The Boys are back again!
After the bloody season two finale, The Boys return to takedown social and political events based on real-world events. The previous seasons focused on Annie January/Starlight’s sexual assault and Stormfront (Aya Cash) being revealed as a Nazi. Part of the show’s appeal is poking fun at celebrity culture, the superhero genre, the right-wing media, and the then-Trump presidency. This season focuses on hero worship and fandom, especially Homelander’s festering anger.
In the first three episodes, a year after the wake of Stormfront’s near-world domination of the Aryan race, Homelander (Anthony Starr) has fallen from his grace. Under Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), Homelander is kept under a tight leash. He is forced to apologise on television to the American public with a fake grin. Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) works at the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, and tries to put his supe fighting days with Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) behind for good. He works to come up with systemic solutions to put dangerous supes under control. He works with Congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) but soon finds out that she is the head-popping sup. This makes her responsible for killing half of Congress in season two.
Meanwhile, Butcher has turned his life around. After promising his dead wife that he will take care of her superpowered son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), he cuts down on drinking and supe-killing days to become a better role model for him. With the help of Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), he tries to track down Vought’s first superhero, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), who might have the power to destroy Homelander for good. Butcher knows that he won’t be able to stand against these supes. Instead he finds Temp-V, which was first introduced in the spin-off animated series The Boys Presents: Diabolical. It’s a drug which gives him temporary superpowers. With this search and the eventual realisation that not everything can be done by the books, Hughie, Butcher and the team are back together but at a great cost.
For readers who are not familiar with Prime Video’s The Boys, it is a comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson. It is an absurd and extremely violent satirical show set in an alternative universe. Big corporations control the media and manipulate the public to gain popularity. At the head of this is Vought International. They manufacture superheroes and run a PR machine to take control of the narrative through ratings. They also promote sponsored deals, and produce movies, all of which centre around the goodness of the supes. In this twisted reality, The Seven, Homelander’s superhero group, along with Starlight, Queen Maeve, The Deep (Chace Crawford), A-Train (Jessie Usher), and Black Noir (Nathan Michell), don’t care about saving the world and face no consequences for their actions.
This season, A-Train takes a step forward toward racial and social justice. It’s an area that he isn’t familiar with, but he wants to make things right for his neighbourhood. When a supe by the name of Blue Hawk appears (Nick Weschler), and disproportionately targets Black neighbourhoods, A-Train reaches out to a top executive at Vought. Their approach to solving the attacks on the neighbourhoods is to start a campaign. It is specifically a parody version of Kendell Jenner’s Pepsi ad. The same executive also states that “Black Lives Matter is my favourite hashtag.”. . This subplot is one of the most effective storylines in the season. Usher’s A-Train is a standout and has received one of the best story arcs.
Another interesting storyline shows Laz Alonso’s character Mother’s Milk. The season explores his connection with Soldier Boy, who killed his family during his superhero days. He struggles to maintain a good relationship with his daughter while battling chronic OCD, which is tied to Soldier Boy. While it was exciting to finally have Mother’s Milk grace The Boys, he doesn’t really receive focus until the end of the season. His story does show how he battles with his trauma almost every day. Struggling to keep it away from his daughter to protect her. Mother’s Milk has always tried to keep his family safe, but his drive to find Soldier Boy and avenge his family’s death creeps back into his life no matter how much he fights it.
When the team discovers Soldier Boy existence thinks shake up fast. Soldier Boy is part Captain America/part Winter Soldier but with misogyny and racism mixed in. Each episode reveals what happened to him in the 1980s covert mission before his sudeent death. But the important aspect of his involvement in the series is that history tends to repeat itself. Past mistakes will always come to haunt these characters, and Soldier Boy proves to be much worse than Homelander. Ackles steps fully into the anti-Captain America character. He brings a menacing smile and terrible personality to the Captain America counterpart that works well. Despite this, I wouldn’t say that Ackle’s Soldier Boy is the standout character this season.
Then there’s Homelander and his God complex, which makes him indestructible and untouchable. The beginning of the season proves that Homelander is in a rut. He’s been pushed back into a corner by Vought, Stan and Starlight. His popularity is at its lowest after Stormfront’s downfall and he has not been able to bring himself back up. After he learns that he must share a stage with Starlight as the co-captain of The Seven he implodes. This pushes the white male demographic to support his ideas about Vought’s involvement in manipulating the public. Season three shows how superheroes, just like politicians, have manipulated and used the media for their gain.
Homelander learns that even if he doesn’t have the support of the majority, he’ll still have a legion of fans. Fans who are willing and able to excuse his behavior. This is only the first tipping point in Homelander’s impending doom. A fate that will eventually destroy the world. Starr has given an amazing performance as the terrifying manufactured super. This season might be his best yet. His work as the most powerful superhero is undeniably one of the best in any superhero television series.
The Boys moves through current events, commenting on the rapid news cycle that shapes the then-Trump era. It sneers at hateful ideologies unapologetically and shows that bigots are not as powerful as they think they are. The show is a bit less messy than the previous season, it still doesn’t allow the characters to breathe for a second. It’s still amusing to see The Boys in action. Even if the kills have lost their shock value, the show keeps getting bloodier and nastier.
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Nuha Hassan is a film and TV writer and reviewer, based in the Maldives. She is a Staff Writer at Film Cred, Off Colour, and Flip Screen. Apart from writing about film, she is a Video Editor at Dead Central. She studied Master of Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for film started with David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Her favourite comfort film is When Harry Met Sally.