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The Boys (Season 3)

The cynical superhero show continues its strong and unpredictable run

The Boys has jumped onto the superhero trend bandwagon, and yet has been able to steer itself clear from falling into the same-old narrative structures and tropes. Taking a more realistic and frankly cynical look at what the world of today would be like if superheroes were real, The Boys is able to tackle larger social issues with the backdrop of superhero entertainment. The first season dealt with the commercialization of everything and the rising #MeToo movement, the second with the normalization of far-right views, and the third with the increasing polarization in society.

The Boys Season 3 has our anti-superhero group led by Butcher (Karl Urban), awaken a supposedly dead superhero named Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), heavily modeled after Captain America, to take down the superman-like Homelander (Antony Starr) who is becoming increasingly unhinged with his limitless power.

The Boys seemed to hit a bit of a dead end in terms of character motivation at the end of season 2, but creator Eric Kirpke, as always, is able to continue his fast paced and unfiltered narrative momentum. One of the strengths from The Boys has always been its lack of fluff, or lingering around a plot point. It never wants to extend a good idea or character to long, simply munching on it and moving on to the next one. This makes The Boys one of the more unpredictable series currently airing, as any major character death or battle could easily occur in the third episode or in its season finale. This high pace might make the season a bit un-bingeable because of its intensity, but a week-to-week watch has proved to be enthralling.

The Boys has also learned to take further pauses and dig deeper into the character beats that had been standouts in previous seasons. We focus less on the typical romance between Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Starlight (Eric Moriarty) and hinge towards the far more original and intriguing storylines of Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) dealing with the balance of family and avenging past trauma as well as Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and the evolution of his relationship with Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). Urban as Butcher continues to make a one-note character a far more complex and interesting figure than the script gave credit to (some flashback scenes this season indicate a greater appreciation for Ubran’s efforts), while Starr is stupendous as Homelander in a role that could have been played as an unhinged villain, but into whom Starr seeks to explore greater male insecurities at play.

The Boys Season 3 is focused on the polarization in society. We see this intelligently played out not only in the rifts of superheroes splitting into two opposing teams, but in smaller moments such as family arguments in a suburban parking lot as well. The Boys is able to find the correct balance of satirizing some of these issues, which allows it to stay neutral on all points while highlighting the real danger and schism that is occurring within our societies. Small moments are given as equal weight as the big ones, and big action scenes (fabulously choreographed and filmed) and heart-to-heart conversations are placed on the same narrative level.

The Boys Season 3 continues an astounding run of strong and consistent episodes, both poking fun at the superhero-mania of today as well as utilizing it to comment on other issues. It continues to be a narratively daring and unpredictable show that keeps viewers on their toes. In the world of television, that is increasingly playing it safe with its rising budget costs, The Boys’ daring continues to be a breath of fresh air.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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