When I first heard Garth Ennis’ The Boys was being adapted for TV by Prime Video, I was a bit skeptical. It was a story that pushed the envelope on superheroes, exploring just how corrupt, twisted and bloody the reality could be if people were given powers without consequence. But it somehow worked. The Boys has stood as a must-have TV show for many since the first season hit, and now with season 3 here, that is more true than ever.
A year has passed since we last visited the titular Boys, and things have changed. Where Butcher (Karl Urban) and his crew were once outcasts, they are now working for the government, with none other than Hughie (Jack Quaid) taking the lead and supervising the crew for Uncle Sam. With what happened to Stormfront (Aya Cash) last season, Vought is a very different place. No longer is Homelander (Antony Starr) idolized as he once was, with Starlight (Erin Moriarty) quickly taking over as the most popular superhero in the world. But a calm like this can only last so long.
This being The Boys, there is always something to disturb the peace in the most bloody way possible. Hearing about a secret weapon that can take down Supes, Butcher pushes the Boys to hunt down the history of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) the world’s first superhero, to find out how he was killed, and how he can enlist these weapons against Homelander and finally get his revenge.
“There is a lot to like with this latest season of The Boys.“
The Boys is a great counter to what Disney and Marvel produce, giving a look at a much darker, more realistic take on superpowers. While Marvel often avoids real world issues, in favour of bombastic fun for the whole family action, The Boys embraces them fully. Shining a light on everything from the skewed way the media is used, to the consequences of the major conflicts, this is a series that explores the human cost to the action, both fictional and otherwise. It has always been an extremely human show, that takes the superheroes and manages to build complex characters that are as powerful as they are flawed.
While past seasons explored many of the elements seen in season three of The Boys, this is the season that amps the tension up and pushes these characters to their breaking point. It is a season that moves, wasting no time diving into the action, giving each of the different characters time to shine and feel fully realized. It is incredibly hard to make everyone in an ensemble cast feel meaningful, but thanks to the freedom of the hour episodes, no one feels left behind, with their many issues they represent all made bare for the world to see.
As with past seasons, Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher seals the show anytime he is on screen. He manages to bring the character to life with intensity that makes it hard to look away. This season also gives him more time to explore a complex past, along with the many ways he is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of revenge.
Joining in that complexity is Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and Homelander (Antony Starr) both are characters that are painfully complex. Each is riddled with troubles, pain and the weight of the world on their shoulders and a broken psyche that can’t let them deal with the reality of their actions. Both from different perspectives and time periods, but equally broken and unable to wield their powers beyond a selfish show of bravado.
The women of The Boys are also given the room to finally breathe and step out of the shadow of other characters. Erin Moriarty’s Starlight is given much more to do this season, no longer allowing herself to be the punching bag of the Super Hero Squad, and Dominique McElligott’s Queen Maeve is given room to explore the many troubles she has with her past actions and the reality of being a role model to many without allowing herself the freedom to be happy.
Even with all the serious moments on screen, The Boys never loses focus, pushing the characters forward at a solid clip. From set-piece action scenes, to moments of comedy and pure horror, The Boys manages to be a well paced complex series of television that feels as much a social commentary on the current state of the world, as it is a breakdown of superheroes and the inherent problem they represent.
There is a lot to like with this latest season of The Boys. It explains and expands the universe in ways I did not expect, while diving into the many flaws of its complex and powerful cast. If you have been on the fence, or only given the show a passing thought, there is no better time to dive in. The Boys is easily one of the most engaging shows currently on TV, and the perfect antidote for people burned out on typical superhero media.