I honestly didn’t know what to expect from “The Boys” season two. After all, season one ended so badly for our heroes. They were so screwed. How were they going to get out of this without things getting worse? Turns out, they weren’t.
Season two pretty much followed the formula of season one. Still plenty of shocking moments, still a very jaded view of the world of corrupt superheroes that parallels a little too closely to the horrors of our own world, except now with more exploding heads! I mean a lot more exploding heads. Heck, my head was exploding after all that! It carried on the journeys of our familiar characters in some quite dramatic ways while introducing some new ones, namely Stormfront. Her behavior and backstory made Homelander look like a boy scout. Well, that is until they hooked up, then things got really…strange. Like we expected anything less.
Many of the scenes were again brilliantly dominated by Homelander (Antony Starr) on one side and Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) on the other, two sides of the same coin both spiraling downward. They delivered some of the most chilling and dysfunctional moments of season two, as well as some of the most badass. We learned a lot more about what made these guys tick and it was kind of like watching a train wreck. It's a mess, but you can’t look away.
Mommy and Daddy and Sibling Issues
One big theme of the season was family and their impact on what defines you. That started right off the bat with Homelander trying to be a father to his son, Ryan. It didn’t take long to figure out that his own damaged upbringing with no mother and a scientist as a father was going to impact his own ability to be a parent. He takes the same approach, striving for shows of strength and power rather than emotional connection. His eventually answer to getting what he wanted was to bully and provoke Ryan into using his powers, going against everything that Becca had taught her son. He also used her deception about Ryan’s upbringing to gain control of his son, all in that very unsettling Homelander way.
As for Billy Butcher, he may have had a real father, but he was no better than Homelander’s growing up in a lab situation. His father was angry, violent, abusive…sound familiar? I do applaud casting John Noble in the role of his ailing father and selling the idea that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. One big reveal though about Butcher came from his family visits with his dad, mother and aunt, his baby brother committed suicide after years of their father’s abuse. Oh, and Hughie bears a huge resemblance to Butcher’s brother, and now a lot of the hostility that Butcher throws at Hughie makes sense. Projecting much Butcher? It’s a whole new big brother/little brother dynamic between the two that was only hinted before.
Speaking of Hughie, one does have to admire his optimism given how horrible everything is. He’s living in a dank, dirty basement under a store with the others in hiding, he has to keep meeting up with Annie in secret while maintaining a distance relationship wise, yet he’s maintaining hope, thanks to the power of Billy Joel! Namely “You’re Only Human (Second Wind),” but his attraction to this message is endearing and his love of this music ends up being a great opportunity to dig into his backstory a little. We find out his mother is still alive, but he never talks about her because she left. She also loved Billy Joel and it reminds him of her. That does open up the possibility for future mother appearing stories.
Annie really blossomed as Starlight this season, holding her own against a multitude of conflicts with the other supes, especially Homelander. Her bolder attitude was even reflected by her wearing the redesigned skimpy suit this season and the big wig. She clearly hated the part, but she played it knowing the importance. I think out of all the characters, she showed the most growth from season one. Her mother issues though carried on this year, and the fact that her mother tried to contact her by getting friendly with Stormfront made everything worse. Once again her mother’s ignorance about the supes and personal fantasies of success led to them being captured by Vought and Annie accused of being a traitor. Her mother eventually decided to do the right thing and leave, but who knows if she’s learned her lesson.
Then there was Kimiko, who was miraculously reunited with her brother Kenji after the team explored a strange case about a boat being flipped in a harbor. Their joy is short lived and plays out much like their tragic backstory when they were captured by the Shining Light Liberation Army as kids and their parents were killed. She does everything in her power to protect her brother, as she has done her whole life, but this time his thirst for revenge is too deep and he runs from her. Still, he puts his sister first and is brutally killed by Stormfront after he saves Kimiko from her, putting Kimiko on a season long bent for vengeance. Luckily Frenchie was around to help her through it and earn her trust. They must fight together and not try to go it alone, thus strengthening their bond at the end of the season.
Even Mother’s Milk got a small parental backstory. He’s in this business of fighting supes because he’s carrying on the work of his late father, who basically worked himself to death for justice against Vought. His lessons from his father ground him, leading him to be the voice of reason by stressing the dangers of vengeance and how they’re passed from generation to generation. He fears that his own daughter will be like him one day.
Butcher ended the season taking step parenting to a new level. His obsession to get Becca back and still get his revenge against Homelander led to him putting his team in danger again to suit his needs. His single minded focus showed he just wanted to go back to the way things were, meaning that his plans for Becca did not involve her son. Naturally, she put her son first and didn’t go with Butcher. He ended up with responsibility of Becca’s son anyway, putting him even more in the crosshairs with Homelander for episodes to come. How will that play out considering he never wanted the kid around to begin with?
Lots of Big Stunts
If you’re looking for crazy stunts, loads of action, and some just plain weird scenes then this was the season for you. The standout scene of the season was also the most talked about, the whale scene. Just wow. There are some of behind the scenes stories out there about the amount of fake blood that was everywhere when the boys emerged from inside a whale they just crashed into. I swear, I shed a tear with The Deep over the demise of a creature who was just trying to be a hero. Talk about shock value.
