‘The Boys’ Season 4, Episodes 1-3 Explained: Key Moments and Highlights

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 13, 2024 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
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The Boy Season 4 Promo Image as part of an Episodes 1-3 Recap
The Boys Season 4 (Credit - Prime Video)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

Plenty is riding on Season 4 of The Boys because it arrived when Prime Video announced the fifth would be last. The first three episodes test the waters, bedding in what’s to come, with a new Seven needing to be formed, a dying Butcher figuring out what to do next, and Homelander being…Homelander. I’ve broken down the key points below of Episodes 1-3 of Season 4 into a digestible recap.

Note: Recap updated on 15th June 2024 to reflect a possible lobotomy by Sister Sage in episode 3.

Episode 1 – “Department of Dirty Tricks”

Election Night Is A Fail For The Boys

It wouldn’t be an opening episode without something dramatic. It’s Election Night, and Victoria Neuman, who is running for Vice President, is in high spirits. The Boys have infiltrated the hotel where the conference is, but it never looked like a good operation. Plus, Butcher is struggling with terminal cancer brought on by Temp V.

Noticeably, Homelander, who shows up much to Neuman’s distaste, feels insecure about grey hair. But he has even more important matters to attend to — when Butcher speaks to Ryan, Homelander intervenes; he knows Butcher is dying and toys with him.

But the coolest part of Election Night is Victoria’s daughter, Zoe, who shows her Supe powers and effortlessly kills a few CIA agents, much to the surprise of The Boys.

Hughie and Butcher try to kill Victoria Neuman, but it’s pretty pathetic. It’s a failure, and Hughie is too emotionally involved with the politician. All this is happening because the CIA is worried about Supe getting close to being president. The political angle in The Boys continues, and I’m all for it.

Homelander Wants A Challenging New “Seven” Member

With only three remaining in the Seven (which, of course, does not add up), Vought (basically Homelander, at this point) needs to recruit new members. Homelander wants someone who can challenge him and proves his point by asking Deep to give A-Train a blowjob, and evidently, he is going to do it, much to the dismay of A-Train.

And so, Homelander visits Sister Sage, the smartest woman (or, as she says, “person” to be politically correct) in the world. Homelander feels humans are meaningless and malleable, and he wants something pure. Sage, who sees the future Homelander wants, suggests he becomes like Ceaser and “save the people,” whatever the bloody hell that means. And so Homelander, predictably, recruits the smartest person to put her theories into practice. Nothing can go wrong here, surely?

Sister Sage’s Plan — Heighten Division Between Starlighters and Hometeamers

I feel like we’ve been here before with Stormfront, with Homelander trying to find ways to control the narrative, but this time without a self-confessed Nazi, but with an actual genius. Sister Sage plans a riot outside of a courthouse between Starlighters and Hometeamers, basically progressives versus patriots. Before the riot, Homelander asks his Seven members to kill a few Hometeamers, one of them being Todd, much to the horror of Mother Milk.

Once the verdict is announced that Homelander is “not guilty” of the charges against him arising from Season 2, Sister Sage incites a disturbance, and the riot begins. Once the riot cools down, the Seven drop off the three dead Hometeamers, making it look like the Starlighters did it. It’s pretty clever by Sage, but I’m not entirely sure the world’s smartest person needed to think of that.

Butcher and Victoria Neuman Try To Work Together

Well, this is an unlikely duo that I’m glad did not work out. As much as I don’t want him to die, I also don’t want him to give up all his morals by the end of the series. In the middle of the night, Butcher and Victoria make a deal — Butcher wants help to get Ryan away from Homelander, and Victoria wants harmful press material that Hughie has of her in return.

However, Butcher is losing it a little in Episode 1 — he hallucinates his wife, who tells him to find a better way to save Ryan because if he becomes like Homelander, it will be the end of the world, a sentiment that can only be agreed with. So, Butcher sends Victoria Neuman a picture of an asshole instead to annoy her, rather than just confirming he doesn’t want to work with her anymore. Hilarious.

But, more interestingly, Butcher mentions the virus we became aware of in Gev V—he knows Neuman knows about it, tying the series together.

Vought Files #1

Here are some more interesting tidbits from Episode 1 of Season 4:

  • Hughie learns his father is in hospital and has had a stroke. Hughie’s mother turns up at the hospital.
  • Ryan tells Homelander that he does not want Butcher to die because his mother loved him.
  • Deep wants to leave the Seven, and Octopus tries to convince him to escape.

Episode 2 – “Life Among the Septics”

Ryan in The Boys

Ryan’s story could go either way in The Boys Season 4 (Credit – Prime Video)

The obvious talking point in Episode 2 is the guest star Will Ferrell, who plays A-Train’s coach in a Vought movie. Predictably, A-Train is not happy with the role at all. But “Life Among the Septics” goes from lighthearted back to dark pretty quickly in a compelling middle chapter in the first three episodes.

