Homelander's lab rampage in The Boys season 4: What does it mean and where does Homelander come from?

The Boys season 4
(Image credit: prime video)

Well, that happened. The Boys season 4 episode 4 is here and it contains Homelander’s most brutal and bloodiest set of scenes the series has ever shown to date. But as shocking as the episode is, it has brought up a lot of questions about the Supe.

Warning, spoilers for The Boys season 4 episode 4 follow.  

Episode 4, Wisdom of the Ages, sees Homelander, with a whale-shaped chocolate cake in hand, visit the lab in which he was tested as a child and instantly make everyone feel uncomfortable. But it's about to get a whole lot worse as one by one he picks off the lab technicians and takes his revenge on them, from forcing a man into a giant oven and burning him alive as revenge for the Supe having to spend hours in the incinerator as a child, to lasering off another man’s penis for making fun of him masturbating as a teen. Each kill gets bloodier until chief scientist Barbara walks in to try and calm the Supe. But instead of coming to his senses, Homelander instead locks her in the ‘bad room’ surrounded by the corpses of her co-workers in a The House That Jack Built-like murder vault. Yep, it’s pretty gnarly. 

But, although in the episode we are given a little bit of backstory to Homelander’s time in the lab, the scenes may have sparked a few questions for you, such as, where does the Supe come from, how long did he spend in the lab, and why did he go back there? Well, don't worry as we are here to answer all of those questions and more. 

Homelander’s connection to the lab: how was he born?

The Boys

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Born sometime in 1981, Homelander, originally named John, had a far-from-ordinary childhood. He is a product of one of Vought’s Supe testing labs and was made from the egg of an unknown donor and the stolen semen of Soldier Boy to be the world’s greatest superhero and Vought’s most valuable weapon. 

For all intents and purposes, the lab is Homelander’s childhood home and where he spent his whole life until he was old enough to be revealed to the world. But his upbringing was deeply traumatic as in earlier seasons it is revealed that he was put through painful and traumatic physical experiments and surgeries to test the true limits of his abilities including being boiled alive, severe mental conditioning, and white room treatment. 

On top of this, Homelander never had any family but found a father figure in Vought scientist Jonah Vogelbaum, who was with him for most of his life. However, this bond is broken when Homelander visits Vogelbaum in season 1 looking for answers but is met with the scientist in deep regret over his involvement with the Supe, telling him, "You should have been raised in a home with a family who loved you. Not in a cold lab with doctors," adding that he is the greatest mistake he had ever made. Ouch.

Why did he do… that?  

The Boys season 4

(Image credit: Prime Video)

It is clear that no well-functioning or healed person would do what Homelander did in episode 4, but it is no secret that Homelander suffers from a few mental illnesses that cloud his judgment and prompt him to do the most horrific things at the best of times. First off, he is deeply narcissistic and psychotic which is displayed in his lack of empathy and guilt when he murders innocent people. Second, he has deep childhood trauma which is reflected in his need to drink breastmilk and find a father figure.

His mental instability is obviously rooted in his traumatic upbringing in a lab where he had no human affection or emotion and was tortured from a very young age. From this, it is clear why the Supe went to take his anger and vengeance out on the very place that ruined his life from the very start. We see just how strong his want for a family was even as a child in a cut scene posted by The Boys' Twitter page, which shows a young Homelander latch into lab technicians in a desperate bid to find a family. Watch the clip below.

But why now? Why has Homelander waited until season 4 to take his revenge? When we first met Homelander in the first season  he was a monster, yes, but he had everything going for him, being hugely popular and facing little to no opposition. But over time the Supe was revealed to the world as the very bad and deeply flawed person he is. The icing on the cake came in season 3 when Homelander finally found out that Soldier Boy is his biological father after the Captain America-like Supe broke out of a Soviet testing lab. 

Here's the stinger, when Homelander came face to face with Soldier Boy and even introduced him to his son and Soldier Boy’s grandson Ryan, he was met with no love or affection and was called “weak.” However, Soldier Boy was seemingly murdered by Maeve at the end of season 3, leaving Homelander unable to take out his anger on Soldier Boy, but also, once again, leaving him without any parental figure. Now in season 4 he is lonelier than ever and is showing clear signs of schizophrenia, talking to different versions of himself in the mirror. 

The childhood trauma, deep daddy issues, and the fact that Homelander doesn’t see humans as people but merely toys for his amusement, as he tells Ryan, is a clear answer as to why he inflicted so much pain and torture in the lab. But, is this the most unhinged we will see the Supe this season? We will just have to wait and see. 

The Boys season 4 episodes 1-4 are available to stream on Prime Video right now with new episodes landing every Thursday. For more, check out our latest coverage of The Boys:

Editorial Associate, GamesRadar+

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for SFX and Total Film online. I have a Bachelors Degree in Media Production and Journalism and a Masters in Fashion Journalism from UAL. In the past I have written for local UK and US newspaper outlets such as the Portland Tribune and York Mix and worked in communications, before focusing on film and entertainment writing. I am a HUGE horror fan and in 2022 I created my very own single issue feminist horror magazine.