The Boys Season 4 premiere recap: Old dogs, new tricks

The Boys returns for another season of absolute madness, and this time it’s election-themed.
The Boys season 4 on Prime Video
The Boys season 4 on Prime Video /

It’s been a good long while since we last saw The Boys on Prime Video. Season 3 wrapped up on July 8, 2022. And now, nearly two years later, the show is back with the first three episodes of season 4, kicking it off with the season premiere, “Department of Dirty Tricks.”

Given the gap, it’s good that the show kicks off with an absolutely bonkers recap of last season to remind you what you missed, from this show and from the spinoff, Gen V. Before we get into our own recap, here’s what you need to know:

At the end of season 3, after a climactic battle with Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) at Vought Tower, Homelander (Antony Starr) was once again in charge of superteam The Seven. Butcher (Karl Urban) was given six months to live thanks to using too much Temp V to give himself superpowers, and Annie (Erin Moriarty) not only learned how to fly but also gave up her costume as Starlight to try and be a real hero.

Meanwhile, secret Supe and full-time head-popper Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) was running for vice president under presidential candidate Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver). Also, Neuman shot up her own daughter Zoe (Olivia Morandin) with Compound V. Oh, and Homelander got custody of his son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), and then lasered the head off a Starlight supporter in broad daylight.

Obviously, a lot more happened, some of which we’ll get into in a moment, but that’s basically what you need to know to get up to speed for season 4. Let’s get into the recap for the episode, followed by some Easter eggs, an absolutely wild cameo, and much more.

The Boys, Season 4, Episode 1 “Department Of Dirty Tricks” recap:

The Boys Season 4
Singer Neuman /

Directed by Phil Sgriccia and written by David Reed, the episode surprisingly completely skips past the election: when we pick up, Neuman and Singer have already essentially won the nomination and are headed to the White House.

Unfortunately for Neuman, Singer knows she’s a Supe, and that she's responsible for a ton of murders. So over the course of the episode, the Boys try to take her out multiple times, at the behest of both Singer, Grace Mallory (Laila Robins) and the CIA. They’re not successful, leading to one of the funniest lines of a very funny episode from Neuman: “How are you guys actually getting worse at your jobs?”

This comes after he Boys, now working for Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), infiltrate the hotel where Neuman is holding her victory rally only to run squarely into Zoe, who has a bad case of tentacle mouth. That’s her Supe power: she has horrific tentacles that emerge from her mouth and make her look like the Predator. She uses these to murder two Secret Service guys who were working with the Boys, and she bites off Kimiko’s (Karen Fukuhara) arm. Don’t worry, Kimiko's fine, she grows a little baby hand and even survives having her face fall off after plummeting several stories to the ground.

Hughie (Jack Quaid) is also unsuccessful. He tries to bond with Neuman — they used to work together, remember? — and she seems sympathetic until he throws acid on her and ruins her jacket. She’s also impervious to bullets which we discover when Butcher shoots her in the head and it doesn’t even mess up her hair.

Speaking of Butcher, he’s not dealing well with the whole “six months to live” thing. He’s on the outs with his team; only Hughie will give him the time of day. He’s vomiting in alleyways and hallucinating his dead wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), who seems to be working as his Jiminy Cricket, trying to focus him on getting Ryan away from Homelander instead of… Whatever else he’s doing.

Over the course of the episode, Butcher is pretty much on his own train. Most excitingly, he bonds with an old friend named Joe Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who encourages Butcher to be his old bad self... They need the merciless Butcher before Supes start rounding people up. We'll see more of Kessler, who is recurring this season, but basically it's like Negan telling another Negan "you're not being Negan enough."

Later, Butcher meets with Neuman at a Vought Video, and makes a deal: help him free Ryan, and he’ll give her all the dirt the Boys have on her. But at the last second though, Ghost Becca convinces Butcher not to do it, and he texts Neuman a picture of his butthole instead. Was it Karl Urban’s actual butthole? Or a stunt butthole? I’ll leave that to you to speculate.

Back to Hughie, he and Annie are going strong, which is great to see and cute as usual. That is until Hughie's dad, Hugh Campbell Sr. (Simon Pegg) has a stroke. Easy gig for Pegg, he gets to lie in a hospital bed for all of his scenes. But it’s extremely rough for Hughie, who ignored several voicemail messages the excited father left his son about extremely terrible James Patterson books he was reading, and now those might be the last words Hughie ever hears from his pops. But then at the hospital, we get a last-second reveal: Hughie’s mom, played by Rosemarie DeWitt.