The other was the big manhunt for Keiko’s brother, leading to Stormfront taking out an entire apartment building with tenants inside, creating yet again a ton of collateral damage. It’s the scenes like this that continued to remind us that there is a human toll in this story and we are supposed to feel sadness, sympathy, and outrage when such tragedies play out. Stressing that human element is what grounds this series and makes it relatable, despite the fact that it’s a superhero story. It also makes it hard to watch, but the impact cannot be denied. Accountability matters.
There’s also a congressional hearing scene that I’m sure had the VFX guys living a dream. All I can say is watch with one eye open.
We got to be part of all the behind the scenes drama with the filming of Vought’s latest venture, the superhero movie Dawn of the Seven. It was Kripke’s chance to again poke fun at the shallowness of the movie industry (and all the people in it) and the backstabbing that happens in the process. It’s more fun than the movie itself. It was also the only true highlight we got of all the supes together in action this season. They spent more time fighting each other if anything.
I’m still not sure what’s going on with The Deep, but I’m not entirely sure season two did him any favors. He’s still not part of The Seven, which is weirdly named The Seven even though there are still only six of them. He continued his affiliation with the Church of the Collective, which turned out to be an organization using supes as a way to push their influence with Vought and the US Government. Even A-Train came along for the fun after being exiled, but that didn’t stick long.
The Deep still managed again to get every aquatic friend he made killed, but no one will forget his hallucinations meant to get in touch with his inner self. Naturally that meant his gills started talking. And they’re voiced by none other than Patton Oswalt, who earned the prize of guest star of the season! Those scenes were just out there and easily a comic highlight of a pretty heavy season. He did however help Queen Maeve find a crucial piece of evidence at the bottom of the ocean from last season’s plan crash, something that gave Queen Maeve the critical leverage she needed against Homelander.
Speaking of Queen Maeve, her story did drag on a bit this season. It’s kind of sad she was so underutilized for the most part. She was outed as a lesbian by Homelander when her love interest came back into her life. That led her to be exploited by Vought for marketing purposes as the gay hero, and she just reluctantly went along with it all. She does come through in the end to spare Starlight from the wrath of Homelander, but it does put her on some very shaky ground going forward.
A-Train was booted from The Seven because of his continuing drug addiction. Starlight was also able to use his addiction to keep him quiet about her saving Hughie at the end of last season. The deep mistrust between he and Starlight was quite engaging, but it never really played out in the end. I found it a bit ridiculous that he ended up in Sandusky exile and got out of it so easily, giving him very little growth at the end of the season. He’s back with The Seven though and that’s all that matters to him.
We learned that Black Noir is still ruthless, but has a soft spot for children. Go figure.
The true standout was Stormfront, and the mystery behind her and where she came from dominated the season. She was chosen by Stan Edgar against Homelander’s wishes, but Homelander learned very early in the season that Stan wasn’t going to take any of his bullshit, making him the only person not afraid of him. Stormfront made friendly with all the supes, but it was her wild and crazy affair with Homelander, who prior was playing out sexual fantasies with a Madelyn Stillwell clone, that delivered the shock and awe this show is known for! She and Homelander could both fly, so raw, rough, naked flying superhero sex it is! The way those scenes were shot is still mind boggling.
I won’t give away the big reveal of the season, but Stormfront’s story hit a little too close to modern day home as she touted white supremacy under the guise of defeating evil. She knew how to stir up a crowd with catch phrases and outrage. She was able to manipulate Homelander so easily as well, putting him in a predicament at season’s end. It did lead to a huge bit of character growth for him though, resulting in a provocative declaration on a rooftop that he can do whatever the f*** he wants. No more strong female figures dominating him.
In the end a lot of Vought’s manipulations were exposed, but they were left only slightly weakened. A new congresswoman, Victoria Neuman, and the return of Mallory’s government task force that The Boys used to be a part of has allowed everyone to emerge from exile and go back to their lives. Ah, but there’s a twist about Neuman, and now Hughie and The Boys are going to work for her. So who is the real villain here? Season three is about to get interesting.
All in all I loved season two, but I think that it did get a little disjointed at times in the middle part. Still, the show maintained its heart for much of the season and it was never boring. My favorite episode was “Nothing Like it in the World,” because we got to see Hughie, Annie, and Mother’s Milk on a road trip. It was nice to relax and enjoy the characters a bit, learning more about them without some tragic reveal. Plus, it revealed one of the big mysteries of the season, pushing the story along into interesting new territory. The season also ended with Hughie and Annie restarting their relationship, which is honestly the one refreshing part of this whole series. I see them as the backbone of everything and to see them together solidifies the journey that real heroes are supposed to take. As long as they are still grounded there is hope.
The setup for season three though is promising, far more promising than the bleak situation our characters were in at the end of season one. Almost everyone has found their footing one way or another and where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.
So, for those of you out there that have seen season two, what do you think? What were your favorite parts? What characters really stood out for you? What do you hope for in season three? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Here’s a fun article about season two. This one explains the use of Billy Joel and other music in the season two soundtrack: