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‘The Boys’ Boss on Landing Will Ferrell’s Surprise Cameo in Season 4

‘The Boys’ Boss on Landing Will Ferrell’s Surprise Cameo in Season 4

[This story contains spoilers from episode five, season four of The Boys, “Beware the Jabberwock, My Son.”]

Leave it to The Boys to tug on viewer heartstrings while horrifying them at the same time.

That’s exactly how episode five of season four, “Beware the Jabberwork, My Son,” was supposed to hit, says Eric Kripke, creator of Amazon Prime’s hit satirical series about vigilantes chasing superheroes.

In this week’s episode, the showrunner imparted wisdom on how to say goodbye to loved ones (The Boys way), terrorized viewers with man-eating supe sheep (confirming that the supes are not invincible), and brought in A-lister Will Ferrell for a cameo to save A-Train’s (Jessie T. Usher) life.

Episode five wasted no time picking up where last week’s episode, “Wisdom of Ages,” left off, where Hughie (Jack Quaid) got A-Train to steal Compound-V from Homelander’s (Antony Starr) living quarters to give to his comatose father. But while Hughie second-guessed himself about using the drug on his father, his mom Daphne (played by guest star Rosemarie DeWitt), takes it out of Hughie’s jacket and injects the dangerous drug into a vegetative Hughie Sr. (Simon Pegg), bringing him back to life and to his family. But, looks can be deceiving.

Soon, what seems like healing and a second chance between Hughie, Hughie Sr. and Daphne (who left the family when Hughie was 6 due to depression) turns into a gory toxic bloodbath. A V-ed up Hughie Sr. goes on a rampage throughout the hospital, ripping the hearts out of patients and staff. (The drug allows him to literally walk through walls, and people.) As soon as he commits these atrocities, he forgets they occurred, dazed and confused as to why he’s standing in a hallway soaked in blood. Then he sees Daphne and remembers her, as if she just recently left him when Hughie when he was a child. His bloody wrath is then centered on her. By not letting nature take its course — and by using Compound-V — Hughie has helped to create a monster. Hughie Sr. chases his son and ex-wife, but cries to his son that he can’t control himself. Hughie is able to talk his father down and regain his trust. Hughie then finds drugs in the hospital to help his father transition peacefully to his death, as nature intended.

“For us, one of the big themes was Hughie really grows up,” Kripke explained to The Hollywood Reporter when talking about this story arc. “Dealing with a sick parent really ages you up in a hurry. Something everyone will face, when your parents go from taking care of you to you start taking care of your parents. That was a big part of this. It was time for Hughie to become a fully mature adult, and I think this ordeal really helps him do that.”

Kripke added that part of this entire season’s journey is learning how to let go.

“Hughie was never good at letting anybody go,” he continued. “He wasn’t good at letting go of Butcher [Karl Urban], Annie [Erin Moriarty] or of his anger toward A-Train [in the first-ever episode of The Boys, A-Train accidentally killed Hughie’s girlfriend by running through her while chasing a rogue supe]. And so, this season, he learns it was time to let his father go; he learns it was time to let go of his anger towards A-Train. It’s time to show forgiveness toward his mother, and that forgiveness isn’t about the other person — forgiveness is a healthy advantage and benefit to yourself. Because you’re not carrying hate anymore, which weighs so heavily. So, in many ways he has the most mature emotional journey of any of the characters, because he really learns the secret about mercy, forgiveness and letting go.”

Rosemarie DeWitt as Daphne with Jack Quaid as son Hughie in The Boys season four episode, “Beware the Jabberwock, my son.”

Jasper Savage/Prime Video

Speaking of A-Train, his decision to start helping The Boys in episode three, and even more so by stealing the Compound-V in last week’s episode, has him on pins and needles. Homelander (Antony Starr) already suspects there is a traitor within the walls of Vought International who is helping The Boys, and other supes may be close in identifying him as that person. But he is also being made to promote a fabricated film about his life at the annual V52 Expo called Training A-Train (a satirical send-up of the 2009 movie The Blind Side, but starring guest star Ferrell as the savior of A-Train). A-Train eventually confesses to Vought executive Ashley (Colby Minifie) that he is the traitor and asks for help to conceal it, and eventually escape. Knowing that A-Train has too much on her that can get her killed too, Ashley reluctantly helps him and frames anchorman Cameron Coleman (Matthew Edison) as the leak inside Vought, and members of The Seven take pleasure in slowly torturing and killing him.

Although he’s putting himself and his family life at great risk, Kripke doesn’t think it should be any great surprise that A-Train is the inside supe who has turned against Homelander and The Seven.

“It was a long time coming,” Kripke said. “So much of his story in season three was that he decided his brand was going to be pretending to give a shit. And he did it so much that he actually started to give a shit. And so that was really where we left him last season. And then, this season, being in that shitty movie and watching The Seven do all of these horrific things, I think there was a little bit of a candle flame of a conscience that was awoken in him last season, that now these things slowly but surely were just becoming unbearable. He just needed to do something about it, despite the great personal risk. I think he is just starting to think that maybe he actually has to be a hero, instead of pretending to be one.”

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And, how did Kripke get Ferrell to make the cameo for the A-Train movie trailer?

“At the time, Jessica Chou wrote in the script, ‘huge Hollywood star,”’ Kripke said. “That’s what it was plugged in as, and we just needed to find the right person. At the time, I had just had a meeting with Will and his producing partner Carolina [Barlow]. We ended up texting, and he’s the nicest guy, and so I just reached out to him and said, ‘Would you be interested in flying out to Toronto for 36 hours and doing this role for us?’ He thought it was funny and agreed to do it, which was amazing. There were horrible shooting conditions that day, just freezing sideways rain. I felt so bad, because he was outside all day and he just could not have been kinder or more gracious.”

And finally, the rest of the Boys discover that Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) might still have some of the virus that can kill supes tucked away on the family farm owned by her and her mentor/adopted father Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito). It turns out that Neuman’s boyfriend, Sameer, has allegedly destroyed all the virus samples, but he has been testing Compound-V on farm animals such as chickens and sheep. The deadly concoction has impacted the sheep, making them flying mammals that can easily rip apart a man or cow with their vampire-like teeth. And yes, they are hungry!

Kripke wasn’t planning any type of vegan revenge story when he and his writers came up with man-eating flying sheep, he explained.

“I’m not a vegan, and this is about a few things. It’s our version of a really absurd monster movie,” Kripke said. “It has a lot of the beats of a monster movie, and the idea of V-ed up animals has been an idea that Evan Goldberg, one of our executive producers, has been pitching for a very long time. He kept pitching a V-ed up bear, and I’m not smart enough with my budget to know how to pull that off. But in the back of the writers’ heads has always been, can we find an opportunity to do sheep?”

He continued, “In season three, we had one V-ed up hamster and it worked out great. And we just really loved the idea of V-ed up animals; so, when this notion came that Victoria Neuman would be working on this virus in some isolated location away from everyone and everything, someone in the writers room said, ‘Well, it could be a farm and there could be V-ed up animals on that farm,’ and then it all sort of came together. We knew we could have that story, and also have these ridiculous, lovable creatures become homicidal, like Monty Python’s rabbit. Like, if the bull was V-ed up, it wouldn’t be nearly as insane as the sheep that swooped down out of the sky like raptors that killed the bull.”

The Boys streams new episodes of season four Thursdays on Prime Video. Read more with Kripke here, and get your refresher on season three.

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