Gen V Episode 7 review: As sharp as The Boys

Cameron Frew
A still from Gen V Episode 7

Gen V Episode 7 has the same emotionally and satirically brutal edge as The Boys; some of the drama feels a little repetitive, but there’s world-changing stakes at play here.

The sixth episode ended with one helluva bombshell: not only has Dean Shetty been using Doctor Cardosa to create and refine a dangerous virus capable of clinging onto supes’ DNA and turning them into lepers, but she wants to make it “contagious.”

It was a startling mic-drop last week; it also forces us, the superhero-binging audience, to confront ourselves to wonder: what if she’s right?

Episode 7, thankfully, doesn’t try to dip away from that question; for all that we like the Guardians of the Godolkin, could it be that the entire enterprise is a poisoned chalice, drip-drip-dripping out in a slow but steady stream of surefire devastation? Spoilers to follow…

Gen V Episode 7 is all about the Virus

In the sixth episode, we saw that a 5ml increase to the dose of the Virus resulted in a ghastly death for a supe. Episode 7 opens with captured, doomed supes holding their breath in a cell with someone who’s been infected; they’re basically a zombie, puking blood and stripped of their humanity, and much like 28 Days Later’s rage, it can only be transmitted via bodily fluids.

As one supe bashes on the glass door and begs to get out, screaming “I’m sorry”, Doctor Cardosa mutes the room. Dean Shetty still isn’t satisfied with the oomph of the Virus – she wants it to be airborne so it’s more contagious, but the doctor argues they should “take a beat” and assess their long-term goals. After all, if it was released into the “super-abled population” (ha!), it could “spread like wildfire.”

Naturally, Cardosa is concerned about Vought’s wrath if they found out he created something capable of wiping out any and all supes, but not only does Shetty not care, but she knows the doctor is stuck; he created it, it’s his “brainchild”, so he’s inextricably linked to it. “Now finish it,” she orders.

As Shetty receives a call from Cate, she answers: “Hello, sweetheart.” Cate wants to know where she is and urgently wants to meet – of course, she’s keeping her rebellion close to the chest – but Shetty is heading into the city, so she asks Cate to take more of her medication and head over to her house where she can wait until she comes home.

Cate is still overloaded by people’s thoughts; in a cafe, every patron’s inner dialogue rushes through her ears like rush hour traffic, and she has to focus to turn down the volume. In the background, we hear right-wing anchorman Cameron Coleman gearing up for his town hall interview with “historically unpopular, phony socialist scammer” Victoria Neuman, now a vice presidential candidate after the events of The Boys Season 3.

Cate tells Marie, Jordan, and Andre what’s going on, but she’s too distracted by hearing their thoughts – despite what they say, none of them trust her. “Stay out of our f*cking heads,” Jordan barks at her, before storming off. “I wanna believe you,” Marie assures her, but Cate sours it by adding: “I know you do.”

Outside, Marie confronts Jordan over their aggression; they think Cate is intentionally messing with their heads, but Marie believes she can’t help it. Also, she tells them to stop “turning into a dude when you wanna make a point to us”, and moments later, they’re already laughing off the tension between them and sharing another kiss.

“We need Cate,” Marie urges, but Jordan has another plan: they have the key to Dean Shetty’s office, so why don’t they just sneak in, steal any relevant files to do with the Woods, and leak them online? “You think they’re gonna believe a Black girl and a bi-gender asian supe over Vought?” Marie says, but there could be a solution: what if they hand over the documents to Neuman?

Sam learns to party

After nearly killing Cate on sight, Emma takes Sam back to her dorm. “You have so many things,” he says as he fiddles with her somewhat extensive sex toy collection. She tells him he should put on different clothes – at this point, he’s wearing a panda snuggie – but he doesn’t mind. “It smells like you,” he tells her, and she responds: “You’re so sweet… when you’re not slaughtering a bunch of dudes.”

She asks him to stay in the room and not answer the door to anyone; “stranger danger” rules are in action. When she leaves to get him a Vought-A-Burger, he initially locks himself in her closet; this is a boy who’s become so accustomed to brute force and captivity that the freedom of closed-quarters comfort is overwhelming.

He eventually emerges and starts pottering around her dorm, bouncing on the bed and looking through her underwear drawer (including her teeny pants); it could be creepy, but he’s too innocent for that. He hears commotion and laughter outside, so he pokes his head out the door: some tipsy supes have turned the hallway into a giant, snowy slip-and-slide. Sam worries they’ll get into trouble, but echoing Homelander’s arrogance, he’s told: “We’re superheroes, we can do whatever we want.”

