Amazon Prime’s The Boys are back in town with more guts, new faces, but the same old attitude. The Boys Season 2 doesn’t hold anything back.
Amazon’s The Boys knows how to push boundaries. Similar to another Seth Rogen produced graphic novel turned series Preacher, more is always better, and why be coy when you can just beat someone over the head with their bloody stump? It always works from an entertainment perspective, but now it’s working on an emotional one too. The Boys Season 2 isn’t afraid to get dirty metaphorically or literally in a wild season that saw no limits.
The novel series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and developed by Eric Kripke of Supernatural turned streaming series is set in an alternative reality where superheroes aren’t just fodder for the movie theaters but living breathing beings. Sometimes they save the world, sometimes not so much. They always work to pump more money into the behemoth publicity machine that is Vought though. They are action dolls brought to life with one objective to protect the mother company. All of that super status and pressure takes a toll on a person; however and after an entertaining but somewhat superficial Season 1, The Boys Season 2 digs deep into the traumas and psyches of these not always so super people.
More times than not, the superheroes, especially the ones that make up the Seven are dicks. They come with a boatload of baggage, even more than the latest richies to board Below Deck Mediterranean. All of that scientific tinkering and adulation has made most of them sociopathic, narcissistic, fear-driven acolytes of the power they possess and the worship it brings. At best, they are willing to do anything to maintain their status, and at worst, they believe they are Gods, and not the forgiving come to Heaven type, but more a Greek or Roman God who likes nothing more than a good smiting to start the day.
Picking up where we left off the group of ragtag vigilantes and the world’s only real hope of controlling the Supes, the Boys is splintered. Everyone is reeling from the events in the finale. The Butcher(Karl Urban) is struggling with the reveal that his wife has a child by Homelander(Antony Starr) and is hiding out. Hughie(Jack Quaid), Frenchie(Tomer Capon), Kimiko(Karen Fukuhara), and Mother’s Milk(Laz Alonso) are struggling to stay hidden and stay together while healing one another.
The Seven isn’t fairing any better when new cast member Aya Cash steps into her role as Stormfront. The addition to the Seven is utterly terrifying in both her ability to shoot lightning and her social media prowess. Homelander might easily have met his match or a kindred spirit. Cash brings boundless energy and sarcasm to Stormfront. She is a woman with an agenda.
Giancarlo Esposito steps back into his role as Stan Edgar to lead Vought into the next stage of world domination as easily as if he oozed right out of a Los Pollos Hermanos. He is controlling, hyper-intelligent, and twelve steps ahead. He chews every scene he is in, even when he is sharing time with powerhouses like Starr. The scattered storylines, particularly with the Seven, could have left the group dynamic flat. Chemistry has never been a problem for them though, even with limited camera time. The energy practically crackles between them as if charged by Stormfront’s lightning.
There a cheeky sensibility to The Boys that make it feel as if Billy the Butcher himself wrote the script. Everyone is in on the joke. The vulgar, violent, and often over the top series has a lot to say in Season 2. It isn’t just about the surface concepts of fame and profit but now the lasting trauma that brings. What happens when you are primped, pushed up, cinched, made up, idolized for your speed and strength from birth? Like Brightburn, too much power in the wrong hands is never good. Not everyone can deal with that kind of power, primarily if you have been raised to be a weapon and told you were special. With great power comes great responsibility, and most of the supes don’t care about responsibility. The price of fame is greater than the reward.
In between all the moments of grisly gore, and there is plenty of that, is cutting commentary on how events shape our future prejudices and viewpoints. Very few people are black and white. In this comic book, world come to life, there is little black and white. Everyone is morally gray propelled forward by their pain, abuse, and history. Superheroes can save the day and also be monsters.
Feminists can advance female rights but also be bigoted assholes, and very human reluctant heroes can grapple with deep-seated fears. Athletes are exploited for their physical gifts but put out to pasture when they can’t perform like they did when they were 20. Is it okay to think positively about somehow who furthers one cause even if they are a horrible person? Those questions get asked in a surprisingly non-confrontational way, especially given how in your face The Boys is. Few of us are pure, and The Boys makes us face that.
Characters who did terrible things last season become slightly sympathetic, even pathetic in The Boys Season 2. One character gets a side plot that features time with a church that quacks an awful lot like a certain church with some high profile celebrities attached. Whether this group helps or hurts is just one more example of big business consumerism. Use them up and discard them for the betterment of the group regardless of the health of the individual. It’s an interesting angle to take a repulsive character and make them relatable without necessarily redeemable. Those are the plot beats that ring the truest in Season 2.
There’s a wanton abandon that The Boys Season 2 revels in. It doesn’t give a shit who is offended. No one is safe on either side of the aisle, no matter what is in your pants, or how righteous you may be. Our favorite rogue dirty boys and their curse-laden leader are back to do battle with a bunch of hype believing frontmen(persons) with too much power and not enough conscience. Grab your earmuffs and pack your sensibilities at the door because the first three episodes drop September 4th on Amazon Prime with a new episode coming each Friday after that. There are ten episodes in total of the raucous raunchiest show on television. Put that in your c*@t and smoke it.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.