Although it’s only been a couple of months since I reviewed the first season, here we are with Season 2! The Boys are … no, I’m not going to say “back in town”, far too obvious… Erm, let’s just stick with “are back”. Once again underneath the dark humour, the at-times-unrelenting gore and the explicit sex scenes is a series that was genuinely entertaining and well written. Let’s take a look!
The Boys have become wanted fugitives after Butcher is framed for Stillwell’s murder. To make matters worse, while in hiding together Hughie, MM, Frenchie, and Kimiko learn that a super-powered terrorist with telekinetic abilities is on the loose…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
It’s The Boys! … Minus Kimiko, but I guess she’s a girl anyway, so…?
The good thing about a second season is that the main characters have now been established, so we can just head straight for the next set of weird and often disturbing adventures. So at the end of the previous season we found out that lead protagonist (but no means a good guy) Billy Butcher’s (Karl Urban) presumed dead wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten) was actually alive and with the son of arrogant, child-like Superman known as Homelander (Antony Starr) (who had… well, raped her, by all accounts). In order to spare her former husband’s life she allowed Homelander to be a part of her son’s family (and didn’t kill herself, as was also part of the deal) but what he did do was frame Butcher for the death of a top executive of Vought (the large corporation who owns the top Super Hero team) that he himself had eye-lasered to death. This is also true for his “known associates”, the rest of The Boys of wimpy regular-joe Hughie (Jack Quaid), family-man who can’t quite let go of the Hero-killing life MM (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) who lives for the thrill of finding a heroes weakness and taking them out, and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), who is a mute super-powered assassin who is practically immortal but had powers thrusted on her by a rather nasty terrorist group.
So it’s a good set up to start with, and it doesn’t stop there! “The Seven” (this universe’s equivalent of the Justice League) get a new member in Stormfront (Aya Cash), who starts off as a fun hero who isn’t corrupt and actually treats the blatantly corrupt members like crap… but then turns out to be a Nazi who hasn’t aged since WWII and fears the mighty white people are under attack from the other ethnicities. That was a bit of a downer as I liked her at first, but I can’t deny she was a great villain. Her treating black Seven member A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) like crap purely because he’s black was frustrating, and A-Train is the guy who killed his girlfriend with an overdose the previous season! She eventually starts sleeping with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Homelander and I have to admit the two of them together were so arrogant and obnoxious that I nearly wanted to tune out, which I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but thankfully the finale sorted those issues out, which I’ll get to in a bit.
The other major character I haven’t mentioned is Starlight (Erin Moriarty) who is still in an on-off relationship with Hughie while also being a member of The Seven… which she is trying to take it down from within. When she refuses to kill Hughie in a sewer at Homelander’s behest she’s nearly found out, but manages to convince the unintelligent hero that she’s not a traitor. A-Train knows, but he knows she knows about how he killed her girlfriend, and Stormfront eventually cottons on to her and has her arrested as a traitor until Hughie saves her. Meanwhile Billy manages to come up with a way to save his wife, but isn’t interested in saving Homelander’s son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), so the two have a falling out (the son still being hers after all). This all changes when Homelander and Stormfront kidnap Ryan in hopes of raising him to lead the, erm, white supremacy in the future now a plan to inject hundreds of white (and only white) Americans with the hero-creating Compound-V begins to take shape.
“To teach you a lesson I’m going to throw you from this roof!” That wasn’t a jokey quote I write sometimes, that’s a sum up of the actual scene!
