TV REVIEW: The Boys – Season 2: Episodes 7 & 8
And so ends another season of super f*cked up madness from Amazon’s flag-wearing middle finger to the superhero genre. It’s caused a bit of a mixed response within the JumpCut Camp but there’s no denying that just like before, The Boys has been the refreshing break from the standard superhero affair, (which is to say there hasn’t been one, given we’ve forgotten what Marvel looks like in a cinema, it’s been that long). How did it’s final episodes fare? Well, while there were some ongoing issues that were addressed to a suitable standard, there was thankfully enough positive elements for Season 2 to go out on an interesting cliffhanger-free high.
The biggest hump the show needs to get over is giving more for Hughie to do than to mess up literally any job he’s given. Left to watch over a porn-binging Lamplighter (Shawn Ashmore going against the grain so brilliantly in comparison to his turn as X-Men’s Iceman), in the penultimate episode, the former Seven member pushes Hughie’s buttons to the point of giving him the boost to head straight into their HQ to rescue a recently imprisoned Starlight. What proceeded was another shocker when Lamplighter torched himself in a moment of release, leaving The Boys’ still green member to look on in terror. We get it. Hughie is the heart and as of yet, uncorrupted soul of The Boys, but that needs to change, simply because seeing him being pulled out of scrapes by other characters, or just outright screaming, isn’t doing anything of note for him personally. Perhaps that’s simply because unlike the story The Boys has spawned from, the show is more intent with focusing on the target they’re after than those setting their sights on them.
This might have The Boys on stamped on tin, but there’s no question this is The Homelander’s show. Really getting under the impenetrable skin of a ‘hero’ attempting to bend a world to his will and still be adored by it is where the show ups its game. Feared and favoured all the same, there’s clearly a major effort to craft this character into something special and Antony Starr is performing wonders with the role. Episode 7 gave another insight into his twisted fantasy after he touched back down with Becca, and introduced his illegitimate son Ryan to his new girlfriend, Stormfront. His attempt to push the perfect super-powered family into place made was a terrifying watch as the mother of his child was helpless to stop them. Every flinch or bit of tension shown across Homelander’s champion-cut chin is enough to hold your breath and hope those pearly blues don’t turn red. It just showed how helpless anyone in the vicinity is to this monster and how compelling it is to sit and watch his nerves be tested over the smallest thing. The same complexities and quirks can’t be said for his sworn (and sweary) adversary though, which is another area where The Boys faltered this season.
Focusing so much on The Seven’s frontman meant less time for other characters, particularly the leader of the opposition. While Homelander was playing not-so happy families, Butcher was forced to return to his, which failed to make any real impact given that every character present had accents derived from The Dick Van Dyke School Of Imitation. Sure, it was nice to see old Lord of the Rings alumni chew the scenery up together, John Noble’s English rasp was as wonky as his on-screen son and raises concerns that Season 3 could lead to more of these moments that are reminiscent of SNL’s Don’t Go Running Round to Re Ro. Overall it felt like a weak effort to give more backstory to Butcher, when he deserved so much better, perhaps even the same treatment Frenchie got when we learned about his Mallory-related mess up. Truth be told, Butcher is at his best, when he’s really at his worst, and after the bloody game of ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ at the end of episode 7, the finale finally allowed Urban to do some heavy-lifting that tested our favourite antihero, and a few other cast members in a brilliant way.
After Ryan was kidnapped by his Dad and his new Hitler-loving lady, Becca made a miraculous jailbreak and turned to her hard-edged husband for help. In any other story, of heroes and villains, our leading lad would’ve done the right thing from the get go, but Butch being Butch quickly switches his crafty gears on, attempting to work the situation to his own ends; Vought get the kid, he gets his wife back, everyone (but Becca) is happy. It’s deceptions and despicable plans like this that give Urban some brilliant moments to work with, to show how far into the depths our show’s supposed hero has fallen, and what a trial it is to get back out of it. It’s another example of the unnerving similarities between him and his star-spangled adversary; what both are willing to do to no matter the cost, but it’s thanks to Urban’s performance that for the briefest of moments, we actually questioned if Butch was willing to pay it. More on that later though, as let’s interrupt this regular recap for three women kicking in a Nazi kitty.
