Review: The Boys Season 3 (First Three Episodes)



There is an enlivening recklessness in The Boys.

Back when the Amazon Original series first premiered in 2019, it carved a distinct voice for itself, in the arena of superhero-led narratives, with its vicious violence, excessive blood splattering and black comedy. As if what it had wasn’t enough, The Boys, in season 2, decided to rip apart a gigantic whale shark, have Homelander (Anthony Starr) enact out a creepy fetish and make a superhero into a literal Nazi. 

This outrageous creativity remains the unique trademark of The Boys even in its third and latest season. Within the first 15 minutes of the first episode itself, we get an incredibly bloodied parody of the popular ant-man-going-up-Thano’s-butt meme from 2018. This was just the first episode. We are sure, there’s probably more to come in the future.

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It is clear that the writers are certainly pushing the limit on what is acceptable on the screen. They are clearly having fun with it. But while it is easy to lose the series among all the blood, gore and absurd comedy, the writers do maintain their strong grip on telling an engaging and well nuanced story. 

It is a double-edged sword but showrunner Eric Kripke and his writing team do wield it smartly. This is because Eric Kripke never loses sight of the fact that, at the end of all the violence and absurd comedy, the story is essentially about hero worship, power and American nationalism. Kripke questions our obsession with the celebrities and our willingness to accept them as who they are, regardless of how many wrong doings they have done. You can see this with the Aquaman-ripoff Deep (Chace Crawford), who was accused of sexual harassment in the first season, and now, makes a return this season with a ghost-written book as well as TV series adaptation of that book. He is welcomed back in a very celebratory manner on national television and his victim, Starlight (Erin Moriarty), is simply expected to accept that fact. 

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Chace Crawford as Deep in The Boys S3. (Picture Credits: Amazon Prime)

You can see the same kind of hero worship with the newly introduced Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles). He is a grossly misogynistic and a far more reckless version of Captain America from a by-gone era, who is celebrated with a documentary and a passionate song performance in the present.

And ofcourse, there’s one of the biggest assets of the show, Anthony Starr’s Homelander, the shining personification of toxic masculinity. Using him as the imagery for American patriotism, the show charts out how the masses (more specially America) can flock to and form the country around a powerful white man.

Here, it is interesting to note how the series depicts the role of ultra-successful corporations, like Vought International, in such scenarios. This season, the company has been working hard at re-building Homelander’s image, after the whole “Stormfront is a Nazi” controversy from last season. Even though Homelander visibly hates it, the company is making him parrot a well-tailored speech, labelling him as “the man who just fell in love with the wrong woman”.

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But that’s not all. Vought, just like any other real-life corporation, has the incredible skill of making anything into a commodity. You have got the vibrantly colourful Queen Maeve’s Inclusive Kingdom in the VoughtLand, profiteering off Queen Maeve’s queer sexuality. Then you have the cliched climax scene of Dawn of The Seven, showing the esteemed heroes fighting the “Nazi bitch”, capitalising on the public hate against Stormfront (Aya Cash). All of this just goes on to show: Anything can be a source of revenue or a tool to manipulate socio-political change.

No doubt, it's a scathing jab at Marvel and the growing dominance of Disney, Marvel’s parent company. Considering the number of Marvel superhero movies coming out, the theme parks opening up and the merchandises that are selling under that brand, Disney has unfathomable power at the moment. It has already strong-armed theatres into pushing noted auteur filmmaker’s movies out of the race (Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley screenings were restricted to make more space for Spiderman: No Way Home). It’s only a matter of time before it owns and dictates everything in the entertainment sector.

However, simultaneously, the jabs in The Boys also feels ironic. It is a capitalist superhero satire sponsored by Amazon, one of the largest corporations on the planet. Capitalism will play both sides if it is profitable, isn’t it?

Regardless of the above facts, these nuanced ideas lend The Boys an enduring depth, opening up discourses on fascism and the stronghold of capitalism in today’s time. On top of these dense themes, The Boys retain the elements of a compelling TV drama as well, providing its fair share of twists & turns.  Not to forget, it also does an exemplary job at the characterisation for its each and every character.

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This is further enhanced by strong acting performances by each cast member. Anthony Starr deftly balances between expressing Homelander’s performative niceness and his underlying simmering anger, that threatens to blow in every interaction. His stone cold-dead gaze is enough to instill uneasiness. On the side of the vigilantes, Karl Urban presents an equally skilled performance as the now-restrained, struggling yet still foul-mouthed Billy Butcher.

The series is wildly chaotic and while it navigates a lot of storylines and themes, it can feel a bit tedious. But hey, it’s a weekly release schedule. One episode each week will help ease the overwhelming influence.

You will enjoy the blood-soaked wickedness it has to offer.

The Boys is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

New episode every Friday.

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