‘The Boys’ S4 Episode 4 Recap & Spoilers: Did Homelander Kill Barbara?

After having a well-paced, decent start with the three-episode premiere of the fourth season, Amazon Studios’ The Boys intensifies the mystery quotient through individual character arcs in the fourth episode. While the central plot revolves around the Boys trying to bring down Vought by putting an end to Homelander and Neuman for good, the abundance of subplots is probably going to start causing problems with the narrative structure eventually. 

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Previously, Hughie’s dad slipped into a coma after suffering a stroke, which brought his long-estranged wife, Daphne, into the picture, and after some initial disagreements, Hughie eventually reconciled with his mother. Aside from suffering from the aftereffects of Temp V abuse, Butcher is occasionally seeing visions of his late wife Rebecca, which seem to be a projection of his conscience. Speaking of conscience, A-Train has a change of heart as he saves Hughie’s life, and Mother’s Milk decides to use him to get intel on the Seven. Homelander recruits Sister Sage into the Seven, who helps him manipulate public opinion in his favor, and she brings in Firecracker, an anti-Starlight propagandist who is revealed to have a history with the former member of the Seven. Homelander and Butcher are still entangled in the same emotional conundrum regarding Ryan, and fed up with Ryan’s infatuation with Butcher, Homelander lashes out and undergoes a psychotic break, which prompts him to take a look back at his past. In the fourth episode of the season, titled “Wisdom of the Ages,” the Boys suffer a series of setbacks while Homelander’s sordid upbringing comes to light in the most troublesome way possible.

Spoilers Ahead

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Vought Uses Firecracker To Defame Starlight

Annie meets President Elect Robert Singer to extend her group’s full support in boosting his PR to get his newly introduced anti-superhero legislation bill passed in Congress. The bill will effectively put a muzzle on Vought’s mouth for the time being by keeping them out of administration sectors completely, and in the long run, put an end to Vought’s machinations.  Singer’s continued assistance would have proved instrumental if not for Sister Sage’s planning. 

Sage arranges a prolonged libelous anti-Starlight street show spearheaded by Firecracker, broadcasts it on TV, and, using the social media team of Vought, launches a smear campaign against her. Billy is able to find some dirt on Firecracker as he discovers her despicable past – engaging in inappropriate behaviors with an underage boy and tries to blackmail her with the evidence to stop her propagandist show. However, Firecracker manages to turn the narrative in her favor by confessing her act in public and easily gaining acceptance—this is the most clever, dark reference to the Mary Kay Letourneau case and the masses’ reaction to it. 

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Hughie Makes a Desperate Decision to Save His Father

Hughie learns that his father’s condition is gradually worsening by the day, and with no chance of recovery, the humane thing to do would be to put him out of misery by terminating his life support. Hughie isn’t willing to accept such a decision, even though his mother, Daphne, advises him to, and he decides to make a foolhardy move by injecting Compound V to save his father’s life. Hughie takes Kimiko to meet A-Train at a rendezvous point (much to her dismay as she didn’t know about Hughie’s plan) and tries to coerce the speedster to get him a vial of Compound V vial, the entire stock of which has been stashed in Homelander’s apartment. A-Train initially refuses to put his neck on the line, but Hughie reminds him that his callous actions caused death to someone close to Hughie (his former girlfriend Robin) and changed his life for the worse, which is why, in a sense, A-Train owes it to Hughie to save someone close to him as well. 

After A-Train agrees to help and leaves, Hughie and Kimiko are attacked by the Shining Light terrorist group, and Hughie ends up getting injured. Kimiko battles her way to kill most of the attackers and once again gets confronted by the girl from her past, whom she might have brought into this dreadful life in the first place. Confronting her sordid past, a remorseful Kimiko leaves with Hughie. On the other hand, A-Train gets a vial of Compound V from Homelander’s apartment but gets caught in the act by Ashley. With both of them trespassing in Homelander’s apartment, they choose to keep their secret hidden. 

