Entertainment

Inside A-Train’s awakening in ‘The Boys’ Season 3

Jessie T. Usher knows what you think of A-Train, his character in the hit Amazon Prime Video series.The young.” And he agrees: For someone so quick on his feet, A-Train is a bit slow on the uptake: “I’ve been waiting the whole time for his brain to catch up with his legs…”

A-Train is the only visibly black member of The Seven, an overpowering group whose mantra seems to be “want, take, have.” The conglomerate the group works for has used him and his likeness to sell products to the black community: beer, sugary cereal, energy drinks. you get the picture

The confused A-Train just, um, drives along. And in one damn moment, he smashes straight through a woman and into the first of many breathtaking scenes in The Boys. The woman’s boyfriend, Hughie (Jack Quaid), only holds her hands. Enter William Butcher (Karl Urban), who because of his own loss has already tried to rid the world of Supers and a series is started.

“We see the weight of A-Train’s actions season 1 will still be played in Season 3,” Usher said. “I can almost imagine this incredibly huge cloud that just grew behind him. It’s going to be really interesting in season 4 to see what his fight-or-flight instinct is now that he can finally turn around and stand over the shoulder of the monster.”

A-Train is a selfish, blinkered young man whose actions are shaped by a need to protect his status. This includes an addiction to a substance that keeps him fast, faster, fastest, leading to heart problems and an injury that could potentially end his Seven career.

Fans have been vocal about their feelings toward the character who bows to nihilistic leader Homelander (Antony Starr) at every turn: sellout.

A man with a can stands next to a man in a wheelchair

Jessie T. Usher, left, with Christian Keyes on The Boys.

(Amazon Studios)

“It’s interesting to see how these conversations have changed over time,” Usher said with a smile. “Everybody always says, ‘Look, I hated him at first, and then I started liking him, then I didn’t really understand him. But now I kind of understand him. And I’m not sure I like him.’ But I think the why is sort of cleared up.”

But just when you thought all hope was lost – audible eye rolls as A-Train suddenly embraces performative social justice, such as: It’s late in the recently concluded third season that A-Train seems to take notice of everything beyond his place on the team, most notably how a cop superhero is brutalizing the black community. (Spoiler alert if you’re still catching up.) The noise you heard was a collective cheer as the racist Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler) messed around and found out.

Usher spoke to The Times about A-Train’s motivation, his hopes for Season 4 and how The Boys will be boys.

On my geek timeline, there were antipathies like, “Man. yes i am with him But I’m not With him.” As if he wasn’t representative enough. Then, as his brain caught up, love was suddenly there. Were you able to follow that in real time?

Yes, I got involved on social media, but also just for being outside and walking around.The thing is, no one can identify with A-Train’s choices, and you can’t just say, “Oh, he’s crazy.” … There was never a definite justification for who he was. And somehow it was always just a process. I think the love A-Train is getting now is only because people can finally understand it.

It was a big step as A-Train Hughie sincerely says “I’m sorry”. So what do you envision for the future?

I’m just imagining a different perspective. Finally. He was always the same person no matter what happened, which is crazy. It was that moment in Herogasm where he had that final breaking point with Hughie that I think was the reason he was willing to die to make sure Blue Hawk was done. I think he came to the house and thought, “I’m going to make this guy apologize… I’m going to feel good about it and then I’m going to leave.” But he never thought, “I’m going to bump this guy into the ground and die.” But he had the heart attack that would have killed him. There was so much going on that for the first time since we’d met him, he actually forgot about self-preservation.

While it got personal for A-Train, it also brought to mind James Byrd and how he was being pulled off the back of a pickup truck. … Have you thought about how it would play out in the broader framework of the talks that are taking place now?

From the moment I realized where the A-Train story was going, I started looking at the bigger picture. And the picture just kept growing; the weight of it grew bigger and bigger and bigger. But it then allowed us to reinforce both sides. It has allowed me as an A-Train to be even more pro-Black. It allowed him to speak more purposefully. For every scene that was involved in the plot, it just puts more emphasis on it. There was a version where I was expecting Blue Hawk to be a little more sneaky and sly and not as overtly racist, but the weight of what that moment was meant to be was so great it almost had to be smack in the face . And it just built into this huge crescendo. Like I said, it had to end. It couldn’t end with an “All right, man.” [Slaps his hand.] It was a matter of life or death.

Why do you think it took A-Train a long time to get to this point?

That’s why I could almost excuse a lot of the things he did: A-Train often had the right intention. He just didn’t think enough. From the moment I met him, from the moment the audience met him, he was in the lesser of two evils situation. And no matter which way he went, it was lose-lose. So he just chooses the smaller loss. But it’s his own fault. And only when he loses everything can he see things differently. He finally made the decision to do the right thing, regardless of the outcome. Somehow he woke up with a second chance.

You also have to remember that it’s hard to be the first. Black Noir is a black man, but as we see in flashback scenes, he had to wear his helmet otherwise he “wouldn’t play below the Mason-Dixon line”. So here comes A-Train, which almost has to give you a track can see his face.

It would be interesting to see if they’ve ever had that moment in the past. Because this species still lives with Black Noir. I would pay to see this scene.

I want a full episode. We’re sitting here writing a side story like in the comics.

[Laughs] We are currently writing season 4.

Maybe we strategically drop this shot somewhere.

yes, straight in [showrunner] Eric Kripke’s inbox.

At what point in the show did you say, “I need to look at the source material”?

It was early after the pilot script. ‘Cause here’s the thing. I have sides first. So I just got a few scenes that A-Train was in. I booked the show for these scenes. I hadn’t read anything else. I just knew I loved Eric’s vision. And then you read the script and I say, “Wait a minute. [Laughs] What are we doing?” I spent quite a bit of Christmas vacation just reading the source material. I thought, “I need to know where we’re coming from.”

Does anyone win on The Boys?

I just think everyone loses at a different pace. People ask me, “Do you think the character of A-Train is completely replaceable?” I don’t know. He would wake up every day and have to choose it. He might still not win, but it would be interesting to see him lose more slowly. And it’s the same for everyone. That’s just life. We all die slowly. [Laughs] We don’t want to admit it, but it’s true.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-07-21/the-boys-season-3-amazon-prime-video-a-train-jessie-t-usher Inside A-Train’s awakening in ‘The Boys’ Season 3

Sarah Ridley

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