‘The Boys’ Delivers A Gut Punch Episode with Wisdom of the Ages

The boys season 4 episode 4 review mttg homelander antony starr

Before we get into the fourth episode of Season 4 of “The Boys,” arguably one of the best episodes of the series, there’s other exciting news for the showJared Padalecki, who Eric Kripke cast as Sam in “Supernatural,” has finally said yes to hopefully joining “The Boys” in Season 5.

If, as we suspect, Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy will also be back in Season 5, the entire “Supernatural” fandom will be sat and waiting impatiently (not that many of us aren’t already doing that this season, thoroughly enjoying SPN alums Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Rob Benedict (RIP Splinter) along with the entire stellar cast of “The Boys”).

I’ve been hoping Jared joined “The Boys” when his schedule allowed for a long time, so I’m thrilled to hear that might well be happening soon!

Jared Padalecki joins Jensen Ackles on The Boys Season 5

So, where are we now in Season 4… The fourth episode of Season 4 of “The Boys” takes a dark dark turn – as in, things go very wrong for a lot of people.

It’s been more than a week, so I’m assuming you’ve caught up with all the insanity of the first three episodes. To recap:

The Insanity so Far: 4.01 to 4.03 Recap

Homelander and company have a plan for taking out poor Robert Singer and putting in fellow supe Victoria Neuman. On a personal note, Homelander is so obsessed with aging that he’s collecting gray hairs in a jar – gray hairs from anywhere he finds ‘em. He’s also sick of being surrounded by sycophants and imbeciles, proving it by demanding that The Deep give A Train a blow job and having them stand up and start getting to it (much to Ashley’s obvious excitement which was a touch I loved!).

The Boys Ashley reactts to The Deep blowing off A train

That was a weirdly fitting counterpoint to Season 1 when The Deep forces Starlight to give him a blow job – and actually does go through with it. I love that the show remembers its own history.

Butcher’s having a crisis of conscience as he contemplates how much he’s willing to do to Ryan to “get him on our side”, personified in visions of Becca. Butcher’s new buddy Joe Kessler is not only played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan but has also traumatized the “Supernatural” fandom by channeling John Winchester (the character he played on that show) by insisting to Butcher that yes, he’d train his son up to be a killer. (Which is just what John Winchester did to both his sons).

Jeffrey Dean Morgan on The Boys

Butcher & Becca

So far, Butcher is listening to Becca, agreeing to drug Ryan and hold him until he switches sides but then changing his mind at the last minute and apologizing for the hurtful things he said instead. Just when you think Butcher has gone so dark side that he’ll never come back, he plays foosball with Ryan and says he wants to make things right with the one part of Becca that’s still alive.

Homelander is also trying to win Ryan over, bringing him milkshakes and awkwardly comforting him when he’s upset but also pushing him to turn himself into the PR version of a supe complete with filming a scripted and staged “rescue”. Actual brilliant stunt coordinator John Koyama plays the Vought stunt man acting it out with Ryan, who gets so distracted by his dad’s interference that he forgets his own strength and poor stunt man actor goes splat.

Well done, real-life John Koyama!  One of the most chilling moments of this season so far was Homelander ordering Ryan through gritted teeth to “smile, right now” after that incident when Ryan is understandably distraught. Shades of Annie’s overbearing stage mother – and a real-life parallel that rings true far too often.

The Boys staged falling person rewcue season 4


Hughie’s story arc in this season is the most emotionally powerful so far – after ignoring calls from his dad and generally dismissing him as loving but not serious, Hughie finds out his dad had a stroke. Equally shocking, his long-lost mom is back – and the one taking care of his dad. We find out a little more of that tragic backstory of how she promised Hughie she’d buy them Billy Joel tickets, dropped him off at school and never came back. Needless to say, their relationship is going to be rocky. And we really know why Hughie loves Billy Joel songs so much.

A Train

A Train’s arc gets even more interesting this season. The not-so-subtle racism that pervades Vought and the Seven is also taking a toll on A Train, the way a lifetime of microaggressions do in real life too. He’s “starring” in a movie but hates the way it portrays his imagined life in a drug-infested and depraved urban neighborhood.  He’s “saved” from this life by his (white) coach, played to perfection by Will Ferrell of all people, who gets all the praise while A Train gets very little from director Bourke.

