The most improved character in The Boys season 3 is not who you might expect, but their rise to greatness finally fixes a season 2 Stillwell error.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Boys season 3, episode 6
The Boys failed to fill its Madelyn Stillwell-shaped gap in season 2, but Colby Minifie’s Ashley finally steps up for season 3. Played by Elisabeth Shue, Madelyn Stillwell enjoyed a major role in the debut season of Amazon’s The Boys TV series. With Giancarlo Esposito’s Stan Edgar the mysterious boss in the shadows, Stillwell served as the de facto face of Vought. Wrangling supes, making demands, and putting out PR fires, Shue gave a captivating season-highlight performance as the corporate executive jostling against superheroes considerably more powerful (but considerably more stupid) than she.
Unfortunately, Madelyn Stillwell did not escape The Boys season 1 alive. Homelander discovered she’d been keeping a massive secret (the existence of his son, Ryan Butcher) and brutally murdered his handler by firing heat vision directly through her eye sockets. With Stillwell gone, Ashley effectively became her replacement for The Boys season 2, but where Elisabeth Shue’s character brought a fleshed-out personality, her own secret agenda, and an impressive knack of holding power over the powerful, Colby Minifie’s Ashley was little more than a yes-woman. Supe and non-supe alike ran rings around her at Vought, and limited screen time meant Ashley never made the same unmistakable stamp on The Boys that Madelyn Stillwell had the season prior.
Kimiko and MM both make strong cases, but Ashley is arguably The Boys‘most improved character in season 3. The frantic people-pleaser of past seasons is gone, replaced by a neurotic and dominant sycophant who takes out her frustrations on every employee apart from Homelander, who she worships without self-respect or shame. The way Ashley takes Homelander’s verbal scolding in The Boys season 3, episode 5 (“Did your brain get f ** ked by stupid?“) then recycles exactly the same quote to dominate Cameron Coleman isn’t just hilarious, it highlights a power thirst audiences did not get to see in season 2. The boardroom scene in which Ashley ejects poor Maureen for asking a perfectly reasonable question is comedy gold, and the pride Ashley feels after telling A-Train “go f ** k yourself“shows how The Boys‘weird wallflower has finally blossomed into an even weirder Venus fly trap. Watching Ashley dominate everyone not wearing the US flag as a cape is far more interesting than seeing her constantly shrink into a ball of stress and panic.
Colby Minifie always had more to offer The Boysand the actress finally gets an opportunity to play around with Ashley’s offbeat quirkiness in The Boys season 3. Whether she’s waving around a patriotic phallus, yanking out clumps of hair, or riding movie directors in bathroom stalls, Ashley scenes are now colorful, comedic, and crass. Whereas the Vought exec spent season 2 lurking in the background apologizing, she’s now endlessly entertaining … because no one can quite predict what Ashley will do next.
As neither a supe or a member of the Boys, Madelyn Stillwell needed to make a strong impression in season 1. Her character was the pivotal bridge between Vought and the real world, and Elisabeth Shue’s presence was sorely missed in season 2. The Boys finally brings Ashley up to her predecessor’s level for season 3. The two characters may be nothing alike – Stillwell was cunning and professional; Ashley is chaotic and clearly out of her depth – but Colby Minifie is finally allowed to plug the gap left by Madelyn Stillwell’s death. The Boys season 2 was desperately crying out for a non-supe Vought figure keeping the heroes in line. She might’ve taken a while getting there, but Ashley is now finally living up to her predecessor.
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The Boys continues Friday on Prime Video.
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