Gen V Episode 3 review: Prepare to be hooked

Cameron Frew
Emma in Gen V Episode 3

Gen V Episode 3 feels like the perfect end-point for the three-episode premiere; our band of complex, likable heroes are finally fully formed, and the punchy, jaw-splitting action will leave you hungry for more.

Homelander wanking under the pale moonlight, Termite rupturing his lover’s entire lower body, A-Train reducing Hughie’s girlfriend to mush, The Deep eating Timothy; The Boys’ unforgettable moments are its most heightened, but even when the series felt like it was trying to one-up itself, each dose of shock and awe said something about its characters.

Gen V already feels like the stronger of the two in that regard, especially after Episode 3 and its harrowing peak into how the existence of nearly every student at Godolkin is defined by betrayal; they were never given the choice to be a normie, and any and all violence is the result of that lack of agency.

That, and they’re all battling real relatable issues; grief, imposter syndrome, varying dysphoria – they just happen to be super-charged, and the show’s handling of that unique burden is already proving to be incredibly compelling. Spoilers to follow…

Gen V Episode 3 opens with a flashback

We revisit a familiar place in Episode 3: Sage Grove, the out-in-the-sticks psychiatric center for dangerous supes like Love Sausage (whose giant penis makes a cameo appearance) and Cindy. We’re a few years in the past at this point, with Luke and Cate visiting Sam mid-meltdown after learning about being injected with Compound V. “Did you know about this stuff?” he asks his brother as he slams and craters the wall with his super-strength. “They thought they were giving us powers,” Luke tells him, but Sam says he got “more… I got a broken brain… I could have been normal.”

This is the heartbreaking point at the heart of Gen V: none of these kids chose this, their parents forced them into a life of solitude, uncertainty, and ultimately torture for the unlucky ones. “Drugs or no drugs, you’d still be weird as f*ck,” Luke tells him in an attempt to put him at ease, which works – until a guard fires a dart at his stomach and Sam retaliates with an uppercut through his stomach and through his mouth, like a back-to-front hand puppet.

Suddenly, Cate wakes up after collapsing at the end of Episode 2. “I just pushed too many people,” she tells Andre, who warns her she could have had an aneurism – but without her, his “stone-cold idiocy” would have seen him killed. Andre wants to go after Sam, but Cate thinks it’s too dangerous. “I could stop you,” she threatens, and he grabs her glove-less hand and tells her to do it. “I can’t lose you too,” she says, before they kiss and have sex – I’d say Luke’s body isn’t even cold yet, but his body burst into little bits.

Marie tries to reconnect with Emma

Marie and Emma in Gen V

Marie and Emma got off to a shaky start; the latter’s happy-go-lucky, crude demeanor was a lot to take at first, but Marie has been struggling to forgive her after she pressured her into going out with Golden Boy. When she walks into her dorm, a faint voice cries out her name from the ground: it’s Emma, shrunken down to the size of an ant, in dire need of food so she can resume to normal size.

“I’m really tired, I’ve been fighting off ants all night,” she says as Marie tries to probe her about how she ended up in that state, but Marie stresses that it’s “a little bit f*cked” – then again, she’s being a bit of hypocrite, given that she needs to cut herself to get her powers. “Are you gonna take a break?” she asks, and the pair go back to their usual positions: facing each other’s walls, curled up under a blanket in silence.

The next morning, Godolkin is preparing for the pre-ranking gala in honor of Professor Brinkerhoff. Jeff is shooting down any and all ideas for the color scheme based on what charities and tragedies they’re linked to, including anal cancer, while Indira cooks Marie breakfast ahead of the big night. She even makes a smiley face, because that’s how her (dead) daughter liked it.

While Marie displayed poise in her interview with Hailey Miller – her tape is already being taught in classes, her “tremble… strong, humble… the girl’s a natural” – she’s a bit shaken by the host’s reveal about her sister. Indira comforts her by claiming it could have been a lie in a shameless bid for on-air tears, before asking if she can “show her off” at the gala. Reluctantly, but with a selfless smile, she agrees.

Meanwhile, Andre’s dad is still enraged by Marie and her “unsanitary” blood powers – “What if she has Hep-C?” he asks – stealing the whole spotlight and Andre missing his chance. The trustees are meeting later that night to decide on the new rankings, so he tells Andre to “butter their asses with his tongue” before the vote. Andre, still consumed by wanting to save Sam, asks if “it’d be good” if he did something really heroic, but before he can answer, his dad is called up to deliver a lecture.

Emma’s mother is a horror

Emma in Gen V Episode 3

After Justine apologizes for “co-opting her story” – all in front of a camera, so her subscribers can see “how sorry she is” – Emma catches sight of her mother on campus. Soon enough, she’s quizzing her about her eating and calorie intake, noting that she’s a few inches shorter so she probably needs to have a snack – but Emma isn’t in the mood. She wants to “curl up and die” because everyone keeps staring at her after finding out the bulimic secret of her power.

Elsewhere, Marie tries to talk to Cate, as they haven’t seen each other properly since Luke’s death – but Cate watched Marie’s interview, and did not appreciate what she said. “You didn’t know him… but shades of grey don’t sell like black and white, do they?” she snips, but the onrush of tears as Marie walks away indicates she’s not even angry at her – she’s just overwhelmed by the loss.