A Train: So the coach saves me from the ghetto? My brother wasn’t a fucking crack dealer!

Bourke: All the sensitivity readers agreed! And the script says “what I want don’t matter, not what I want doesn’t matter.”

We saw some of A Train’s longing to reconnect with his culture and family last season, with tragic results, but he still longs for it. He tries to play the hero for his young nephews, but his brother disputes it, saying it’s all staged. Hughie and Annie overhear but don’t call him out on it, and he actually expresses gratitude – and guilt. Which should be interesting…


Annie is struggling with who she is now that she’s not Starlight, MM is struggling with replacing Butcher as the leader of the Boys and the one who reluctantly agrees to try to keep Todd safe after MM’s ex wife kicked Todd out (yay!). Kimiko plays matchmaker for Frenchie and a handsome dude named Colin, gets some therapy or her selective mutism, and has a lot of flashbacks. She drinks to deal and that results in a priceless exchange when Colin texts Frenchie and Kimiko grabs his phone.

Colin: “Sad salad for lunch?”

Kimiko as Frenchie: “Could use some… [eggplant emoji]”

Meanwhile, The Deep is fending off his ex wife’s bestiality charges and in a relationship with Ambrosius the octopus (who lives in his closet and is voiced by Tilda Swinton and is extremely awesome). Black Noir is back (and still played by Nathan Mitchell yay!) but not at all the same. This guy is trying hard to fill the former Noir’s shoes but having a hard time finding his “artistic inspiration” to do so. And this version? Has a lot to say!

Noir: I’ve never actually murdered anyone before. Does this happen a lot?

Firecracker & Sister Sage

Then there are the new Supes, Firecracker and Sister Sage. They both are allied with Homelander, but in vastly different ways. Firecracker spouts every offensive thing you can imagine while hoping to draw Homelander’s attention. Sage, the smartest person alive, tells it like it is and is happy to be the brains behind Homelander’s latest manipulations.

As a result, Todd has become the most unlikely (and unwilling) martyr ever, as Sister Sage helps Homelander manipulate the masses into blaming the Starlighters for violence that she actually started.  In her down time, she watches trashy TV and hooks up with The Deep over their mutual love of Outback’s bloomin’ onion. She also replaces Ashley as the functional CEO of Vought, leaving Ashley as a “mascot” and considering resigning and taking Disney up on their job offer.

The Boys Sister Sage smiling big 2024

A Brief Splinter Moment

There’s also (briefly) Rob Benedict portraying a supe named Splinter, who first messily clones himself into a bunch of naked Robs, then jerks off to Firecracker’s photo with said clones in a “human centipede”, and finally ends up impaled and very dead. What a turn! Kripke has been careful to note that was not Rob’s actual penis, but a strikingly realistic looking prosthetic. He wore it well, though.

So, that brings us to this week’s episode.

“The Wisdom of the Ages” is all about memory and perspective – how we remember and rationalize our own pasts, and how others remember differently and might call us on our distortion. But sometimes it’s those distortions that make life livable.

Being Human – Or Not

The most pivotal scene in the fourth episode, for me at least, takes place in the Vought lab where Homelander grew up. Some of the researchers who helped “raise” him are still working there, and he decides to “go back home” by paying them a visit.

The whole scene is incredibly ominous and tension-filled from the second the researchers realize they’re cut off from communication and something very bad is about to happen, and then they watch the elevator slowly ascend to where they are. As the floors tick off, the sense of terror gets more and more palpable.

And off steps Homelander. With a Fudgie the Whale Carvel cake. Homelander is smiling wide.

This show has a very dark history with whales, just saying.

The Boys Homelander brings fudgie the whale carvel cake 2024

Homelander Makes Nice

Everyone is scared to death as Homelander makes nice, eating cake and playing trash can basketball. The tension was so palpable I was practically biting my nails. Eventually, we get some more backstory of John/Homelander’s childhood which turns my stomach. He remembers the way they “tested” him, ie tortured him – that he’d be screaming in agony as they watched and took notes.

Or maybe played trash can basketball. He remembers the derogatory nickname they called him when they caught him grabbing the five minutes he had to himself without being watched to jerk off. It was, he says, the only time of day he’d feel anything good.


