Season 3 of The Boys is now streaming on Prime Video. The below review describes some plot details, but no major spoilers. See our spoiler-filled reviews of each episode below:
The Boys Season 3 Premiere Review: First 3 Episodes
The Boys Season 3, Episode 4 Review – “Glorious Five Year Plan”
The Boys Season 3, Episode 5 Review – “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies”
The Boys Season 3, Episode 6 Review – “Herogasm”
The Boys Season 3, Episode 7 Review – “Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed”
The Boys Season 3, Episode 8 Review – “The Instant White-Hot Wild”
Season 3 of The Boys is one of maturation, forward progress, and (comparable) restraint. The show that begins its latest season with an incredible shrinking coke-sniffer erupting out of his lover’s penis closes on its most introspective and heartfelt arcs to date. Showrunner Eric Kripke structures Season 3 like a response to anyone who incorrectly claims The Boys is all violence, no substance, simply by addressing storylines that’ve been building from ground zero. This latest was a season of facing consequences, choosing whether to leap off cliffs, and vanquishing internal demons before focusing on reality’s monsters — quite frankly, the best The Boys has been so far.
That’s not to discredit Kripke’s special effects department and fight choreographers because The Boys still kicks an approvable amount of criminal asses. Season 3 remains as excessively gratuitous and creative in its bodily mutilations, from Seven-themed dildo implements to a supe hamster chewing through faces. Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), Homelander, and Butcher all get standout action sequences as seemingly indestructible titans collide. The Boys never outright sheds the extreme violence that fans come to expect from Butcher’s dispatching of superpowered scumbags and somehow still does so with a new hearse smell (and Footloose inspirations).
The Boys: The History of Soldier Boy and Payback
Season 3 conveys so emphatically that gloriously gonzo moments of gruesome death-dealing are accents, not distractions. Tone down TV-MA gore to something PG-13 appropriate, and Kripke’s writing team still boasts tremendous character development. The only subplot that misses for me is Russian mobster Little Nina (Katia Winter) tugging on Frenchie’s (Tomer Capone) collar, where almost every other character is dragged through mud only to come out stronger. Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) confronts his traumatic family history, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) wages war against Homelander, Hughie (Jack Quaid) wrestles with weakness as the human half of a supe-normal couple — adversity strikes without prejudice but not without opportunity. It’s a season of romantic dance numbers, psychological breakdowns, and owning our traumas instead of hiding from them like specters. In other words, problems that manly men can’t solve with punches.
Season 3 is uncharacteristically vulnerable in ways that bring out more profound performances from this panicking cast. Antony Starr continues his rampage towards what should be an Emmy nomination as Homelander charts egomaniacal highs when leading a Vought International takeover and split-personality lows when Mr. America berates himself in the mirror out of fear. We see Homelander afraid for the first time, and Starr’s glazed-over presence is immaculate.
Characters are (seemingly) broken beyond repair, like Laz Alonso’s standout arc since M.M. cannot subdue his physical tics and suppressed rage or how Karen Fukuhara must pull at our heartstrings using only Kimiko’s mute sign language. Wounded mercs and supes must choose between their lives, cheap facades, dangerous drugs, or ultimate power — which The Boys pays off with thoughtful resolutions that inspire revolutionary hope in a time of governed bleakness.
Enter Jensen Ackles as Season 3’s guided-missile Soldier Boy, aimed by Butcher at Homelander’s penthouse in Vought Tower. As I’ve already written, “Ackles steps into an Anti-Rogers skin with the despicable smile of our nation’s handsomest fraud, bringing all that opposite Chris Evans charm.” Ackles punches his line delivery with a soulless unpredictability that challenges Homelander’s god-complex because Soldier Boy doesn’t feel or care, not even for himself. Sometimes it’s hard to determine which superhero phony is worse, as a testament to both villain performances this season. The way Ackles emptily smolders, stares into the distance at ghosts, and slathers Soldier Boy in putrid machismo is terrible beyond words — and yet, for milliseconds, he’s still able to collect droplets of empathy because he’s that good at commanding a room.
Between Butcher, Soldier Boy, and Homelander, it’s often hard to tell who’s the biggest bastard of Season 3.
Kripke’s deviations from Garth Ennis’ source material have solidified as a strength of The Boys, especially in Season 3. Where Ennis would press his foot harder on his characters’ throats, Kripke brings humility and humanity into The Boys. I think of Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), Hughie and Starlight as a relationship, or Frenchie’s reclamation of self-worth. Not to say Season 3 concludes with rainbows and happy endings, but there’s a firmer brightness than when Hughie joins Victoria Neuman’s (Claudia Doumit) supe surveillance agency as Season 2 comes to a close. Ennis’ comic panels push boundaries in an almost edgelord persistence to torment anyone and everyone. Kripke finds more compelling storytelling by letting characters chew on their actions, wrestle with inescapable choices (V24), or address the word “family” instead of having their heads splattered or entrails hung like party favors.
That doesn’t negate the epic adaptations of Ennis’ most iconic material, particularly at “Herogasm” or Hughie’s first kill. Pyro heroes with flaming wangs saunter around what has to be Prime Video’s most obscene (and only) metahuman orgy sequence because The Boys is still about pushing audiences outside their comfort zones with hilarious unpreparedness. The Deep (Chace Crawford) is underutilized but returns to being the lackey goof who lusts for aquatic life because what’s The Boys without their Aquaman knockoff romancing a mollusk? From Love Sausage’s re-introduction to Black Noir’s (Nathan Mitchell) imaginary “Not Chuck E. Cheese” mascot friends, Kripke’s treating The Boys like a playground sandbox that can redefine itself scene by scene. Season 3 fractures Butcher’s team into unlikely pairs, downplays its signatures, and pulls from a grab bag of tones that bounce around like Flubber — all of which somehow works.
That’s because The Boys keeps its commentaries and themes steadfast throughout everything. Homelander’s Trump parallels embolden as corruption throughout Vought and American politicians is something that still hits close to home. Jessie T. Usher tackles systemic racism as A-Train confronts his Blackness from a place of privilege. Homelander fearmongers hatred against fake news and lying media outlets to his blatantly QAnon followers. Manufactured patriotism as a product is gobbled by impressionable masses, which is hard to deem satire because The Boys is just calling out domestic terrorism at this point. It’s this frustration that I’ll never stop loving, fueled by an aggressive fearlessness that is oh-so-important given how real-world viewers of The Boys somehow see Homelander as an honest-to-goodness hero. No one gets a pass, and Season 3 isn’t afraid to suggest how worse our country can turn without stopping the Homelanders who wave their red, white, and blue capes to make repercussions disappear. Homelander’s final act this season is the purest form of evil. As they say, this is America.
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