Gen V has many questions that need answers. What is Dean Shetty up to in The Woods? When will we see Soldier Boy? When do any of these kids do their homework? But there’s one question fans have had since the show released its trailers. What is up with the puppets in Gen V? We know they have a connection to Sam and how he mentally processes information. And, in episode five, we discover that the puppets’ relationship to Sam is kinda similar to one we have seen in The Boys.
In the last season of The Boys, Black Noir’s past plays out in front of him in the form of cartoon figures. He also sees these cartoons at random times and they are invisible to others around him. Years prior, Soldier Boy brutally beat Black Noir and the incident led to severe physical and mental changes for him. He became the same mental age as a young child. These cartoons from his childhood act as his friends and allow the viewer to experience things from his unique perspective.
This is very similar to what we get with Sam in Gen V. In episode three, Sam imagined a TV with a Sesame Street-like program playing. A man and a Deep puppet push him to kill Dr. Cardosa, which he attempts before Emma calms him down. Like Black Noir, Sam has been through a lot of physical trauma that affects the way his brain works. He doesn’t have the mental age of a child; however, he certainly isn’t used to socializing with others. People treat him like a monster but, in reality, he’s a rather sweet young man you want to help. Sam has been trapped and used for experiments in The Woods for a long time, which is certainly contributing to his current (and not clearly defined) mental status.
In episode five, Sam is dismayed Emma and the others have been mind wiped to forget him. He is alone with his racing thoughts when a puppet version of Emma shows up. Puppet Emma says things are bad and that Sam needs to save her. Sam says he will save the real Emma and that she’s not real. She questions him, saying “Real like that?” and points to a swath of soldiers invading his hiding spot. The scene switches over to all puppets (including Sam). A violent and gory fight scene breaks out with puppet Sam ripping everyone apart. At the end, puppet Emma sadly says Sam needs to stop hurting people right before we see that the violent fight was real.
It seems Sam uses these puppets to dissociate himself from the violence. This makes sense considering Sam’s long-term experimentations that lead him to retreat to his inner child for some semblance of safety. He spends a lot of time reading and maybe watching movies/old TV programs, both methods of passing the time and escaping his reality. These puppets are probably in the style of a kids’ program that he grew up watching before his life went down a dark path. It is his way of processing all of his trauma and trying to deal with the ramifications of his (as he puts it) “broken brain.”
Like The Boys, Gen V teeters on the line between bizarre entertainment and heartbreaking revelations with remarkable care. Sure it is a way to amp up the violence even more without virtually getting banned from TV. But it is also a window into the very real pain and trauma that Sam is experiencing. Maybe one day, Sam will find his way to a freer and healthier life where he doesn’t have to be violent for his own survival.