‘The Boys’ Full Season 4 Review Without Spoilers: Has The Anti-Superhero Prime Video Series Lost Its Edge?

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With each passing day, as we watch new franchises come out of the factory that’s called the mainstream entertainment industry, there’s one phrase penned by Jonathan Nolan that continues to grow in relevance: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” When The Boys started its journey, the superhero subgenre was at its peak, with each spandex-donning movie hitting a billion dollars like it was no big deal. So, seeing a show dedicated to satirizing the ridiculousness of it all was refreshing and exhilarating. Since Eric Kripke’s show commented on the Trump era of politics, it resonated with a lot of people and triggered the MAGA-hat-wearing mob. Now, the show is in its fourth season. The superhero subgenre has witnessed a change. The USA has lived through the Biden presidency. But it seems like The Boys has not only become the very thing it was satirizing, but it has also lost its bite.

Disclaimer: This spoiler-free review of The Boys Season 4 is based on all the episodes of the show that were sent to the press by Prime Video.

Eric Kripke’s The Boys Season 4 takes off from where the last season ended as we see Victoria Neuman, the VP-elect, pushing for an anti-superhero bill. Butcher, who is battling the side effects of the Temp V that he was taking in the previous season, is still leading the titular team so that they can take down both Homelander and Neuman. They are backed by the CIA because Mallory and Singer don’t want a Supe who can blow up anyone’s heads without sparing it a second thought in the White House. Annie is trying to shed her superhero image after publicly talking about the atrocities committed by Homelander and has joined a group of activists called the Starlighters. Frenchie falls in love and that in turn brings up the sins of his past. The same can be said about Kimiko. MM has a hard time dealing with his family and taking care of the team. Hughie has a lot on his plate. Homelander has a criminal case against him for killing a man in broad daylight. He doesn’t have an advisor or someone who can tell him the truth, which is enjoyable but annoying. He is having trouble turning Ryan into a genocidal maniac. And he is still suffering from an identity crisis. So, he inducts Sister Sage into the Seven because she is the smartest person in the world. He also brings in Firecracker to balance the scales, because she is quite possibly the dumbest superhero on the planet. And the rest of the people in Vought Tower get busy dealing with the repercussions of these changes.

The Boys Season 4 seems to be plagued with issues. For starters, its commentary on the superhero subgenre has become stale and probably a bit hypocritical. Yes, the jibes at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s never-ending slate of projects are funny. But can you really do that if you are building a cinematic universe of your own that has an animated anthology series and a spin-off show? Can you mock franchises for doing crossovers and asking viewers to do homework for their main events when you are expecting your fans to do the same to “understand” major subplots? Then there’s the politics, which, as mentioned before, is still stuck in 2021. They are still crying about the rise of White supremacy. Yes, while that threat is real and ever-present, it does seem odd that the show absolutely refuses to address the pitfalls of the last government, even though the repercussions of their actions were felt all around the world. On top of that, the anti-establishment rebels are properly working with the CIA? That’s icky! With the introduction of the Supe-killing virus (it’s not a spoiler because it was introduced in Gen V), it seemed like the writers were going to draw parallels with the COVID pandemic, but they didn’t. Every character has their own arc, and, to be honest, none of them are interesting. And the less I say about the optics of a Black woman being the mastermind of a fascist uprising, the better.

The pacing of The Boys Season 4 is genuinely atrocious. The first three episodes were a chore to get through. Things do pick up after the fourth episode, but even then, it’s intermittently engaging. And that makes me wonder: has the show pushed the envelope too far already, or has it run out of creative ideas? Or have we become too desensitized? Well, maybe the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Of course, Kripke and his team of really talented directors, editors, cinematographers, sound designers, SFX artists, VFX artists, CGI artists, production designers, costume designers, set designers, and stunt performers have conjured some really diabolical stuff in the past. And they have undoubtedly tried to exploit the R-rating as much as they can this season as well. But the reason why it fails to be impactful or scandalous is because it doesn’t stay on the screen for more than a few seconds. I mean, the thing that grossed me out the most was a lobotomy, and that’s because the scene went on for a couple of minutes. The rest just came and went before it could register in my mind. The fight scenes were a huge problem in the past three seasons and in Gen V as well, and that hasn’t been fixed yet. In addition to all that, I think something was off about the title card drops as well. Previously, it hit the sweet spot, but this time, it felt like an afterthought. If I am being honest, it seemed like nobody was enthusiastic about making this season of The Boys. It felt like they were obligated to do it because this is the most profitable franchise Prime Video has.

The cast of The Boys, with the exception of Tomer Capone (don’t read up on his political inclinations if you want to enjoy the show), is pretty solid. I have some issues with Laz Alonso’s inconsistent facial hair, but apart from that, everyone is good. But does being good make one’s performance memorable? See, it’s the same issue that the Marvel actors ran into. They were playing those roles for such a long time that they forgot to challenge themselves. The directors and the writers didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken, so they didn’t give those actors anything that pushed them as artists. And even though they were doing a good job of portraying the roles they were in, it seemed like we were getting more of the same. That’s what’s happening in The Boys Season 4 as well. I had just finished watching the whole show, and I don’t remember a single indelible moment of screen-acting from it. This wasn’t the case until Season 3. What has happened now? I don’t think the actors are at fault here. It’s the writers and the directors who are getting lazy and making them look bad. Since they are heading for an inevitable fifth season, they need to pull up their socks and ensure that their cast is well-utilized.

The first three seasons were great. Everything, from its visuals to its political commentary, was on point. The cracks started to appear in Gen V, which seemed like the most egregious attempt at milking all the goodwill that those three seasons had created. And with Season 4, it seems like the alarm bells have gone off, and the showrunners either have to come up with some fresh ideas or shut shop. Well, as per Eric Kripke, they are going for the latter and calling it a close with Season 5, which makes The Boys Season 4 the most unnecessary eight hours of television. Back in the day, shows used to run for 10–15 seasons, and each of them had around 20–30 episodes in them. Kripke knows that because he has made Supernatural. It’s weird that, nowadays, shows are running out of juice before they can come close to hitting double digits. Is the world becoming so crazy that fiction is falling short, or are writers of fiction losing their edge because of corporate meddling and just a general detachment from ground reality? I’ll let you think about it.


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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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