Gen V Episode 2 review: Less gore, more snark

Cameron Frew
Emma in Gen V Episode 2

After the raining, quaking horrors of the pilot, Gen V Episode 2 takes a breather from extreme violence and commits to the tongue-in-cheek, sharp mirroring of real-life insecurities and issues.

The Boys is appallingly funny, armed to the gills with the sort of side-eye, hand-over-mouth-laughs that feel wrong but oh so right, whether it’s Termite’s urethra-itching mishap or pretty much all of Herogasm’s lewd, icky delights. That potent, ante-upping mixture of freakish imagery – even the gore-less ones, like Homelander nearly accepting a blowjob from himself – is what makes it so enjoyable even when it’s horrible.

Gen V’s opening episode recaptured the formula and forged its own path, delivering bonkers set-pieces and gnarly superhero action that wipes the floor with the MCU with addictive, relatable(ish) pubescent drama.

The second episode presses down harder on the pedal, but it also proves that it doesn’t need shock value to keep things interesting – one just hopes it finds a steadier rhythm to its storytelling. Spoilers to follow…

“Nothing else matters” in Gen V

In the closing moments of Gen V, Golden Boy turned himself into a human supernova and splattered all across the university’s pavement. As Vought is wont to do, a cover-up (and clean-up) is quickly carried out: morsels of Luke’s flesh are shoveled up as his blood is hosed away, and Marie and Andre sit and quietly reflect on everything that just happened (in a nice nod to Magneto’s “iron in your blood” line, Andre also causes a small tremor in one of Marie’s floating clots).

They don’t know how to process his death, but Ashley Barrett’s concerns are immediate: she has to burn $45 million of Golden Boy merch, so she needs a party line. Indira Shetty proposes that he had a “full psychotic break” and he was a “chronic drug user” who was stopped by Marie and Andre, a “classic superhero story.”

Another trustee suggests that tell the real story: that Jordan Li fought Golden Boy. “Oh, a bi-gender Asian with pronoun f*ckery, great idea Kyle,” Ashley snips, brutally, before asking Indira a private question: “Is the Woods part of what happened?” Indira says it’s under investigation, which has Ashley fretting about a “potentially fatal problem” – but Indira assures her it’ll be fine. “When 400 kids learnt they weren’t gifts from god but their parents drugged them with Compound V as infants, I barely had any suicides, did?” she asks, but Ashley hits back: “Well you had one tonight!”

It’s now clear that the Woods is some sort of nasty, clinical holding pen for abandoned Compound V babies and children – but why is it such a big deal? We’ve seen Sage Grove, but can it really be worse than there?

Marie leapfrogs into Godolkin’s top 10

Jordan Li in Gen V Episode 2

Marie heads back to her dorm, where Emma greets her with a warm hug and the offer of enough booze and drugs to knock Woodstock on its arse – forgetting, of course, that Marie still isn’t all that happy about her convincing her to go out with Golden Boy and his crew, the first step of this whole mess. She rejects her friendship, basically, and says she wants to focus on her studies and nothing else, so the pair go to bed and face their respective walls.

The next day, everything changes: Marie is suddenly accosted by her phone-waggling peers in desperate need of a selfie – which they’ll always get, regardless of whether or not she says no. One boy tries to force her onto his livestream, but he quickly realizes she has no idea why everyone’s so interested: she has just become the first freshman in the history of Godolkin University to enter the top 10 league table, while Andre has climbed to number one and Jordan has dropped to five, “yo.”

Elsewhere on the campus, students are gathered around a #ThinkBrink memorial to the dead professor, with one girl using her Mr. Fantastic-esque powers to get the optimal selfie distance for her pseudo-grieving Instagram Story – this episode is full of tiny, amusing moments like that.

Cate catches sight of a group of boys sniggering, but they predictably play dumb when she confronts them – as if they don’t know she’s an empath who can force them to tell her. Rufus is then compelled to reveal what he said: “What some guys will do to get away from Cate.” So, she sends him into an everlasting cycle of whacking his nuts as hard as he can once an hour with a baseball bat while shouting “Jumanji!” – seems fair.

Marie is a Guardian of Godolkin

Andre in Gen V Episode 2

Marie then meets Jeff, the university’s un-PC social media director (he calls her his “soul sister” when he sees her), who kits her out with the full Vought tech kit and explains how the rankings work: they’re based on a “careful analysis of talent, skill, brand awareness, and social mentions”, and her #blackgirlmagic rep is on fire right now.

While Andre poses for a photo shoot, he’s visibly bothered by Luke’s death – but his dad (Sean Patrick Thomas), the original Polarity, tells him take the opportunity he’s been given. Marie then meets Courtney, a Vought EP who’s in charge of her one-on-one interview with Hailey Miller about her and Andre being the “Guardians of Godolkin.” Jeff says it’s gonna be “big… 9/11 big” (ha!), and tells Marie she’s like “Pretty Woman without the ass-f*cking for money.”

Andre doesn’t seem too fussed about the whole superhero thing – it’s become too normalized for him, while it’s all still a daunting novelty for Marie. He gives her some advice: say yes to any and all photos to “give the illusion of choice.” He also asks her for help with whatever happened to Luke, but she wants no part of it. “You have your dad… I don’t have sh*t. Leave me out of it,” she tells him, before walking away. It’s a fascinating direction to take the character; it’s not a villainous turn, but it’s self-serving for a reason – she may never get another chance at this level of fame and fortune.

Marie is also confronted by Jordan Li, who wants credit where due for their role in stopping Golden Boy, especially when Marie didn’t do anything. But as Marie points out, Jordan rejected her in the first place, so they don’t owe them anything – so Jordan makes a desperate request: tell Hailey Miller the truth.