Hughie’s Mother Is Bringing Back Childhood Trauma

Hughie is unhappy that his mother is back in his life due to his father’s medical condition. Can you blame him? It’s even worse when he finds out his mother, who abandoned him at six years old, has power of attorney over his father, which includes a DNR (do not resuscitate) request. Hughie soon learns that his mother and father have recently reconnected, making an unlikely and uncomfortable reunion. Families, eh?

By the end of Episode 2, Hughie is an emotional wreck, telling his mother that she was never there for them. He insists he wants medical decisions over his father, or he’ll take her to court. It seems reactive, but this has just been landed on him.

Making Ryan into “Homeboy”

The prophecy that Ryan will turn into the next Homelander has never felt so true in Episode 2. Vought is planning on branding Ryan as “Homeboy” despite the lack of enthusiasm. Sister Sage has bigger plans and wants to give him a “Chosen One” narrative, where he saves someone as part of a bank robbery—a Vought-led, planned crime.

But the bank robbery is fucked up, to be honest. Ryan is thrown into a pretend crime where he has to save an innocent young girl, but he’s thrown off when Homelander gets involved. Why did Homelander get involved? Was it jealousy of his son? His feelings are not clear, but the day gets worse when Ryan pushes the fake criminal but ends up killing him.

Whatever Homelander is planning for Ryan is not working. There’s too much overthinking and sabotaging—he does not know how to treat Ryan like a young boy. It’s made worse when Homelander tells Ryan not to be upset by killing a human because, in his words, they are essentially toys. This man’s audacity has no limits. Even I was getting angry.

The Boys Investigate Sister Sage at TruthCon

It’s mostly intuition, but The Boys suspect that Sister Sage is behind recent strategies at Vought, so they head to TruthCon to keep an eye on her. Conspiracist and YouTuber Firecracker is there too.

Sister Sage has a vested interest in Firecracker. She tells her she works for Homelander and is tasked with finding purpose. She tells Firecracker to meet her at 9 p.m. in the Deep Blue Sea Room.

Eventually, The Boys’ meddling backfires: Mother’s Milk, Kimiko, and Frenchie are surrounded by Sister Sage, Firecracker, and Splinter (who can multiply himself many times over).

The fight ends up at a Bar Mitzvah. Luckily, Butcher is there to help with the fight, despite Mother Milk’s insistence that he’s no longer part of The Boys due to all the lies (earlier in the episode, Butcher finally reveals that he’s dying, and MM calls him a liability).

A-Train’s Olive Branch Inspires Annie’s Return As Starlight

If one thing is for certain in season 4 of The Boys, it is that A-Train is feeling strange about his allegiance to Vought and Homelander, and it looks like The Boys can sense his head can be turned. Annie and Hughie spy on him as he talks to his extended family members, who quickly abandon him when they learn he lied about his recent “saves.”

A-Train is not dumb; he knows he is being followed, and because they did not expose him while he was with his family, he shares CCTV footage that proves that the two accused Starlighters did not kill the Hometeamers from episode 1. The CCTV is a strong alibi. Annie is not wholly grateful for this olive branch, but it persuades her afterward to transform back into Starlight and lead by example.

And this makes sense. Annie pretending she is not a Supe does not work. She has the powers. She can fight as Annie and as a Supe. You also get the sense that A-Train is on borrowed time. He’s under pressure to show whose side he’s fighting for.

Butcher’s Plea For Help

I’m genuinely sad for Butcher. Before he was dying of a terminal illness, he could hang onto the “Nine Lives” he had that was keeping him alive. But now that he’s dying, there’s an air of desperation about him as he vows to put his house in order before he goes. He asks Mother’s Mother for help to get Ryan safe before he dies, but, cruelly, MM tells him it is too late.

Vought Files #2

Here are some more interesting tidbits from Episode 2 of Season 4:

  • Deep sticks up for himself to Ashley and scares her.
  • Kimiki believes that Frenchie is holding back with Colin because of her and tells him to go for it. He assures her it is not about her; he just feels guilty because Colin does not know he killed his family.
  • Kimiko is struggling with her past and gets drunk at the TruthCon when she sees a poster about Child Trafficking. She attacks a person, but luckily, Frenchie stops it from getting worse for her.

Episode 3 – “We’ll Keep The Red Flag Flying Here”

(L-R) Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Robert Kessler and Karl Urban as Butcher in The Boys (Credit – Prime Video)

Homelander will always be a character to nail down, and sometimes, I do wonder, apart from his Supe powers, what other strengths he has apart from scaring those around him. At the start of episode 3, “We’ll Keep The Red Flag Flying Here,” Homelander delivers a speech at a Vought event condemning Starlighters for their progressive policies. He also officially introduces Sister Sage and Firecracker as the new members of Seven. But he never seems happy with anything.

Hughie Reconciles With His Mother

The first three episodes have focused on Hughie and his mother, and I’d argue that it hasn’t been that emotionally impactful because there have been too many more important matters. After Hughie realizes he would have a legal battle if he wanted power of attorney over his father’s health, he takes a different outlook after a troubling day in the world of Supes.

