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Series Creator on Cate Twist, Season 2

Series Creator on Cate Twist, Season 2

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The following story contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Prime Video’s Gen V.

AFTER A FRESHMAN season filled with blood powers, demented cameos, and exploding penises, Gen V‘s first rodeo came to a close with an action-packed finale episode, “The Guardians of Godolkin.” While characters and pieces have been moving around the chess board of The Boys universe all season long, events here ultimately culminated with the Godolkin U campus in utter disarray, with dead bodies scattered around the grounds and what seems like an extremely troubling Supes vs Humans war on the cusp of happening— until the one and only Homelander (special guest star Antony Starr) flew in to “save” the day.

In his typical serial killer cold fashion, Homelander did bring an end to the conflict, resulting with our four actual heroes (Marie, Emma, Andre, and Jordan) in custody, while the two newly-anointed antagonists (Sam and a now Scarlet Witch-esque Cate) have been spun by the ever-powerful Vought PR machine into public heroes. We’re left feeling uncomfortable and uneasy with the way things played out, but unquestionably after having had a great time for the full episode’s run time.

At a time when so many seem to be feeling burnout on the still-massive superhero genre (movies like The Flash and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have landed with a dud this year, and a recent report in Variety detailed some of the internal disarray at the industry-leading Marvel Studios), it’s almost surprising when a satirical show like Gen V (and The Boys, the flagship show upon which it’s spun off from) is significantly more successful in portraying the action and drama that the superhero genre is known for than what it’s satirizing, some of that genre’s most recent (and most expensive) projects.

And while there’s always a lot going into the underlying satire in The Boys world, the reason why it does work not only as a satire but as a piece of the genre itself, is because the characters are so well drawn and the story is so compelling. That’s never been more clear than in the climax of Gen V‘s finale, when anyone who’s been following along for the duration will be eagerly watching Marie and Jordan take on Sam and Kate.

We had the chance to break all of that down with the people who brought it all to life. In an interview with Men’s Health, Gen V co-showrunner Michele Fazekas and creator/executive producer Eric Kripke addressed all the burning questions we all had about the Gen V season finale—and where things go from here in The Boys universe.

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Men’s Health: With The Boys, you’re pulling from source material that mostly informs what kind of power set each given character will have. On Gen V, you’re generally creating these characters from scratch. How did you decide who would have what powers, and, ultimately, how those powers would figure into the way Season 1 comes to a head and concludes?

Eric Kripke: In The Boys, the powers are metaphors. A big thing for us in the universe is we use all of these powers—they’re always a metaphor for something else. In The Boys, they’re for these very broad societal issues. They’re about authoritarianism, and celebrity, and tyranny—these massive issues. And the heroes all have their corresponding hero in the Marvel or DC Universe.

But when we were cooking up Gen V—so we could stake out different territory from The Boyswe wanted the powers to be metaphors for the characters’ psychological issues. So there was a lot of, like, What issues do we want to explore with young people that most shows are scared to explore, like eating disorders, or gender fluidity? We really started there, and then said, OK, what would be the power that could manifest that? And so that way it just makes the characters a lot more interesting and, in a weird way, easier to dramatize. Because they’re carrying their internal flaw externally in the biggest possible way. And so it made them a joy to write.

I’m curious too with the college setting and, of course, superpowered people, if there was any other inspiration you were pulling from.

EK: The fan response has been that it’s sort of like R-rated X-Men. I can’t say that we spent a lot of time saying we’re definitely going to do X-Men, but the storyline that we were inspired by in The Boys comic is an X-Men parody. So it’s in the DNA somewhere deep in there, on a cellular level.

The season has gone in a lot of different directions. But how did you ultimately land on Cate and Sam as the members of the group who ultimately ended up as villains/antagonists?

Michele Fazekas: All of the characters have been manipulated or hurt in one way or another by human beings. I think Cate’s journey has been that of constant, unrelenting, increasing pressure, from all sides. She loves her friends, and is trying to protect them. She loves Shetty, and Shetty loved her. She was getting squeezed from all sides, and it broke. It made sense for Cate to take this position, and just run with it. And you don’t even totally fault her for it.

Sam, I think, is the most vulnerable, and is the most susceptible to manipulation, to outside influences. There’s a lot of Sam that is somewhat arrested; he’s been locked up for so many years. Even Sam, at the end of the day, when he was having a crisis of consciousness, with Luke showing up, he had to be pushed by Cate to lock it down: don’t feel, this is the right thing to do. It naturally came out of their journey, with where they started, and where they ended. We didn’t always have Cate being the villain of the season—it somewhat came out of the fact that she was so powerful, and she didn’t know it.

cate and sam gen v

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We have this late-in-the-season twist where we find out that Cate has been the one messing with people’s minds all along, and then she gets put onto a sort of redemption arc, and then, in the final episode and change, yanked right off it. I’m curious what kind of conversation led to that.