Not only does Sam get involved, but he’s at ease quickly with his peers, smiling and swigging a beer – but Rufus is one of them, and he convinces Sam to come with them to a party. He even lies to him about Emma already being there, the slimeball that he is.

Dean Shetty’s truth is revealed

Dean Shetty in Gen V

Jordan and Marie sneak into Shetty’s office and rummage through her drawers. They eventually find a blue folder tucked away underneath some paperwork containing records of Transoceanic Flight 37. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the plane Homelander and Queen Maeve failed to save in Season 1, ditching all of the passengers mid-air and watching on as the aircraft and all of its souls on-board plummeted to the ground.

“Terrorists, right?” Jordan asks, but there’s clearly something else going on. Marie finds a log of all the passengers on the flight and spots two names: Lily and Paul, the dean’s now-deceased husband and daughter. That scene may be the most harrowing moment in superhero pop culture, so it’s fair to say it gives Shetty some emotional leverage with the audience; she deserves her pound of flesh.

Suddenly, a drunken Cardosa stumbles into Shetty’s office mumbling about her demands and desire to “kill them all”, before taking a leak in her decanter, throwing his resignation on the table, and walking out. “How about you take a long drink of that Indira, you f*cking c*nt?” he says, as Marie and Jordan hide under the table.

Meanwhile, Shetty meets a familiar face in the city: Grace Mallory, the founder of The Boys. Shetty explains the Virus and how she wants to neutralize the supe threat completely, but it rubs Mallory the wrong way. “This is a war crime,” she says, but Shetty believes it’s “us against them”, and it’s their duty to protect the next generation and the millions to come from inevitable tragedies.

“A man who works for me, one of your fellow countrymen… has the same rage, it’s so consumed him that there’s nothing left. Trust me, you don’t wanna go down that path,” Mallory says, presumably referencing Butcher. Shetty says she’ll carry out her plan with or without Mallory’s support, and when she threatens to have her arrested or committed, Shetty thinks she’s bluffing. “I don’t think you will, part of you agrees with me,” she says.

Mallory doesn’t bow to the feeble pressure of just anyone, so she brushes Shetty off and tells her to go back to her school. As she walks away, Mallory takes out her phone. “Did you get all that? Keep a close eye on her,” she says – but who was she speaking to; MM, Hughie, Annie, or was it Butcher?

Polarity loses control

As Andre and Cate wait at Shetty’s house (and enjoy some of her finest tea and edibles), they watch Polarity’s televised interview with Coleman, who introduces him as a “beloved, god-fearing superhero who bleeds red, white, and blue.” As ever, Andre is feeling disillusioned about his dreams of being just like his dad, especially after finding out he’s “Vought’s bitch… you’d have to be a f*cking idiot to think any of it matters.” This is basically the exact same inner conflict he spoke of earlier in the series, so there’s not much weight to it at this point.

However, the interview goes haywire: Polarity struggles to get his words out, and the broadcast is suddenly fuzzy and chaotic as he jerks around in his chair. It appears he’s suffering some sort of seizure, so Andre rushes across campus to his aid. They get in an ambulance, but Polarity’s fit is a hazard to everyone around him; in the throes of pain, the vehicle starts to compress and the paramedic is battered with flying fire extinguishes and other sharp objects as Andre tries to counteract his dad’s powers. It’s a thrilling scene, and one that illustrates just how inexperienced Andre is; even when barely conscious, his dad still has the upperhand.

Later, we see Andre sitting next to his father as he lies in the hospital. He receives a call from Marie and co. asking him to join them, but he ignores it – after dismissing his dad so much, he’s putting his anger on hold to stay by his side… for now.

Emma looks for Sam as town hall descends into chaos

While Emma looks for Sam all across the university, he’s not at a party – he’s actually attending the town hall with Rufus and his aggrieved peers shouting things like, “Supe lives matter!” On stage, Neuman is comically grilled by Coleman over Soldier Boy nearly killing thousands of people in Manhattan and other deadly incidents, and how her approval rate is dropping 30% among “one of America’s most prominent minority groups.”