The Boys Season 4
The Boys Season 4 on Prime Video /

As for Annie, most of her plotline is about how she’s refusing the call, Joseph Campbell style. Everyone wants her to be Starlight; she wants to be Annie. As everyone points out, she’s running the Starlight House; the Annie House sounds like a place that sells raisin cookies. And while she seems to accept her destiny, flying to the rescue of the Starlighters (more on that in a moment), it might be too little, too late.

Let’s talk Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Kimiko: shippers, are you okay? Because Kimiko pretty firmly puts the kibosh on anything romantic between the two of them in this episode and encourages him to instead go after a guy working at the Starlight House named Colin (Elliot Knight). Frenchie and Colin clearly have a past together that we don’t know the full extent of yet, but it is nice to see the show adding another LGBTQ+ relationship (happy Pride month, The Boys fans!) after Maeve (Dominique McElligott) exited at the end of last season. Would it kill the show to have two LGBTQ+ relationships at the same time, though? Just saying, it doesn’t need to be one out, one in. Or whatever the phrase is.

As for Mother’s Milk, how great is it to see him in a leadership role? Alonso eats up the frustrations of having to hold together what is barely a team, and seeing him grapple with his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter AND the Boys — Frenchie can’t resist winding him up — is a ton of fun.

His plotline segues nicely into the main plot of the episode. MM is tasked with tracking down Todd (Matthew Gorman), the Homelander fan from last season who married MM’s wife and is quite possibly the worst person alive. It is stunning that viewers of this show see Todd and the way the series mercilessly makes fun of his devotion to Homelander and still think “Yes, Homelander is great, I love Homelander.” He is the bad guy, folks!

While Homelander is awful, Antony Starr is fantastic in the role. While he sits and waits for the verdict of his murder trial, it turns out Homelander is actually aging. He’s — gross — picking off his gray pubes and storing them in a jar next to a picture of Stormfront (Aya Cash) in her early Nazi days, among other memorabilia. The leader of the Seven is reflecting on his legacy.

Like the surprise jump past the presidential election, what we’re seeing here is not a Homelander without restraints, which seemed like what we were going to get at the end of season 3. Instead, he’s starting to realize on some level that he is as mortal as the humans he keeps referring to as bugs. And the sycophants he surrounds himself with aren't helping him grapple with these problems.

The Boys Season 4
The Supes, The Boys season 4 on Prime Video /

That includes The Deep (Chace Crawford) who doesn’t hesitate when Homelander orders him to blow A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) — don’t worry, it doesn’t happen — as well as Ashley (Colby Minfie), and even the hilariously, unexplained returned-from-the-dead Back Noir (Nathan Mitchell), who also talks now.

So Homelander finds the one person who will talk back to him: Sister Sage (Susan Heyward), the smartest woman — sorry, person — in the world, who tells him the truth. That truth? He needs to stop trying to control people, and instead let the people tear themselves apart. And what follows is a simple plan that completely destabilizes everything.

First, Homelander invites Todd and two other fans to the back of a Planet Vought eatery and then commands A-Train, The Deep, and Black Noir to kill them with baseball bats. Interestingly, A-Train hesitates; but the other two do not. RIP Todd, you sucked.

Second, Sage dresses as a Starlighter, and when the news comes down that Homelander is not guilty of murder, she throws coffee on Homelander fans and calls them fascists, kicking off a riot.

Third, A-Train, clearly not totally morally conflicted, delivers the three dead bodies to the rally, framing the Starlighters for acts of violence, something that gets trumped up (pun intended) on the Vought News Network.

So by the episode’s end, the Boys are completely out of their depth, Neuman is no closer to being killed than before, and Homelander has not only been cleared of murder but has gotten the public on his side, thanks to Sage. Yeah, I’m thinking we’re back.

Easter eggs, cameos, and references:

The Boys Season 4
The Boys Season 4 on Prime Video /
  • The big, wild cameo in this episode is Tilda Swinton as the voice of Ambrosius, the octopus The Deep is, if not in love with, definitely having sex with. Ambrosius loves The Deep implicitly, and though the Supe said he got rid of her, she’s instead living in his closet. Metaphor, much?
  • Not sure if this counts as an Easter egg, but the first shot of Homelander in the episode is underscored by the “Dawn of the Seven” music, which is fun, leading to a reveal that he’s peeing and picking out his pubes.
  • Homelander tells Neuman “Girls get it done in the White House,” a reference to the awful female-focused tagline Vought came up with in season 2.
  • We also get references to the events of Gen V, including Ashley thanking Homelander for saving her at Godolkin University, and the Supe-killing virus Neuman is currently in possession of.

