The Spool / Reviews
The Boys Season 4 isn’t bulletproof but it gets damn close
Prime Video’s satirical superhero series continues to deliver sick gags and trenchant societal analysis.
NetworkPrime Video
SimilarAlias, Arrow, B: The Beginning, Bad and Crazy, Bad Guys: Vile City, Batfink, Batman, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Birds of Prey, Black Butler, Black Scorpion, Brave Beats, Captain Midnight, Captain Star, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Constantine: City of Demons, Dead Boy Detectives, Doom Patrol, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Eternal Faith, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Fantastic Man, Flash Gordon Freedom Fighters: The Ray, GARO, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, GoGo Sentai Boukenger, Golden Bat, Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Happiness Charge Precure!, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, HUGtto! Precure, I'm a Virgo, Inazuman, Japanese Spiderman, Justice League Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Black Sun, Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix, Kamen Rider Outsiders, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, Kinnikuman Perfect Origin Arc, Legacies, Longing Heart, Loonatics Unleashed, Madan Senki Ryukendo, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Mobile Cop Jiban, Mortal Kombat: Conquest, My Hero, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, Panji The Millennium Man, Power Rangers, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Samurai Jack, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Silver Surfer, Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Sentinels, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Static Shock, Super Force, Supernatural, Swamp Thing, Sweet Tooth, Tales from the Crypt, Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Avengers: United They Stand, The Batman, The Boondocks, The Eight: The Next Generation, The Fantastic Four, The Flash, The Incredible Hulk, The Kingdoms of Ruin, The Venture Bros., Tira, Titans, Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger, Ultraman, Ultraman 80, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Regulos, Ultraman Tiga, Ultraseven, Voltes V: Legacy, X-Men: Evolution,
StarringJack Quaid,
StudioAmazon Studios Original Film, Point Grey Pictures, Sony Pictures Television Studios
9.2
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If you’ve watched any previous season, you should have a good idea of what The Boys Season 4 offers. More to the point, it is almost certainly clear to you if it’s something you enjoy or despise. If you have formed an opinion, that should inform your decision to tune in. Because, five years after its debut, one thing you can absolutely count on is The Boys remains completely, unapologetically, itself.

That isn’t to say there isn’t anything to discuss. In fact, there’s almost too much as the series continues to offer some of the most boldfaced political commentary on streaming. Not bad for a show that also boldly illustrated how that whole “Ant-Man should shrink down and enter Thanos” thing might look if the MCU took the bait.

Following that memory, the gore seems as good a place as any to engage with this new season. There has perhaps never been a show as impressive in its ability to wield its considerable blood and guts touch on a wide range of emotional beats. The Boys Season 4 does not fall off in this department. If anything, it has an even more impressive level of control this time out. One moment, it proves itself intensely capable of pulling out sick laughs as a Vought event rehearsal unravels into an ever-escalating series of mishaps. Imagine it as a sort of a Rube Goldberg machine of carnage. And yet, later, when a confrontation forces a character to kill someone, the camera captures both the arterial spray and the guilt play across the protagonist’s face. Both moments play, and neither feels out of step with the series. It’s quite the magic trick.

The Boys Season 4 (Prime Video)
Erin Moriarty just enough time for a quick drop-in. (Jan Thijs/Prime Video)

If The Boys Season 4 wields its gore like a scalpel, it delivers political commentary like a sledgehammer. It may filter its observations and opinions through a superhero lens, but there are no real metaphors here. To paraphrase Garth Marenghi, The Boys knows other shows that use subtext and finds them all to be cowards. This kind of face-bashing lack of nuance can be off-putting, but show co-creator and runner Eric Kripke so gleefully ladles it on that it comes around to being perfectly in line with The Boys’ maximalism. More impressively, it engages with a deep cynicism about the current world without devolving into nihilism. There’s an earnest—albeit enraged—heart at the series’ center that resists the temptation to deliver snark without hope.

