The Boys Are Back and as Screwed as Ever in Excellent Fourth Season

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The Boys Are Back and as Screwed as Ever in Excellent Fourth Season

The Boys, Prime Video’s bloody, violent send-up of the superhero genre, has become one of the streamer’s biggest hits over the past few years. But with any high-concept series, it always begs the question: can it sustain that pace of shocking, surprising, compelling, and just jaw-dropping insanity for yet another year?

Thankfully, the answer is a resounding “f—k yes” for The Boys as it enters its fourth season.

Based on the 2006 Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson comic that ran until 2012 for 72 issues, the show started with a fairly simple pitch: what if superheroes were real, but instead of being altruistic ideals like Superman or Wonder Woman, they are corrupt assholes who are little more than super-powered reality TV stars that leverage their abilities for celebrity?

With that as the setting, the story largely follows a ramshackle group of covert government operatives (aka “The Boys”) tasked with trying to keep the out-of-control superheroes in check by any means necessary, from blowing them up from the inside out with explosives, to simply beating them to death in a public bathroom if needed.

The show has taken more than a few liberties with the finer points of the story beyond that, but the through line remains the same: superheroes are lying, corrupt narcissists and leaving that type of power unchecked could fundamentally destroy the world. Think Brightburn or Superman: Red Son, with setting the story right in the gritty mess of the people trying to keep the world from falling off that razor’s edge.

In Year 4, we see the stakes continue to ratchet up, as the powerful supe Homelander becomes more openly unhinged and the fraying mess of The Seven (basically a top-tier superhero team, like the Justice League or The Avengers of this universe) continues to burn out and fall apart around him. We’ve been slouching toward a potential political coup with supes possibly taking over the world, and Season 4 picks up those threads and doesn’t shy away from telling the story fans have seen them plant the seeds for over the first three seasons. It’s a wild ride, arguably the show’s wildest yet, which is saying something. Fans will love it; Season 4 is simply phenomenal.

The stellar main cast is all back for Season 4, led by Jack Quaid (Hughie Campbell), Karl Urban (Billy Butcher), Erin Moriarty (Annie January), and Antony Starr (Homelander). They’re as strong as ever, but Season 4 also goes deeper into the bench bringing out some excellent performances and story arcs for Laz Alonzo (M.M.), Jessie T. Usher (A-Train), Tomer Capone (Frenchie), and Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko). No spoilers, but if you’re fans of those characters, there is a lot to love in Season 4 for them.

Butcher ended last season with a death sentence after dosing himself with an experimental drug to give himself temporary superpowers, which could be the type of ticking clock that takes the series all the way to its eventual end (it has long been rumored that five seasons could be the mapped out run-length for the entire show). Butcher only has months to live, and it’s hard to imagine the show going on without him, after all.

But like any comic book world, there’s always another superhero waiting on the next page to make their debut, and The Boys Season 4 doesn’t skimp on continuing to expand its roster of supes. The big new additions who join The Seven this year are Susan Heyward’s Sister Sage and Valorie Curry’s Firecracker.

Sister Sage is a different kind of character than we’ve seen on The Boys, as her superpower is that she is simply the smartest person alive. No super-strength, no energy blasts, no talking to fish. Though this being a world based loosely on our own, a young Black woman boasting to be smarter than everyone else on the planet gets listened to… about as much as you might imagine. It’s a great exploration of the concept of what if there was a person who knew how to solve anything from world hunger to world wars—except no one actually listens to them?

Then there’s Firecracker, and the first look of her donning a gaudy red, white, and blue suit pretty much tells you all you need to know. The Boys has made no apologies about the way it deftly tackles real-world political polarization, and a superhero in that right-wing ecosystem seems like the natural evolution of how those worlds would weave together.

The show’s fourth season also comes in the wake of The Boys’ first live action spinoff series, Gen V, which followed college-age supes and introduced a sub-plot about an engineered virus that could potentially be used to kill superheroes. We already knew Season 4 would pick up some of those threads thanks to a surprise post-credit scene on Gen V connecting the two shows, but don’t worry too much if you’re behind on the spinoff. The Boys is still about The Boys, though like any good franchise-building, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on if you’ve been following along.

The Boys has been one of the best shows on television for years now, and continues to cement its place in the pantheon with its deft blend of drama, gore, political commentary, and surrealism. The series is a pressure cooker that only gets hotter and tighter as it goes on. The best news of all? It’s already been renewed for a fifth season, so we know there’s even more incredible superhero f—kery to come. 

The Boys Season 4 premieres Thursday, June 13th on Prime Video. 

Trent Moore is a recovering print journalist, and freelance editor and writer with bylines at lots of places. He likes to find the sweet spot where pop culture crosses over with everything else. Follow him at @trentlmoore on Twitter.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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