Friday, June 21, 2024

The Boys Season 4 Review – IGN

Must read

This is a spoiler-free review of The Boys Season 4, which premieres Thursday, June 13 on Prime Video. Reviews of new episodes will post Thursday afternoons through July 18.

If the outrageous herogasm of The Boys has taught us anything, it’s that there’s no high without a comedown. Season 3 of the Prime Video series was a masterclass in political satire filtered through the lens of scandalous supe shenanigans, its excellence carrying over to the freshman year of its fantastic collegiate spin-off, Gen V. After so much fucking around, Season 4 ushers in the time of finding out – sometimes too much finding out, as showrunner Eric Kripke and team pack storylines like sardines into the tin can of these eight episodes. The unresolved issues of The Boys have backed Kripke into a corner, now intensified by Gen V’s big reveal: a virus that threatens the lives of Vought International’s crew of cape-and-mask-wearing not-so-do-gooders.

Season 4 presents supe-hunting vigilante Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his stars-and-stripes-clad nemesis, Homelander (Antony Starr) with the realization of their ultimate goals – but both men are uncharacteristically pensive and exhausted with possible victory on the horizon. Urban effectively showcases a squishier, compassionate side to Butcher, who hacks near-death coughs due to a throbbing, Temp V-induced tumor in his brain. Starr stays on task as Homelander continues fearmongering his way toward the top of Vought (and then the world), but he frequently gets caught gazing into nothingness, overwhelmed by what happens next. There’s no backpedaling from their rivalry when Butcher’s days are numbered, but the mutually assured destruction of their conflict weighs heavier than ever.

So does The Boys’ lack of political subtlety. Season 4 triples down on corruption that feels uncomfortably familiar during a real-world election year. Homelander’s ascension as a superhuman dictator directly references January 6, insurrectionists, and dissident lists with a warranted urgency. The Boys has never been quiet about who the show’s “Big Bad” is, and Kripke has no choice but to state the obvious about Homelander’s MAGA tactics, which he does without sacrificing the show’s values – they fit too disturbingly well. The threat Homelander poses to the United States has to be spelled out in massive, easy-to-read letters because some viewers still can’t accept that he’s a villain, and it’s more important than ever to make sure The Boys’ messaging is crystal bloody clear.

Season 4 is encased within a black box of gloom, manipulation, and despair. Butcher’s terminal diagnosis keeps him more docile. Marvin “Mother’s” Milk (Laz Alonso) steps in as commander of The Boys, but he’s plagued by his own anxiety flare-ups. Homelander pursues the “purification” of a supe-first nation, but finds his mind clouded by fatherhood duties and abusive childhood memories now that Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) lives at Vought Tower. Frenchie (Tomer Capone) dreams of happiness but only finds pain, Annie January (Erin Moriarty) flees from her alter ego Starlight because of what she’s responsible for, and Hughie (Jack Quaid) is mercilessly tested – this isn’t another high-energy season. It’s a result of the story’s trajectory and while there are plenty of worthwhile arcs seen to a fulfilling completion, the melancholy can become suffocating.

Latest article