It’s never easy to join the ranks of a well-established cast, especially when the character dynamics are such a huge part of what makes the show gel. The begrudging yet loving relationship between Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Butcher (Karl Urban) is often the crux of the series, but the third season dares to throw in a wild card when their latest Supe-killing adventure happens to include Soldier Boy’s presence. The duo also spend a good chunk of this chapter distanced from their usual crew, parting ways with Starlight, Mother’s Milk, Frenchie and Kimiko, who all disapprove of Butcher and Hughie’s Temp V usage.
It should probably be more of an adjustment to see a new team-up, but Jensen Ackles makes crashing their party look easy. Having him along for the ride only makes things more entertaining. Soldier Boy’s crass nature is a hilarious fit for Butcher, and a bit of a shock to Hughie’s sensibilities. At the same time, his heroic reputation brings out the optimist in Hughie — at least for a little bit. By the time the penultimate episode rolls around, Hughie’s heard every offensive term in the book, seen the guy haunted by voices, high as a kite and unnecessarily violent. (Nothing kills a budding partnership quite like shooting a nun!)
As Soldier Boy, Ackles wears his meanness on his sleeve and lumbers around like he thinks he’s John Wayne: he’s exactly what a vintage ’40s superhero would be like if you plopped him into the modern day. He’s even got all the righteous determination and self-assuredness that we’re used to seeing in Steve Rogers-like figures, giving lots of unprompted speeches about being a real hero. But minus the eloquence, truth, or inspirational efficacy.