‘The Boys’ season four review: sweary supes battle electoral dysfunction

Can our anti-hero gang stop the bad guys getting into office?

There’s a war coming to The Boys. After years of scheming, backstabbing and bloody confrontations, season four starts with America on the brink of catastrophic conflict.

First though, a quick recap. At the end of the last season, Antony Starr’s gleefully vicious superhero overlord Homelander publicly murdered a protester and was applauded for it, drawing the battle lines between his supporters and those backing the hopeful empathy offered by Erin Moriarty’s Starlight. One side sees super-powered individuals as the saviours of humanity, the other knows they’re a corrupt force of self-serving megalomaniacs.

These two opposing ideologies spill into the ongoing presidential election campaign that weaves its way through these episodes. Secret, head-popping supe and Vice President-elect Victoria Neumann (Claudia Doumit) emerges from the shadows and is more than a match for our plucky band of heroes, while new supe and right-wing podcaster Firecracker (Valorie Curry) takes great joy in whipping up hatred through a range of outlandish conspiracy theories. She knows her supporters just want something to believe in and is happy to turn a profit in the process. Well, the satire of The Boys has never exactly been subtle… Then there’s Susan Heywood’s “smartest person in the world” Sister Sage, who brings a considered menace to the impulsive desires of Homelander. They both want to watch the world burn.

The Boys
Conspiracy theories are a focus of ‘The Boys’ season four. CREDIT: Prime Video


While other superhero stories might rush through to the all-action scenes of apocalyptic societal collapse, The Boys focuses on the smaller, more human conflicts. There’s a fresh love interest for Tomer Capone’s troubled but charming Frenchie, Karen Fukuhara’s invincible Kimiko is in therapy and Jack Quaid’s wide-eyed Hughie Campbell remains the conflicted moral heart of the show. Elsewhere, the swaggering, foul-mouthed Butcher (Karl Urban) only has six months to live after abusing drugs which temporarily granted him superpowers in season three. And even Homelander is having a bit of an existential crisis, though for a less life-threatening reason (he found a grey pube). The biggest surprise in the new episodes, however, is a slow-burning, beautiful sequence that will undoubtedly have fans in tears.

The intimate struggles make the frequent moments of ultraviolence more memorable. These include a stand-out scene at an ice-skating rink which flips between gory horror and dark comedy in its pursuit of the silliest way to maim and kill. Characters are routinely burned alive, beaten to death and torn in half across the blood-soaked series, but that brutality is still shocking in a way that is usually horrifying and occasionally funny too.

With season five already confirmed, the return of a few familiar faces and a lot of characters confronting their pasts, this season sometimes feels like the set up for an eventual endgame scenario. Fans will note that spin-off show Gen V recently introduced a potentially supe-killing biological weapon. Luckily, all that plot never slows down the pace in what is another urgent edition of TV’s best superhero show.


‘The Boys’ season four premieres on Prime Video on June 13

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