TL;DR – It was a slow start to the season, but it did start to hit as it went on, but more than anything, this felt like it was just setting everything up for a season 4 and not a complete whole in its own right.
Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film
The Boys Review –
Some shows have a simple premise on the surface, but you find the depths underneath when you outwork that premise. With The Boys, we get ‘what if people with superpowers were pricks’, but from here, we start delving into what that means. What would having all that popularity and fame do to someone with superhero qualities and who could destroy ordinary people instantly. This is taken even further but exploring what corporate/political frameworks would exist to manage and exploit this phenomenon. Now we are in the third season, and all of that groundwork has been laid, but then the question is, what will grow from this foundation?
So to set the scene, at the start of the season, everything is in a state of stability, or well as much peace that one can when dealing with people who can shoot laser beams out of their eyes. Hughie (Jack Quaid) is now one of the chief members of a task force working with congresswoman Victoria “Vic” Neuman (Claudia Doumit) going after rogue supes. The rest of The Boys’ team, Butcher (Karl Urban), Frenchie (Tomer Capone), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), run sanctioned missions targeting supes that mess up like Termite (Brett Geddes). Over at Vought, Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) has been keeping a more fractured Homelander (Antony Starr) under wraps as he goes on an apology tour after the events of Season Two and then promotes Starlight (Erin Moriarty) to co-captain to smooth over the disastrous press from the Stormfront (Aya Cash) revelation. But stability can’t last, and as Hughie sees Vic pop some dude’s head, he discovers there is no way he can get anything done while working in the system. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
To begin with, let us take a look at what worked this season. The first thing we see is the absolute commitment of the cast to the bit. The Boys is a show that straddles a fine line between parody, satire, and allegory, and to walk that thin line and not fall off the edge takes a lot of commitment. The fact that Karl and Antony are, from all accounts, delightful human beings and can yet play such awful characters with such precision is a testament to their skill. It is also supported by a production team behind the scenes that must be up to their eyeballs in fake blood, but they make it work. Also, those moments when the series goes into full-parody, like the send-up of the Pepsi commercial or Gal Gadot’ Imagine, hit perfectly because you know just how much faff is behind these apparently thoughtful moments.
This worked best when it very much lent into what is happening in the real world today. What happens when you fire all the competent people and replace them with ‘yes man’ floosies, when you give a toddler a position of power, and when you entertain people who support literal Nazis. That final moment in the series when we see Homelander murder someone in broad daylight, and everyone cheered was ice cold because you know how close America got to that. Indeed, that final frame of the show only hits as hard as it does because of the groundwork they laid this season, and it has kind of been funny seeing people realise that Homelander will not be getting a redemption arc, as if the show did not make that abundantly clear at the end of Season One.
However, while there was a lot that I liked this season with The Boys, there was also a growing number of things that frustrated me or just didn’t land as well as I think they hoped. To begin with, this was a season that took a bit to get going at the start. For a while, I was sitting here wondering what the point was except just to be cruel to all the characters only for cruelty’s sake. For example, The Deep (Chace Crawford) being made to eat Timothy. We already know that Homelander is an abusive arsehole. At times, the show was just rehashing things repeatedly for spectacle’s sake rather than delving deeper. While the season did firm up as it went on, you could feel it holding its punches as it went on. It felt like a middle-child season just getting things in place for the final season. So they had to fall back on things like hyping up Herogasm that ended up being relatively tame in The Boy’s world.
Where this impacted me the most was in my engagement with the characters of the series. As we went through this season, I felt myself losing interest in most of the character’s arcs. Indeed, by the end, I only cared about Annie/Starlight and Kimiko and their stories. Sure, watching Jensen Ackles swagger around the screen, murdering his old team, was fun. But none of that had the same impact as Kimiko coming face-to-face with who she is as a person, both with and without powers, and having to make an impossible choice. Or Starlight desperately trying to hold things together when she knows that Homelander can kill everyone, and frankly, he is past the point of no return. Some characters just felt side-lined this season, which was frustrating. Maeve (Dominique McElligott) got put in a holding pattern for most of the season, Vic Neuman started this season in a strong position, but that puttered off as we went through, and they finally did something interesting with Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) only to kill him off in the next episode. While none of these are deal-breakers, they did impact my time with the show.
In the end, do we recommend The Boys Season 3? Well, look. By three seasons in, you already know this show’s tone, its use of sex/language/violence and know if this is a show you want to watch or not. I liked parts of the season, and once it got going, I think the overall arc worked. However, I started to feel some fatigue this season, and I wonder if it is beginning to run out of steam.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Boys
Directed by – Phil Sgriccia, Julian Holmes, Nelson Cragg & Sarah Boyd
Written by – Craig Rosenberg, David Reed, Anslem Richardson, Geoff Aull, Meredith Glynn, Ellie Monahan, Jessica Chou, Paul Grellong, Logan Ritchey & David Reed
Created by – Eric Kripke
Based on – The Boys by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson
Production/Distribution Companies – Sony Pictures Television & Amazon Studios
Starring In Season 3 – Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, Nathan Mitchell, Colby Minifie, Claudia Doumit & Jensen Ackles with Giancarlo Esposito, Aya Cash, Simon Pegg, Laila Robins. Cameron Crovetti, Jordana Lajoie, Nicola Correia-Damude, Katy Breier, Miles Gaston Villanueva, Matthew Edison, Frances Turner, Jim Beaver, Matthew Gorman, Liyou Abere, Laurie Holden, Jack Fulton, Sabrina Saudin, Katia Winter, Jack Doolan, Kristin Booth, Nick Wechsler, Ryan Blakely, Gattlin Griffith, Sean Patrick Flanery, Tyler Williams, Paul Reiser, Eric Bauza, Grey Griffin, Brett Geddes, Malcolm Barrett & John Noble and Seth Rogen, Billy Zane, Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Josh Gad, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Elizabeth Banks, Kumail Nanjiani, Aisha Tyler & Rose Byrne
Episodes Covered – Payback, The Only Man In The Sky, Barbary Coast, Glorious Five-Year Plan, The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies, Herogasm, Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed & The Instant White-Hot Wild