of the Daleks.” This epic seven part story had the Doctor travelling between present day Earth, the Victorian era, and Skaro itself in search for the stolen TARDIS, and on the way uncovering the Dalek plan to discover what makes a Dalek a Dalek, the Dalek factor, and insert it into human kinds to create a Dalek race.

However, the Daleks are defeated by the Doctor instilling three Daleks with a Human factor – creating Daleks with a sense of fun, playfulness, and particularly the ability to question and think for themselves.  This tendency leads to disunity, and as the Doctor spreads the Human factor to more Daleks, a civil war emerges between the rival forces of Daleks.  This was originally devised as the final Dalek story, with the might Dalek emperor being exterminated, and the Dalek city destroyed.

Of course, the Daleks returns around five years later, and a cut piece of dialogue from “Day of the Daleks” said the rebellion was crushed, and the Humanised Daleks exterminated. 

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But what if the survived?  What if the Daleks who were more human lost the war, but escaped?  This is the question the DWM comic strip “Children of the Revolution” aims to answer.

The Eighth Doctor, and his companion Izzy, arrive on the water planet of Kyrol, where a crew of humans on a submarine are captured by a secret Dalek colony.  But this is not a colony preparing nefarious schemes, but just hiding to survive, knowing they are hared by not just other Daleks, but all other species who see Daleks as a threat.  While the Doctor tries to defuse tensions between the human prisoners and the Daleks he played a part in creating, outside enemies attempt to manipulate the situation for their own benefit.

This story shows a world of what would Daleks be if they used their intelligence for acts other that destruction.  How would they view other races if they did not see them worthy of destruction?  We see a Dalek race that invests in art, in scientific curiosity, but can also see the difficulty the Doctor faces in wanting to protect them, while also seeing the point of the humans who want to be free. 

With amazing visuals of Daleks underwater, this is an amazing story and well worth a read.

Honorable mentions:

Jubilee – This audio play by Robert Shearman served as a basis for the eventual television episode “Dalek” but the original audio is very very different and as a result can be enjoyed in a separate way.  The Doctor and Evelyn Smythe arrive on an Earth celebrating a hundred years since the failed Dalek invasion, one the Doctor and Evelyn stopped but have not recalled it at all. 

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Prisoner of the Daleks

While we often hear of the massive Dalek armies of the Dalek war, due to budgets we rarely see them, instead usually seeing small Dalek forces attempting invasions or attacks of certain areas.  Prisoner of the Daleks has the Tenth Doctor landing in a timeline prior to the Time War, where Daleks are a dominant force, with the Earth empire attempting to fight back by paying bounty hunters to destroy Daleks.  The strength and intelligence of the Daleks in this story is impressive, with the Doctor largely being helpless to out manipulate or defeat them until the very end.  Also, for a book from the BBC era which tended to be lighter, this is a dark world, with planets destroying themselves with nuclear weapons to prevent Dalek invasion and the survivors captured anyway by the Daleks who are not deterred by this act. 


This article just touches on some of the Doctor who monsters and villains that can be appreciated in new ways in the Extended Universe.  Of course there are many other ways to appreciate them, and many other monsters and villains to explore.  Please share any characters you’d like to find out about their varied appearances in the comments below. 

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Movies n TV

The Boys, We’ll Keep the Red Flag Flying Here

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We’re on episode three of Amazon Prime’s The Boys. And with only eight episodes in the season, that means we’re already a quarter of the way through. It also means that we’ve hit a slower episode.

Don’t worry, though, there’s still plenty of blood to go around.

The story

We begin our episode with Ryan playing a video game. This turns out to be a guise for him to talk to Butcher. They agree to meet up in person.

Meanwhile, The Boys are charging forward without Butcher’s involvement. They’re planning to bug a building where an ice show is taking place. Hughie crawls into the air ducts to plant the bug, because apparently, nobody remembers what happened the last time he had to do that. He’s caught by Homelander, and a hilarious and bloody fight ensues. At the last moment, Hughie is saved by the last person he expected to be saved by.

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Jack Quaid in The Boys.

Meanwhile, Kimiko and Frenchie attack a nearby group affiliated with the people who kidnapped her as a child. Or, at least that’s the plan. Rather than being any help at all, Frenchie has a rubber duckie-themed drug trip and Kimiko has to fend entirely for herself. All because Frenchie is having a hard time dealing with the fact that he murdered his boyfriend’s family.

What worked

The first thing I’d like to shine a light on is Sage. She fascinates me. It must be so exhausting to deal with someone like Homelander who pretends to care about your input but really doesn’t. And we see that near the end of the episode.

