The Boys Season 4 Can’t Outdo Season 3’s Shocking Opening Scene – But Shouldn’t Try To

While The Boys season 4 will likely feature some seriously gross moments, the comic adaptation shouldn’t front load these the way the show did in season 3’s infamous opening scene. The Boys has always been a gross show. An adaptation of Garth Ennis’s comic book series of the same name, The Boys satirizes superhero tropes with a healthy helping of disgusting humor. The goriest deaths in the series are usually played for dark laughs, whether it is Kimiko beating multiple men to death with dildos or Homelander blowing a civilian’s head to shreds in public before a baying crowd. However, this isn’t always a good thing.

One thing that makes The Boys better than its comic inspiration is the fact that the series is not as gratuitous as its source material. The Boys tended to go too far from time to time in its original comic incarnation, and some of the comic’s grossest shocks wouldn’t have translated to television. Anyone who has read the deeply upsetting scene where Butcher (the ostensible hero of the series) beats a super-powered baby to death will know that The Boys comic sometimes leaned into shock value for its own sake. To its credit, The Boys television show indulges this creative impulse less often. However, it is still an issue for the show.

The Boys Season 3’s Opening Set The Bar Too High For Graphic Scenes

The Boys season 3 opened with a deeply upsetting gag about Termite, a superhero who can shrink down to microscopic size, sneezing while inside another person’s urethra. This led to him immediately involuntarily expanding back to human size, thus tearing apart his sex partner in the process. Usually, The Boys comics are worse than the show when it comes to this sort of stomach-flipping body horror gags. However, in this instance, the sequence still set a high bar for gross-out shock value. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Now, The Boys season 4 will struggle to match this scene, let alone outdo the image’s impact.

While relatively quick, Termite’s accidental killing is still extremely cringe-worthy. It is a gory moment on par with Glenn’s death in The Walking Dead or The Mountain Vs The Viper sequence from Game of Thrones, and will likely go down in infamy as a similarly shocking moment in television history. However, the fact that season 3 featured this as its opening scene left The Boys with nowhere to go later in the outing. While The Boys season 3, episode 6, “Herogasm.” was a fun outing, the episode was nowhere near as shocking as viewers anticipated. The season wouldn’t have felt so tame if the opening scene of The Boys season 3 hadn’t set such a high bar.

The Boys Season 4 Shouldn’t Try To Match S3’s Horrifying Opening

While The Boys’ “evil Superman” Homelander could instantly one-up Termite’s gruesome misdeed in season 4’s opening scene, this is not the approach the adaptation should take. It is easy for viewers to become inured to shocking violence and this can lead to showrunners and writers constantly trying to up the ante. This doomed attempt at beating last season’s viral shock can result in scenes that feel more tasteless and tactless than necessary, as evidenced when Game of Thrones mishandled Sansa’s rape one season after the Viper’s demise. While The Boys generally handles triggering content better than earlier television shows, the adaptation isn’t immune to this risk.
The Boys Season 4 Must Start Slow (Before It Gets Gross Again)

The best way for The Boys season 4 to shock audiences would be for the show to start slower this time and hold off on gory shocks until at least the end of the premiere. This would effectively lull viewers into a false sense of security, leaving them feeling like season 4 may simply be less intense than its predecessor. The Boys has previously thrived on including scenes that audiences would never expect or think would be allowed on screen while remaining engaging. Thus, by holding off a little at the start, The Boys can restore that balance.
As things stand, viewers will enter The Boys season 4 expecting the grossest, most disgusting visuals possible. As a result, even the most appalling imagery won’t have much impact on viewers expecting more gore, more shocking images, and more boundary-pushing content. Paradoxically, extreme gross-out moments will likely put new viewers off the show, meaning The Boys season 4 could alienate potential audience members while failing to shock longtime fans. As such, the best thing for The Boys season 4 to do is to start slowly before shocking viewers all over again with more gross delights once their defenses are down.

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