There’s No Coming Back for Homelander After This ‘Boys’ Season 4 Moment

Homelander (Antony Starr), smirking and bloodied, in an elevator in The Boys Season 4

The Boys is pulling no punches in Season 4, forcing its wide cast of characters to come to terms with their past while also considering their future. Nowhere is this made more apparent than with Homelander (Antony Starr). He’s juggling a lot; planning a superpowered coup with the smartest woman alive, Sister Sage (Susan Heyward) and attempting to shape his son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) in his own malevolent image. But Homelander is also faced with a dilemma he can’t laser-eye his way out of: the inevitability of old age. Not only does this once again mirror the plight his arch nemesis Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) is going through, but it also forces Homelander to try and “burn out” what little humanity remains within him. Season 4’s latest episode, “Wisdom For The Ages,” goes to horrifying lengths to show how Homelander is willing to shed his humanity.

Homelander Delivers Grisly Retribution Upon the Scientists That Experimented on Him

“Wisdom of the Ages” takes Homelander back to where he grew up — the Vought testing labs. At first, it seems like a casual visit. He makes jokes, he talks with two of the scientists, Marty (Murray Furrow) and Frank (Mark Cowling), and he even brings a Carvel ice cream cake. But as the visit goes on, Homelander grows progressively more cruel while reflecting upon his past. He asks Frank to play a game of “wastepaper basketball” while recalling how Frank played the same game when locking a young Homelander in an oven to test his durability, and he confronts Marty over the embarrassing nickname of “Squirt,” which was born of a cruel joke when Marty caught a young Homelander with his pants down.

Eventually, Homelander delivers a pair of horrific punishments to the two, as he locks Frank in the oven and lasers Marty through the groin. It only gets worse, as Homelander confronts the head scientist Barbara (Nancy Lenehan) and winds up locking her in the “Bad Room” where they’d test his powers — surrounded by the other scientists’ corpses. In a season that includes a self-replicating Supe making his own “human centipede” and Sage giving herself a frontal lobotomy with the help of The Deep (Chace Crawford), this is one of the more gruesome moments.

“Wisdom for the Ages” Could Have Shown an Even Crueler Side to Homelander

Believe it or not, “Wisdom For The Ages” could have been even bloodier according to The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke. Kripke said that the initial sequence was conceived with Homelander mentally and physically torturing the scientists from the jump, but that Starr convinced him to take a different approach:

“The original draft had Homelander coming down there and being just cruel top to bottom…It was very much like he was coming down there to torture those people and basically pull the wings off flies. Ant called me and he said, ‘That feels wrong to me. This is like my home. I think there would be moments where I would be very childlike and sometimes confused. I could be cruel, but then I could feel bad about being cruel and I could just be this mess where you never know how I’m going to react next.'”

Starr had the right idea. By having Homelander start off on a friendly note and then descend into outright cruelty, it makes his actions land that much harder and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, as they and the scientists don’t know what’s going to happen. It helps that Starr delivers one of the best performances as Homelander throughout this episode. He’s simultaneously angry, hurt, vicious, and darkly sarcastic, reflecting the complex feelings that Homelander has about his childhood and his humanity. It’s work that is definitely worthy of an Emmy.

‘The Boys’ Season 4 Is Slowly Chipping Away Homelander’s Humanity – and Ryan Might Be Next

Homelander screaming in The Boys Season 4, Episode 4

Storefront talking to Ryan in their home as Homelander and Becca look on in a scene from The Boys.

Ryan Butcher (Cameron Crovetti) and Homelander (Antony Starr) hand-in-hand in The Boys Season 4

“Wisdom For The Ages” continues Homelander’s downward spiral, which kicked off all the way in Season 2. He falls for Stormfront (Aya Cash), who turns out to be a literal Nazi, and her wounding at Ryan’s hands — along with her eventual suicide — pushes him over the brink. Throughout Season 3, Homelander starts embracing the idea that his powers make him better than others. This line of thinking eventually bleeds over into Gen Vas the Season 1 finale has Godolkin University being overrun by “Supe supremacists”; Homelander attacks Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair) and pins the uprising on her even though she tries to stop it. He’s also systematically taking out anyone who stood in his way, getting Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) fired and using Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) for political power.

Homelander is also trying to sway Ryan over to his side of thinking, encouraging him to think of humans as little more than obstacles. It’s gotten to the point where Ryan accidentally killed a man and Homelander can’t understand the psychological toll this might take. With Butcher also trying to save Ryan before he shuffles off the mortal coil, The Boys has become a fight for Ryan’s soul. Given that Homelander is repeatedly showing that there are no lines he’s not willing to cross, continuing their crusade against him could turn extremely ugly — even for The Boys’ standards.

New episodes of The Boys are available to stream Thursdays on Prime Video in the U.S.

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