The guy who came up with that nickname and gave him no privacy is still there. So is the one who watched him scream in agony. You can probably guess what that means. As awful as what’s coming next is – and you know it will be – I also couldn’t help but hate those guys for what they did to a child.

We also find out that the teenager Vought hired to carry the embryo that would be John had, let’s just say, a really violent birth – and that the Vought scientists carefully engineered into him a need for love and approval to keep him obedient. They don’t think he’ll ever be able to overcome that, but at this point, are we sure of that?

Homelander: I’m not human and neither is my son!

The Boys bloodied up Homelander

That’s another theme of this season. What does it mean to be human, anyway? What does it take for us to give up that humanity?

Butcher’s Health

Meanwhile, Butcher’s health is rapidly worsening, so much so that he asks MM to promise to take care of Ryan and raise him if Butcher dies. Butcher has a rare moment of seriousness, telling MM that he’s the best dad he knows – the best anyone. The best human. MM is the character who embodies that humanity in this season, still struggling to hang onto his daughter and his family, and to the part of himself that is, as Butcher recognizes, a good human being.

Hughie’s story arc also confronts what it means to be human – specifically, what that means in terms of being mortal. The hospital informs Hughie and his mom that they’re pulling the plug on his dad, and Hughie panics, begging A Train to steal some Compound V from Homelander. He assures A Train that if he does, they’ll be “good – forever.”  

Butcher warns him not to give V to his dad, saying it only made things worse for him. Will A Train do it? Will Hughie use it if he has the chance? How important is hanging onto humanity when it comes to life or death?  I won’t spoil the answer, but we’ll find out in this episode.

Haunted by the Past

Kimiko and Hughie are nearly killed by the Shining Light people that Kimiko tangled with the other day, poor Hughie breaking his ankle but also managing to stab someone to death, blood spraying from his cut throat all over Hughie, who seems fairly unphased. We’re getting a lot of dark backstory in this episode, including for Kimiko. The young woman she recognized the other day accuses her of being complicit in some pretty messed up history.

Annie too is facing up to her past, whether she wants to or not. Vought is going after Starlighters (and her) full force, partly because Firecracker hates her big time. Sister Sage watches smugly as they set up a big live show across from the Starlight Home for Kids, commenting that “the troll farms are digging up anti Starlight content and injecting it into the mainstream.”

Sage: Find the right algorithm and make people outraged for reasons they can’t even explain.

Ooof, this show gets it so right.

Butcher and MM try to blackmail Firecracker into stopping her attacks on Starlight by uncovering her fling with an underage boy, but she just confesses to it all and then drops some blackmail material of her own – about Annie.

I won’t spoil it here, but it results in both Annie beating the crap out of Firecracker on national television and a lot of anguish for Annie and Hughie, and The Boys tackling yet another topic that’s ripped from the headlines – this time in an empathic way, with lots of kudos to Erin Moriarty.

The Boys Annie out fighting for Season 5

Robert Singer decides to cut ties with Annie as a result. Have I said ooof, this show gets it so right yet?

Frenchie’s past is also barreling back to haunt him. Frenchie and Colin have more sexy times, which yay, but Colin also talks about his dad and his family who were killed by the Russian mafia, not knowing that Frenchie was one of those killers. The guilt eats at Frenchie, more and more distressing the closer he and Colin get.

Can a relationship really survive with that kind of deception? We find that out in this episode too. I’m betting you can guess…

The Allure of Forgetting

Just about everyone in this episode is wishing they could forget some of the painful parts of their pasts  – Homelander’s torture, Butcher’s loss and grief, Kimiko and Frenchie and Annie participating in things they now regret.

Sister Sage is haunted by her own intelligence, longing for a way to just zone out and escape. She finds it in a truly disgusting way, enlisting the Deep’s help to do it and prompting a classic line.

Deep: That’s the worst dildo I’ve ever seen.

I might have closed my eyes for part of that scene, because ewwwwwwwwwwww.

So, where do we go from here?

Stay tuned to find out! A new episode of “The Boys” streams every week in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Have no fear, there’s more twisted psychological themes, tension-filled mysteries, shocking reveals, and of course plenty of ewwww to come.