Emma makes a friend at acting class

PJ Byrne in Gen V Episode 2

We get a scene-stealing appearance from PJ Byrne as Dawn of the Seven’s flaky, cocaine-addled director Adam Bourke in an Acting for Auditions class, where he asks students to pair up. Emma asks James, the boy whose dick she danged from only a couple of nights prior, but he gives her the could shoulder. Justine then intervenes, accusing him of needing Emma to be super-small to make his “prick look big.” He hurries away, and Justine tells Emma that he “bangs everyone to compensate for his tiny thimble d*ck” before offering to pair up with her.

They head up to their dorm and enjoy a bong together, where they share their insecurities: Justine is tired of playing the “sexy teen who f*cks the dad and tries to kill the mom”, while Emma confesses to hating herself for getting small, because it requires her to “purge” every time. (Justine also gets the biggest laugh of the episode when she tells Emma she used to go to Termite and Bryan Singer’s “gross” Hollywood parties.) Justine tells her she doesn’t need to pick a small role for their class – she can pick any part she likes, so she chooses Queen Maeve.

Sadly, Justine’s content-hungry attitude tees up a betrayal. The next day, as Emma walks through the courtyard, other students stick their fingers in their mouths and pretend to gag. She finds someone watching Justine’s latest upload, in which he describes Emma’s problem as “another example of how the patriarchy makes women chase unattainable beauty standards… I’m f*cking sick of this hetero-sexist male gaze.” It’s an infuriating scene (she’s not necessarily wrong, but come on), and Emma’s tearful face-off with Justine while she’s getting another girl to “Nancy Reagan” her tail is maybe the ultimate example of Gen V at its best so far.

Marie rejects therapy

Indira Shetty in Gen V

After getting a sudden induction into Indira Shetty’s crimefighting class, Marie goes to her office for an impromptu therapy session after Golden Boy’s death. She says it “doesn’t work”, but Indira tries anyway: she assesses that Marie finds it so difficult to open up because any time she loses control, tragedy strikes – such as her first period killing her parents – and she just goes back to looking out for herself. “Ice cold,” Marie says, claiming she’s just at Godolkin to be a hero and nothing else… until Indira brings up her sister, and Marie admits she wants to find her and “be a family again.”

Afterwards, Indira walks into “the Woods”, which is basically a large hospital ward with several operating theaters and a huge wall painted with trees, hence the name. In one of the rooms is Sam, Luke’s brother who was apprehended by Vought’s Global Wellness guards after Marie and Andre stopped him. One of the doctors raises concerns about Brinkerhoff’s death, but Indira says he was like Siegfried (even though it was Roy who was attacked by a tiger) and brushes off her worries, before telling the distraught teen to calm down. “Every time you try to leave, you hurt yourself,” she says, as the doctor hammers a pin into his pack.

Cate and Andre start looking for clues as to what caused Luke’s meltdown. When they get to his dorm, it’s not just been cleaned out – it’s been forensically scrubbed, and the stench of bleach almost burns their noses. Andre then has a brainwave: Luke told him his dad had something, and after seeing a melted camera near Polarity’s statue, he bends the metal out from its crotch (“That is really Freudian,” Cate quips) – and there’s a phone inside.

Luke left them a final video message. “If you’re watching this, I guess things got f*cked,” he says, before talking about the Woods, a “f*cked up hospital” that Brink was in on and Sam’s locked in. Cate was sure Luke told her that Sam killed himself in Sage Grove (where we first met Love Sausage in Season 2 of The Boys), and Andre says it was because of his schizophrenia – but he’s not convinced. “What if Luke wasn’t crazy?” he asks, before realizing the time: he’s got his interview with Hailey Miller. He offers to stay, but Cate tells him that “underneath that scumbag, candy shell, there’s a f*cking hero.”

Marie seizes the day

Marie in Gen V Episode 2

As Marie struggles to learn her script, Andre’s dad looks nervous; execs are telling him he should be measuring the drapes for his room at Vought Tower, but he’s nowhere to be seen. That’s because Andre decides to break into Brink’s office and search his computer, where he finds Sam’s file.

Back at the studio, Marie is sat in front of the camera and prepares to take on the interview alone. At first, she’s starstruck by Miller, until she reveals that her team reached out to her sister for comment on the story – and she told them she wanted nothing to do with her. Marie seemed like she was going to do the right thing and put Jordan at the forefront of the story, but this upends her decency – instead of crashing and burning, she becomes the “Black Starlight”, leaving Andre’s dad furious and everyone else slack-jawed. She may have the cutthroat juice to go all the way.

Andre is forced to hide in Brink’s office when armed troops come in and clear out the room, but as he tries to quietly escape, he sees an unlucky janitor getting executed for stumbling in front of them. He’s then caught by one of the guards, who uses a sonic device to render him powerless. “Do you know supes have a wider range of hearing than us, like a dog?” he says, until he’s ordered to turn it off.

“First, you’re gonna get this flashlight nice and wet with your slutty f*cking mouth… then I’m gonna stuff it right up your tight little chocolate starfish ’til you see god,” she tells him, and he’s baffled – but she was under Cate’s control, and with a little tap of the hand, he hornily obliges. Cate checks that Andre’s alright, but she collapses – she has “pushed” herself to the edge, and it could be fatal.

Gen V Episode 2 review score: 3/5

The pilot was an effective dose of Gen V, while Episode 2 doesn’t quite nail the blend; there’s zingers a-plenty and compelling turns, but the central mystery feels like a bit of a shrug right now.

Gen V Episodes 1-3 are available to stream now. You can check out our other coverage here.

About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, and Oscars enthusiast. He loves Invincible, but he's also a fan of The Boys, the MCU, The Chosen, and much more. You can contact him at cameron.frew@dexerto.com.