The Boys Season 2 – Episodes 1-3

After a gloriously profane and violent first season that was loaded with potential (see my discussion of the transformation of the property from comic to screen here), Season 2 of The Boys again hits the ground running, making the most of its short 8-episode run. I’m not sure yet whether or not I like the fact that Amazon has decided to not dump the whole season on us at once this time, instead dropping the first three episodes this past Friday, and then premiering single episodes for each of the next five Fridays.

I was really looking forward to spending my long weekend immersing myself in the new season.

Oh well.

At least I’m not one of those dumbasses who got pissed because they thought the new season was only three episodes.

By the way, there are spoilers on the way.

You have been warned.

As we open with Episode 1 “The Big Ride,” Butcher (Karl Urban) is nowhere to be seen after having been framed for the murder of Vought Vice-President Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), our heroes are living underground with drug dealers to stay off the grid and tensions are high with Hughie (Jack Quaid) pushing Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) to keep going after Vought without Butcher and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) trying to learn to write English. Meanwhile, with The Seven, Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) is killing super terrorists overseas while Homelander (Antony Starr) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) pay tribute to their fallen comrade Translucent, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is still hospitalized after his heart attack, and The Deep (Chace Crawford) is drowning in booze and depression in Ohio.

That’s pretty much just living in Ohio, though, right?

Vought publicist, Ashley Barrett (Colby Minifie) is now in charge of babysitting The Seven thanks to Homelander’s recommendation and swiftly learns who’s actually in charge. Hughie has come up with a plan to bring down Vought and all he needs is for Starlight to help him get his hands on a sample of Compound-V in order to release it to the media and prove that the Supes are being made and aren’t just born with powers. He also tries to take the lead, bringing information about a super-terrorist to CIA Deputy-Director Raynor (Jennifer Esposito) only to witness her head exploding just as she susses what’s going on. Realizing that the shit’s completely hit the fan, Frenchie calls Butcher (apparently, he knew how to get ahold of him all along???) who shows up to take charge and emasculate Hughie.

This is all in the first episode, and I haven’t even mentioned Starlight blackmailing another supe, Gecko (David Thompson), into getting the Compound-V, The Deep being seduced by the Scientology stand-in The Church of the Collective, Homelander murdering a potential new Seven member, Blindspot (Chris Mark), Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) standing up to Homelander and adding an actual new Seven member, Stormfront (Aya Cash), to the team. Oh, and Homelander visits Butcher’s not-dead wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten) to see his potentially superpowered son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti).

I wasn’t kidding when I said the show hits the ground running. I’m pretty sure I’m leaving stuff out.

And don’t worry, I’m not gonna do this sort of breakdown for Episodes 2 and 3.

The first season of The Boys didn’t really stick too closely to the original comic but was still able to pull off what was one of the best comic-to-TV adaptations yet. This second season is completely off-book and that makes it a joy to watch. There’s really no telling just where the show is going to go and that’s fantastic.

Episode 2, “Proper Preparation and Planning” makes the smart decision to split up the Seven in order to give proper attention to every character’s individual storylines. As with the first season, the super powered baddies are really fleshed out and humanized in ways that the source material never even tried to do. More so even than our heroes. Homelander spends the entire episode trying to bond with his son, while Starlight takes a cue from Stormfront and starts becoming more assertive, just in time to stand up to a recovered A-Train’s threats to inform Homelander about her relationship with Hughie. Stormfront takes pure delight in speaking her truth – which is usually sarcastic, caustic, and both ultra-feminist and pro-superheroing.

She’s going to really annoy a certain segment of the audience and it’s wonderful.

Stormfront is also very different from her comic counterpart – who happens to have been a male semi-immortal WWII Nazi super-villain, second only to Homelander in power, who was recruited by America after the war and currently leads another super-team, Payback (the second most popular superteam in the world), a parody of The Avengers. Stormfront’s lightning powers were a parallel to Thor, if Thor were a violent, racist murderer who hates anyone impure or inferior. So far, the TV version doesn’t seem to be leaning into these origins, although it’s still way too early to tell what the creators have planned. I have a feeling that she’s going to end up being a lot worse than she seems.

We see in the third episode, “Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men,” that she definitely has no qualms about murdering civilians who get between her and her target. In this case, said target is the aforementioned super-terrorist who, in a nice twist, turns out to be Kimiko’s younger brother Kenji (Abraham Lim). The relationship between Kimiko and Kenji throws just the right amount of drama into her relationship with The Boys, when Butcher reveals that he has made a deal with his old mentor, Grace Mallory (Laila Robins) to exchange Kenji for help locating Becca. Because, see, Becca’s not just hiding out in some random neighborhood somewhere. She’s in a Vought version of a safehouse, only it’s a small, walled-in town.

Meanwhile, Starlight leaks the Compound-V that Gecko retrieved to the media and Vought stocks crash. It’s just the sort of victory that The Boys have been trying to pull off for years, and Hughie (and Starlight) is responsible, but Butcher isn’t having it because he’s a gigantic asshole. Then, before they can even celebrate, the cops show up (thanks to Butcher stealing the yacht they’re hanging out on while waiting for the CIA to arrive and take possession of Kenji). One thing leads to another and the cops are killed horribly and The Boys are on the run to a CIA safehouse with The Seven on their way to stop them in what would be a P.R. victory for Vought and provide Edgar with a way to get in front of the news story and maybe save the company.

Hell, even The Deep shows up after a mind-cleansing drug trip where he confronted his own body issues (he’s deeply ashamed of his gills – voiced by Patton Oswalt) which lead him to humiliate women before they can humiliate him by laughing at his “deformity.” He thinks this is his chance to get back into The Seven and when he shows up riding a whale and with an army of sharks at his side, things look pretty good.

But this is The Boys and this show has a special place in its cold, black heart for humiliating and hurting The Deep.

But I digress.

Sort of.

This episode leaves both The Boys and The Seven in dark places. Stormfront kills Kenji (and a shit ton of civilians), undermining Homelander’s authority and drawing a target on her back for Kimiko. The killing of Kenji (and a shit ton of civilians they can blame on Kenji) allows Edgar to establish for all the world to see, just how necessary superheroes are, regardless of how they were created (by a band of rogue Vought scientists is the official story, by the way). At the same time, Homelander now suspects that Starlight has been in contact with Hughie all along and definitely knows that Butcher is on the case.

Oh, and it turns out that Homelander’s son does have superpowers, which manifest to protect his mom from Homelander’s abuse. And while Ryan seems to hate him, it still makes his old man proud.

So after the first three episodes of Season Two, The Boys is shaping up to be one of the best superhero shows on television. Again.

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