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Starlight Loses Singer’s Support After a Very Public Meltdown

Meanwhile, Hughie had managed to sneakily take the keys to Firecracker’s vanity van and sent Frenchie to find something useful to use against her. Frenchie gets attacked by Ezekiel, and Butcher interferes. Firecracker delivers a low blow to Annie in the form of publicly revealing her abortion report, questioning her integrity as a believer in anti-life ideology. This takes Starlight over the edge, and she falls right into Sage’s trap by publically attacking and beating Firecracker to a pulp. Her actions result in public outcry, and Singer’s association with her is seen in a negative light, resulting in the presidential candidate withdrawing any support for Annie and her group. Starlight regrets her action, but by then it has been too late. On the other hand, a remorseful Frenchie confesses his crime to his boyfriend Colin, whose family members were killed by Frenchie back when he worked with Russian mob boss Nina. An infuriated and distraught Colin tries to kill Frenchie, but restrains himself at the last moment and distances himself from her. 


Gnarly Powers: Butcher Has Both Compound V and Temp V In His Body

On the other hand, while battling with Ezekiel, Butcher gets nearly strangled to death and faints while seeing a vision of Becca. Later, he wakes up to find Ezekiel dismembered and pulverized in the most gruesome way, but he fails to remember how something like this happened. It seems his Temp V overdose afflictions have been lessened after the incident as well. Later, he catches Hughie red-handed while getting the compound V vial from A-Train and advises him not to use it on his father as it will make matters worse. Butcher confesses that he himself had taken Compound V four months ago, and it did nothing to cure him. However, the fact that Butcher has both Temp V and Compound V in his system might explain him seeing random visions of Becca and exactly how he was able to kill Ezekiel in the most gruesome manner. On the other hand, we also learn that Sage’s brain is in constantly growing mode, and to stop it from imploding, she needs to lobotomize her frontal lobe to scrape out parts of her brain, which explains the use of the bloody tool in the previous episode. Hughie, on the other hand, decides at the very last moment to not use compound V on his father and let him pass away in peace. However, he gets the shock of his lifetime when his father is shown to have been injected with Compound V by Daphne anyway, and he wakes up from his coma in a troubled state of mind.


Is Homelander Finally Free From His Past?

Meanwhile, Homelander goes to the secretive underground Vought facility where he was raised, experimented with, and tortured since birth. Remembering each of the incidents of humiliation, Homelander torments Marty and Frank, two employees of the facility, to death—until Barbara, director of the facility, arrives. Along with Dr. Jonah Vogelbaum and Stan Edgar, she had overseen Homelander’s journey from birth to coming of age. Having a dysfunctional upbringing is what led to Homelander’s broken psyche later on, but Barbara reveals that the truth is much harsher than that. She remarks that Homelander’s emotional tribulations and need for validation stemmed from this very place, as top psychologists were consulted to plant the insecurity, hankering for love and appreciation deep inside Homelander’s mind, as the ultimate failsafe against someone as powerful as him. This didn’t just allow Vought to control him for a long time; it also made him aware that no matter how unhinged and uncontrollable he becomes, he will always end up in square one. 

Shocked and devastated after hearing this, Homelander exacts his revenge by putting Barbara inside the same isolation chamber where he had spent the majority of his childhood and painting the chamber red by brutally murdering the rest of the members of the facility. As the episode ends, a blood-drenched Homelander, mirroring his appearance from the finale of the second season, looks more menacing and psychotic than ever. We do not know whether he was able to root out his one weakness—the existing humanity—out of his mind, after all—but the familiar deranged, vacant gaze easily conveys that Homelander has probably once again turned into his worst self. 

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As the episode has showcased, Butcher’s afflictions are more complicated and diabolical than we initially thought, which might create trouble for the Boys in the long run as well. Hughie’s father has gained superpowers, which can change the story arc. Hughie moves forward from this point, but Daphne’s motivation for injecting her husband with Compound V remains unknown. Starlight needs a miracle to regain public support, and it will be interesting to see how the team tackles the new two supes from the Seven. Hopefully, in the upcoming episodes, viewers get to see Joe Kessler return as well, and he better not be Butcher’s figment of imagination. 


Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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