Coleman, as a Tucker Carlson caricature, is hilarious. Neuman doesn’t break a sweat, even with students calling her a “f*cking narc.” Sam asks Rufus why everyone is so angry, and he says, “They’re trying to limit us.” Soon, the event becomes a free-for-all of supes using their powers and firing stuff at the stage, and as Coleman lambasts Neuman’s “un-American, anti-superhero agenda”, she runs into Marie backstage. Marie says she really needs to talk to her, but Neuman already knows who she is, and they go somewhere private to chat.

“Your powers are badass. Coolest I’ve ever seen,” Neuman tells her, before asking Marie to “tell me something about myself.” As Marie focuses on the blood coursing through Neuman’s body, she detects Compound V. “I knew you could do it, good job,” she says.

Neuman then cuts her hand open and shows Marie that she has the same abilities – suggesting Marie could be just as powerful as Neuman. It’s then revealed that Neuman couldn’t let Marie get “shipped off” to the adult facility, so she gave her “a little boost” to get into Godolkin. Neuman also grew up at Red River, and despite Marie’s standoffish response, she believes she’s a “very rare and exceptional girl.”

Neuman then asks Marie what she wants to tell her, and she doesn’t hesitate. “There’s a secret lab under the school called the Woods, where they experiment on kids. They’re infecting them with a virus that can kill supes,” she says, and urges her to tell Vought what’s happening. “I’ll handle it,” Neuman says, and tells Marie to “go back to being a student.”

Marie is outraged, but Neuman gives her some sage, sobering advice: “God-U is your shot at finally having some control over your life… you don’t know sh*t. But the first Black woman in The Seven… she has real power… she’s friends with the vice president. That woman, she can make a real difference politically, culturally… maybe she can even find Annabeth. Two paths, Marie. You have to choose, you can’t have both. Let’s keep in touch.”

This may be the best exchange in the entire series so far, encapsulating the central, cynical conflict of all supes: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Cate handles Shetty… and Neuman handles the Virus

Victoria Neuman in Gen V Episode 7

Episode 7 ends with two huge shifts. Firstly, after seemingly forgiving Shetty and believing her spiel about seeing Cate as a daughter, she puts her under her control just in time for Marie and co. arriving.

“Shut up, you had the chance to talk, now it’s my turn,” Cate shouts as Shetty begs the group for help. “I know you love me, it doesn’t change the fact you’re a f*cking bitch.”

Cate orders Shetty to reveal the true nature of herself and the school: Godolkin is a “front” built to “figure out what makes supes tick… you’re not here to study, the school is here to study you.” She then explains that she wants the Virus to spread across the world and kill every supe on the planet, and Marie quickly connects the dots: Homelander was responsible for Flight 37. “You all leave a path of destruction behind you,” Shetty says, with tears gushing in her eyes.

“I’m trying to show you what kind of a monster she is… she wants to wipe us off the face of the Earth, they all do. So we have to strike first, starting with her,” Cate says, echoing Magneto’s resentment of mankind in X-Men, before forcing Shetty to slice her own threat and preventing Marie from using her powers to keep her alive.

“Cate, do you know what you’ve done?” Marie asks. “Justice,” Sam whispers, nodding at Cate. “For all of us,” she adds. Who’d have thought we’d end up feeling sorry for Shetty? It appears a team-up between Cate and Sam is on the cards for the finale – no problem, it’s not like they’re the two strongest supes on campus. Gulp.

We cut to Doctor Cardosa handing over the Virus to Neuman in a car park. He explains it’s not particularly contagious right now, but it should be stored away to prevent anyone else from getting hurt. “Speaking out against Vought takes a lot of courage Doctor Cardosa,” Neuman says, before taking the canister and assuring him that he and his family will be kept safe.

“We’ll make sure this stays out of the wrong hands… you’re a 21st-century American hero,” she tells him, but as he smiles, he glances down at the card she gave him – it’s completely blank. Blood starts dripping from his nose, and suddenly, his whole head explodes. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Heads Will Roll’ cues the credits – in what feels like an instant, supes no longer have anything to worry about… besides themselves.

Gen V Episode 7 review score: 4/5

Gen V Episode 7 shifts the hierarchy of power in troubling, shocking ways in its sharp, pulse-racing penultimate chapter.

Gen V Episodes 1-7 are on Prime Video now, which you can sign up for here. You can check out our other coverage below:

Gen V review | Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | When does Gen V take place in The Boys timeline? | Gen V cast and characters | The Boys cameos | Gen V runtimes explained | Tek Knight powers explained | What is the Virus? | Jordan Li powers explained | Why does Soldier Boy return? | Every supe’s powers explained

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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.