The Boys is back in town, The Boys is back in town! Or at least on Amazon Prime Video, which it’s almost worth getting just for this idiosyncratic series on what life would really be like for modern-day superheroes cum satirical take on America.
In fact, in light of one particular set piece about 10 minutes into the first episode of the new, third series – which for sheer sideswiping audacity I do not think will ever be bettered – it is definitely worth acquiring the means to view it. I still can’t believe what I saw – and I am very much enjoying the feeling. But more on that later.
The end of the second season left us with Butcher’s wife, Becca, accidentally dead at the hands (or rather, laser eyes) of her son Ryan and Stormfront crippled in the same attack. The Vought corporation was in cahoots with the Church of the Collective (The Boys’ determinedly unsubtle poke at Scientology), while a lot – and I mean a lot – of popped heads somewhat derailed the congressional hearing into Vought’s possible misdeeds. Homelander was covered in gore, thwarted by Butcher and Maeve, deprived of his Nazi girlfriend/world takeover – and was bloody furious about it. The mainstream release of Compound V was on hold and Hughie happily trotted off to work for congresswoman Victoria Neuman, unaware that she is the headpopper-in-chief.
The Boys is, honestly, such a tonic.
At the beginning of season three, Homelander is still furious and only growing more so as he embarks on a press campaign designed to rehabilitate him after his whole pro-fascism stint with Stormfront. And that’s before the Deep (Chace Crawford, still revelatory after six seasons of Gossip Girl in which he was comfortably outacted by furniture) starts coming up on the inside with his well-received autobiography and film about escaping the church. “They’re calling me the next Leah Remini!” And certainly before Vought’s CEO Stan (Giancarlo Esposito – I wonder what it’s like to be an actor like him, never a breakout star but always, always someone viewers are so pleased to see when he turns up?) makes increasingly popular Starlight his co-captain of the Seven.
Vought’s new venture is creating Temp V – a modified version of the compound that can give anyone superhero powers for 24 hours. Anyone planning an invasion, for example, could buy enough doses from Vought to give their army overwhelming advantage, with nothing of the narcissism and corruption that – he now realises – habitually comes with making someone permanently special and worshipped by millions. With Temp V, nothing can go wrong. Excellent.
The Boys themselves are backing up Hughie’s work at the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, tracking down rogue supes, though he is to discover by the end of the episode that Neuman is not all – or is rather not more than – she seems. Butcher is also keen to track down the Payback group, a former superhero team who may hold the key to destroying Homelander.
The Boys is being released in weekly instalments, like the old days, so it’s hard to say more without spoiling the fun. And it is such fun. Astute, slick, satirical fun, with enough brashness and spectacle to make it a great bang for your buck.
As for that set piece? Well, I don’t quite know what to tell you. It involves Termite, a potential supe who can shrink to a few inches high, an orifice and – I suspect – a roomful of writers egging each other on and who now cannot believe they got away with it. Don’t watch it if you don’t like body horror or have sweet, innocent memories of watching Fantastic Voyage or Innerspace with your beloved family. The rest of you – enjoy.