This is leads to the big finale where Stormfront is outed as a Nazi and puts two-and-two together and tracks Starlight down just as she’s helping Billy, Becca and Ryan escape with assistance from the rest of The Boys. Fellow long-time Seven member and the woman who was forcefully outed as being gay by Homelander as punishment for not being honest with him (*catches breath*) Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) arrives and soon Maeve, Starlight and Kimiko kick the ever-loving shit out of Stormfront, nothing pretty, just putting the boots to her as she tries to stand up. Very satisfying to watch after the previous few episodes, let me tell you! The long-lived Nazi flies off and lands in front of Billy and family, knocks Butcher out of the way and begins to choke Becca right in front of Homelander Jr., who then gets so angry he unleashes a massive eye-laser of his own removing the Nazi’s arms, legs, hair and a good bit of her skin… oh and killing his mother, too (though in a far less grizzly way). Billy promises Becca that he’ll keep Ryan safe from his father and the rest just before she passes. Homelander arrives and is ready to kill Billy until Maeve appears and tells him she has footage of the two of them leaving a plane full of people to die from the previous season and will release it if he doesn’t leave Billy and his son alone.
As we end the series Billy and The Boys have been acquitted of all charges and Stormfront outed as a villain, clearing Starlight as part of the deal. So a very different start to the next season! There are, of course, a lot of other subplots. The Deep (Chace Crawford), who was kicked out of The Seven in the previous season, gets caught up in a cult that could help him back into the Seven, but in the end A-Train joins and gets put back onto the team instead. Part of his redemption included a hilarious scene of him riding a whale only for it to get beached and a boat of Boys ridden into the middle of it, as in right in the middle of it. Very gory, but also very funny. Kimiko’s brother Kenji (Abraham Lim) arrives as a super-powered terrorist in the early episodes, eventually escaping only to be killed by Stormfront, which gave us a lot more backstory to Kimiko and generally made her more of a good guy than she had been. The relationship between her and Frenchie is also very nice and develops very organically as the series goes on. There is a whole subplot with former Seven member Lamplighter (Shawn Ashmore), who seeks redemption over accidentally torching a bunch of kids, something we see had to do with Frenchie in the past. He eventually commits suicide by setting himself on fire, so… that story is over, I guess!
So basically, the show’s never boring, but I’m not going to write out every little thing…
It’s Kimiko’s brother Kenji! He… didn’t do a lot in the grand scheme of things, but here’s a picture of him anyway…
Really it’s just a lot of little things. I didn’t really like how they took the Batman parody Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) and turned him into a gag character, playing with children’s toys to entertain a child who he’d just murdered the parents of, and then later in the series being stopped by having a nut allergy. I know just having him as some bad-ass stereotype would probably be more boring, but oddly I feel would’ve been more original! At one point Homelander start to become disliked by the public due to his accidentally eye-lasering an innocent bystander and it’s soon undone by Stormfront’s PR team whipping up some picture memes on the internet, which annoyed me because top political parties have been doing that in real life the past few years and it’s annoyed me there! I do like some escapism in my TV and films, and that hit a bit raw. Again, it’s a little thing, and certainly more a me thing than maybe you.
A courtroom scene where Vought is being brought to trial that ends in a whole load of people having their heads pop like balloons was just … pointless, I feel. It’s not like a felt sick or anything, but after the third or fourth head pop it lost all effect and became a bloody mess for the sake of it. I did like how it was revealed to be Congresswoman Neuman (Claudia Doumit) behind the head popping throughout the series (including the head of the cult The Deep joined) but I still could’ve done with less in a row… I also feel casting Giancarlo Esposito as your corrupt CEO is almost cheating at this point, between Breaking Bad, it’s prequel, The Mandalorian and the up-coming Far Cry game I’m suffering from smooth villain Esposito fatigue, no matter how good he actually is the role! Oh and while Karl Urban’s over-exaggerated London accent is still fun to my ears, his family were mostly worse in that department and decidedly less fun. Credit to the show for finally making the word c**t lose all shock value though!
That’s it really, and none of these were major issues, but I do feel I enjoyed Season 2 less than the first overall…
Stormfront, a villain so effective I nearly wanted to tune out completely!
The Boys Season 2 is a fun and often disturbing time, with lots of interesting (in an often bad way) characters and a plot that never really lets up. Stormfront is a great new villain, so much so I had to resist the urge to turn off because she was so dislikable, but that just made scenes at the end of her getting her comeuppance in all the sweeter. Overall there were some niggles that bring it down from a 5, but still worth checking out so long as you have a strong stomach and a dark sense of humour!