In “The Self-Preservation Society”, everything falls apart after The Seven discover The Boys’ investigation into Vought and fight back.
The Boys Get Burned
Hughie takes Annie/Starlight to a hotel where they make love for the first time, unaware that Butcher followed them there.
At Seven Tower, Homelander holds a meeting with the remaining members of The Seven. He informs them about Hughie, blaming him for the murder of Translucent as well as attempting to blackmail Ezekiel, Mesmer, and Popclaw. When Homelander also accuses Starlight of collaborating with The Boys to bring down Vought, she is devastated and horrified. Maeve comes to Starlight’s defense, claiming that Hughie manipulated her. Homelander is shocked that Maeve cares and makes Starlight Maeve’s responsibility before backing off.
Later, Hughie tells The Boys that they must end their vendetta against Vought, which Butcher correctly guesses is due to Hughie’s feelings for Annie. The two engage in an argument, with Butcher accusing Annie of manipulating Hughie. In response, Hughie brings up Butcher’s loyalty to his deceased wife, Becca, saying, “So it’s better to be loyal to a dead woman who doesn’t know and doesn’t care? How’s that working out for you?”
Before the situation can escalate further, Hughie receives a call from A-Train, who is at Hughie’s father’s house and threatens to harm his father if Hughie does not return home alone within 20 minutes. The Boys panic as they realize that Mesmer has betrayed them. MM calls his wife, Monique, who is unaware of MM’s involvement with Butcher, and tells her to evacuate their home.
When Hughie returns home, he finds A-Train, who mockingly refers to him as a fan and mentions owning his memorabilia. Upon noticing that A-Train is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, Hughie offers him some Compound V in exchange for releasing his father. This provides an opportunity for Kimiko to sneak into Hughie’s home and shatter A-Train’s leg with a crowbar.
Using a tracking device, Butcher locates Mesmer in the men’s bathroom at a subway station and confronts him. A terrified Mesmer asserts that he only betrayed The Boys out of fear of Homelander, but Butcher does not believe him. While being punched repeatedly, Mesmer learns about Becca and claims that he can help. Butcher responds by placing his hands on Mesmer’s head, explaining how he will die, before bashing his head against the bathroom sink.
Welcome to Sandusky
In the previous episode, The Deep was transferred to Sandusky, Ohio. Upon arriving, he realizes that Sandusky is actually a safe town and that he has been exiled, with Vought hoping that people will forget about him. Despite this, he tries to make the most of his situation. He begins working on his autobiography, “Deeper: A Memoir,” and brings a fan girl back to his new apartment. The fan girl proceeds to stick her fingers into his gills, ignoring his protests and cries of pain, in a brutal and disturbing scene. This serves as karma for his treatment of Starlight and forces him to realize the suffering he has inflicted on other women.
Whatever Happened to Rebecca Butcher?
In a flashback set eight years prior, we see Billy Butcher and his wife Becca at Vought’s Christmas party. They encounter Homelander, who thanks Becca for managing his social media after she became Vought’s senior director of digital marketing. As the Butchers walk away from Homelander, Billy makes a sarcastic comment about his costume, not realizing that Homelander can hear every word with his super hearing.
In the next flashback, Butcher meets with CIA agent Grace Mallory in her office. She shows him security footage of Becca entering Homelander’s office, then leaving, looking disheveled after being alone with him for three hours. Grace recruits Butcher in her mission to take down the Supes, and they form The Boys together.
In the present, Homelander investigates Becca’s disappearance on his own. When he asks Madelyn about Becca, she assumes that Becca simply quit. Later, Homelander questions former Vought scientist Jonah Vogelbaum about Becca. Jonah tells him that Becca went to Madelyn eight years prior after becoming pregnant with Homelander’s child following his rape of her. This shocks Homelander, who believed he was infertile. Becca had to sign a nondisclosure agreement and was unable to tell anyone, including her husband, about her pregnancy. Jonah states that Becca died during childbirth and the baby died from blood loss. Jonah apologizes to Homelander for raising him in a lab without a mother, convinced that this is the reason for Homelander’s monstrous behavior.
Homelander defensively asserts, “I’m the world’s greatest superhero,” to which Jonah replies, “You’re my greatest failure.”
From Bad to Worse
The Boys and their families are at Frenchie’s hideout, trying to find a safe place to spend the night. Monique is furious with her husband for lying to her all this time, and slaps Butcher after he introduces himself. MM realizes that Butcher lied about Raynor getting cold feet and that he cancelled the deal when Raynor refused to go after Homelander. He accuses Butcher of prioritizing his revenge over the safety of MM’s family, and pleads with him to take the deal. Butcher, swallowing his pride, calls the CIA and Raynor to their hideout, where he gives them evidence against Vought in exchange for legal protection for everyone. Monique tells MM to stay away from her as he says goodbye to their daughter. Hughie’s dad has the opposite reaction—he is proud of his son for finally standing up for himself.
Raynor tells Madelyn that the CIA knows Vought has been using Compound V to create Supes. She threatens to go public with this information if Madelyn does not pull the bill that would put Supes in the military. Suddenly, Raynor is pulled from the meeting early to be shown footage of a Super terrorist called Naqib decimating SEAL operatives.
After ignoring Hughie’s calls for most of the episode, Annie finally agrees to meet with him at Central Park. She is upset that Hughie used her to get back at A-Train, and decides to arrest him for murdering Translucent. Hughie is afraid that he will be killed before the trial and tells Annie about how Compound V is used to create Supes. Before he can explain further, Butcher arrives with a sniper rifle, shoots Annie twice in the chest, and escapes with Hughie.