In “The Boys” Season 1, Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend is killed when the speedster A-Train accidentally runs right through her on the street, leaving Hughie gut-splattered, her severed hands still grasping his. This scene set the tone for the entire series, but in Season 3 the graphic nature of the Prime Video show hits another level.
Season 3 finds Hughie (Jack Quaid) now part of the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs (FBSA) standing on a red carpet next to A-Train (Jesse Usher) for a press opp. Both men caught in the Vought Corporation’s web of manufactured superheroes for profit. We’ve come a long way.
The FBSA is a watchdog group founded by Congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), who works with Vought to keep superhero collateral damage to a minimum and their public record clean after last season’s publicity nightmare outed Vought as creating their superhero team The Seven in a lab with Compund V and exposing Stormfront (Aya Cash), the team leader Homelander’s girlfriend, as an actual Nazi.
Not used to being sidelined, Homelander (Antony Starr) steps fully into the role of “supervillain” this season, threatening a “scorched earth” scenario unless everyone bends to his will. A common enemy makes for new alliances and The Boys, The Seven, and Vought are all out to stop him. But a new, or rather, old supe by the name of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) might be the best chance at bringing Homelander down.
If you’re a fan of the original comic book run “The Boys” by Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson that inspired the show, leave your back issues boxed and boarded because there is very little of the original comic left in this satirical take on superheroes. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
A year after Homelander’s son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) attacked Stormfront and accidentally killed his mom Rebecca (also Butcher’s wife), in the process, Butcher has been taking a more peaceful approach to supe surveillance. It works for a while, until Hughie finds out that Neuman is a mysterious head-popping supe and Butcher investigates an older supe team called Payback in an effort to take on Homeland. Butcher also gets his hands on a few doses of Temp V, a temporary version of Compound V that bestows a random power set on any human who injects it, (the most severe side effects were revealed in the spinoff animated series “The Boys: Diabolical” earlier this year)
This season follows two main arcs, Butcher’s race to locate the Payback team and find the weapon that took them out of commission and Homelander, fueled by a superpowered God complex, who is running headfirst into his villain era.
Weaving in and out of the plot are The Boys members Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Frenchie (Tomer Capon), who take on the Russian mafia from Frenchie’s past, Hughie and his anxiety-riddled relationship with Starlight (Erin Moriarty), and the criminally dense A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) and The Deep (Chace Crawford) who take turns vying for Homelander’s attention in ridiculous ways.
Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) is given more agency as a character this season as we see him struggle to connect with his young daughter while battling chronic OCD. However, MM’s symptoms are uniquely tied to Soldier Boy, who accidentally killed his family during his Payback days.
Unfortunately, Soldier Boy doesn’t actually appear until halfway through the season and is used sparingly. When we do see him, Ackles is brilliant, chewing the scenery as a lewd Winter Soldier version of Captain America. Soldier Boy’s history, rewritten from his comic book origins, proves to be even bigger than his presence this season.
On the other hand, the show spends a considerable amount of time proving that Homelander is a supervillain. In what feels like a response to the real-life Trump supporters’ hype for Homelander during Season 2, the script leans heavily into the character’s narcissistic side, Starr blatantly showing the audience that Homelander couldn’t care less for the flag he wears everyday, or for his ex-girlfriend’s beliefs. “We don’t need a f—ing master race. I am the master race. That’s the whole point!” he exclaims at one point.
Not stopping at Homelander, the series parodies everyone from the Proud Boys to the CIA’s crack epidemic conspiracy of the 1980s. However, like most live-action satire that parodies real-world events, “The Boys” runs the risk of moving past commentary and numbing the audience with violence.
There is plenty of on-brand entertainment this season for those more concerned with exploding heads, star cameos, and superhero sex, as executive producer Eric Kripke and the show’s writers find new and inventive ways to freak us out. (Including one insane scene where Kimiko lays waste to a group of attackers with a series of Seven inspired dildos.)
Ultimately, “The Boys” season 3 is a wild ride that moves away from its comic book origins drastically, but only pushes the larger plot forward incrementally.
“The Boys” Season 3 premieres with the first three episodes on Prime Video starting on June 3, followed by new episodes released weekly.