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REVIEW: Mob mentality, sensationalism are the villains of ‘The Boys’ penultimate season

By Jerald Uy Published Jun 13, 2024 7:28 pm Updated Jun 13, 2024 11:24 pm

Why do democracies fail? It’s because people are “stupid,” so said Sister Sage, not verbatim but it’s the core what the so-called “smartest person” in the world told the egoistical evil Superman, Homelander. There’s a bit of truth in it, as corrupt leaders apparently would always get elected to public office. And this is what the new and returning villains are leveraging on.

Season 4 sees vice-presidential candidate and secret head-popper supervillain Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) teaming up with Homelander (Antony Starr) to shape public opinion, much to the chagrin of the titular anti-heroes. 

While The Seven, a parody of DC’s Justice League, may have a surplus of powerhouses, Homelander knows the team needed a strategist to win back the public’s adoration, especially when he lasered out a protester’s head in the last season. Enter Sister Sage (Susan Heyward) who masterfully and subtly takes advantage of people’s mob mentality, crippling former superhero Annie January a.k.a. Starlight’s civil movement against the abusive, media-savvy “superheroes”. 

Completing Sage’s plans is shock-jock podcaster Firecracker (Valorie Curry), who claims to be selling “purpose” to appease people into believing in conspiracies and false news. Her pyrokinetic power is reminiscent of X-Men’s Jubilee but it is her words and clout that prove much difficult to be beaten by The Boys

In case you’re out of the loop, The Boys is a ragtag group of anti-supes experts and vigilantes, currently backed by the CIA. It consists of the Butcher (Karl Urban) - a parody of Marvel’s The Punisher with a terminal condition, Frenchie (Tomer Capone) - a chemical expert, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) - a cool-headed strategist, Kimiko a.k.a. The Female (Karen Fukuhara) - a mute human trafficking victim with regenerative healing abilities, Hughie (Jack Quaid), a member of the Neuman’s Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs who can teleport when he pumps Temp V, and Starlight (Erin Moriarty), a light-based superhero based on DC’s Mary Marvel, and Hughie’s girlfriend. Nearly every member had bad blood with superheroes abusing their powers. 

The first two episodes immediately answered the hanging questions from Season 3. However, I find the quick resolutions convenient to move the story. Case in point is Neuman’s encounter with her close colleague Hughie. Neuman’s ability to disintegrate organic beings can kill all of The Boys but it’s hard to buy the alibi she gave to him for not doing it. 

Meanwhile, the subplot with the Butcher losing his wife’s son, Ryan to Homelander is interesting. As the show reveals, Homelander is an annoying father not meant for parenthood, quipping disturbing pieces of advice against pregnancy and even taking his son’s drink when he gets upset. Kudos to Antony Starr’s dry humor, which is complemented by the silliness of the Deep (Chase Crawford) and the new Black Noir, whose identity is yet to be revealed. 

Apart from the black comedy, shock-and-awe is the trademark of The Boys. In the first two episodes of Season 4, the political beats that do not overpower the hyperviolent, racy aspects of the show are what makes them enticing to watch. Truth be told, after three seasons of watching The Boys, I have been used to seeing penises, butts, breasts, and heads exploding.

Despite the blood and the guts, the show also closed into their personal lives. Even the turncoat speedster A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) gets some sort of character development, albeit not a full redemption arc. At this stage, he’s not yet off Butcher’s kill list.

The Butcher referencing the events of Gen V Season 1 was also a good attempt to build its shared universe. With showrunner Eric Kripke announcing that The Boys will conclude with its fifth season, Thursday streaming in the next weeks promises to be exceptional. 

The Boys Season 4 premieres with three episodes on June 13, exclusively on Prime Video.