There are, of course, actors involved with the project. They aren’t mere puppets dancing in front of the bigger themes and effects. Several are delivering career-best performances. For instance, has Chace Crawford ever done anything that touches his turn as The Deep? The evolution Karen Fukuhara has taken Kimiko through throughout the show’s run is impressive, especially given how much she colors in the character with brief moments in the background or in minor subplots. Antony Starr, never bad, has his best season as Homelander yet.

The Boys Season 4 (Prime Video)
Susan Heyward and Valorie Curry seem sure to be fast friends, don’t they? (Jasper Savage/Prime Video)

Even those who aren’t necessarily doing career or series best work—Karl Urban as the increasingly desperate and self-hating Butcher—deliver work other actors would kill to have on their reel. Despite being a well-stacked show already, it does right by the newcomers. Susan Heyward—so scary funny in Hello Tomorrow!gives Sister Sage, World’s Smartest Person, enough nuance that it becomes hard to tell who she isn’t playing, including herself. New right-wing darling super Firecracker (Valorie Curry) is so uncomfortable and close to reality that it makes one’s skin crawl.

The show’s missteps tend to be more about how long to let something go than just bad ideas. For example, Annie January (Erin Moriarty)—formerly Starlight—is set a bit adrift throughout Season 4. Moriarty still delivers strong work. Her interactions with Curry, in particular, stand out. Still, to show the audience Annie doesn’t know who she is anymore, the scripting too often leaves her stranded. There have to be more dynamic ways to demonstrate her identity loss than walking around at the edge of tears. Ultimately, they pull off a satisfying conclusion, but there’s too much of “lost Annie” to get there. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character is similarly revealed to be something more than he appears, but, again, it takes a few beats too long.

Those minor criticisms aside, though, The Boys Season 4 delivers. In many ways, The Empire Strikes Back installment of the series, it mixes comedy, tension, and the humanization of some undeniable monsters with a deft hand. As something of a Season 1 skeptic, the show has continued to build and improve on that eye-grabbing but somewhat shaky first step. There are no better (worse?) fiends I’d rather spend eight episodes watching.

The Boys Season 4 punches Prime Video right in the kidneys starting June 13.

The Boys Season 4 Trailer:

NetworkPrime Video
SimilarAlias, Arrow, B: The Beginning, Bad and Crazy, Bad Guys: Vile City, Batfink, Batman, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Birds of Prey, Black Butler, Black Scorpion, Brave Beats, Captain Midnight, Captain Star, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Constantine: City of Demons, Dead Boy Detectives, Doom Patrol, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Eternal Faith, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Fantastic Man, Flash Gordon Freedom Fighters: The Ray, GARO, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, GoGo Sentai Boukenger, Golden Bat, Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Happiness Charge Precure!, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, HUGtto! Precure, I'm a Virgo, Inazuman, Japanese Spiderman, Justice League Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Black Sun, Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix, Kamen Rider Outsiders, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, Kinnikuman Perfect Origin Arc, Legacies, Longing Heart, Loonatics Unleashed, Madan Senki Ryukendo, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Mobile Cop Jiban, Mortal Kombat: Conquest, My Hero, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, Panji The Millennium Man, Power Rangers, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Samurai Jack, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Silver Surfer, Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Sentinels, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Static Shock, Super Force, Supernatural, Swamp Thing, Sweet Tooth, Tales from the Crypt, Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Avengers: United They Stand, The Batman, The Boondocks, The Eight: The Next Generation, The Fantastic Four, The Flash, The Incredible Hulk, The Kingdoms of Ruin, The Venture Bros., Tira, Titans, Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger, Ultraman, Ultraman 80, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Regulos, Ultraman Tiga, Ultraseven, Voltes V: Legacy, X-Men: Evolution,
StarringJack Quaid,
StudioAmazon Studios Original Film, Point Grey Pictures, Sony Pictures Television Studios