Editor's note: this post contains spoilers for season three of Amazon Prime Video's The Boys.
Since Prime Video’s hit antihero series The Boys first began in 2019, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott ) has been going through it, to say the least. Positioned as the sidekick and non-consensual girlfriend to the all-powerful murderous man-baby Homelander (Antony Starr), Maeve’s rage has been building for the last three seasons. And finally, it’s boiled over.
Like most of The Seven, the world's heroes are actually much more powerless than they appear. Every move micromanaged and manufactured, Queen Maeve has perhaps suffered the most under Vought International’s thumb; coerced into a relationship with Homelander, forced to hide her sexuality and girlfriend from the world, and even commanded to let people die on her watch. The buildup of resentment and guilt led Maeve down a self-destructive spiral last season until finally, she decided to fight back against Vought and Homelander – then he promptly kidnaps her and places her in a holding cell.
Her fate is unknown until her teammate Starlight (Erin Moriarty) breaks her out via Homelander’s greatest weakness: a social media callout. As the Butcher (Karl Urban) and Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) are on a collision course with Homelander, Starlight wants Maeve’s help to stop the fight and save the innocent people that will surely get caught in the brawl’s crossfire. But Maeve only has justice (or vengeance?) on her mind and joins Butcher and Soldier Boy’s efforts to take down Vought’s king. Homelander needs to die, and she’s all in.
Starlight is shocked at the switch-up. “I really thought that deep down you were a hero.”
Maeve replies steely, “Well, you’re wrong. There’s no such thing.”
Soldier Boy, Butcher, and Maeve suit up and race to the Vought building for the face-off we’ve been waiting for all season. After a rapid-fire of plot twists none of us saw coming, she gets her one-on-one with Homelander, a deliciously savage fight where Maeve’s sheer rage overcomes the power imbalance between the two. Homelander gouges out her eye. Maeve shanks him in the ear. Bloody and ruthless, we have no idea how it’s going to end.
In the meantime, Starlight, Butcher, Frenchie (Tomer Capone), M.M. (Laz Alonso), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) have struggled to sedate Soldier Boy. Sensing he’s lost, he decides to use his nuclear option and blow everyone to smithereens. The light on his chest grows, signaling the end for the entire gang, and just as they resign themselves to their fate, Maeve turns away from Homelander and dives for Solider Boy. The two go sailing out the skyscraper window. Soldier Boy explodes, blowing up several stories of the surrounding evacuated buildings, and only Maeve goes down with him.
Just moments before, Queen Maeve told Starlight there’s no such thing as heroes. But here she is proving herself wrong, ready to sacrifice herself to save all the people she cares for. Maeve has come to represent the entire thesis of the show: powers don’t make a superhero. The Boys mirrors our own society of capitalism, political divides, and celebrity worship. Vought’s “heroes” are still human, full of insecurities, fear and the ability to succumb to greed, money, popularity, and ego. In their world, superpowers can create monsters. But true heroism is a choice, a sacrifice, one that Maeve makes headfirst.
Chef’s kiss to the character arc, but I can’t deny that I was disheartened at the next scene: a news report announcing the tragic death of Queen Maeve who sacrificed herself for the greater good. “Great, another gay buried,” I thought.
TV has a long history of killing off LGBTQ+ characters, especially queer women, to move the plot of the male main characters along. Even The Boys’ creator Eric Kripke’s previous series Supernatural was guilty of it, savagely killing off fan-favorite Charlie (another red-haired lesbian played by Felicity Day) in season ten.
But then the twist. Maeve, beaten up, bruised, and down one eye, is alive. Rescued by the boys, Maeve was snuck back to their apartment, minus her powers, but still with her sense of humor. “Should I get the pirate patch or the Sammy Davis glass eye?” she asks Starlight. Then her ex, Elena, who has seemingly forgiven her for choosing Vought over their relationship, walks out of the back room. Elena embraces Maeve from behind. They’re headed to “a farm” to live a quiet life, perhaps somewhere in Modesto.
After seeing Maeve miserable for all three seasons and her literal death report flash before our eyes, her happy ending is a triumph. Vought even deletes the footage of her survival, giving her permission to disappear in peace. In The Boys’ universe of carnage and brutality, this sapphic cottagecore fantasy is the best we could’ve hoped for Maeve, a sweet moment amidst the ongoing chaos. It even feels like a bit of retribution for Charlie and all the other queer characters TV writers didn’t know what to do with.
The Boys is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.