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Gen V recap: Is this really just season 3.5 of The Boys?

This chapter's penultimate episode fumbles some big reveals

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Claudia Doumit
Claudia Doumit
Photo: Brooke Palmer/Prime Video

Is the role of a spinoff to stand on its own and branch off from the series from which it originated, or is it supposed to broaden its world and serve as a complement to it? The answer probably lies somewhere in between, but you have to admit a show’s entire existence is markedly different if it chooses one or the other—especially when said spinoff premieres while the OG show is still on the air. With “Sick,” Gen V’s penultimate episode of its freshman season, this The Boys spinoff has firmly planted itself as one that serves as not just a continuation of that raucously violent superhero satire but as an integral piece of storytelling within that larger Voughtverse.

The Seven, Queen Maeve, “Compound V,” and many of the key events of The Boys three seasons have been front and center during much of this college-set series. But with “Sick,” we’ve arrived at an episode where you’re likely to be more lost if you never did catch up on that original show. From the arrival of Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) to campus and a brief appearance from our favorite weathered former Boys leader (Laila Robins’s Colonel Grace Mallory) to a somewhat shocking Dean Shetty backstory that ties her to The Boys’ pilot episode (pun intended), it’s clear season one of Gen V is serving now more like a season 3.5 of The Boys. For better and worse.


There’s a thrill, of course, to finding out that Dean Shetty’s master plan to eradicate supes (she’s intent on getting Dr. Cardosa to make his Compound V virus airborne) is driven by grief: She lost her husband and child in the plane Homelander felled way back when (you know, the moment we first realized he was a sociopath). The only way forward is total supe annihilation; it’s why she reaches out to Grace, who, canny as ever, keeps her cards close to her chest after hiding behind accusations of genocide. “This is a war,” Shetty counters. But Grace refuses to help Shetty, though she’ll happily keep tabs on her. (Who do we think she was on the phone with?)


Similarly, seeing Congresswoman Neuman arrive on campus with shocking announcements (and disclosures) of her own is quite exciting. She’s there to sit down with Polarity and talk about the controversies that continue to follow her and the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs (FBSA). Alas, Polarity can’t attend the town hall with Neuman because, mid-broadcast while being interviewed by Cameron Cole (live!), he has a seizure, one that forces Andre to go to his father’s aid. And Andre, despite having clear disagreements with his father, plays the dutiful son and uses his own power to get him safely to the hospital where he remains unconscious.

He gets to miss out on the havoc Neuman and Cole create together at the Godolkin U Town Hall, where angered young supes paint Neuman as the villain she clearly relishes being—even as she performs the role of the centrist who just wants to find common ground with the “super-abled community.” That’s hard to do when the likes of Homelander, Stormfront, and Soldier Boy have so tarnished the community (and when the likes of Cole, clearly aping Fox News-style rhetoric, is more than happy to foment to create the discord he feeds on). The entire town hall is a disaster—which, with the added distraction courtesy of Jordan outside (how satisfying was it to see them punch influencer Justine right outside?), allows Marie to seek out Neuman in hopes of helping further reveal the truths about the Woods and Shetty’s master plan, something she and Jordan had just learned about while hiding in Shetty’s office where a drunken Cardosa (how convenient) spilled the beans on the virus before pissing in Shetty’s decanter.


As with much of Gen V, that kind of interaction is so convenient it feels laughable. But with so many moving gears in motion, it follows that the show would keep fumbling these big reveals in clumsier and clumsier ways.

Less clumsy, I’ll admit, was the way the episode stressed the main truism of these kinds of shows: trust no one. I half expected Cate, for instance, to be wooed back by Shetty with the admission that the Dean truly does see the young empath as a daughter surrogate. And I didnt expect for Neuman not just to come out as Marie’s God U benefactor (twist!) but to reveal herself as a supe (and fellow blood bender!) to Marie.


But good on both of these young women for standing their ground and wanting to live up to the heroic ideals they now stand for. Well, sort of. Marie, who’s growing more and more powerful by the moment (she can tell what runs through people’s bloods—it’s how she realizes Neuman is a fellow supe) is clearly a young woman of integrity. She believes there are good things to be done and so when faced with the craven choices Neuman offers her (wouldn’t she rather be the first Black woman in the Seven and create some change, not to mention find her sister, through leveraging that kind of fame and power rather than throw it away by trying to save kids from the Woods?), she’s left disheartened.

As for Cate…that’s a bit harder to parse. She similarly finds herself disheartened by Shetty and continues to prove to her friends that she’s trustworthy: She calls them all to Shetty’s house where she has the Dean explain what she’s doing and why. “You all leave a path of destruction,” she tells them. There’s no way to compassionately control superpowered folks: best to eliminate them. What Cate does next divides our young supes: She and Sam are fine with standing up for their own, while Marie, Emma, and Jordan want to find a better way forward. And so, when Cate has Shetty kill herself by slicing her own throat, she orders Marie to not help, no matter how traumatic that is. (She’s forced to relive how she lost her mother!)


It’s a classic Magneto vs Professor X situation. We’re being set up for an Us vs Them scenario and Cate’s statement that you can’t trust anyone leaves her with enough bone-chilling conviction to do unspeakable things to make her point. How will our young supes recover from this bloody mess? And how will they be able to face against Neuman, who ends the episode by doing what she does best: blowing people’s heads off after getting what she needs, namely, the virus from Dr. Cardosa?

Stray observations

  • Jordan’s gender-shifting remains one of the most intriguing aspects of the show, and it’s in the small moments (like Marie calling them out for turning into guy Jordan every time they want to make a point) where the complexity of that character really shines through.
  • Theories on what happened to Polarity (who, as we’re hilariously told, “bleeds red, white, and blue”)? Clearly something’s amiss, yes? Sabotage, but by who?
  • Okay, wouldn’t you have like a thousand questions for Sam about his muppet vision? Why does Emma just brush it off as if we all say things like “Well, he was a muppet…”?
  • Speaking of Sam…I would also have spent plenty of time going through Emma’s many-sized wardrobe. Again, a nice detail that speaks to the world-building of the show.
  • How do we feel about the “Supes Lives Matter” signs and discourse that surround Neuman’s arrival at God U? The Boys’ thorny political allegories are sometimes perhaps too obvious (see: Stormfront), but I’ll admit Gen V further aping that kind of language—and marrying it to a kind of MAGA movement (did you catch Rufus’ red hat?) gives me pause since the show seems more interested in facile comparisons than more complex political meditations about aggrieved parties, minority representation, and issues of equality and inclusion within and about the “superhuman community.”
  • Sam getting the full superpowered college experience (after being left alone and encouraged to have some fun with his fellow supes) gave us all a window into the kind of show Gen V could’ve been if it didn’t have lofty ideas about being about what it means to be a supe with integrity. Parties and classes (remember those?) have all been sidelined for our heroes as they get their Scooby gang together and prepare to take on…Shetty, Vought, Neuman, and every other shadowy group and person whose motivations seem always to sow chaos for self-aggrandizing projects.