‘The Boys’ Wild Ride Continues in Season 4 No Spoiler Review

The boys season 4 reviews mttg

(Includes events in the first three episodes of “The Boys” Season 4, but not most of the major reveals so you can enjoy experiencing those yourself!)

The first three episodes of “The Boys” dropped in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, much to the delight of fans who’ve been waiting for almost two years for more of their favorite show. While I was waiting, I put together a book of essays and interviews from the cast of the show and psychologists and media experts who love it, dissecting the complicated characters and what makes them tick. I was happy to see many of the themes in the book picked up in the new season – so let’s dig in! What’s happening with all our favorites?

Neuman & Singer: Winning Ticket

I can’t help but like Victoria Neuman. I know, I know, she’s exploded lots of people’s heads, but she’s been used her whole life and is more focused on protecting her own daughter than anything, which is one of those universally relatable motivations. (Okay, okay, so Zoe is now a tentacle-spewing supe herself, but still).  In the first three episodes of Season 4, we see that while once she was, I think, genuinely friends with Hughie, now they’re at odds. Actually, that’s an understatement, but Neuman takes it in stride.

Neuman: You guys are actually getting worse at your jobs!

I love her running mate too, Presidential candidate Robert Singer. He’s a bit less enthusiastic about her, with good reason.

Singer: Everyone told me to pick Buttigieg instead…

I happen to know how much Beaver relishes this show and that kind of dialogue. You can read all his thoughts on “The Boys” and his character in his exclusive interview in the new book Supes Ain’t Always Heroes: Inside The Complex Characters and Twisted Psychology of The Boys fyi. Available at the link if you’re so inclined.

The Boys Homelander daddy issues review season 4

Homelander: Daddy Issues

I’ve read some reviews that question whether focusing on the same big bad for four seasons will have to get old, but honestly? This season brings a whole new batch of neuroses and Oedipal struggles for Homie to deal with, and I’m here for that.

So much of Homelander’s life has been anything but ordinary, but one of the things he confronts in this season is something that’s as universal as breathing – aging. How do you think he’s going to handle that? Yep, you probably guessed right.

And then there’s parenting. It’s tough to put your progeny in the spotlight when your own narcissism is insisting it should be YOU there, even if you really do care (as much as you’re able).

Soldier Boy was proof of just how hard it is to break the horrors of intergenerational trauma, and hoo boy, did Homelander ever have a lot of that. Trauma with a capital T. We learn more about John’s early upbringing in the first episodes of this season, as he goes back to visit his first “home”. With a Fudgie the Whale cake.

I will forever relish the character of Homelander for a) Antony Starr’s brilliance and b) the opportunities it offers for real life parallels that are so on the nose they’re almost painful. He emerges from his trial calmly telling everyone to “remain calm, you’re all very special people” and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

the boys homelander with hsi young self season 4

The New Supes Drop Some Truth Bombs

New supe Sister Sage energizes Homelander – and the show itself. As Homelander’s supporters square off in a shouting match with Starlight supporters, she comes up with the plan to manipulate public opinion against the Starlighters. And she knows the value of a martyr. Much like Stormfront, Sage is introduced in a way that makes us think we’re going to like her. Her apartment is literally floor to ceiling books and not much else, befitting for the smartest person in the world.

Sage: That person is too smart to give a fuck about Pottery Barn.

She’s also refreshingly and brutally honest with Homelander, commenting on his enlarged prostate and his gray hairs and that he’s “going through some existential midlife stuff.”

Sage also easily manipulates The Deep (and hooks up with him over their mutual love of Outback’s bloomin’ onion, which, valid) and knows how they could pitch Ryan as the newest chosen-by-God hero.

Sage: The chosen one narrative only works if he stands alone. Hollywood trains people to fall in love with the white boy saviors.

Oof, she’s not wrong.

Firecracker, on the other hand, is sort of a mini Stormfront, in that she’s every offensive thing we hear proclaimed on the ‘news’ and in the media every single day. She’s transphobic, anti-vax, you name the thing and she’s saying it – on her “Truth Bomb” youtube channel usually.  Occasionally she says something that really is a truth bomb. “What are you selling?” Sage asks her at the TruthCon convention.

Firecracker: Purpose. These people have nothing, maybe just lost a job or a house. I tell them a story, give them a purpose.

This show hits you in the stomach just when you least expect it.

What a Pair: Butcher and Joe Kessler

Homelander’s not the only one having a hard time this season. Butcher is not only dying, which is awful enough, but he’s also facing rejection from the people he considered to be his team and on his side. MM has stepped up to be the one in charge, which leaves Butcher on the outs – and in need of an ally. He finds that in old buddy Joe Kessler, reuniting after many years to team up to get Ryan away from Homelander. Though they’re not exactly on the same page about how. They’re also sassy together.

Joe: What’s your shitty code name again?

Butcher: The Boys.

Joe: Ooof, who came up with that?

They agree that if Homelander and Neuman prevail, they’re whistling their way to “a fucking apocalypse”. Which also, btw, feels pretty relevant to real life. Kessler is willing to do whatever it takes to stop that from happening, but Butcher keeps having a crisis of conscience, perfectly rendered by I won’t say who. It’s delicious watching the psychological struggle he goes through, and Karl Urban is masterful at showing us both how hard Butcher is willing to fight and the toll it’s taking on him.

Ryan: Caught in the Middle

Ryan’s journey this season is like a metaphor for how complicated adolescence is for most of us, and of course that’s all about identity development too. Figuring out who you really are, deciding between performing a persona and being authentic, vacillating between egocentrism and empathy, torn between two parents – in this case, two dads in Butcher and Homelander. Ryan is also struggling with wanting to do the “right thing” and figuring out what that means, and finding out how easily that can go wrong.

