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The Boys Season 3 Has Critics Picking Their Jaws Up Off The Floor

With review embargoes lifted this morning, critical responses to "The Boys" Season 3 are piling up, and they are almost unanimously positive. Already, the season has high marks on Rotten Tomatoes, which is nothing short of miraculous when one considers how far the show is willing to go in service of shocking its viewers. 

"The Boys" Season 3 finds the titular group led by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) mounting their most aggressive assault yet against Vought International and its depraved Supes, counting among their ranks the homicidal Homelander (Antony Starr) and sexual predator and fish enthusiast The Deep (Chace Crawford). This season, the super-powered characters will also be joined by "Supernatural" veteran Jensen Ackles as the old-school misogynist Soldier Boy.

It's a show that most certainly isn't for everyone, but nonetheless, the series seems to have enraptured the class of people whose job it is to consume and reflect on media. Sites that award star or number ratings have, so far, issued nearly perfect scores for this season: a perfect 5 out of 5 from Den of Geek, a 9.5 out of 10 from SlashFilm, an 8 out of 10 from IGN, and a 4 out of 5 from Comic Book Movie.

That consensus may be a result of the show's commitment to skewering the pop culture landscape of our current day. Critics across the board, many of whom are likely growing tired of the Marvel and DC hype cycles, hold up the show's lampooning of superhero mania as its crowning achievement. Moreover, they rave at the show's well-oiled storytelling, which manages to find pathos and emotional resonance amid television's most brutal superhero show.

However, reviews for Season 3 also indicate a number of other things that have caught the attention of critics.

Critics praise The Boys Season 3's biting social satire

"The Boys" continues to be the perfect skewering of the superhero era, according to reviews. Matt Donato of IGN draws attention to Season 3's parodies of the "Snyder Cut," digital streaming services, Disneyland attractions, and other trappings of the modern superhero media ecosystem. As the Boys fight against the seemingly omnipotent Vought International, a conglomerate best described as a mashup of Disney, Comcast, and Raytheon, Liz Shannon Miller at Yahoo! Entertainment comments, "["The Boys" Season 3] captures how futile the struggle to do and be good can feel sometimes, when the systems in place seem like they can never be fixed for the better." 

Meanwhile, Maggie Lovitt at Collider reflects on how Vought, much like megacorporations in the real world, leverages its control of the zeitgeist to obfuscate the bigotry and other social ills it inflicts on society. Calling it "the perfect antidote to superhero fatigue," Jennifer Bisset of CNET writes that the latest season of "The Boys" takes aim at everything from 2020's protests for racial justice to celebrity tell-all memoirs. It even tackles the attempted insurrection by Trump supporters at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, with Collider delightedly noting the recreation of the infamous "Qanon Shaman" who prominently appeared in footage of the deadly attack.

Den of Geek's Alec Bojalad sums things up, writing, "The Boys season 3 really is a masterpiece of satire. More important than that, however, is that it's also just a good story, told well."

Gut-churning spectacle mixes with character-oriented storytelling on The Boys

"The first few scenes of this season should leave even the most jaded TV viewers' jaws on the floor," promises Den of Geek, summing up similar sentiments by multiple other reviewers. Indeed, the critical consensus around this latest season of "The Boys" seems to be that everything the show did well in Seasons 1 and 2 is dialed up to eleven this time around, and that includes over-the-top violence, as well as the notorious "Herogasm" storyline which may outshine the shocking Love Sausage scene from Season 2 as the show's most gratuitous moment.

Or, perhaps, it isn't so gratuitous. Perhaps shocking the audience with its imagery serves the purpose of putting an exclamation point on the show's larger themes. As Danielle Ryan at Looper's sister site, SlashFilm, put it, "Few things have ever made me gasp in shock quite like this season of television, but every shock served some kind of purpose." Ryan also points out that despite the gore and guts, there's an emotionally resonant story pumping through Season 3 of "The Boys." "You could watch the season multiple times, focusing only on one character's arc, and you'd probably find something new each time. The season is dense and rich, but it's also mostly a joy to watch."

Jensen Ackles' Soldier Boy is the season's standout performance

According to Den of Geek, "Soldier Boy is the foundation upon which this satirical world is built and just like everything else, that foundation is rotten to the core." Indeed, Jensen Ackles' role as the recently revived, World War II-era Supe has critics buzzing across the board, with many calling it the standout performance of the season. Like many other superpowered folks on the show, notably Homelander and Stormfront (Aya Cash), Soldier Boy is a vulgarian with deeply rooted racist and sexist beliefs, yet reviewers rave about Ackles' ability to imbue charisma in the role. Liz Shannon Miller for Yahoo! Entertainment writes of Ackles, "You'll be surprised and impressed by the relish he brings to the twisted Captain America homage."

Soldier Boy arrives on the show with allies from his past as a member of the Payback team, a squad of Supes who predate The Seven. IGN notes the appearances of Sean Patrick Flanery as Gunpowder and Laurie Holden as Crimson Countess, writing, "Both deliver but leave the door wide open for Ackles to assume his rightful place as Season 3's standout."

The first three episodes of "The Boys" Season 3 debut exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on June 3.