The Boys spoilers below
Black Noir has remained an enigma for the past two seasons of The Boys (and most of the third to be honest). Until now.
Finally we've been able to break through that black armor and step into the mind of the stoic supe. Quite frankly it's a mess in there. It's batshit crazy, Looney Tunes chaos and we're totally here for it. Bring on more cartoon woodland creatures. We'd happily hunker down for an hour of this kind of madness.
However this 'Saturday morning, cartoon-watching, soggy cereal, edgy yet gruesome’ kind of episode did more than just leave you with childhood nostalgia (Just us? Okay then). It revealed more about Black Noir than three years of grunts and gestures ever have.
Black Noir has had the unfortunate displeasure of bowing down to two of Vought's supe leaders. First Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) in the '80s and now Homelander (Antony Starr) in the present day.
Until recently we didn't know much about Noir's time with Soldier Boy, though we glimpsed something damning during a flashback episode with him in Nicaragua.
However we have been privy to the dynamic between him and Homelander and… it's just weird. It doesn't matter which way you slice that pie, it's nonsensical.
No matter how reprehensible Homelander's deeds are Noir is unshakably loyal.
Degrade and bully his troops, Noir's still there. Date and conspire with a Nazi? Noir stands erect, ready to take orders – and lest we forget, he is a Black man and so would suffer under a white supremacist regime, but no matter. Homelander asked, so he must obey.
It's lunacy, absolute folly.
That said it's not exactly like Noir gets nothing out of the deal. He is about the only member of the Seven not to get mistreated by Homelander. Dare we say Homelander may even respect Noir and to that end they have a mutual understanding of some sort.
Where that derives from has been wholly unclear, at least on Noir's part (Homelander's affinity for Noir is explained later).
It is only the revelation of Noir's past during episode seven's delightful sketch that takes a step towards solving this mystery.
It seems Noir's history with Soldier Boy may hold the answers to understanding his relationship with Homelander. Unlike with the Seven's current leader, Noir had a difficult relationship with Soldier Boy. Well not difficult for Soldier Boy. He gripped Noir's puppet strings so tightly we're surprised it didn't cut off the blood circulation.
Under Soldier Boy's leadership Noir was demeaned, abused and degraded in the most casual of ways.
So when approached by Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) to help orchestrate a plan that would lead to the capture and detainment of Soldier Boy, Noir didn't take too much convincing. Years of mistreatment has a way of softening you to mutiny.
Despite operation ‘Oust Soldier Boy’ being a success, of sorts – people were killed – Noir isn't stupid. He knew that the odds of Soldier Boy surviving whatever was to come would be high and that his chance of return would be inevitable.
Knowing this, it would make sense for Noir to align himself with someone of great strength.
His alliance with Homelander is likely deliberate and motivated by survival. A tactical decision to create a closeness with Homelander makes more sense than unwavering fealty ‘just because’.
Noir knew that the only person with the potential to defeat Soldier Boy would be Homelander and, knowing the day of reckoning would one day come, it's plausible that he has created a contingency that would increase the chances of him keeping all of his limbs.
It would also explain what we now know to be his out-of-character behaviour in the The Boys spin-off The Boys Presents: Diabolical.
The animated series shows the partnership of Homelander and Noir in its early days, before Homelander became all murdery.
When civilians were accidentally killed during a failed mission, Noir is quick to cover up Homelander's mistake by killing the only survivor. Shortly after he jots something down on a bit of paper that calms the anxious Homelander.
This act is contradictory to the good-natured man we saw during the episode-three flashbacks.
Explaining his behavior, Nathan Mitchell, the actor who plays Black Noir, told Digital Spy:
"What I would say is, he definitely wrote something in a bit of an unconventional way. But the essence of it is: 'I'm your friend. I'm here to help you. I have your back. Listen to me, and we'll get through this'."
This devout sentiment makes no sense especially considering this was their first mission together.
Instead of an act of kindness (bloody kindness, but still) it was more likely a manipulative attempt on Noir's side to forge a binding relationship.
Despite Noir's underhandedness and the 'silent villain' reputation he's gained on The Boys, episode seven's walking tour inside his mind alludes to the fact that ultimately Noir is not evil through and through.
As Mitchell explained to The Express.
"[Noir] has some demons and some fears he thought he had escaped that it turns out he hasn't.
"So he has to wrestle with those and make some tough decisions."
With Soldier Boy back in the picture there's no telling what's about to unfold and whether or not Homelander will have Noir's back once he learns Soldier Boy is his father…
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