There’s a sequence of gore, guts and depravity in the opening moments of Season 3 that only makes one thing clear: the boys are back and as uncompromising as ever.
Something that makes this Amazon Prime TV series so compelling is the way it tackles real-world problems. Season 2, for example, focused on the rise of neo-Nazism and the far right in the US. But even without Stormfront, these themes naturally progress in Season 3. One subject that is particularly astutely treated is systemic anti-Blackness, but in true The Boys fashion, they don’t stop displaying overt acts of racism and anti-Blackness.
They also show the effects of subtle microaggressions and, as always, display a painful self-awareness by mocking the way capitalism has turned anti-racism into a branding opportunity. From characters saying the right words without taking any action, to mentions of Instagram’s “black square” and even satire the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, Kripke isn’t shy about calling for performative allies and showing how ridiculous — and later damaging — it can be.
Featuring eerily flashy parodies of controversial figures like Tucker Carlson, the right-wing press’s appropriation of terms like “wake” and “cancel culture” is an ongoing theme throughout Season 3 as well, as we continue to objectively see horrific people like Homelander weaponizing those terms , because they know how to win the favor of certain sections of the population.
Given all its blood and gore, it’s not hard to say that The Boys strives to make you feel awkward, but it does so in its quieter moments too: it holds up a mirror to society with its intricate portrayal of politics – and if it makes you uncomfortable? Good.
The Boys’ talented ensemble cast is one of its greatest strengths, but one problem that comes with such a bloated cast is that if you want to give a character time and development, it comes at the expense of other losers.
For example, although Queen Maeve has a pretty important role to play this season, you can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by her performances. But it’s not for lack of talent – Dominique McElligott is fantastic.
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But McElligott is so good that it makes you want to know so much more about Maeve and her past, what her life with Homelander was like before the events of The Boys.
IIt would be great to delve deeper into her past and I’m disappointed that season 3 (so far) hasn’t been the time to do so, but I have no doubt that this will come in later seasons as was the case with Nathan Mitchell. whose intricate and nuanced portrayal of Black Noir was one of the highlights of the season.
It was also reassuring to see that other female and black characters such as Neuman, Starlight and A-Train were treated with appropriate depth this season after concerns were raised about the one-dimensional nature of these characters in previous seasons given their development at the was marginalized in favor of the white male performers. But what’s special about The Boys is that they really listen when criticism is made. The same is not true for many shows.
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Another highlight was Anthony Starr as Homelander, whose ability to make his character utterly loathed when he plummets to new lows you thought weren’t even possible is a testament to how skilled an actor he really is .
While the first two seasons offered glimpses of humanity and empathy, all redeeming qualities have been completely eroded in this season: but at the same time, Homelander is far from a one-dimensional villain, and his descent into madness and regret like a revamped Macbeth doesn’t fail on the place.
As he dabbles in the world of what he vows to hate, Karl Urban takes his skills to new heights this season, not only delivering awesome, super-powered butcher swag, but also showing new levels of vulnerability and conflict . especially when it comes to his role as Ryan’s manager and his relationship with Hughie: who fans will be delighted to play a more central role this season.
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But one partnership that undoubtedly steals the show is Frenchie and Kimiko, with Tomer Kapon and Karen Fukuhara doing an excellent job of bridging the year-long gap between seasons 2 and 3 by showing the development of their respective characters and their relationship .
Kimiko comes into its own, with the producers helping to give her a voice through the creative use of SFX, dance scenes, and other standout moments. Speaking of creativity, the action and combat sequences have definitely improved that way, especially this season, with Homelander dildos being a more formidable weapon than you might think.
And then there’s Soldier Boy. After playing Dean Winchester for so long, I was concerned that we would just see another copy of the character on screen. But thankfully, from the glimpses of Soldier Boy we’ve gotten in the first five episodes, it’s clear that we’re seeing Jensen Ackles doing something new.
While Soldier Boy is multi-faceted and traumatized to some extent, it’s also clear that he’s the blueprint for The Seven and the super-industrial complex as a whole: starring him and his super-crew Payback, the overpowered, overconfident, and gigantic pricks are.
Ultimately, at least from the first five episodes, I think season 3 of The Boys definitely outperforms season 2 – and depending on how the final episodes go, it may well outperform season 1.
The first three episodes of The Boys season three will be released on Amazon Prime Video on June 3, 2022.
https://www.thedigitalfix.com/the-boys/season-3-review The Boys season 3 review — blurred morals, crystal-clear commentary