Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Boys' penultimate Season 2 episode.
As viewers are no doubt keenly aware, The Boys has gone down some wild and crazy avenues with Season 2, introducing fans to characters such as Billy Butcher's father (as played by John Noble), the R-rated hero Love Sausage and his titular love sausage, and the various higher-ups at the Church of the Collective. But none of those characters could hold a candle – pun intended – to the fiery mastery of X-Men vet Shawn Ashmore's Lamplighter. The former Seven member's Season 2 arc sadly already came to a close with Episode 7, with Lamplighter taking his own life in a pretty shocking moment that even showrunner Eric Kripke regrets.
In Episode 7, titled "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker," Lamplighter joined Hughie on a mission to save Annie from being held captive by Vought in a powerless cell that kept her from using her powers. While there, Lamplighter revealed that his personal plan was actually to kill himself in front of the statue made in his image when he was part of The Seven. Upon seeing that it wasn't there, though, Lamplighter stated he only wanted to make his father proud, and then went up in flames anyway, freaking Hughie the hell out in the process.
The Boys' Shawn Ashmore recently spoke with CinemaBlend about Lamplighter's ultimate fate, and when I asked him how he felt about it, and whether or not there were plans to bring him back to honor the character's return in the comic book, here's what he told me:
No, there have been no conversations about returning. But I loved his end, and I loved how quickly it happens. I loved that he inflicted upon himself the thing that he had regrets about doing to other people: Mallory's grandkids, the people at Sage Grove. So to me, it was like a fitting end. It was what he deserved, and he knew that. You know, he could have gone out in a million different ways, but he chooses to burn himself alive because that's what he did to everybody else. So to me, that's his full redemption, and for it to come out of the blue like that, in a moment where it seems like, 'Oh, Lamplighter and Hughie are a team. They're about to go do this amazing thing together. Oh, he's turned the corner.' And then he [immolates himself]. It's a selfish act, because he fucks Hughie over and Starlight, but he also puts himself through the thing that he regrets doing the other people, probably one of the most painful ways to go. So I thought it was very fitting, and sad, and the right thing to happen to this character. To me, it all lined up and all made sense. And you know, I would love to continue to play that character, but if you're gonna go out on a show, you got to go out big, and I feel like his demise is like very fitting and emotionally makes sense.
Granted, it's not like Lamplighter immediately seemed like a new member of The Boys whenever they all crossed paths within the walls of Sage Grove. But considering he and Hughie went through a limited span of bonding, it did seem like he intended to be more helpful to the group in ways that did not involve quietly burning to death. Thank goodness his actions also still led to Starlight's escape, or else his demise would have left an even more sour taste in everyone's mouths.
Shawn Ashmore makes a good point in bringing up that Lamplighter set up his own brand of poetic justice by killing himself in the same way he'd killed untold numbers of Compound V recipients whose powers were not deemed suitable by Vought. By all means, Lamplighter likely killed off a few future villains while following Stormfront's bidding, but when I asked the actor if he found any merit in what Lamplighter was doing at Sage Grove, he said:
I think that Lamplighter is kind of a tragic character. He's done some very, very, very bad things. He's not a good person. But I think he has sincere and intense regret about what he has done, and I think that's where we find him. He's not Lamplighter with his staff, walking and being a part of The Seven to be cool. He's down and out and beyond that. So I don't find anything redeeming in what he's doing at Sage Grove. He's being forced to do that by Stormfront because he's afraid he's gonna die. You know, if he crosses Vought, Stormfront would kill him in a second; it wouldn't even be an issue. So I think he's just doing what he has to do to survive, and I think the one redeeming thing that he does – and it's not fully selfless – is when he decides to team up with The Boys. It's an alliance, but it's forced, and I don't think he was looking for that to happen. But when the opportunity presents itself, he just kind of jumps on board because he wants to get away from this. He wants to get away from Vought and he wants to get away from being afraid of Stormfront and what the organization could do to him. But he also wants to stop killing innocent people for the corporation.
Really, nothing Lamplighter did was completely selfless, since he was also supposed to testify as a witness against Vought, but killed himself before that could happen. Sure, it probably wouldn't have actually gone down as planned, considering the head-popping way things played out when John Doman's Jonah Vogelbaum agreed to take the stand in Lamplighter's stead, but still. I guess it all comes back to him helping The Boys. Shawn Ashmore continued:
So I think that's kind of like the big redeeming thing that he does is remove himself from that situation, offer help to The Boys, and also, he's completely honest about who he is. When he talks to Frenchie, when they have that big scene and he admits what he did, there's no guard, there's no wall, there's no more attitude. It's like, this is what happened, this is how I feel. He's not guarded about how he feels. He's not trying to be a tough guy anymore. He's not trying to be a suit. He's just saying, 'This is what happened. This is the truth. And I fucking regret it.' You know? Like, that's all that it is, and he's completely bare in that moment. And I like that, so I think that was a cool and important move for for him.
Thankfully, though, my conversation with Shawn Ashmore wasn't all doom and ashy gloom. I brought up how cool his costume looked, and that we didn't get to see it as often as it deserved to be seen. Here's how the actor responded:
I sort of feel the same way, especially because of the amount of detail and work that goes into making the costume. The costume department and the team on The Boys is amazing. The amount of time and effort and resources that they put into the suit costumes is overwhelming. I spent way more time fitting that costume than I ever did any of the X-Men stuff. So yeah, it was just like, 'Man, they're like going for it.' It was so ornate and beautiful, and it was amazing, truly amazing. And you only really get to see it twice. So I think it's effective and it looks amazing on screen. But yeah, I was like, man, for all the work that went into this, like, it would've been cool to see maybe an action sequence with Lamplighter in the full costume. But that's not the story that that they were telling in this episode. It's really more about his present than the past. We learn a lot about Lamplighter's past and his history, like even before we ever seen him on screen. I mean, they talk about him in the first season, they talk about him in the second season. So that was what was kind of cool, too. There was little introduction needed for Lamplighter, you know? The character just jumps into the fray on the screen in Season 2 because the characters are already talking about him, and he's established in a way. The audience is sort of aware of who he is.
For now, I'm going to keep on hoping that Eric Kripke and The Boys' producers figure out a way to bring Shawn Ashmore's Lamplighter back in Season 3. Next season will also be introducing Jensen Ackles' Soldier Boy, a character whose backstory was also introduced through dialogue before the actual hero arrives within the narrative. Maybe he or someone else from his crew will have resurrection powers. Or maybe Lamplighter is just dead for good.