(Spoilers from The Boys season finale will be found below.)
Another season of The Boys is in the books, so to speak. The third round of Vigilantes Vs. Supes ended with a climactic throwdown of those Supes. Homelander (Antony Starr) got his ass beat by Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), who then leaped out of a window, nearly sacrificing her own life to save everyone from a nuclear Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles). When it comes to The Boys themselves, they landed in the thick of this battle, but their internal turmoil is no less fraught. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) betrayed the fan-favorite character of Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), and as Alonso told us in an interview, that leaves The Boys in an unprecedented spot heading into Season 4.
All along, Mother’s Milk (who’s officially known as MM on the show) has been the most steady, dependable presence on The Boys. He’s the rational member in terms of strategy. He holds a clear vision of why they are fighting against Vought International’s Supes, and boy, did his story go to raw places this season. We learned why his obsessive-compulsive disorder took root and why the trigger of Soldier Boy’s presence ended up worsening MM’s OCD, and how the show portrays the agony with deference. And fans have really responded, as Laz was gracious enough to discuss with us.
In addition, I absolutely had to Laz about the most disgusting moment of the show’s recent “Herogasm” episode. Obviously, I’m talking about the scene where MM and Starlight open a door, and a Supe unleashes the biggest money shot ever seen onscreen. It landed all over MM (you can watch that moment here and react like Erin Moriarty does), who immediately (and for understandable reasons) needed a bathroom. And that’s the careful tightwire that this show navigates: putting this character — the guy who least wants to be touched by Love Sausage, for example — into the most revolting scenarios but still managing to respectfully regard the anxiety that dominates his life, all going back to what Soldier Boy did, decades ago.
We also discussed how different Mother’s Milk is from the comics, and why it’s so nuts that some far-right viewers didn’t realize (until recently) that Homelander is not a good guy. Now, what of MM? That’s a whole other story.
Let’s start by acknowledging how different MM is on the show versus the comics. Eric Kripke discouraged Jensen Ackles from reading the comics before playing Soldier Boy. Did that apply to you, too?
I was discouraged from Season 1! Because MM had powers in the comics, and here, we didn’t. In Season 1, I knew that I wouldn’t have those powers, so by Season 3, I had bought into our version of the story. And I really liked the tie-in between Soldier Boy and MM’s backstory, primarily because during 2020, Eric and I were talking about everything.
Because of the pandemic?
Yeah, usually we go from season to season and really don’t have that much time in between to talk and get inspirations from life and add it into the story. But in 2020, we stopped for a year because of Covid. So we were talking about everything from Covid remedies and ways to strengthen your immune system to George Floyd and how to bring some of those real stories (that exist in our society) and infuse them into the characters. That’s where the Soldier Boy and MM tie-in came in. Because Soldier Boy represents good ol’ American values and idealism, but that only works for some people. It hasn’t historically included everyone, and so while to some people Soldier Boy was a hero, in our community, he was policing people very, very hard and not really regarding human life in the process, and that’s what the story was addressing: how it affects everyone else.
Well, MM doesn’t have powers in the show, and there’s an underlying vibe that there are no heroes here, but at the end of the finale, MM’s daughter called him her hero. Maeve pulls off the heroics in the finale against Homelander, but do you think MM’s ultimately the biggest hero of the show?
Well, I wouldn’t say that he’s the biggest hero of the show because everybody plays a part, and it all shows us that we can’t do it alone. We have to rely on each other. You know, even in moments, you might have to take up with somebody that you’re not very fond of to get to your objective. Butcher teaming up with Soldier Boy was not cool to MM. It really broke a level of trust between these two that I think is unfinished business because, you know, up until now, they both knew each other’s demons. Or what they had was trust. And Butcher broke that.
Big time. He stopped MM from pursuing Soldier Boy, who killed part of his family.
So I think that that has fractured The Boys to a certain degree, but the show is always talking about how you don’t need powers. What you need is unity. What happens when that unity is fractured? And so, here we are.
Beyond the action of this finale, MM’s arc this season took him further into the representation of OCD. If I think about how that disorder’s usually portrayed, like with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, he’s stepping over cracks and turning doorknobs, and it kind-of all leads to him being a dick. And with Tony Shaloub in Monk, OCD is played for laughs. But with MM, the show gets to the heart of the disorder and how it manifests. Did you research it much?
I did. And I also researched triggers. I knew that I needed to find, “Where can I identify what triggers this?” Because the OCD is a symptom of something equal. And when I tell you that this is the first season and also the first character where I’ve received so many DMs and people reaching out to me to thank me for how I portrayed OCD. And they suffer from it and this is the first time that they watched a portrayal of OCD that did not make them feel like they were being made fun of or laughed at or it was minimized to something so simple that didn’t incorporate the mental health behind OCD. So, I’ve taken screenshots and forwarded them all to Kripke because, you know, he’s the guy behind the pen, him and his writing team. And I try to polish off and add and stuff, but I really think that our writers got it, you know. That’s how important it is to — in a backstory when a character exhibits something — to really address the source. And it all came from trauma. It’s all trauma, and OCD is just the means of coping with that trauma.