We rewind to three years ago when Sam supposedly killed himself at Sage Grove, with Luke feeling distraught and guilty over the suicide. It’s so bad that he asks Cate to “make him feel better”, but in a surprising beat, she refuses. “This is something that you have to go through,” she tells him, forcing him to embrace the sadness rather than flick it away with the magic touch of her fingers.

The episode cuts to Jordan (in female form) having sex with a student capable of walking through walls, all while moaning – not in enjoyment, but about Marie taking all the credit for the Golden Boy ordeal. Before he can finish, they boot him out when their parents arrive – it’s clear that they don’t necessarily approve or feel comfortable with their gender-flipping ability.

Godolkin gala is an egotistic parade of capitalism

Andre and Polarity in Gen V Episode 3

The gala kicks off, and it’s a full-blown, glossy red carpet affair. There’s a lucrative auction – including a signed pair of A-Trainers – and an infestation of money-hungry execs keen to exploit the students in any way they can. Marie is handed countless business cards, but she starts feeling a bit iffy about lying about her parents; instead of the truth about her killer period, she says they’re “doctors without borders” working in Cameroon. “They don’t want to hear the truth, and you don’t want to say it,” Indira tells her.

As they’re chatting, Jordan walks past Marie and “laser eyes” her. Indira warns that Marie’s sudden fame has put a target on her back, but “keep doing what you’re doing, and you could be the first top-ranked freshman in history.”

Emma’s mother introduces her to Courtenay, a Vought EP who wants her to be the star of a new reality series. Emma is excited – at first, until the true nature of the show is revealed. “Meet Emma… she’s battling her own super-demons,” Courtenay says in her pitch, hoping for a show that “ditches Vought’s glossy bullsh*t” and gives people “real pain.” She also has two ideas for the title: ‘Eaten Alive’ or ‘Feelin’ Small’.

Emma tells her mom that it’s exploitation, but she tries to teach her a brutal, cynical lesson. “In the real world, everyone uses everyone,” she says, believing the pros to outweigh the cons of her daughter’s mental health taking a kicking. After a brief pause, Emma tells Courtenay that her mother taught her how to make herself heave up bile and tells her to “go f*ck herself”, but Courtenay isn’t put off. “This is fan-f*cking-tastic. You’re gonna need another room for all the People’s Choices,” she hilariously adds.

We get a brief scene of Jordan trying to suck up to Ryan, one of the board’s trustees, with their parents even intervening. Later, Jordan returns to their most comfortable form: female, which upsets their dad. “Sometimes I think you change into a girl just to spite me,” he says, and Jordan responds: “I never changed dad, I’ve always just been me.” Jordan’s arc could be one of the most emotional in the show, but it’s mostly just bubbling in the background for now – hopefully it’s prioritized in a later episode.

Marie and Emma also reconcile in the bathroom when Marie needs help peeing under her large, impractical dress. “You’re f*cking badass… I don’t pity you,” she tells Emma, who gives her a hug as she starts to piss.

Andre gives Emma her first mission

Andre in Gen V Episode 3

Andre ditches the event to smoke week with Emma outside – not before an excruciating moment with Cate, who asks if they should discuss their “intercourse situation – but he’s not there for the pot: he wants Emma to sneak into the Woods and carry out reconnaissance. Soon enough, she shrinks down, crawls through a tiny crack in the wall, and manages to sneak into Sam’s room – but when he notices her, he traps her in a plastic cup. “Are you real?” he asks.

While Indira condemns Golden Boy’s “unspeakable” actions and once again hails Marie as the Guardian of Godolkin, Andre asks his dad if he knows anything about the Woods. Its mere mention causes his father to pull him close into a tight hug, but it’s not affectionate. “Don’t say another f*cking word… you could get yourself killed,” he says, but his mixture of anger and fear falls away as soon as a trustee calls his name. Sean Patrick Thomas’ performance has been consistently excellent, bringing the frightening switch-flipping of The Seven into the world of Gen V.

As Marie walks across the room, Jordan tries to take another jab at her, but in an emotional outburst, she admits to killing both of her parents with her first period. Jordan says it’s bullsh*t at first, but soon comes round to believing her story. Cate then confesses how learned she had empathic abilities: when she was younger, her brother was annoying her on a camping trip, so she put his hand on him and told him to leave and never come back – and he never did. “My mom never touched me again, neither did my dad,” Cate says.

Marie isn’t at all resentful of her parents, but she’s not woken up to the real truth of her powers. “It’s not your fault your parents shot you up with a dangerous drug to make a buck off you,” Cate says.

Back in the Woods, Sam asks Emma several questions to make sure she’s not some sort of schizophrenic apparition, before talking about his favorite movie: Waterworld – even Emma can’t help her laughter. They hit it off, sitting chatting like they have nowhere to be or nobody to fear. Alas, it wasn’t meant to last: an alarm goes off, and it appears they know someone else is in his room. He lifts Emma up to a shelf so she’s not electrocuted by the floor Andor-style, and she hides while a guard gratuitously shocks Sam as he convulses on the ground.

Emma can’t stand it, so she leaps onto his shoulder and climbs into his ear. He freaks out at first, screaming “no” and flailing to get her off him, but it’s over before he knows it: Emma crawls through his brain to the other side, killing him, and emerging from a small pool of blood. “This is the grossest thing possible,” Emma says, but three other guards then storm in, ending the episode with one word: “Fuck.”

Gen V Episode 3 review score: 4/5

Gen V’s third episode coasts along on a highly watchable, impressively dense groove – you’ll be gutted when the credits roll and you can’t press play on the next installment.

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.