MF: The redemption arc was showing the rest of our characters here’s where she came from. This is what I learned from the Marvel universe too—you can’t ever have a villain who’s like, I’m going to destroy the world, because, like, bro, you live in the world. What’s the plan here? Having an antagonist—because I don’t even really think Cate is a villain—but having her be the antagonist, you understand her point. She’s not entirely wrong. I really liked being able to, instead of showing a flashback episode, you show our characters her memories. You have them experience it with her. So they have a real understanding of why.

I even understand Shetty in some ways. You at least get why she hates superheroes. Superheroes destroyed her life. I think Shetty really does love Cate. But I liked feeling conflicted about all of them. I liked not knowing how to feel, and that none of them are black and white.

EK: One of the things I loved most about the wider perspective on both shows is that both shows have a completely opposite point of view as to who the heroes and who the villains are, and that’s really fascinating to me. Butcher and Shetty would be good friends. They would bond over their loss, they would have sex, they would figure out how to turbo-charge that virus. And in The Boys, had she not done all those terrible things in Gen V, or if you didn’t see them, she would’ve come in and you would’ve loved her! [LAUGHS] She would’ve been one of the heroes. But in this show, she is an incredible villain, because your sympathies are with these kids. It goes to show that no one’s really a hero and no one’s really a villain—they all just are fucked up people with different points of view, all doing the best they can. And that’s really the world.

One more Cate question. She’s someone who accesses her powers through her hands, and she fittingly gets stopped by the end of the episode by having her hand literally blown off. How did you land there? And also, since she survives the ordeal and clearly has more of a future in this universe, are we going to see a Furiosa-esque or Luke Skywalker-esque robot hand? Because clearly I love a robot hand.

MF: Well who doesn’t? It was really a joke pitch that I made in the room. I was like, What if she just blows her hand off or something? And then we ended up doing it. [LAUGHS] I liked that it was sort of an instinctual thing, and Marie is protecting Jordan, and it really does handicap Cate in a way. And she doesn’t have regeneration powers, so it remains off. She is now handless. [LAUGHS]

cate gen v

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Now that we’re at the end of the season, I’m hoping we can get a bit of clarity. We know that Jordan has the gender-swapping power, and some super strength, and energy blasts. But I’m curious if you guys, as the powers that be behind the show, can define Jordan’s powers once and for all.

MF: That was one that took a little while to pin down. Even when I came onto the show, we knew that Jordan had the power to switch gender, and we knew that each gender had a different power, and we liked the idea that the powers were complementary of each other. There was an older version of it where one version of Jordan is a brick wall, and the other version of Jordan can phase through things.

That becomes somewhat of a problem logically; clothing does not exist that also phases. You saw that in Episode 2, where Jordan’s having sex with a guy who can phase through the wall, and he phases through the wall but his underwear is left behind. So, it really became a logistics problem. How does that work if you’re constantly… do you have to always be naked when you’re fighting? Then we came up with the notion of: male Jordan is like a tank, unmovable, brick wall, and female Jordan is, like, agility, power blast. Offense and defense, is how we broadly defined it.

We already know that Gen V leads into The Boys Season 4. The Homelander cameo seems like a perfect way to kind of do that, because he’s really at the center of everything happening in this universe. Eric, what can you tell us about how this season ended that’s going to lead into both The Boys Season 4 and beyond that Gen V Season 2?

EK: The Homelander stuff felt, to us, like a culmination of this season of Gen V, and I would say the Butcher cameo is more than anything else what sets up Season 4. Butcher, heading into Season 4, is well aware that there’s this virus out there that can kill superheroes. So, we wanted to see the ground zero of that moment, which is what we did in the very, very last moments of this season of Gen V.

Victoria Neuman, and the presidential election, is a big concern of Season 4. The virus is a big concern of Season 4. I think a lot of things in Gen V set the table for Season 4, and I think we’re trying to keep with the same rules that we kept for Gen V—it would be helpful to see Gen V to understand Season 4, and provide a little more context and a little more depth. But it’s by no means necessary. If you just want to watch The Boys without watching Gen V, that’s great, if you want to watch Gen V without watching The Boys, that’s great too. If not both of these shows, we just want you watching one of them, and not have it feel like homework.

I want to squeeze one more in—I love how we saw so many characters from The Boys so organically in Gen V. Are we going to see Gen V characters slipping into The Boys in the same way?

EK: Tune in to find out!

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Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.