Hughie going through a tunnel on The Boys.
Image via Prime Video

The Boys Season 4 Review: More Social & Political Commentary Wrapped in Sadistic Gore and Vulgarity

The Boys is not for the faint of heart, the sensitive, the politically correct, nor the easily grossed out. The show is also not for one far side of the political spectrum, either. That is, if you pick up on the obvious parallels with real-world politics and the corporate world.

The fourth season of the satirical superhero series premieres with its first three episodes on Thursday, June 13, 2024, followed by a new episode each week thereafter through July 18, 2024. I watched the entire season of the popular Amazon Prime Video series in advance. The verdict? You’re in for a wild ride with plenty of shock, awe, and the usual wince-worthy scenes for which fans have become accustomed. Here’s a spoiler-free review.

The Boys Season 3 Catch-up

Victoria Neuman and Robert Singer on stage celebrating their candidacy runs on The Boys.
Image via Prime Video

The story in season 4 picks up after the events of season 3 as well as those in the inaugural season of spin-off series Gen V. (I’d recommend watching the first season of Gen V before diving into The Boys season 4 to follow along with the thematic timeline).

At the end of The Boys season 3, Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) announced her intention to run as vice president alongside Robert Singer (Jim Beaver). The group known as The Boys (including an unrecognizably slimmed down, beardless Laz Alonso as Mother’s Milk) are continuing their work without Billy Butcher (Karl Urban): his constant lies have gotten him fired from the group. Butcher, however, is desperate to do something meaningful with his life knowing he only has about six months to live, the result of taking Temp V24 too many times.

Homelander walking with Ryan from The Boys
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Meanwhile, Homelander (Antony Starr) is grooming his young son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) to be his mini-me, much to everyone’s (including, at times, Ryan’s) chagrin. The leader of The Seven has big plans to remain in power, and his unhinged, narcissistic behaviour continues, his mindset deteriorating further into rage-fueled tyranny by the minute.

The Boys Season 4 Review

The Boys has been praised for its clever social commentary and approach to art imitating life, with stories that heavily embellish (though sometimes not so heavily) real-life events and stances within the political sphere. But they’re delivered with a dose of satire and humor to mask the seriousness of the subject matter.

While the show is deeply intelligent, witty, and sardonic, these qualities are often lost in its excruciating gore, raunchy humor, and downright disgusting scenes (not all of which involve blood and guts, by the way). Expect more of what you have come to love of the show for season 4, and that’s a good thing. But it’s a lot more, with scenes and moments that push the envelope further, even for a show like this one that’s already known for taking massive narrative and visual risks.

Billy Butcher, Frenchie, and MM from The Boys at Truthcon.
Image via Prime Video

The Boys hasn’t lost its luster nor its thirst for ridiculous, inappropriate scenes that are sometimes even uncomfortable to watch (yes, even more so than Chace Crawford’s The Deep being forced to eat his friend Timothy the octopus). The gratuitous violence will entertain if you have a thick skin and a warped sense of humor. If you don’t, you might want to look elsewhere.

There’s a pay-off, however, if you can stomach the over-the-top storylines, with this season featuring even more obvious tie-ins to events pulled straight from the headlines. Get through that vulgar layer of fat to the meaty centre of the real plot inside. Tear your way through bodies, limbs, intestines, and bodily fluids and you’ll get there, and feel fully satisfied by the end.

The new season continues to beautifully toe the line between irreverent humor, serious political and social commentary, and repulsive, nauseating scenes. Some of the repugnant storylines might have you revolted by what you see. But if you can look beyond the gratuitous violence, you’ll appreciate the genius, witty writing of the show. If you fell into the latter group with the first three seasons, you’ll feel the same with season 4.

Hughie going through a tunnel on The Boys.
Image via Prime Video

However, brace yourself. Through the season, particularly in the back half, there are scenes that will horrify. This is not only because of the usual violence and gore, but for the reasons behind why they’re happening as well (and the fact that they’re happening at all). As Homelander becomes increasingly paranoid of his position, more insecure, and desperate for power, his journey as a disturbingly unhinged man becomes more terrifying than ever. He has more power than he should possess and no one has the means to take it away from him.

The Boys season 4 has twists and turns you will see coming and ones you won’t. The addition of Ryan as a main character adds a new layer of complexity to the story. Ryan might be half-Supe but he struggles with fitting in with dad and corporate Supe culture while wanting to honor mom and what, deep down, he knows she would have wanted. He’s a young boy being pulled in so many directions, fighting for his own identity. His story plays a crucial role in plans for both sides.

Meanwhile, the urgency of Butcher’s condition creates an enhanced energy to his already frantic and fearless attitude and intensifies the race-against-the-clock feel the storyline. As he deals with his personal issues, some existing characters take the lead in new ways while exciting new Supe characters gain significant influence, in dangerous ways that don’t necessarily even involve physical powers.

Sister Sage and Firecracker on The Boys
Image via Prime Video

The stories in The Boys season 4 are absurd takes on all-too-familiar subjects. It’s about good versus evil, perspective, manipulation, and spin. Taking jabs at everything from fake news and media manipulation to corporate greed, alt-right narratives, ridiculous conspiracy theories, and the divisiveness of citizens, there’s a lot to take in if you can look beyond the nudity, graphic violence, and downright weird scenes.

By the end, you’ll be left wanting more. Eight episodes isn’t nearly enough to tell the whole story for this season, leaving fans with what feels like an unfinished plotline with massive, jaw-dropping reveals. Thankfully, you’ll get more…eventually. Prior to the season four premiere, The Boys was renewed for a fifth season, which means there’s much more story to tell. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another two years to learn what happens next.

Should You Watch The Boys?

Homelander leading a roundtable at Vought headquarteres on The Boys
Image via Prime Video

If you haven’t yet watched The Boys, I can’t recommend it without a few disclaimers. Those who are easily offended by graphic violence and gore, explicit, sexual scenes (the show plays heavily with fetishism, for example), and off centre humor shouldn’t watch. Anyone who tends to smirk at such humor and doesn’t mind wincing and looking away if necessary, go for it.

The Boys has found a clever way to deliver a politically charged message in a format that you’d never expect. The superheroes in the series are anything but. They possess the powers to help civilians but rarely ever use them for that purpose. The goal is to further economic goals, political influence, military superiority, and to protect fragile egos.

MM standing in the office with the rest of The Boys.
Image via Prime Video

The Boys season 4 will leave you feeling nauseated but also desperate to learn what happens next. You’ll be analyzing every scene, character, and storyline to compare it to real-world events and people. The show serves plenty of truth bombs. Whether you like The Boys or not is just a matter of how you view them.  

Stream The Boys on Amazon Prime Video.