Shout out to real life stunt coordinator John Koyama for being part of that struggle – in the most painful way possible. Ouch!

 Hughie and Non-Toxic Masculinity

Hughie’s story arc is the one that pulls at my heartstrings the most this season. He’s also been torn between two parents – his gentle dad who raised him and his absent mom who abandoned him. Except now she’s back, suddenly there to take care of Hugh Sr. when he has a stroke. We get a lot more backstory of what happened back then, and just how raw Hughie’s anger and sense of betrayal still are.

There’s so much more to come of this particular story arc this season. It weaves in and out of the other narratives and has a lot to say about both identity and heroism, but it also stands out as a tragic but ultimately hopeful narrative on its own.

Dr. Matt Snyder’s chapter on Hughie, Butcher, Homelander and Soldier Boy’s struggles with masculinity (toxic and otherwise) in Supes Ain’t Always Heroes tackled some of those same themes, so I was happy to see them continued. So does Jensen Ackles’ exclusive interview chapter on Soldier Boy.

Annie and Kimiko, The Deep and A Train: Coming To Terms with the Past

This season really is an exploration of identity development. After throwing away her supersuit and that supe identity with it, Annie’s now trying to figure out who she is without it. Can she be as inspiring as an everyday human, or did that supersuit give her the power to inspire hope?

Many of the characters we’ve put on the “good” side of the fence show their shadow sides this season. Annie has a history that resurfaces with new supe Firecracker, who knew her “back then”.  It’s part of Annie’s identity crisis to try to come to terms with her past, some of which she feels ashamed of and guilty about.

Kimiko has a similar journey, also attempting to confront her past – through therapy, no less. It’s not exactly a smooth journey though, with flashbacks to her traumatic past that she deals with by drinking instead of calling her therapist. Like, a lot.

Meanwhile, the Deep is floundering too (haha sorry couldn’t resist). Bestiality charges are messing with his image. He denies it of course, but he also has an octopus living in his closet quite literally. I won’t spoil who voices the octopus in case you haven’t watched it yet, but it is perfection.

Does he want to keep hiding what they are to each other?

It’s an extreme example, but it lines up with the theme of identity development that this season has going. Is that the real Kevin that he’s been hiding (sort of)? He too feels guilty and ashamed but also drawn to being who he is. Will authenticity or the benefits of carrying on a socially sanctioned persona win out?

A Train’s story arc is one of the most interesting this season. I won’t say it was entirely unexpected, but it wasn’t entirely predictable either. A Train had some doubts about who he had become and who he wanted to be last season, on the verge of giving up his Supe status for the approval and acceptance of his brother and family but pulling back at the last minute with Ashley’s “encouragement.”

Now he’s starring in a movie about his life that is all white savior stereotypes that don’t reflect his lived experience at all. How much can he put up with for what he gets from being a Supe?

The theme of coming to terms with what you’ve done in your past that you’re not proud of is played out in A Train’s story too. But he’s come close to going with his conscience before and backed away – will he again?

There are some fascinating insights from Jessie T. Usher in Supes Ain’t Always Heroes about the pressure his character feels to stay a Supe – and some equally fascinating insights from psychologist Asher Johnson about A Train’s journey and what it means to Dr. Johnson as a person of color.

Frenchie Gets Some

Kimiko insists that she and Frenchie are not a romantic couple, and encourages him to pursue hot guy Colin.

Very drunk Kimiko: Stop being a pussy, go get some of Colin’s penis – or ass – or both. But go get it!

I am all for this plan because she is right, they have off-the-charts chemistry, falling into a passionate kiss. Of course, it’s complicated. Let’s just say that Frenchie’s past is also coming back to haunt him, in a big way.

The Return of Black Noir

Black Noir is back and Nathan Mitchell is back to play him and that makes me really happy. This version of Noir is strikingly different and frequently hilarious.  The character also is all about exploring identity in his own unique way. How real are any of the Supes anyway??

(Nathan Mitchell’s exclusive interview in Supes Ain’t Always Heroes touches on some of these questions, and I love that it’s picked up in this season)

The Other Good Stuff

I listed guest star Rob Benedict as one of my favorite things about Season 4, and the second episode of the season will show you why. The Boys follow Sister Sage to “TruthCon”, a gathering of true believer conspiracy theorists that’s half political convention half Comic Con. Posters proclaiming “Soldier Boy and Liberty: Secret Lovers?” and “Stormfront is Alive!” and “Starlight Is A Pedo” are the backdrop for Firecracker giving a speech that implicates everyone from Tom Hanks to Oprah.

She’s backed up by supe Splinter (Rob), who ends up pursued by the Boys and fighting back in his own….unique…way. Let’s just say this role is a big departure for him!  I won’t spoil this almost indescribable scene, but suffice it to say, you see a lot more of Rob than we’ve ever seen before, along with a lot more Robs than we’ve ever seen before, and he is just as hilarious and unlucky as you might expect. Kudos, Rob!

Also? Ouch.

There’s also Vought On Ice, which is priceless just in terms of what it IS. Complete with Chris Lennertz music, it’s the kind of over-the-top scene we’ve come to expect and appreciate from “The Boys” and it doesn’t disappoint. That it’s the backdrop to some also over-the-top violent pursuits just makes it better.

The Boys Season 4 butcher and young homelander mttg review

So all in all? The first three episodes of Season 4 are just what you’d expect – a wild ride. And frankly, the rest of the season is too! So stay tuned for more – and while you wait for next week’s episode, grab a copy of Supes Ain’t Always Heroes to read what makes these complicated characters tick.