Warning: SPOILERS (of a very adult nature!) follow for The Boys: Season 3 premiere…
In just two seasons – hell, just two minutes into the first episode – Amazon’s The Boys quickly cemented itself as one of the most demented and gory shows in TV history. And given that it’s a show about “superheroes,” that often makes for an even bigger shock.
And yet, the show still finds a way to top itself and so when we merely mention THAT moment from Season 3’s recent premiere episode, “Payback,” you know exactly what we’re referencing. While keeping tabs on an Ant-Man-style supe named Termite, Frenchie and Kimiko witness a rather explosive, gloppy “oopsie” in the bedroom.
That’s right, Termite, in the midst of a sex act with a man that involved shrinking down to miniature size and exploring his partner’s penis from the inside, sneezed himself big – accidentally, and instantly, blowing his lover’s entire lower body to bits.
So how did this magnificent, mortifying moment come to be and how much did it owe to those popular Avengers-inspired Ant-Man-meets-Thanos memes? Fandom spoke to creator/showrunner Erik Kripke (Supernatural, Timeless), plus the cast of The Boys, about this sinisterly insane scene.
No Butts About It
“It’s all fairly logical and organic when you really think about it,” Kripke told Fandom about the conception of this oh-so bizarre moment. The Boys has offered dark parody twists on plenty of familiar characters, and Kripke explained, “We needed a superhero for Frenchie and Kimiko to fight and so we were scrolling through the big superheroes we hadn’t done yet. And Ant-Man came up and at the time there was that meme of, like, “Ant-Man, why didn’t he just crawl up Thanos’ butt and explode him and it could have all been over so quickly?” And so we said, ‘Well, we should do that and give the audience the thing that Marvel can’t give them’.”
Once they had that very popular Ant-Man / Thanos meme in mind, Kripke said they had one amusing obstacle, recalling, “Hilariously – I forget who – one of the writers said we already did a butt explosion in Season 1, which just shows you why I love my job, that we have already done one. So once you rule out the butt, there’s really only so many orifices, and then it kind of becomes logical from there. It’s the one of the craziest things I’ve ever shot and my favorite part about it is we actually built that penis practically. That’s 11 feet high and 20 feet long, built at great expense – like crazy expensive. And it’s just Exhibit 7000 why I love my job.”
The fantastic final result was a combination of both practical and computer effects, but rest assured, “that tunnel was real,” Kripke revealed. “That’s a real urethra that we built that is actually inside the head of the penis. I don’t want to not give CG in the VFX department credit. It’s called ‘skinning.’ They would skin over some of the giant penis set to make the pores a little more realistic and get that glisten just right, so there is a VFX sweetening to it all. But yeah, he ran and he jumped, when he crawls into that hole, which is my favorite. That’s a real thing.”
Gasps All Around
One might think that starring on The Boys might make someone numb to this type of jaw-dropping moment. But nope. The cast was right there with us, the viewers, gleefully dumbfounded by the entire experience. Jack Quaid (“Hughie“) evoked one of Season 2‘s most memorable moments, as he shared, “I just remember reading that and being like, ‘We officially topped the whale.’ I can’t believe we did it. First thing, we topped the whale.” Quaid added that he’s always, “So excited about the potential of the show to just do the craziest, craziest stuff.”
Erin Moriarty, who portrays Starlight, was also taken aback. “It was a total shock,” she said. “I learned a little bit about the anatomy too, because I was, like, ‘What is he scratching at that’s causing pleasure?’ But I think it’s kind of a perfect introduction to Season 3, because we up the ante in Season 3. And they’re crashing this superhero party and that’s the kind of thing that you do at a superhero party and that you would believe to happen based on everything that we’ve seen. A little bit of sex that turns into violence or aggression. And I thought it was shocking and hilarious.”
Jensen Ackles, who previously worked with Kripke on Supernatural, and has arrived on The Boys this season as Soldier Boy, had no idea what to expect when he first saw it at a screening recently, with a large audience. “That was a big ‘WTF’ moment for me,” he shared. “I think I turned to Kripke and I was just like ‘You disgust me in the best way.’ Yeah, I wasn’t prepared for that.”
Antony Starr, who’s habitually shocking fans as the violently narcissistic Homelander, had read the scene and mentally prepared himself for what he considered to be the “biggest dick joke ever” but wound up digging it. “I thought I was gonna really hate it and I kind of loved it,” Starr explained. “I’m kind of a prude at heart. And I didn’t find it anything other than truly bizarre, because of the way it was shot. And everything’s from the perspective of our wee friend. It just looks so surreal. I mean, how many times have you seen a little man running and tickling a urethra?”
“I think it’s hilarious,” Chace Crawford – aka The Deep – revealed. “I mean, it’s a big moment for the peen on TV. I’m watching these shows, and I think we top them all, obviously. I was really interested honestly to see how they were going to do it. And it’s just hilarious. It’s disgusting. Him, shaking him in the bag, I was dying.”
Claudia Doumit, who plays head-popper Victoria Neuman on the series, echoed this sentiment. “Nothing could have prepared me for that ever in life. No amount of therapy, no amount of visuals, nothing. So that was a lot. It was like a car accident that you couldn’t look away from.”
Even now, three seasons in, Kripke feels it’s the nuttiest thing they’ve pulled off. “Just committing it to film in a mainstream entertainment is just f**king insane. And people who hadn’t seen it yet would say you’re overselling it. ‘There’s no way!’ and then I would get all these texts, like ‘Oh my God, you were so right… Jesus, what have you done?’ And you know, I mean, the goal was, quite literally – this is a horrible dad pun – but the goal was to kick off the season with a bang.”
What Does The Boys Go From Here?
It’s pretty much a given that The Boys will continue to have crazy and outrageous moments… but is it possible to top this? And also, is it wise to even try to get into the “topping oneself” game?
As Urban explained, it’s dangerous to just go for shock value. “I think it’d be a mistake to try to outdo ourselves,” he said. “Kripke is really smart, he gets it. The key is to dive deeper into the characters and to write the show with more heart. And that’s what brings people back because you care about these characters and you enjoy spending time with them. And like all of that, you know, exploding penis stuff, as Kripke said, it is just the outside of the cereal box. But what’s inside is what’s even more tasty.”
Starr also agreed on this point, stating that everything needs to be rooted in character. “I think where things go for the rest of the season, there’s some pretty bizarre things that happen for sure,” he explained, “but as is the case, with most of the bizarre moments in this show, they’re usually linked to the wants and the drives of the characters. So yes, we have these bizarre, extraordinary moments, but underneath there is something going on.” He added, with a grin, “I’m not sure how the aforementioned Termite exploding dick thing fits into that but later on, for sure, there are some very intense, crazy moments, but they are really anchored in the characters.”
Said Kripke, “I don’t love playing the game of ‘Can we top or can we outdo [ourselves]?’ because I never think it leads anywhere good. I’ll go where the story goes. And I’ll go where the characters go. And if that leads to something crazier and huge than great. And if it leads to something really intense and emotional, like that’s great, too. The only rule I really ever follow, my only real compass is, is would the characters do it? And understanding their psychology. They happen to lead me to these crazy moments, but I’m really following the characters more than I’m actively trying to create crazy.”
Having worked with him for years, Ackles knows this all too well about Kripke. “[Eric’s] never trying to raise the bar or level up or anything. You know, they attack the show from a character standpoint, which I think really does it the best service possible. But with that, with these characters, they find themselves in these crazy situations. And these guys just know how to write it. They know how to bring it and it continues to level up unintentionally, which is amazing.”
Additional reporting by Kim Taylor-Foster