Being so damn smart all the time, and having to constantly explain yourself to people who don’t care to follow along, is tiring. So it makes perfect sense that she’s found at the end of the episode watching TV and eating junk food. I appreciate the acknowledgment of mental exhaustion and decision fatigue.

I also love how Butcher is growing as a person. He is making better, healthier decisions for the people around him that he loves. In this episode we see him protect Ryan from Joe. We saw him choose Hughie over his self-interests earlier in the season. It seems as though impending death is doing wonders for his overall decision-making.

What didn’t work

As I mentioned before, this was a slower episode. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a moment to catch our breaths in this very fast-paced series.

On the other hand, there is a slow pace and then there’s an episode that’s just weighed down by stuff we don’t care about.

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For example, we learn in this episode that Starlight and Firecracker were both in the pageant circuit together. Starlight ruined Firecracker’s career by spreading a rumor that she’d slept with the judges. So now she wants to destroy Starlight’s reputation.

While I’m thrilled that we have a female antagonist whose motivations aren’t centered around how a man did her wrong, I don’t care about this high school bullshit. I don’t care if Starlight was a mean girl in high school. We have big girl storylines to get to. Don’t bog us down with this Degrassi bullshit.

I am fascinated by where this season is going so far. Sage and Homelander working together is so much more frightening than just Homelander himself. See, Homelander’s hubris has struck him down many times. Now he’s brought in someone smarter. All he has to do is humble himself enough to work with her, and he can’t lose.

Antony Starr in The Boys.

As we saw in this episode, though, this might be a big ask for him. He just cannot fight his nature. And that might be the saving grace for The Boys. Because they sure as hell don’t have their shit together right now.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Life Among The Septics

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s The Boys was an upsetting ride from start to finish. It was dark and upsetting. But in a strange way, it was also inspiring.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin this episode with A-Train filming his ‘origin story’ movie. And he’s not thrilled with how the movie is going, which is understandable. The movie is about a struggling young man who’s involved in the drug trade and is saved by his white running coach. In reality, A-Train was never involved in drugs until he got hooked on V, and was coached by his older brother. This erasure of his personal history, which also drips with racism and white savior complex, is hurting him.

He’s not the only one who’s grating under the pressure of Vought. Ryan is now completely in their clutches. And they are hard at work making him a teenage superhero. Which just seems to upset him more than anything. Given that he loses control of his powers and accidentally kills an innocent man, that’s understandable. And of course, the only parent he has left is Homelander, who seemed to think the way to handle the issue was with frosty chocolate milkshakes.

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Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

I’m very concerned about Ryan.

What worked

I first want to talk about Ryan’s storyline.

Homelander, worried that he’s going to die, is trying to build a legacy for his son. He wants Ryan to be a beloved superhero. But Ryan doesn’t seem thrilled about this. At least, not in the way it’s being done. And it is being done in an extremely gross way.

Homelander wants Ryan to be just like him. But Ryan isn’t. He sees people as, well, people. He feels remorse. He misses Butcher. He’s dealing with a lot of pain that comes from caring about other people. And that is something that Homelander just cannot understand.

One of them is going to sway the other. I’m hoping that it’s Ryan, but it’s impossible to tell.

The storyline that has my attention the most, though, is the one involving A-Train. We’ve seen such an evolution in this character. Every time he seems like he’s going to make progress, he takes several bloody steps back. But I think he’s finally at a cracking point. There is goodness in him. And he’s risked his life to get Annie and Hughie information before. While it might be self-serving, it is still work towards the good.

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I want so, so badly for him to be good. And that’s a sign of great character writing.

What didn’t work

Here’s something that did irritate me. And it’s something that has irritated me through the whole series so far. But a moment in this episode brought it to a head for me.

Hughie’s mom, Daphne, comes to the hospital with a bag full of MLM oils that are from a Vought company. This annoyed me because not every single evil thing in this world has to come from Vought.

Laz Alonso, Karl Urban and Tomer Capone in The Boys.

And so far, it has. There are no corrupt politicians unless they work for Vought. There are no crooked news anchors, abusive parents, predatory companies, or bad situations unless they come from or are in some way involved in Vought. At some point, like with this episode, it just becomes laughable.

Look, I know The Mouse is evil, but Doterra still exists.

This season is going to hit on some uncomfortable, but sadly realistic moments. I think we’re going to discuss child star abuse, generational trauma, the pain of being Black in America, and watching a loved one pass away. I think this is going to be a hard season. But I also think it’s going to be a good one.

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I guess we’ll find out. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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