The women in this season may have had some uneven attention this year (Maeve in particular), but seeing Starlight and FINALLY Kimiko square up to Stormfront in a showdown that really did put the Endgame all-female moment to shame was exceptional. The CGI may still be a bit ropey, but its execution was The Boys in a microcosm. Raw, rough and not holding back, it was an air-punching moment for all three involved. Girls got it done, and it was awesome, and Frenchie should do commentary on every major bout in this show from here on out. But just as this brief and brilliantly fun moment managed to encapsulate everything that you loved about this show, what followed highlighted just how quickly it can rip your heart out and show it to you whenever the hell it fancies.
If you thought Becca and Butch’ would’ve had a happy ending together, then clearly you’ve not been paying attention. These two star-crossed lovers were doomed from the beginning, but it didn’t make their final encounter any more heartbreaking. During the first escape attempt before Stormfront got in the way, Butcher had accepted what he had become and was set on ‘doing this one thing’ as an effort of redemption, determined not to pass on ‘his shit’ to a kid he ultimately couldn’t leave like he’d planned. It was another rare and sincere moment from The Boys top dog and Urban reminding us just how great he can be, switching from heartbreak to outright rage on a dime.
Butch doing ‘one good thing’ earned him another to fight with, after awaking from a blinding flash (echoing last season’s closer), we saw Stormfront (we’ll miss you Aya Cash) looking extra crispy and Ryan in shock and tears after catching his mum in the crossfire. Credit to Shantel VanSaten giving a heartfelt goodbye to her on-screen beau and begging him to protect her son in her final breaths. But the second we saw Butcher’s bloodied hand reach out for his trusty crowbar, we immediately feared the worst. Director Alex Graves let it all play out brilliantly and sent us through a host of emotions as grief switched to fear the second Butcher gave a stare stronger that even Homelander’s laser vision would compete with. We should be thankful then, that the man himself touched down just in time to remind Butcher why he was in this fight in the first place.
Landing like a bloody Man of Steel, this marks only the second time these two have come face-to-face this season and it was a little lacklustre, simply for Billy being saved by another miraculous appearance from Maeve. Using the failed flight mission as leverage was understandable, but didn’t feel like it was enough to keep Homelander at bay. There really was nothing stopping him cutting down Butcher and Maeve and flying off with Ryan, leaving Vought to clear up the mess (which is exactly what they did with Stormfront). Nevertheless, it led to Billy walking away with Ryan in tow (just leaving your dead wife’s body there, yeah?) and losers on both sides.
So where does that lead us going into Season 3? Well, once again The Boys look to be separated but on the right terms this time, begging the question of how they’ll be getting the band back together the next time round. By the looks of things, Butcher now handing Ryan over to Mallory with a promise and words to live by (“don’t be a c*nt”) is set up (but not quite) working with the government to keep their eye on the supes, finally getting more in line with the comic book series it’s come from. Meanwhile, M.M. headed home to his wife and kids, and Frenchie and Kimiko went dancing together. All that was left was plucky Hughie to venture into politics, offering himself up unknowingly to the head-popping secret super Victoria Neuman, that has now left a big hole in the Church of the Collective. Oh yeah, and Homelander giving himself some love. Yikes.
There’s no denying that The Boys has continued to bring the shock to the superhero genre in a way we didn’t know we needed, but the issue remains of some characters not really getting time to shine, and the close to the bone commentary fitting in places and not in others. We can only hope that following the huge success this season has been for Amazon, that they iron out the kinks for when Season 3 eventually rolls around.
Again, let’s hear it for The Boys.
Catch up on our recaps of the rest of Season 2:
And our other coverage of The Boys: