Throughout the course of three seasons, it has been firmly established that the TV series adaptation of Garth Ennis’ cynical take on the superhero genre, The Boys, is insultingly antithetical to the high ideals the said genre tries to preach. In its existing lore, there are power-crazed, murderous superheroes out and about, taking the reins of a society that worships a psychotic, perverted, fascist, megalomaniac superhero leader. Controlling superhero affairs is a centralized giant conglomerate that controls government and media, thereby manipulating people’s perceptions at every single moment and snuffing out dissent with wanton violence. In short, their world totally mimics that of our own, with a few evil, superpowered individuals acting as catalysts.
The franchise has released a major spin-off in the form of the series Gen V Vought International’s omnipresent control is once again highlighted in the way generations of superheroes are manufactured by injecting Compound V into newborn kids. As the pilot episode takes viewers through the misadventures of fledgling supers in the prime setting of Godolkin University, a horrific incident takes place as Golden Boy kills Professor Brinkerhoff and later takes his own life. The incident introduces a murder mystery angle to the series, which we would like to discuss based on the clues gathered from the first three episodes.
The Context: What Really Happened During The Fateful Incident?
As series protagonist Marie Moreau gets admission into the prestigious Godolkin University, viewers are quickly brought up to speed with the existing status quo. One of the most sought-after courses, the Lamplighter School of Crimefighting, is supervised by renowned professor Richard Brinkerhoff, whose protégé, Luke Riordan, aka Golden Boy, is the top-ranking candidate of the institute. Already a favorite of institution trustees, media, and executives at Vought, Luke has a promising career ahead of him, and his seat among the ‘greatest’ superhero team, the Seven, has been reserved as well. Despite having such enviable prospects, Luke doesn’t seem to be at ease, as he gets fazed out occasionally and receives psychic transmissions, presumably from his brother, and this rattles him.
Luke shared a strong bond with his younger brother, Sam, but unfortunately, Sam’s disturbed mental condition, coupled with his superhuman strength, posited him as a potential threat, which was the reason why he was taken into a padded cell by the authorities. Luke blamed himself for not being there when Sam needed him the most, and his regret increased manifold when, three years ago, he suddenly lost his brother, as it was stated that Sam took his own life. Since then, Luke has needed a fair amount of time to move on from that grief. At present, when he learns that not only is Sam alive but also that he’s being held as a captive in one of the underground facilities of the school itself as a test subject, Luke starts losing his temper. He is even more bewildered after learning that the institute’s authority and even Professor Brinkerhoff is actively involved in this conspiracy. Luke goes to confront Brink about this, and whatever altercation happened between the two behind closed doors resulted in Brink getting burned to death by his protégé.
Marie, who was returning to meet the professor and share her grievances, becomes the unwitting eyewitness of the scenario, and a frenzied Luke chases her before eventually battling with Jordan Li, who tries to neutralize him. Finally, Luke chases Marie to the open campus area, meets with his best friend Andre, and has a moment of respite. However, he realizes there is no undoing his actions, with all the pervasive eyes of the system watching everything and controlling every piece of the puzzle he is trying to solve to rescue his brother. Sharing one last clue about his investigation into Sam’s situation with Andre, Luke flies high up and goes full thermonuclear, thereby self-destructing himself. Soon, his close friends like Andre, Cate, Jordan, and later Marie and Emma get dragged into the murder mystery as they discover exactly how far the absolute control of Vought and its institutions extends.
What Might Be The Possible Reason That Golden Boy Took His Own Life?
From what we have seen in three episodes, to pinpoint the possible reasons for Luke’s tragic decision, a number of things, like his relationship with his brother, public perception, the established authoritarian system, and even his personal life, come into play in major ways. As the flashback sequences reveal, like a number of other students, Luke and Sam knew about Vought International’s role in forcing or baiting people to inject Compound V into their newborns—it is how the generations of manufactured superpowered beings came to be. There is also a possibility that Sam’s mental illness is a byproduct of Gen V side effects, which is why the recognition of the fact is even more painful than the fact that their parents, much like everyone else, decided to use something like this on them without their knowledge in the first place. Luke has a sense of guilt pervading his mind, as his powers might have come as a blessing to him, providing the best life he could have imagined, totally antithetical to his brother’s, who has to spend his days in a padded cell.
His drastic decision might also be brought on by the sheer helplessness of the situation he finds himself in. With the institute, governing body, and just about everyone who is associated with his future hero career linked with this conspiracy, there is no one he could turn to except probably his close friends, but even that bridge gets burned down when he kills Brinks. In the first episode, not too long after Brink’s death, viewers saw how the revered professor cunningly threatened Marie and expelled her by making her the scapegoat for the careless actions of the top bunch. Therefore, it is highly likely that, confronted by Luke about ‘The Woods’ situation, he might have turned him down as well by threatening to end his career, followed by a violent outburst from Luke that resulted in his death. Eventually, realizing how utterly helpless he has become, with his image tarnished and the possibility of rescuing Sam all but gone, Luke might have taken this decision out of sheer desperation.
There is another, off-the-chart possibility that might not really end up being true, but provided clues from the episodes so far establishes a correlation anyway, so we are going to mention that. In sync with the tone and perspective highlighted so far in The Boys universe, Gen V showcased that the superpowered students themselves aren’t the most stable individuals, to begin with, from risking it all to get to the top spot to recklessly causing violent accidents, accountability is something they don’t care about. So, as wild as it sounds, there is a possibility that some of Luke’s friends were associated with the conspiracy as well. For starters, behind Luke’s back, Andre was in an affair with his girlfriend, Cate, who knew very personal details about Sam’s presence in Luke’s life. If not for their actions, it might involve a strong psychic character to learn information from the students and use it against them. The motive part might not be that strong, which makes us think outside influence might have affected his decision as well, but both are part of speculation and can only be confirmed as more clues get revealed as the series progresses.