The first three episodes of The Boys Season 3 gave fans a lot to unpack, including a reference to the cast of Riverdale. Homelander's Birthday Spectacular was the focal point of Season 3, Episode 2, "The Only Man in the Sky," and was packed with celebrity guests from Judi Dench to Starlight. Included on the guest list was none other than the cast of The CW's Riverdale.
The cast of Riverdale weren't the only special guests invited to Homelander's highly anticipated Birthday Spectacular. The second episode of The Boys' Season 3 premiere opened with Homelander announcing his party's insane guest list. Guests included members of the Seven like Starlight and Black Noir, along with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, newly introduced superhero Supersonic and country music's Rascal Flatts. With such a star-studded line-up, it's no wonder the event was broadcast across five different Vought channels.
The Boys is known for subverting and satirizing modern comic-book adaptations (in addition to satirizing Hollywood and society as a whole). Riverdale has been among the highest-rated comic-book shows for the last five years, so it was only a matter of time before Riverdale got a nod in The Boys. Prior to Season 3, it was unclear if the show Riverdale existed in The Boys universe. Many other comic-book shows and movies like Spider-Man and The Flash don't exist in the world of The Boys in order to keep the superhero concept exclusive to Vought. Homelander's confirmation that the show Riverdale does exist (and that the cast is coming to his birthday party) seems incredibly fitting for both series.
Riverdale isn't a comic-book show The Boys would want to outright parody. Riverdale is already stylistically quite absurd, which is quite difficult to satirize. The Boys choosing not to parody Riverdale and instead mention the series at a celebrity event is both tongue-in-cheek and a pretty hard blow to the series. More recent seasons of Riverdale are somewhat criticized for feeling too drawn-out like other teen dramas, but many Riverdale fans love the show now more than ever due to its addictive characters. While Homelander mentioning Riverdale was a humorous nod, it could also be interpreted as a criticism of the show for riding off celebrity culture.
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The Boys referencing recently canceled Riverdale tentatively opens the door for them to reference other comic-book movies and shows. Both the Prime Video series and the Dynamite Entertainment comics typically try to stay away from other existing comic-book content, but the writers aren't afraid to make exceptions if the joke is good enough. For example, The Boys #35 made a reference to the Incredible Hulk -- the first-ever Marvel reference from the comic. While The Boys TV show will likely still stay away from Marvel and DC properties, shows like Jupiter's Legacy, Raising Dion, Umbrella Academy, I Am Not Okay With This, Heroes and The Tick may still be on the table.
Riverdale's reference in The Boys was short, sweet and incredibly clever. It would've been nice to have seen Riverdale actors like Lili Reinhart, KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse react to the events of Homelander's Birthday Spectacular, but their cameos could've ended up being too distracting. With five episodes remaining in this season of The Boys, one can only wonder what TV show this superhero satire will punch at next.
The Boys Season 3 debuts new episodes every Friday on Prime Video.
One of the most intriguing aspects of The Boys Season 3 is how far Billy Butcher will go to stop Homelander. He's tired of the villain getting the upper hand, so Billy took some Compound V24 to power up and even the odds against Vought International. It led to an enraged and desperate Billy killing Soldier Boy's former sidekick, Gunpowder, leaving him wondering if this is indeed the ideal equalizer. However, Billy got some bad side effects, and it revealed he was using to another teammate, Hughie, who would also use the substance later on and pave the way for him to attain powers and his own Injustice moment.
Billy was trying to keep his use of V24 a secret from the others, but he eventually admitted that rather than use this to expose Vought to the media, he'd use it to get the upper hand and hopefully find the weapon that killed Soldier Boy, which he'd use against Homelander if possible. By using it, Billy developed visible side effects, thus forcing him to tell Hughie the truth.
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When caught, Hughie wasn't judgemental. In fact, he was desperate to try some, but Billy made it clear he couldn't. Shockingly, when they got to Russia hours later and raided a base to find the weapon, Hughie didn't listen and stole some V24. Once they were caught by soldiers, Billy had no choice but to go super, using his bulletproof skin and heat vision to flay his enemies, and he wasn't alone to fight back.
It came to a head when a gunman crept up behind Mother's Milk. Spotting the danger, Hughie teleported and punched straight through his chest. It was akin to the Injustice comics and video game, where Superman broke into the interrogation room and punched through Joker. This sent him on a power trip, where the Man of Steel would try to rule that DC Universe. In this case, while Hughie was nervous at first, apologizing in shock, but Billy noticed him basking in the glory of his might when they left base.
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This is because Hughie is tired of feeling helpless and wants to kill Homelander for forcing Starlight to pretend to be his girl. Ultimately, though, Billy and Hughie have to first deal with Kimiko's injury, an angry Mother's Milk and the possibility the chemical's hurting them. Until then, Hughie has to curb his emotions, because apart from the notion of with great power comes great responsibility, if he overestimates himself against Homelander, it could lead to his and Starlight's demise.