Within the first few minutes of the third season of The Boys, the profane-laced dialogue (no one drops a “C-bomb” like Karl Urban), bold nudity (if you think there’s a lack of male frontal shots in mainstream media, feast your eyes here), and bloodied-red body horror (there’s that R18+ rating certified) more than announces that the boys (and girls) of Eric Kripke‘s shameless comic book fare are back and better than ever.
Given that it’s already formed a reputation for itself as one of television’s most graphically indulgent series, audiences may be inclined to think how much further can it push its deprived envelope.
Wonder no more!
The through-line of the series – in that the initially mild-mannered Hughie (Jack Quaid) uncovered the fact that the known superheroes that “protect” the city aren’t as heroic as they claim to be – is still lingering throughout. His personal vendetta against the speed-enhanced A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) for killing his girlfriend (a first season, first episode sequence that set the bar for just how violent this show could be) is still festering in his psyche, but he has much bigger fish to fry with the superhero subsect in general.
Thanks to his alignment with “The Boys”, a group who seek to take down all superheroes, Hughie has become a little more savvy to not playing by the rules – no doubt a personality additive spurred by Billy Butcher (Urban, an absolute filthy joy to watch), the group’s leader who particularly hates the superhero collective known as “The Seven”; think The Avengers or the Justice League, but with terrible, terrible morals.
Season 3 picks up very much where season 2 ended, with the corrupt and volatile Homelander (Anthony Starr, leaning even further into his character’s depravities with a wicked glee) facing public scrutiny over his relationship with fellow supe Stormfront (Aya Cash), a white supremacist, of all things. Though he knows he should play the PR card correctly and smooth such a scandal over, Homelander being the unpredictable force of nature he is doesn’t exactly play by the government’s rules, leading his character on a path that springs forth some of this series’ most unnerving moments.
Homelander’s continued dominance over a system he knows can’t contain him in any manner means Butcher, Hughie, and their rag-tag team of misfits – compiled of Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) – have to think outside their own, looking to the infamous Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), a “hero” from the past whose own nature mirrors that of Homelander; fighting fire with fire? Makes sense.
With the superhero genre being one that could be in danger of oversaturating the market, something like The Boys proves even more necessary and revolutionary due to the fact that it isn’t afraid to address the political undertones of what living in a world with such superheroic figures would actually entail. The celebrity and the influence that would come with such power could be catastrophic, and the corruption that would be born from such a position feels rooted in a very real landscape.
Continuing from that, such topical issues as the Black Lives Matter movement and sexual abuse in a post-#MeToo era allow the show to weave in a sense of organic grounding as it shocks with mind-numbing violence and an orgy sequence (known to the comic readers as “Herogasm”) that furthers the show’s delicious shamelessness.
In keeping with the first two seasons and their continual reveals, so much of this third season is remaining close to my chest in order for the devoted fans to enjoy each surprise served; I’m talking wild celebrity cameos and a musical number here. Spitting in the face of comic book genre fatigue, this third season goes further than expected, indulging in graphic violence and sexuality, showcasing an unafraid mentality in its tackling of issues and thematics, whilst harbouring a beating heart that keeps proceedings emotionally relevant; how long that hearts remains in someone’s cavity though is anyone’s guess.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Boys season 3 premieres its first three episodes on Friday June 3rd, 2022 on Prime Video. New episodes then available each following Friday, culminating in an epic season finale on July 8th, 2022.