Hello and welcome to this review of The Boys Season 3. This review will contain spoilers; mostly just about the gay parts of The Boys aka the parts featuring bisexual super Queen Maeve, but also the season finale (I’ll warn you before we get to that part.)
At least once during every episode of The Boys, I say to myself, “I can’t believe I watch this show.” What’s more, I can’t believe I like this show. I wouldn’t shout from the rooftops about it or anything, but I find myself genuinely fascinated by it. I was interested in the concept of “what if superheroes existed in present-day America” with all its racism and capitalism and the high value corporations put on celebrity and social media standing. Basically, what if Captain America, Wonder Woman, and other superheroes were real, but not in the glossy ways they’re portrayed in the movies. Or maybe even, what if the actors who portrayed our favorite shiny superheroes actually had the powers they had on screen; what would their off-screen lives look like?
I, of course, was always entranced by sardonic, bisexual, reluctant hero Queen Maeve, and was disappointed when it seemed like she was being sidelined this season. Fully over pretending to care about Homelander even a little, she starts to stick to the shadows and plan with Butcher how to take him down.
Episodes go by with little to no Maeve sightings, though in the episode that takes place in the theme park we do see a Brave Maeve’s Vegan Taco stand, which did make me chuckle.
The only other hint of a queer woman we get until Maeve returns is Ashley’s assistant (also named Ashley) says that the superhero who goes by Moonshadow (played by Abigail Whitney) is, and I quote, “fuckable.”
When we do see Maeve again, she’s training, alone, waiting for her time to take down Homelander. She’s even staying sober to make sure she gets it right. Starlight is worried about her safety, but Maeve says she doesn’t care if she dies; she thinks she has it coming. This makes both me and Starlight sad: Starlight because she’s still fairly new to seeing just how dark this world can be, me because I was terrified it was foreshadowing.
Of course, the next time Maeve sees Butcher, he ruins her sobriety and they have sex. The latter I’m fine with, frankly they both needed to release some uncomplicated energy, but the former? Rude.
Maeve, tired of waiting for her shot, ends up confronting Homelander alone, and soon she has mysteriously disappeared.
Starlight desperately tries to find her, and isn’t fully convinced she’s still alive, but Ashley and Vought insist she’s in rehab. In reality, Homelander is holding her hostage because he wants to harvest her eggs and make a superbaby, which is gross in at least 5 different ways. But she still forces a half-smile on her face and tells him that she’s still having a great time because she can tell Homelander is scared of Soldier Boy. And it’s about time he’s the one feeling fear for once.
Eventually, Vought is forced to transport Maeve, and while she’s on the road she escapes and meets back up with Starlight and her group of rebels. She thanks Starlight for using her platform, because it riled up the LGBT Teens and Vought was forced to transport her, which is how she escaped.
Eventually she ends up turning on them though, because they are talking about taking out Soldier Boy before he kills Homelander, and killing Homelander is her #1 priority. Starlight is ashamed, and thinks she’s putting her own needs before the Greater Good, but Maeve reminds her that she’s no hero.
(Okay here is where the big finale spoilers are coming! Hold onto your butts!)
After the fight, Maeve joins Butcher and Soldier boy to confront Homelander. When Soldier Boy starts insulting Homelander and calling him weak, Maeve can’t help but smile. And when the team pivots to save Homelander from Soldier Boy in order to protect Homelander’s son, Maeve decides to take matters into her own hands. Homelander pokes Maeve’s eye out but she holds her own against him, jamming a metal straw into his ear. But eventually, she sees Soldier Boy about to explode, taking her sometimes-allies and the child down with him. So almost reluctantly, she tackles Soldier Boy and leaps them out the window so they both explode where no one else will be hurt, proving herself to be the hero she never thought she was.
And I thought that was it for Queen Maeve, long may she reign. The show sidelined her this season, so I honestly wasn’t surprised when she exploded and the news started calling her a “proud lesbian” even though she was most definitely bisexual. It wasn’t the end Maeve deserved, but I thought it was the end the show THOUGHT Maeve deserved…
I was wrong.
Starlight gets a phone call and goes to meet a banged up, bruised, one-eyed, but very much still alive Queen Maeve. And what’s more? Her girlfriend Elena is by her side. Finally free of the pressures of being a supe on The Seven, finally out from under Homelander’s thumb, she’s free to live a simple life on a farm with her girlfriend.
Starlight and Maeve thank each other, presumably for being the only reason this show even had a shot of passing the Bechdel test, and Maeve admits to Starlight that she’s the one that saved her. In a surprisingly poignant moment, she says, “I can jump. You can fucking fly.” And off she goes.
And in another moment of the few women on this show supporting each other, the Ashleys find footage of Maeve surviving the explosion and immediately delete it, hoping Homelander never finds out.
This show is known for toeing the line between being offensive itself and having its villain characters do offensive things; like, maybe it’s better that they know what’s offensive enough to put in a bad guy’s mouth, maybe it’s still offensive that they’ve had them say it… the line is blurry, and they live (and thrive) in that grey area. So while I’ll give them credit for how they’ve had the in-show media treat Maeve and her bisexuality (read: how they’ve had the media and the Vought higher-ups decide ‘lesbian’ was more marketable, acgively participating in bisexual erasure), I feel like I can only give them partial credit for sidestepping the Bury Your Gays trope. I’m so, so glad they went this direction, but that doesn’t change the fact that they sidelined her for the entire season. Yes, she was vital to the plan, and she ended up being the hero, but she spent most of the season alone and off screen, so I can’t, in good conscience, give them full marks. It sort of feels like when your brother pushes you near the top of the stairs but then grabs you and says, “Saved your life.” Like I guess, technically that’s true? But also it’s your fault I was in danger in the first place? It’s complicated. And it’s not like they balanced Maeve’s disappearance by giving more women screentime, not really; and definitely not a queer woman. That said, I’m grateful they didn’t take the cheaper but more salacious way out of Maeve’s storyline, especially for a show whose currency is shock value.
The Boys will be back for a fourth season, but I have a feeling Maeve (and Elena) will not be, and honestly maybe that’s for the best. Maeve deserves a happy ending, and I think this is the only way she’ll get it; faking her death and riding off into the sunset with her girlfriend.