‘The Boys’: Jack Quaid and Showrunner on Hughie’s ‘Really Embarrassing’ Enhancement and Soldier Boy’s Powers

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SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Glorious Five Year Plan,” the June 10 episode of “The Boys.”

The week’s episode of “The Boys” Season 3 was all about super powers — yes, more so than any standard episode of the Amazon superhero series. That’s because it delved into people getting them (Jack Quaid’s Hughie), people losing them (Karen Fukuhara’s Kimiko), people confessing they have acquired them (Karl Urban’s Butcher) and people showing off the bonkers new ones bestowed upon them by the Russians who experimented on them (Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy).

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Let’s start with Hughie, who upon learning that Butcher has been shooting up Temp V decided he needs to protect Annie (Erin Moriarty), despite the fact Starlight is more than capable of taking care of herself, and takes some of Butcher’s V and uses it to give himself some 24-hour super powers. He gets the ability to teleport, with the caveat that he loses all of his clothes in the process, and shows off to Kimiko, Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) once Butcher uses his laser-beam eyes in front of The Boys for the first time while they are fighting the Russians to get to the Anti-Supe weapon they think destroyed Soldier Boy.

“Hughie is somebody with, in an amusing way, a very well-defined fight or flight reflex,” “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke tells Variety. “It just was funny to us that his first natural instinct in any particular fight is to go. And so to have a power that made that manifest, that he could literally just pop out of there whenever he was in trouble, like a purely defensive and escape power, felt like something that — if we follow the rule of powers don’t make you bad, they just reveal the thing that’s already inside — it felt like that was what was probably inside Hughie.”

But in doing so, it revealed what was outside Hughie as well, stripping him down to his birthday suit when he activates his teleportation mode.

“We take every new power and say, what’s the most realistic version of that? And it kept coming up, if he can teleport, if he has an organic power to teleport, how does he bring his clothes along? Like, what is it? How do you do that? So we said, well, he probably wouldn’t,” Kripke says with a laugh. “He would probably teleport right out of his clothes because it’s an organic power inside his body. And your clothes going with you would be magical, totally unrealistic. So you have to give Jack all the credit in the world; he saw he was going to be naked for so much of this season and just embraced it and owned it and it plays so funny and real.”

Quaid says he was more than game to take off his clothes if it meant he got to take on Hughie’s powers.

“I was so excited because the kid in me, I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to play a character with superpowers. And I actually got to do that this season. And Nightcrawler is actually one of my favorite superheroes, period. So the fact that I got to teleport was such a dream come true. And yes, it does come with a catch that he needs to be naked. But I think that that’s so appropriate for our show and so appropriate for Hughie. Like, he finally gets this amazing power, but it has this really embarrassing twist. Hughie can never just have, like, a straight up win. It’s a lot of half wins… But you know, whatever, I’m a superhero. If I got to be naked to do it, whatever. That’s going to come out sounding weird, but you got it.”

While Hughie is now faced with new powers, Kimiko has lost hers thanks to Soldier Boy, who is not only alive, but has become even more super than before. It turns out that the time he spent with the Russians didn’t kill him, it made him stronger, and they gave him the power of energy blasts that don’t just kill people, they apparently nullify the powers of super people, too. Kimiko is hit with one of his blasts before he runs off and is badly injured. Come the end of the episode she is bleeding out in the back of a van, unable to heal herself like usual because she has no more Compound V in her body.

“Similarly to Hughie, it’s, what is the metaphor for Soldier Boy? And he’s like this bottled up toxic masculinity,” Kripke says. “He bottles up all of his pain and he bottles up all of his trauma and then, quote unquote, loses his temper and explodes outward, literally. It’s the pattern of so many macho dudes, they can’t express themselves and so then they explode and in really inappropriate ways. So he literally explodes.”

Part of this power is foreshadowing what could be coming as “The Boys” Season 3 progresses, given that Homelander (Antony Starr) is certainly not going to like hearing what the very much alive Soldier Boy is capable of these days.

“We need him to become an existential threat to Homelander,” Kripke adds. “We said, what would be the scariest thing to Homelander? And the scariest thing in the whole world to Homelander is just to be a regular dude. So giving Soldier Boy these blasts of sort of radioactive, walking-Chernobyl power that are frying the Compound V out of supes’ systems is going to make him very, very scary to Homelander. And that was really the goal. And then once we had set on that, we said, oh, wait, Kimiko this whole time is dying to get away from her powers. Let’s have him blast her.”

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