You had the good guy underdogs, aka The Boys (led by Karl Urban’s swaggering, swearing Butcher and Jack Quaid’s meek but resilient Hughie) trying to take down The Seven, a corrupt collection of celebrity supes backed by corporate giant Vought International. It was a simple case of good versus bad.
By the end of that brilliant second season though, Stormfront (Aya Cash) had been exposed as an actual Nazi, her unhinged boyfriend Homelander (Antony Starr) had been put on a leash thanks to a videotape showing him refusing to help a plane full of people while Hughie had bagged himself a job at the Federal Bureau Of Superhero Affairs, a government backed organisation meant to hold supes to account.
Season three picks things up one year later, and things are going swimmingly for the good guys. Sure, Butcher and the rest of the boys are now taking their government orders from Hughie but superhero crime is down 60 per cent. “It’s nice to do things the right way, without being covered in quite so many guts,” he explains, speaking far too soon. By the end of episode one, he’s covered in someone else’s blood and things quickly escalate over the first five episodes.
Homelander goes fully off-the-rails thanks to his public redemption (“I may be a superhero, but I’m also a man who fell in love with the wrong woman”) giving Starr plenty of chances to play creepy and terrifying while the Bureau Of Superhero Affairs is actually being ran by secret supe Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit). She has the power to split heads open on command and isn’t afraid to use it. The Boys soon discover that thanks to all the corruption, there is no right way to take on The Seven. Let the scheming begin.
The overarching theme of season three of The Boys is the pursuit of power, with not-so-subtle nods to cancel culture and racial injustice (“Black Lives Matter is my favourite hashtag” says Colby Minifie’s Vought executive Ashley in one of the most excruciating scenes of the show).
Thanks to the introduction of a drug that temporarily gives users superpowers, the odds have been evened between supes and The Boys but that once-fine line between good and bad is quickly blurred as almost every character struggles with right, wrong and their responsibilities – especially Erin Moriarty’s Starlight who is still the hopeful heart of the whole show.
All that morality never gets in the way of the blood-soaked action though. While there are a lot of menacing conversations, secret allegiances and power plays, the threat of ultra violence is always present, giving The Boys a chaotic intensity that few shows manage. Afterall, has anyone ever exploded on Succession?
Season three of The Boys toys with the successful formula but maintains jaw-dropping results throughout. especially with the introduction of musical numbers, a reality TV show and new superhero Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles). It’s still the most adult, most graphic and most fun superhero show around and this bold and batshit run of episodes sees The Boys very much back in town.
‘The Boys’ season three episodes one to three are streaming now on Amazon Prime Video with subsequent episodes airing weekly