The Boys are back. And it is as raunchy, violent, over the top and full of commentary as it was in the previous two seasons. It’s something to say, as the show always pushed every boundary and never pulled its punches, but season three hits the ground running from the first episode and only stops to breathe a little bit by the end of its third season.
It’s been a year of calm. Homelander’s subdued. Butcher (Karl Urban) works for the government, supervised by Hughie (Jack Quaid) of all people. But both men itch to turn this peace and quiet into blood and bone. So when The Boys learn of a mysterious Anti-Supe weapon, it sends them crashing into the Seven, starting a war and chasing the legend of the first Superhero: Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles).
One thing that is evident with this season is that this show doesn’t care who it offends. It has something to say about today’s world, and it uses the platform it was given to create commentary like nothing else out there. It takes moments in time and recreates them to fit their world so that the audience shakes their head in disbelief as you watch it unfold. The Boys is like nothing before and what makes it so unique makes it also so easy to fall in love with and forgive the obvious flaws that the show can have.
The show found an interesting footing in its second season by having one new superhero of importance arrive and drive most of the story. The second season saw Stormfront (Aya Cash) take that form, and the show uses much of the same, but this time with Soldier Boy to take her place.
That doesn’t mean that the other stories are ignored. The show always finds a way to balance the many storylines that it deals with and this season uses a lot of the same tactics it used during its celebrated second season. Funnelling a lot of its story through Soldier Boy makes it that by the end of the season, much of the conflict is around him and brings everyone together. It’s a tactic that can work well at times, but at others has the problem of sidelining characters.
While the show continues to improve in many ways, it also starts to lose some focus during the season and spreads itself too thin. No one suffers from that more than Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott). The show never fully understood what to do with Maeve and used her to be the opposite of Starlight (Erin Moriarty). Except, this season, it is clear that the show has no idea how to handle Maeve. She is mainly sidelined, never having a storyline of her own and relegated to a recurring role more than a starting one. It’s a shame because Maeve is intriguing, and after the second season, it seemed like maybe the show had finally figured out what to do with her. Except, it hasn’t.
But while Maeve might suffer storywise, Starlight finally hits her full potential. Taking her place as the one going head to head with Homelander (Antony Starr) and finally started to delve into the character like the show had wanted for a while but hadn’t done. If everyone gets their moment, Erin Moriarty gets a lot to do, and she takes full advantage. She truly shines opposite of Antony Starr, who continues to be the standout in every scene Homelander appears in.
With the way the second season ended, the show was headed in a particular direction only to take another turn and instead focus on the origins of Vaught and the Supes. It’s something that I don’t know fits with how the second season ended and how it had set up what seemed to be their next villain, but it is a choice that works sometimes, and others just seem to be all over the place. The show wants to do too much at times, and while the writing and acting continue to be incredible, the show can’t be everything, even if it wants to.
The Boys might not have matched the second season – which was near perfection – but it has its voice and ideas. It knows what it wants to tell and how to tell it, and even when it might not always hit the ball out of the park, it is at least trying to do something different, something particular, and for that, the show will always be better than most.