Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for The Boys Season 3.
The Boys‘most recent installment was highly anticipated for its depiction of Herogasm, but there was a lot more going on in the episode than a supe orgy. The episode served as a platform for one particular character to rise above the ashes and free herself.
Since her recruitment to The Seven, we have seen Starlight (Erin Moriarty) constantly taken aback by the manner in which Vought operates. She has always been under pressure to abide by their protocols, and becoming a victim of sexual assault at the hands of The Deep (Chace Crawford) was just the start of a long list of instances in which she would be mistreated. But this was not the start of it all. She has constantly been abused and mistreated since childhood. Time and time again her mother would put her in painful situations, pushing her to engage in numerous pageants over the years and keep the image of a strong, perfect superhero. Her suffering has been prolonged for too long, and the events of Herogasm lead her to finally snap and show herself to the world. She wants the world to know the truth and has let go of the Starlight moniker to revert to the strong Annie January she has always been inside.
Way back in Season 1, we saw vicariously through Starlight how The Seven is a truly villainous group, as opposed to the heroic ensemble the public so lovingly admires. It was a shock to the system for Starlight, but something she had to quickly come to terms with. She learned very quickly that refuting the maniacal expectations she was supposed to follow would only cause more trouble for her and the ones she loved. From this point onwards, she has had to stay quiet about the events that occur within the walls of Vought tower through fear of what may happen. The threats are not just hypothetical either; she has seen at various points how serious Homelander and the higher-ups of Vought are. Most notably, the murder of her childhood boyfriend and now close friend Supersonic at the hands of Homelander (Antony Starr). This may have been the point at which she realized the true severity of the situation she was in. Anyone and anything she loves can be just snatched away from her effortlessly.
As a result of the manipulative operations behind the scenes of Vought, Starlight found herself not only as the co-captain of the most villainous group on the planet but also in a public relationship with Homelander, the most villainous of all. Up until Herogasm, we have seen her become almost complicit, although she has remained an acquaintance to Hughie (Jack Quaid) and The Boys throughout. Starlight has constantly strived to stay on the right side of things with Vought, whilst giving her all to not fall into the depths of their depravity.
The events leading up to Herogasm left everyone in disarray. The Seven were falling apart from the inside, with Black Noir fleeing from Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) being unaccounted for. Meanwhile, The Boys were reeling from Butcher and Hughie’s betrayal of MM, and Frenchie and Kimiko were being held hostage by Nina. It’s the friction between The Boys that led to Starlight’s introduction to Herogasm as she became engaged in an unlikely team-up with MM. One of the episode’s funniest moments came from this team-up, as Starlight had to bluff to get MM an entry into the event, “nom, nom, nom”, but after gaining their entry things became a lot more serious.
As MM went off on his own search for vengeance, Starlight confronted Hughie. Their conversation inside what can only be described as the sex house was short-lived as Hughie used his Temp V-induced powers to teleport the couple out of the building, leaving the two naked in the street. It was here the two spoke their thoughts, and Starlight tried to talk sense into Hughie, explaining how she does not need or want to be ‘saved’ by him. She tries to convince him to do the right thing, but their heated confrontation ends in the more and more familiar manner of Hughie leaving her behind to follow in the footsteps of Butcher.
Perhaps it was this lack of common ground with the one man she loves and believes in that lead her to what followed. Sticking to her true heroic beliefs, Starlight is one of the first to help after Soldier Boy’s devastating blast, and she convinces MM to help her with treating the plethora of injured supes. After doing all they can to help those who survived the explosion, we see MM asking Starlight if she’s sure before he then starts a live video on her Instagram. It is here where she finally exposes Vought for what they truly are. She discloses how Soldier Boy is back and is responsible for the catastrophe, and then explains how Vought is hiding Queen Maeve, suggesting she may not even be alive. Starlight then denounces her hero moniker and explains how she is just Annie January.
This video is a huge turning point for Annie. All the fears she once had about being honest and revealing the heinous acts of Vought seem to have dissipated, and she finally frees herself from their clutches. We do not yet know what the consequences may be for her, something she references in her speech, but she is no longer living a lie. With Hughie going down his own dark and dangerous path and leaving her behind, Annie must feel she no longer has anything to lose and is willing to expose the dark underbelly of Vought, even if it leads to her own demise. She has forever been one of The Seven’s members who have a deep-rooted sense of what’s good, and this heroic act encapsulates that, as she risks everything to tell people the truth.
Homelander will likely become more unhinged than ever after being left reeling from his epic fight with Soldier Boy, Hughie, and Butcher, and the lengths he may go to are terrifying to think of. Whatever her fate may be from Herogasm, Annie January will go down as the one who stood up against the might of Vought, and she is a true hero in a world of villains.