The Boys Showrunner Explains Symbolism Behind Hughie Sr.'s Superpower, And Now That Hospital Scene Is Even More Upsetting

 Simon Pegg as Hughie Campbell Sr. on The Boys Season 4 episode "Beware the Jabberwock, My Son.".
Credit: Prime Video

Spoiler alert! This contains major spoilers for The Boys Season 4 episode “Beware the Jabberwock, My Son,” which dropped June 27. You can stream it with an Amazon Prime subscription if you’re not caught up.

Hughie Sr. did indeed wake up on the most recent episode of The Boys, but after the deadly and heartbreaking scene that ensued, I’m pretty sure it was in no one’s best interest. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never choose to kill a Simon Pegg character off of any project, but when that was the task his son Hughie (Jack Quaid) was faced with on “Beware the Jabberwock, My Son,” it really, really needed to be done. As devastating as the whole situation was, I’m even more upset after reading what showrunner Eric Kripke had to say about the symbolism behind the dad’s V-induced superpowers.

At the end of Episode 4, we found out that Hughie’s mom Daphne (Rosemarie DeWitt) had injected her dying estranged husband with stolen Compound-V, and those events played out in typically bloody fashion in Episode 5. Hughie Sr. had a few lucid moments before his superpowers showed themselves, but soon he was phasing through walls and unwittingly killing innocent bystanders. The father was scared and confused, and ultimately Hughie had to put him out of his misery. In discussing that scene, Eric Kripke explained to Variety why they chose to give Hughie Sr. the power to change phases, and it’s pretty dark. He said:

We really like when powers can sort of mirror their psychological state, or some of their deep-seated subconscious. I think it was like a lesson we learned on Gen V that really served us well. So we got really interested in this idea of he, based on his relationship with his estranged wife, that he felt really slight. He has that line, ‘You would look right through me, like I was invisible to you.’ So giving him a power that made that metaphor concrete was something we were really interested in.

The Boys often features some pretty heavy themes amongst its dark humor — Sister Sage’s lobotomy twist was pretty horrifying as well — but I feel as gutted as one of Hughie Sr.’s victims after Eric Kripke’s revelation about his powers. To know that feeling invisible to his wife was such a permeating part of Hughie Sr.’s identity that losing his physical form was the trait he embodied once he gained superpowers is so bleak.

However, that wasn’t the only thing that played into giving the dad that specific power. DNA was also involved, so there were similarities to what we saw in Season 3 when Hughie took Temp-V. Eric Kripke continued:

It’s super subtle, but it says something about the Campbell DNA that Hughie’s power is a teleporting power and dad’s power is sort of like a phasing power — but both are cousins in a way. It was in the same ballpark. In our minds, the power you get is some combo of V and your DNA. And so if he has similar DNA with his dad, it stands to reason that maybe his dad would have a similar power.

The Boys — one of the best original shows on Amazon Prime Video —  hasn’t featured too many parent/child supe duos, so this isn’t something we’ve seen very much of, but in the case of Homelander and Ryan (Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti), they do have the same power. Victoria Neuman, however, manipulates blood and makes people’s heads explode, while her daughter Zoe’s powers feature tentacle-like mouths with sharp teeth that shoot from her mouth, so I don't immediately see that genetic connection.

There have been some complaints about Season 4, but I have to say I’m enjoying how the titular Boys are having to deal with their pasts in order to grow — even if those journeys are, like Hughie and his dad’s, deeply upsetting. New episodes of The Boys drop each Thursday on Amazon Prime Video, which is one of the best streaming services to subscribe to.