‘The Boys’ Team Explains Sister Sage’s ‘Very Weird Kink,’ Lobotomy Alternatives and Firecracker’s Alex Jones Inspiration

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains major spoilers from episode 4 of “The Boys” Season 4, currently streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video.

This season of “The Boys” continues to outdo itself in gross-out moments, and episode 4 has plenty of them — like an ice-pick lobotomy, a lasered-off penis and flame-broiled scientist.

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The episode begins with Homelander (Antony Starr) returning to his roots and revisiting the underground laboratory where he was violently tested on as a super-powered child. He gets revenge on the Vought scientists by putting them through the same torture he endured. One unlucky person gets trapped in an oven and burnt to a crisp; another is forced to masturbate in front of his colleagues before Homelander shoots an eye-laser through his penis and kills him. The psychotic supe learns more about the torment Vought performed on him as a kid, and he ends the episode covered in blood and surrounded by the scientists’ mutilated bodies.

With Homelander away, his fellow members of the Seven are left to their own devices. Firecracker (Valorie Curry) hosts a Vought propaganda talk show called “Truth Bomb” and spreads rumors about Starlight (Erin Moriarty). When it’s revealed Starlight previously had an abortion, she crashes Firecracker’s show and beats her up on camera — helping Firecracker’s ratings and hurting the Starlighter movement.

After hooking up with the Deep (Chace Crawford) in the last episode, Sister Sage (Susan Heyward) reveals how she suddenly became attracted to the misogynistic supe: She lobotomizes herself to dumb down her super-smart, self-regenerating brain. Using an ice pick, Deep performs a nasty, frontal-lobe lobotomy to temporarily reduce Sage to a horny idiot who has sex with him and pigs out on fried pickles.

“[Showrunner Eric] Kripke and I talked a lot about Sage’s sense of isolation,” Heyward told Variety. “How her brain is a blessing and a curse because she’s trapped among all this information all the time and she can never really escape and just be. And so I think [the risk of losing her eye with a lobotomy] is worth it, for her sanity, because if she doesn’t get a break from her brain, she’s gonna go even crazier than she already is. It was really fun to shoot. The stunt team made sure we all felt safe. Objects coming toward the eye is naturally an instilled moment. But I’ve been putting contacts in my eyes since I was a kid, and the stunt team was great.”

“That was squeamish inducing, for sure. It was a technically challenging little bit and we were shooting all of it until that moment,” Crawford added. “Just doing it was so intense. Truly phenomenal, very weird kink though.”

On the Boys’ side, Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) have their first team-up and run into mysterious people from Kimiko’s past while obtaining some Compound V. Frenchie (Tomer Capone) reveals his deep dark secret to Colin (Elliot Knight) that he killed Colin’s family years ago — which doesn’t go well for their budding romance. Butcher (Karl Urban) runs into the stretchy supe Ezekiel (Shaun Benson) and kills him — but it seems like Butcher’s brain tumor may have caused him to blackout during the murder. And A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) helps out Hughie and steals him some Compound V to give to his dad (Simon Pegg), which makes him up from his coma.

With Variety, “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke talks about alternate ideas for Sage’s lobotomy, the far-right inspirations for Firecracker’s “Truth Bomb” and more.

Sister Sage asking the Deep to give her a lobotomy is one of the grossest scenes of the season so far. Where did that idea come from?

When you have a room full of over-educated, miserable writers trying to imagine what it would be like to be the world’s smartest person, you immediately get to, ‘Well, that would be awful. You would do anything to be stupid for a couple hours so that you could just be happy.’ We started talking about, ‘Is she huffing paint? What is she doing?’ I’ve been sort of obsessed with frontal lobotomies because it’s a real thing. They don’t really do it so much anymore obviously, thank God, but in the ’50s and ’60s, this was done thousands and thousands of times. Rosemary Kennedy is one of the most famous to receive them. It really is like a fucking ice pick in the corner of your eye and they literally just scrambled your frontal lobe. It’s insane to me that was a real thing and so I wanted to show that. People just get so weird about eye stuff and so I knew that that would be one where people are really going to cover their eyes watching. Obviously, no icepick ever got close to Susan’s eye. The fact that it’s as disturbing as it is is all the credit to the visual effects department.

Where there other ideas about how to dumb down Sage?

No, it mostly involved huffing things.

Sage and Deep then eat some of Guy Fieri’s Flavortown fried pickles. Did you have to get his permission to use it in the episode?

No, when something is being used as the way it’s intended you can just use it. If someone’s drinking a Coke, there’s no problem. If someone’s douching with a Coke, you need permission.

I sensed some Tucker Carlson and Piers Morgan vibes on Firecracker’s “Truth Bomb.” What real-life influences did you use for her talk show?

Honestly, I feel like the Tucker Carlson and Piers Morgan comparisons are probably a little bit too conservative. We have our like Tucker Carlson-type with Cameron Coleman the news anchor. The way Fox is sort of begetting OAN, so does our VNN news shows beget the Truth Bomb. It’s closer to something Alex Jones would do, where it’s just complete bananas conpsiracy theories passed off as reality and it’s meant to be outrageous and explosive but people seem to accept it as as truth. There’s just so much straight-up, Qanon-style misinformation out there, that was what we wanted Firecracker in “Truth Bomb” to represent.

This episode also has the return of the stretchy-limbed Ezekiel. Were you always planning to bring him back after he was introduced in the first season?

Oh, yeah. Shaun Benson, the actor who plays him, is just too good. I’ve always wanted to bring back Ezekiel and find the right place for him. I’m thrilled that it came up here. He’s so funny and smart in this episode, like that moment where Firecracker goes on stage to confess and he’s trying to tell her like, ‘Please don’t do whatever you’re up to do.’ I was just so happy to work with Shaun again.

In GQ’s recent interview with the cast, it was revealed that Metro Boomin asked Antony Starr to join him at Coachella to perform his song “On Time,” which samples Homelander’s speech from Season 3, but it didn’t work out. Do you have to approve a rap sample like that?

I remember at one point Metro Boomin asked Sony for permission. Sony came to us and asked, ‘Do you have any problem with it?’ We’re like ‘Hell no, that’s amazing! Of course, he should do that.’ We were just excited to get it out in the world. No payment exchanged hands or anything. We’re just thrilled that an artist of his caliber would be interested in sampling from our weird little show.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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