Published date07 June 2022
Publication titleSignal
JUST one episode into the third season of The Boys, the diabolically black-hearted superhero satire based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, and it’s completely clear — the show is the undisputed Exploding People champion of television. Back for another round of corporate malevolence, unhinged villainy, and fighting fire with fire, The Boys has lost none of its apparent willingness to pull the sort of moves that can only really be described as Going There, as in you the audience member saying “I can’t believe they went there!”

For those unfamiliar with the basic premise of the show, it’s set in a world that very much resembles our own, right down to the name-dropping of our actual celebrities and a healthy appreciation for the unthreatening rock of Billy Joel. But there’s a twist; actual superheroes exist, and are kept in a stranglehold as a hugely profitable company asset by mega-corporation Vought, in much the same way as, uh, mega-corporations maintain a stranglehold on hugely profitable fictional superheroes in our own world.

Where our world’s superhero characters are mostly a noble, upstanding lot though, The Boys offers perhaps more of a depressingly realistic version, prone to all of our actual human failings and deprivations, and with the raging egos that would come with the powers of a god. They’re busily engaged in all the half-buried sex-and-violence celebrity scandals of our own world — but superpowered.

Sick of “the supes” getting away with this stuff all the time, a group led by angry former special agent Butcher (Kiwi Karl Urban, still enjoying the opportunity to growl every line in a broad Cockney accent) — the titular Boys — decide to hold them and their corporate masters to account. Violently.

Season 3 gets under way in a time of relative stability, with the Boys’ earnest dweeb Hughie co-heading a new Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs that has taken their previously vigilante mission of making superheroes pay for their crimes into the realm of respectability. Butcher has gone legit for this new operation, but, still bearing a grudge the size of a medium-sized South American nation towards anything and everything superpowered, clearly chaffs at having to do things by the book. When a surveillance operation of another dubious superhero who takes the concept of invading personal space to a whole new level (an ‘‘I can’t believe they went there!’’ moment if ever there was one) goes wrong, it’s clear...

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