When you mention how the show doesn’t make fun of OCD, I agree. The wet wipe stuff and Maeve putting her feet on the table — that’s a tiny slice of humor that’s just the right amount, I think.
Yeah, and then this year, we saw just how deep it gets, and we saw his daughter seeing it. Whereas before, he was able to mask it. Now, we’re starting to see his tics, like he’s gonna ring the doorbell, but he’s gotta tap it a few times. He’s driving, he’s gonna turn the turn signal on with a certain ritual first, and all these things compounded, kind-of start giving us a bigger picture of how present it is in his everyday life.
Another thing about MM is that Butcher and Hughie are going off the rails with their vengeance, but MM stays constant and steady to what he believes. We know more about him, but he’s still stayed who he is. How do you balance that?
I think that you balance it out by understanding the role on the team, and MM’s role has always been to remind The Boys that they, morality-wise, are supposed to be on the right side of this thing. The lines do get blurred, and MM is kind-of the voice of reminding, reminding, reminding. When they started doing Compound V, you have to remind them and the audience, “Don’t try this at home.” [Laughing] Although you may have a perceived reason for doing that, this ain’t the right way to do it. So, you need that Devil’s Advocate to keep us the good guys, otherwise, we’re just like the Supes. Just justifying our reason for doing it, and they’re justifying the reason for doing it. But at the end of the day, you’re at one end of the circle or the other.
Alright, so we have to talk about “Herogasm” and that scene where MM gets completely soaked. It was so funny when he complained about his jacket getting ruined, and then it really got ruined. Shooting that must have been something, so… were there multiple takes?
[Laughs] We shot it all in one take
Yeah, more than one take doesn’t seem too practical.
And it was the last take of the night. After an entire fifteen-hour day of shooting the most ridiculous stuff you can ever imagine, and we had to get it then and at that moment. We were rushing to get it. You know, it was almost something that we didn’t shoot because we had to make our day. We had to start letting people go and sending people home because we had to be back the next day and shoot other stuff. What happened was that it was the last thing where we had the house intact because the next day, we had to shoot the house as Post-Soldier Boy Blast. So the next day when we came, the house was in shambles, and that night, once we wrapped, they destroyed the house. We had to get that shot that night, and we had one shot to do it. So, they basically shot it from every angle known to man and by luck, we got it.
I’m not sure that you’ve heard about this controversy, but there are apparently far-right viewers who just realized that Homelander is actually a villain. They’re angry now, and especially because this season goes in hard against toxic masculinity. How do you feel about a group of so-called fans who just didn’t get it for awhile?
If they were able to watch Homelander for two seasons and not see him as a villain? That tells us a lot about where society is right now, and it goes back to what echo chamber that you choose to belong to. It’s unfortunate to belong to any echo chamber. In theory, we should be rational people who can call things out. Even if it’s somebody that I consider myself a fan of or a follower of, what he’s doing is not right. And the fact that we’re in a state where we can miss that? It just says a lot about what work we have to do as a society to get back to where we understand what’s right and wrong. There are certain things that should not be based upon whether you’re far-right. It shouldn’t matter if you’re far-right, far-left, or in the middle. It’s pretty obvious that if someone allows a plane full of people to crash, when you’re a “hero,” you’re America’s hero, and you let these Americans die, it should be very obvious. Yeah, this show is supposed to be a mirror to society, and if they don’t like what they saw, they should look in the mirror.
What’s wild is that Garth Ennis wrote the comics fifteen years before the show first aired, but this feels like the right time for it to land.
One-hundred percent. If you look at who he modeled Homelander after, fifteen years ago, you’ll understand why those people did not like it.
I know there was another character originally modeled after George W. Bush, but that’s not Homelander.
It was actually… Donald Trump!
I think I actually needed to block that from my mind because Trump is in too many places. I don’t need to think about him during this show!
In Garth’s interviews, he talks about creating these characters, that was the first supervillain, and he thought, “What if this person had all these powers? How would they behave?” [Laughs]
And we certainly found that out in 2016. And it’s still happening.
It’s weird how things play out.
We are outta time, but if you could take MM and give him a trip to another TV show or movie, where would you want him to go?
Oh wow. Oh man, that’s tough. Hmm, maybe Star Wars?
I can see him in The Bear. Have you seen that show?
I haven’t seen The Bear!
I keep telling everyone to watch it, so now I’m telling you that.
Where can I see it?
It’s on Hulu. It stars Jeremy Allen White from Shameless, and he plays a former fine-dining chef who goes back to run his family’s restaurant and finds out it’s more intense than expected. It’s a different kind of intense than The Boys, and I think MM could run that ship well.
Oh, I’m gonna go watch it! Thank you.
‘The Boys’ Season 3 finale is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.