Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for The Boys season 3 finale
The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke teases that season 4 will be "about sons" after the season 3 finale's Ryan twist. Following the devastating season 1 reveal that Homelander assaulted Billy Butcher’s wife, Becca, before she (allegedly) died in childbirth, Ryan is introduced as an innocent child who enjoys making stop-motion videos. In The Boys' season 2 finale, Becca is caught in the crossfire of Ryan’s heat vision as he attempts to save his mother from Homelander’s girlfriend, Stormfront. With her final breath, Becca makes Butcher promise he’ll look after Ryan, which means keeping him away from his psychopath father and making sure he knows her death wasn’t his fault.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Unfortunately, Butcher does the exact opposite in season 3. While pushing Ryan away is Butcher’s way of protecting him, it inevitably leads Ryan right back into the arms of his star-spangled father. In stark contrast with season 2’s finale, The Boys season 3's confrontation with Soldier Boy ends with Ryan choosing to leave with his biological father over his prospective father figure. Season 3 concludes with Homelander introducing Ryan to the rest of the world. When a protester hits Ryan with a can, Homelander instinctively uses his heat vision to murder the man in front of his fanatic supporters. Although they hesitate, Todd and the rest of Homelander’s fans cheer as a smile creeps across Ryan’s face.
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In an interview with Collider, Kripke talked about what The Boys’ season 3 finale means for Homelander, Ryan, and Butcher. Given that Ryan’s sense of morality is on the line, the stakes could not be higher heading into season 4. The showrunner teased that season would lean into the season 3 finale's twist, and move from being about "fathers" to being about "sons." Read what Kripke at to say below:
"... moving forward, Ryan is a really important part of it. Both Butcher and Homelander have very good reasons to fight over Ryan because the stakes could not be higher. If Ryan goes Homelander's way and then there are two Homelanders in the world, then that's a nightmare for the planet. If Butcher can get Ryan into the light, then that's probably actually the best weapon they have against Homelander. It's always been a show about family, and so much of Season 3 was about fathers, so I think it makes sense that Season 4 is about sons."
In previous interviews, Kripke and The Boys cast have discussed how season 3 explores the cycle of toxic masculinity, which plays into its dive into fatherhood. As Kripke explains, in addition to Butcher, Hughie, and Soldier Boy’s relationships with their fathers, the reveal that Soldier Boy is Homelander’s father plays right into the latter’s insecurities and desire to be loved. Like his father before him, Soldier Boy ultimately views his son to be “a disappointment,” which makes Homelander’s acceptance of Ryan (irrespective of what he breaks) all the more uncomfortable. Throw MM’s struggle into the mix alongside Homelander and Butcher's rivalry, and The Boys season 3 is a commentary on navigating fatherhood. However, Kripke's comments indiciate that Ryan's twist represents the next stage of this family-based exploration.
The Boys has been praised for its social and political commentary, as well as weaving heartfelt stories into an otherwise bizarre and comedic show. By using the superhero genre as a catalyst, the Prime Video series evokes the proverb “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As its characters experiment with Compound V-24, Butcher talks about how the drug and its power bring out the worst in people. Ryan has inherited that power and, if he embraces Homelander’s influence, he may come to value that power above everything else. If Kripke’s comments are any indication, who Ryan gets to play catch with will very much be up to him in The Boys season 4.