The third season of the Amazon series “The Boys” will be as ferociously gory and savagely satirical as its first two seasons, racing through story at something approaching super-speed.
While obviously not intended for every taste, the series remains a scathing examination of the superhero genre and society at large, threaded with warnings about the corrupting influence of power.
In the aftermath of last season’s revelation regarding the supervillain syndicate Stormfront, the show takes a leap ahead in time to find key players having settled into their respective jobs and lives. The harmony can’t last, however, as the head of the superhero conglomerate Vought International dryly refers to overseeing caped crusaders as “a daycare dealing with spoiled children.”
Damiana’s children, however, have their own ideas about what’s best: the mercurial Homelander (Antony Starr), a terrifying blend of Superman-like powers with rampant insecurity and malice. When he says, “No one can stop me,” it sends a chill down your spine.
Although the children have their own ideas about what is best, Homelander (Antony Starr) is particularly dangerous, possessing powers similar to Superman’s with a huge lack of confidence and maliciousness. He says “No one can stop me”, and it sends a chill down the spine. Chafing against the restrictions put upon him by Vought, Homelander faces a brewing conflict with Starlight (Erin Moriarty), whose relationship to Hughie (Jack Quaid), who was once fighting against the Supes, becomes a source of friction and suspicion.
This season shines a spotlight upon the conflict of each side versus the others, raising outstanding philosophical and moral questions. It is a major topic among this season’s installments, which tests how Boys and their leader, Butcher (Karl Urban), will abstain from lying, manipulating the opposition, and Jimi and Jimmy (Judy Davis and Josh Gad), the conflict in this respect.
The series also introduces a new player, portrayed by Jensen Ackles, whose iconic history should not be confused with anyone from the Marvel universe. Under Eric Kripke’s direction, The Boys exhibits a particularly sharp eye for the abuses inherent in superheroes and the worship of them, overlaying that with our current media and political culture. The heroes thus spend their spare hours strategizing with corporate PR, fretting about their popularity ratings, and being apprised of how things play with White men in the Rust Belt among other demographics.
Vought operates as an extension of corporate greed, using its influence to run a never-ending succession of parodies pulled from its spectrum of holdings. And the “Voughtland” theme park has provided the perfect ambient setting to pay homage to the “Everyone’s a hero at…” tune.
The show “The Boys” has elements of violence and comedy that are often intertwined in a manner that can be thought-provoking. The show addresses issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement and superheroes blaming the media through the prism of an exaggerated world, all while building on these themes to create a constant sense of dread about what might happen next.
Although “The Boys” has not garnered as many awards as some other big-budget streaming series, such as “The Crown,” or Amazon’s more awards-friendly shows, it has become a significant part of the service, and perhaps its signature show. This is evident in Amazon’s eagerness to use the superhero drama’s popularity to launch other projects, including an animated series, “Invincible,” and more recently a spinoff of animated shorts, “The Boys Presents: Diabolical.”
Critics have argued about whether the show’s determination to keep surpassing itself in shock value—like “Watchmen” on steroids—is destined to yield diminishing returns, if it hasn’t already.
“The Boys” continues to be powerful and, if you have the demand, a great deal of fun. Martial arts like Homelander end up with a pretty concise one-two punch.