By the end of the third episode, Hughie sees his mother exhausted at the hospital and decides to give her a chance to explain herself. She apologizes about his childhood and describes how she was depressed, which is why she left. This is a good turning point for their relationship as at least they can focus on the father, who is struggling with his health.

Kimiko’s Revenge Spree At Shining Light

One of the main themes of The Boys is using revenge to overcome trauma, and I’m surprised the characters have not figured out that it does not work. Kimiko tells Frenchie that there is a Shining Light Cell nearby (this cell trafficks children), so she wants to confront her past and kill whoever is inside it. The mission does not go so well, mainly because Frenchie is high as he’s struggling to overcome his guilt of killing Colin’s family.

However, perhaps the most compelling moment of this mission is when Kimiko bumps into an acquaintance in the past that she does not want to kill, raising questions as to who this person is.

A-Train Alliance with The Boys

It feels predictable that eventually, A-Train would ally with The Boys. He has too much guilt and a need for purpose within him. He needs an exit. Mother’s Milk was the final meeting he needed to switch sides and become an informant. A-Train fears Sister Sage the most, but the biggest question coming from this episode is: will A-Train buckle under pressure if Homelander sniffs him out? That’s always a fear.

The Real Reason Firecracker Hates Starlight

Starlight has been confused by Firecracker’s attitude towards her since the beginning. Why is the Supe/YouTuber so enraged by the idea of her? Well, Starlight finally gets her answer. Firecracker explains that they were once in a beauty pageant together when they were thirteen, and she was called “Sparkle.” Starlight spread a rumor that she had a gangbang with the judges and shamed her. This was, of course, not true, but it left a mark on Firecracker, and she was deeply hurt.

Starlight apologizes, but it’s strange to hold a grudge over someone years later, especially when it comes to the fate of the world and politics.

Vought on Ice

There are always strange concepts, and this is the strangest one. You may have seen Dancing on Ice, and this series brings Vought on Ice. Of course, The Boys have infiltrated the arena in the form of Hughie and Mother’s Milk, and they are trying to plant a bomb. Victoria Neuman, Homelander, and Sister Sage show up.

Sister Sage tells Starlight that they can sort out her US Presidency by removing Singer. In return, they would want the Supes to have free reign without government regulations: they’d also want her to reveal that she’s a Supe herself. Homelander gives Victoria an emotional angle, telling her not to be ashamed of being a Supe because her daughter is one too. Hughie spies on this conversation from the vents, but Homelander feels a sweat droplet land on him, and he immediately sniffs out Hughie, trying to kill him. Luckily, A-Train saves Hughie and puts him in a safe place, unbeknown to Homelander.

Butcher Finally Gets Quality Time With Ryan

Butcher has always been about revenge, but now he’s dying, he’s softened, and he wants to leave the world in a better place. After enticing Ryan via an online video game, he finally gets quality time with the boy. Ryan can sense Butcher is scared of dying, and he’s not wrong. Butcher confesses that he’s leaving the world behind with nothing from it, even letting down his wife. He has a sense of zero legacy.

Butcher treats Ryan like a young boy who is navigating the world, something that is missing from Homelander’s parentage.

However, it turns out that Butcher was planning to kidnap Ryan by drugging him with cookies, but he changed his mind at the last minute. CIA agent Robert Kessler is furious that he did not proceed with the plan, reminding him that it will be bad if Ryan becomes another Homelander.

Seeing a more human side to Butcher with each passing episode makes his character development worthwhile.

Homelander Needs To Go Home

At the end of episode 3, Ryan returns to Vought, and Homelander knows he has been with Butcher and shows his anger. He doesn’t understand how he feels he’s given Ryan everything, but it’s not good enough for him. As the viewer, it’s obvious that Homelander has zero idea how to show genuine affection and care for a child.

After this encounter, Homelander hallucinates and sees his other personalities talking to him in the mirror. They tell him to be stronger and give Ryan the love he needs so he does not become weak. They tell Homelander to go home so he can get the answers he needs.

That concludes episodes 1-3. You could easily do a character study on Homelander. He’s absolutely fascinating.

Vought Files #3

Here are some more interesting tidbits from Episode 3 of Season 4:

  • Frenchie feels guilty over killing Colin’s family (understandably), and it is impacting their relationship. 
  • Bob Singer wants to ban Supes from all Government establishments – Victoria Neuman clearly does not agree but stays quiet. 
  • Homelander makes Sister Sage the CEO and demotes Ashley to the mascot.
  • At the end of the episode, Sister Sage seduces Deep and hooks up with him, but the episode does not make it clear why. However, there was a brain probe nearby, suggesting that she gave herself a lobotomy so she is not longer the smartest person of the planet.

Readers, what did you think of The Boys Season 4, Episodes 1-3? Was this a step up from previous seasons? Join the discussion below.

READ MORE: The Boys Season 4, Episode 4 Explained

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