Episode 4: Dancing With Myself
We start out with a woman audition for some sort of mystery job, which recurs with other women throughout the episode. It's later revealed that the women are members of "The Collective", and are meeting with The Deep and Alistair Adana to find a wife for the former. Homelander is seething about the growing popularity of Stormfront, and calms himself down by going to a remote cabin where he is greeted by Stillwell, much to our surprise. She comforts him, telling him he's all-powerful etc. and feeding him breast milk in the grossest way possible. It's later revealed that it Stillwell is actually Doppelganger, the middle-aged male superhero we were introduced to in the first season. Homelander is apparently making him pretend to be Stillwell to feed him milk under threat of death.
Meanwhile, Butcher gets the location of Becca from Grace, as well as an address to follow up for with "Liberty", the older superhero that was reference in the previous episode. He reconnects with Becca and the two of them formulate a plan to leave. On the day of the escape, though, Becca figures out that Butcher's intentions are to kill Ryan or abandon him to Vought. Partially because Vought wouldn't be interested in pursuing them two alone, and partially because he despises Homelander and views Ryan as a "Fucking Supe Freak". Becca says that she can't do that because she loves Ryan and refuses to follow Butcher down his sociopathic warpath.
Starlight, Hughie and M.M. hunt down the lead on Liberty, going to a house in North Carolina. A woman there named Valerie reveals that decades ago, Liberty stopped her and her brother while driving. She accused her brother of stealing the car, said some very racist shit to him, then killed him extremely violently before leaving, unaware that Valerie was in the backseat. Similar to the start of the series with Hughie's girlfriend, Vought offered Valerie's family money ($2,000) for her brother's death, which they accepted. When the gang asks where to find Liberty, Valerie reveals that she's not only still alive but also the newest member of the Seven, Stormfront.
Homelander confronts A-Train and tells him that he's out of the Seven due to his heart condition, and will be replaced by a new hero, Shockwave, who you might remember from the big race episode in season one. The later backfires when he and Queen Maeve go on a Maria Menounos talk show and are confronted about the fact that 92% of Supes are white. He confirms that A-Train is still part of the Seven, presumably to save face, and also outs Maeve as a lesbian. Backstage, Maeve is understandably afraid that Homelander may have killed her girlfriend, Elena, as he does with anyone that forms an attachment to her. He assures Maeve that he "set her free".
Homelander goes through a hilarious compilation of anti-Homelander, pro-Stormfront memes before deciding to confront her about her attempts to sabotage his image.
He tells her he is aware of what she is doing, but that it is all for nothing because he scores higher in every major demographic. Stormfront taunts him, before relenting and saying that trying to win over the entire country is no longer possible and is a sisyphean task. She's been paying 5 people to spit out a constant stream of shitty memes which has been drumming up more emotion from people than Homelanders $250 million dollar ad campaign. She says that it's more important to have a small group of zealots behind you than a large group of apathetic fans. She then kind of, not seduces, but postures to him in a very specific way. Instead of standing up to him, she makes sure to be sitting so that he is looking down on her in a way that makes Homelander feel powerful.
Homelander returns to the cabin and Doppelganger, who is waiting as Stillwell again. He rejects him, saying "I don't need anyone but myself". Doppleganger takes this as a cue to morph into Homelander, and tries to seduce him. He's about to give him some Supe-er Sloppy Toppy when Homelander stops him, reiterating that he doesn't need anyone to love him, before snapping his neck.
I think this may be my favorite episode so far. Antony Starr, as always, puts on a fucking clinic as Homelander. The way his face reacts and the leather on his suit twists and creaks, unreal. Not to mention the scene where he seduces himself may be one of the most unsettling moments in a series full of unsettling moments. I'm also enjoying the development of Stormfront, because in a world of evil, egotistical superheros, of course there would be a racist one. And the idea of her prefering to recruit a radicalized fanbase through the internet fits perfect for a white nationalist character. Seeing some more characterization for M.M. is also great, and I really enjoyed the monologue he had about his father.
- They left it "open ended" on whether or not Stormfront is actually Liberty, but the fact that they are both white supremacists (Stormfront's name literally derives from the white supremacist website), and the fact that she tells Homelander "You gotta change with the times, god knows I did" more or less confirms it.
- Almond Joys were, for some reason, at the forefront of this episode. Starlight buys one at a vending machine and gets made fun of by Hughie, who notes that they are serial killer candy. First of all, fuck you, Hughie. Almond Joys are delicious. But I will relent that I disavowed Starlight after she said her other 2 favorite candies are Charleston Chews and Bit-O-Honey. Fucking gross, dude. Anyway, Black Noir also approached an analyst about tracking Butcher, and made her throw away the Almond Joy. I don't know what the connection is there, but we will find out I'm sure.
- M.M. revealing that his father died of heart disease at a young age is interesting. Another main character in this series has heart issues at a young age in A-Train. The only other relative we know of A-Train is his older brother/trainer, Nathan. I don't know if this is going to be connected later, but it is interesting.
- Homelander drinking milk is never not going to elicit a gut reaction to me. What fucking incredible acting by Starr.
- No Fresca this episode, interesting.