The Boys Season 4, Episode 6 Review – “Dirty Business”

This review contains full spoilers for The Boys Season 4, Episode 6, “Dirty Business”

Only on a show like The Boys could make an episode about sex dungeon foreplay, lobotomies, and heroic gimps provide welcome levity. “Dirty Business” avoids feeling needlessly complicated or distracted, chasing a singular storyline that involves covertly infiltrating an alt-right cocktail soirée. It lifts our spirits after the downer that was last week’s teary-eyed conclusion, and even drops its own bombshell of a parting reveal (that you probably saw coming if you’ve been paying close attention). Unshackled from the multiple storytelling angles still stuck in place after a multi-week lull, The Boys finally feels like its rambunctious self again.

The gravely voiced elephant in the room is finally confirmed: Joe Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is an illness-induced hallucination like Becca (Shantel VanSanten). There had been clues sprinkled throughout past episodes, but nothing concrete until now. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) isn’t around much in “Dirty Business,” only there long enough to establish his dual imaginary friends — a now one-legged Dr. Sameer Shah (Omid Abtahi) earns the honor of calling out Butcher’s delirious state, complete with a quick montage of Butcher talking to empty rooms in past scenes where we thought Kessler was present. It’s not a groundbreaking twist, yet having Kessler and Sameer react to Butcher’s whacked-out state helps the shock value last longer.

What we said about The Boys Season 4, Episode 5 “Beware the Jabberwock, My Son” tries to deliver the best of both worlds. For half the episode, Hughie confronts his inability to make tough decisions by having to make the toughest decision of his life. The other half is either cheeky jabs at real-world corporate empires or a livestock horror flick in the mountains. What would’ve felt like a standard episode for earlier seasons of The Boys is a tougher sell at this point. While there’s plenty to hoot and holler about (or maybe shed a tear over) here, there’s also the feeling that the show is just tying up loose ends to make room for new ones. What’s already overwhelming stays that way – and there’s only three episodes of Season 4 to go. – Matt Donato Read the complete The Boys Season 4, Episode 5 review.

Elsewhere, and for the lion’s share of the episode’s duration, we spend an evening in Tek Knight’s (Derek Wilson) Bruce Wayne-like mansion — only his Batcave is a Fifty Shades hideout. An invitation-only, highfalutin affair brings The Seven’s A-list players together with United States government officials, complete with all the self-serving corruption we crave. The gathering’s purpose is to collude and discuss an antinode to Robert Singer’s (Jim Beaver) presidency, which means The Boys have no choice but to send Hughie (Jack Quaid) undercover as The Boys’ Spider-Man equivalent, a junkie named Webweaver (Dan Mousseau). Quaid plays tactically awkward and out-of-depths, which he’s already done so well throughout The Boys, until Hughie finds himself restrained, learning the hard way that Webweaver was only invited as a pass-around pleasure boy.

Sticking innocent Hughie in a secret room with a horned-up Tek Knight and Ashely Barrett (Colby Minifie) is a recipe for comedy gold. It starts simply, with Hughie trying to imitate Webweaver’s drugged-up stoner speak — then panic sets in when he notices Homelander (Antony Starr) at the party. Tek Knight later leads Hughie downstairs into his pervert lair, where Ashley gets the first crack at tickling “Webweaver” and herself until she climaxes. Hughie’s mortified despite laughing through the sticky-stanky ordeal, which Quaid sells with appropriate undertones of excitable panic — but Colby Minifie is the secret sauce. The way she forcefully delivers vulgar lines as a sexually dominant alpha exhibits volcanic confidence, as Ashley beams her devilish smirk while degrading her partners in fetishistic displays of ball-crushing power.

“ A narrower scope lets performances shine.

When Hughie’s outed by Tek Knight for forgetting Webweaver’s safe word, The Boys rush to his aid – but it’s hardly a clean escape. Annie (Erin Moriarty) confronts Firecracker (Valorie Curry) in an upstairs hallway, where she rightfully apologizes for being a proper monster in her pageant days before incapacitating Vought’s racist, antisemitic mouthpiece. Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) suffers a panic attack after shooting Sister Sage (Susan Heyward) in the head, as he succumbs to pressures that never cracked Butcher. Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Annie eventually reach Hughie right before Tek Knight carves a new hole in his body to penetrate, and they turn the tables on the fornicating freak, but not until after what’s left of The Boys make noteworthy character strides. Annie’s confession, MM’s health scare, and Hughie’s ability to admit he’s far from okay are all concisely packed into the main storyline. That’s a massive upgrade from prior Season 4 episodes that feel torn in fifty different directions.

A narrower scope lets performances shine, like how Sister Sage and Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) steal “Dirty Business” toward the end. Sister Sage spends most of the episode playing mind games with her Vought-controlled pawns until MM’s bullet turns her into the Bloomin’ Onion craving Sister Sage at a hilarious moment. She can’t help Homelander win a crowd of constituents over with his supe supremacy plan, so Victoria steals Homelander’s thunder and brings his monologue home with bravado. Homelander, the tyrannical superhuman who keeps insisting humans are toys, shrinks to the size of a pea when he fails to grin his way to success. Worse, his masculine aura is shattered by Victoria’s actions and Sister Sage’s inability to prop him upright. Homelander crumbles under pressure like a Nature Valley granola bar, acknowledging his inability to be Vought’s sole dictator.

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“Dirty Business” resuscitates The Boys’ satirical wits and bleak comedy beyond Hughie’s psycho-sexual episode. Victoria despises hobnobbing with wrinkly conservative ghouls to the point where she imagines violently popping her own head as some Roe v. Wade opposing official can be heard explaining inaccurate abortion facts. A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) has to listen to Tek Knight’s despicably bigoted story about his family’s lucrative legacy as slave catchers, remarking how he’d have given his great-great-grandaddy a run for his money — A-Train’s reaction is priceless. Self-proclaimed guardians Like Tek Knight say the quiet parts into a megaphone, and “Dirty Business” follows villainy with just deserts. After Tek Knight is reprimanded by Annie and Kimiko, they donate hundreds of millions from his bank accounts to charitable funds for Black Lives Matter or Elizabeth Warren’s Super PAC as he protests in agony. He won’t admit pain when participating in the most depraved carnal pleasures, but send his filthy inheritance to worthy causes? His Muskian intolerance throws a tantrum.

Best of all, Tek Knight’s death leaves The Seven in disarray. The Boys may be in shambles, especially with Frenchie (Tomer Capone) in prison, but their unintended actions are a clever dagger. Homelander realizes the mole is still alive — it was never Ashley’s sacrificial lamb Cameron Coleman (Matthew Edison) — and he’s one step closer to the edge (and he’s about to break). Enter Firecracker, who squirts him with medically-possible lactation as the ultimate olive branch. Cut to Homelander, draped in his cape, suckling on Firecracker’s teat, both sitting in front of a massive American flag tapestry. It’s one of my favorite shots in The Boys, as America’s greatest patriot is a man-baby behind closed doors who’s still breastfeeding. This is the show that I know and love; what too much of Season 4 has been missing until now.

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