In case you couldn’t freeze frame fast enough, here are the 25 choices the selection committee is considering for inclusion on The Seven: Talon, Europa, Hyperion, The Standard, Lady Arkville, Dogknott, Malchemical, Big Game, Tek Knight, Sister Sage, The Devine, Incineron, Dr. Peculiar, Shout Out, Stacker, Airburst, Luckless, Jetstream, Pit Stop, Black Helmet, Holy Mary, Lord Horus, Wrangler, Pinwheel, Groundhawk, Invisi-Lass, and Jimmy the One.

Talon is out of Redlands and has retractable steel nail plates, lock picking skills, acrobatic abilities, and is ⅙ Navajo. She’s also an influencer with over 23 million followers, and appeared in: Tek Knight: Heat of the Knight; Claws of Justice (Pilot, not ordered to series); Talon: Night Huntress (Pilot, not ordered to series); C.L.A.W.S. (Pilot, not ordered to series); and Claw Force (Pilot, not ordered to series).

Hyperion is out of Las Vegas and was first runner-up for Seexiest Supe Alive, after Homelander. She was a runner-up on Vought’s Next Top Supermodel, Season 15; appeared in Dirty Diaries: Reno and Dirty Diaries: Mazatlan; Street Heat; and 2 Hot 2 Handle. Her special skills include Super Intuition, Divine Femininity, and Fireproof Hair.

Dogknott is from Portland, and can summon feral canines to his aid. He appeared on Animal Husbandry for Fun and Profit, Voughtland Animal Stunt Show, Doggie’s Home, Doggie’s Home 2: Old Dog, New Tricks, and Poundtown with Dogknott. His special skills include Canine Telepath, Cancer Detection, Super Hearing, Night Vision, and Hates Fireworks.

Sister Sage is from Detroit, and appeared in Teenage Kit: Home for Kwanzaa. The rest we find out later in the episode!

Wrangler is from San Antonio. He’s a 3-Gun United States Champion who starred in Border Wall: Last Line of Defense, Wrangler: The Angel on our Border, Migrant Mayhem!, Immigration Invasion!, and Caravan of Chaos. His special skills include Fast Draw, Quick Scope, Hip Fire, and Slide Cancel.

  • During Butcher’s meeting with Neuman at Vought Video, we see a stand-up for Polarity: Static Heat 3, with the tagline “He’s got a magnetic attraction… To action.” Polarity is played by Sean Patrick Thomas on Gen V, and we get to see a younger version of him in the standee.
  • There’s also a poster of what looks like Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) in a movie appropriately titled Soldier Boy.
  • Hughie, of course, has a Billy Joel tag hanging on his CIA encryption key. Dude loves Billy Joel!
  • Shout-out to the arm-stretching preacher Ezekiel on a chyron in the Cameron Coleman Show, re: Homelander’s trial, which reads “I pray the jury ends this miscarriage of justice.”
  • The Vought Pharmaceuticals ad explaining you can get sterilized and have sex with old ladies, I guess, encourages you to call 1-800-182-1285, or go to The latter redirects to the Sony Pictures Television site. I have not called the phone number, because I’m scared.

Does Homelander drink milk?

Sure does! He has a big glass of celebration milk with Ryan after his Not Guilty verdict, though Ryan isn’t quite as enthused about the cow juice as Homelander.

Does Hughie get covered in blood?

Surprisingly, no? But several other people do, most notably A-Train.

Love Sausage Award for most gross-out moment of the episode:

I want to give this to Butcher’s butthole, but I think the moment where Kimiko’s face falls off and everyone screams — even though we only get to see it from their perspective — is the part where I cringed the most visibly.

Burning questions:

What’s the red door Homelander is picturing? During a scene where Homelander is dreaming, we see a lot of scenes we’ve, er, seen before. In the mix is a red door, and a screaming, blonde-haired teen. Seems like we should be paying attention to this.

What’s Frenchie’s deal with Colin’s family? After sleeping together, Frenchie takes a long look at a picture of Colin’s family. Is Frenchie actually in love with Colin (or in like), or is he investigating him?

What’s the weird worm in Butcher’s head? Homelander said he saw a black mass curled around Butcher’s brain. Did the Temp V do something other than give him cancer? Because: yikes.

Was that a picture of Karl Urban’s butthole? Seriously, the people want to know.

The Boys streams Thursdays on Prime Video.

The Boys season 4 reviews

Next. The Boys Season 4, Episode 2 recap: The Truthcon is out there. The Boys Season 4, Episode 2 recap: The Truthcon is out there. dark

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