'The Boys' Boss on Maeve's Not-Quite Sacrifice and Why Homelander Must Die Before the Series Ends

Eric Kripke breaks down 'The Boys' Season 3 finale, previews what's to come in Season 4, and explains why Homelander must die before the series ends.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Karl Urban, Cameron Crovetti, and Antony Starr in 'The Boys' Season 3 finale

Amazon Studios

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of The Boys, titled "The Instant White-Hot Wild" and . Read at your own risk!

Another season of Prime Video's Emmy-nominated drama The Boys has come to an end with an explosive showdown that required a team-up to take on one supe (in this case Jensen Ackles' Soldier Boy) and a foreboding cliffhanger involving Homelander's son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti).

The third season finale episode titled "The Instant White-Hot Wild" saw members of The Seven, including Homelander himself (Antony Starr) fight side-by-side — even if just momentarily — with members of the eponymous vigilante group to try to kill Soldier Boy, who had been on a rampage killing his former Payback team members and destroying chunks of cities in his wake as he couldn't quite control his own abilities.

"For me, probably the important thing to get across are the emotional beats. Sometimes people forget, when they're making them even, that fights are also emotional storytelling and you have to stage them in a way that provide character payoff. So, I'm a big believer that the only way the boys are going to defeat these threats is by working together as a family, and so, it's inevitable that whenever there's a big showdown that eventually once they turn the tide, it's because they're working together and being selfless," creator and showrunner Eric Kripke tells Metacritic.

While Butcher (Karl Urban) shot up another hit of Temp V, despite knowing too many doses would prove fatal, Hughie (Jack Quaid) leaned into his tech abilities instead, aiding Annie (Erin Moriarty) with the lights in the studio where the showdown was taking place. That proved to be the perfect kind of assistance, as it enhanced her powers so she could actually levitate and more fully take on Soldier Boy.

"We knew that we needed a fight scene where we can prove that Hughie definitively learned his lesson — that he's not trying to be some tough guy that he really isn't. He's using his own skills that he's really adept [at] with computers and electronics and lights and AV stuff, and using that to almost literally lift Starlight up, rather than having a be some strong man who has to protect her in some bullsh-- way," Kripke says.

Now that Annie has achieved this new level in her abilities, Kripke adds that she has training to do to hone the ability, but "she'd be crazy" not to "work on those powers." After all, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) has powers that have already proven to be invaluable to the team, so Annie's skills will only be additional assets.

"For Starlight and for Kumiko, both, those are stories about people embracing their power — and really on their own terms, rather than the external power that is placed on them. So, Starlight becomes the most most powerful version of herself, and Kimiko embraces what she loves, which is music and killing," Kripke says of their journeys in the Season 3 finale.

Unfortunately, though they got some good licks in, no one was going to be a match for the fire that burned in Soldier Boy's chest, so upon seeing it heating up, Maeve (Dominique McElligott) took one for the team, so to speak, and tackled him out the window where they exploded in a ball of light and flames over the city.

"They don't kill Soldier Boy, but I would say Soldier Boy's defeated: That guy is not coming out of that hole anytime soon," Kripke says.

The story was spun that Soldier Boy had been turned by the Russians and died in that blast alongside Maeve, but by now The Boys viewers should probably know better than to believe most of what you hear on Vought News. Grace Mallory (Laila Robins) secretly packed Soldier Boy away, while Maeve went off to live in private solitude with her girlfriend. (Even Colby Minifie's Ashley was a part of helping her have that happy ending.)

"It was never considered that we were gonna kill Maeve. I both agree with and [share] the animosity against the trope of killing off bi or gay characters. I think that's a trope that actually exists and is really sh----, put it that way. And so, I was definitely like, 'There's zero way we are killing off this character,'" Kripke says. "But, I all admit to us being a little mischievous and playful with how we staged it, probably causing a lot of people to scream at the TV. And then [we] reveal [that] we're aware of the trope and we want to give her the ending that she really deserves. More than anyone, she gets everything she ever wished: She's back with her girlfriend; she doesn't have powers; she just wants out, and it seems like she might have the opportunity to get there."

Of course, with Maeve being presumed dead by the world and living her best life, that means "she's going to take a break for a bit" in the story, Kripke confirms. "Annie needs to grow and not have a protector around [and] we're going to give her a little time to be happy." However, that does not mean that Maeve's exit from Season 3 is a series exit. Kripke and his writers are working on Season 4 right now, and while he couldn't share specifics about if, how, and how often she may pop up in the next batch of episodes, he did promise that "the series will definitely not end without Maeve coming back one way or another."

Ashley, though, will feature into Season 4, and her decision to delete the footage proving Maeve was alive will be one that weighs on her. "She's really scared and and she has reason to be. She's not blind to the danger other people are in and that she's in. So, next season, we continue that story of, there's a part of her that wants to do the right thing, but it's hard with the situation that she's in," Kripke says.

But even after the vigilantes have failed to find ways to kill supes from Soldier Boy to Stormfront (Aya Cash) thus far, they are not truly indestructible. Kripke promises there are "ways to kill superheroes that are out in the world" that the boys can find. They just have to find them. While he warns that these ways will come with their own problems and consequences, he also guarantees  payoff by series' end.

"There's no way the series ends without Homelander dying. I'm just not comfortable with keeping that guy alive in the universe. We have to do something!" he says.

But the clock is ticking on whether Butcher will be the one to do something, as he was given only a year to 18 months to live after his dances with Temp V, and the fourth season will pick up a few months after the events of the third season finale, per Kripke. Butcher has yet to share his diagnosis with his team — a team that expanded in personnel when Annie threw out her Starlight super suit and joined the rest of the boys in a more permanent way. The team also expanded in its mission, as Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) was officially announced as Bob Singer's (Jim Beaver) running mate and therefore their next official target. Going forward, the focus is going to be on the latter.

"They're going at her really hard and really soon and then we'll see what happens from there," Kripke says. "I didn't make up these rules, but once they're elected — and you know they're gonna get elected — they have until Jan. 6 to figure out this problem. Because once the electors' votes are counted, then as far as Neuman is concerned, it's open season on Bob Singer, and it would be very hard to remove her in that case. So, in a grimly fascinating way, the ticking clock for Season 4 is the closer and closer they get to January 6, the more they have to figure out how to handle Neuman."

And just because Homelander and Butcher found themselves fighting on the same side against Soldier Boy for a change does not mean Homelander is getting a pass from the vigilante leader going forward. Ryan chose to go with his biological father Homelander, despite Butcher also attempting to a father figure to the budding supe. And when he did, he saw how Homelander's fans embraced his violent outburst (when he literally lasered a supporter to death after the guy threw something that accidentally hit Ryan). This opened his eyes to a potential powerful future — one that is likely to see him following in his grandfather and father's footsteps, if Butcher can't successfully intervene.

"A lot of the story of certainly the next season is both Homerlander and Butcher fighting over Ryan. It becomes like a custody battle with apocalyptic stakes. Will Ryan go into the light or will Ryan go into the shadows? In so many ways, Season 3 was about fathers, and so, there's quite a few stories in Season 4 that are about sons," Kripke says.