The Boys Season 2 Web series Review: Darker, more twisted and more enjoyable
While Season 1 served more as an origins story of our titular delinquent superheroes, this season shows us the vulnerability beneath all the badassery
What separates The Boys from the deluge of superhero content out there is its dichotomy of being able to be crass, crude and insensitive, while at once having its heart in the right place. It’s a series in which there’s a sensitive scene about a father playing catch with his son; but it’s also one in which a superhero’s power is having genitalia that can be elongated.
Cast: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Aya Cash
Developed by: Eric Kripke
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Season 2 of this hit series, based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, continues from the first season’s final revelation that the wife of Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), allegedly raped by Homelander (Antony Starr), is not dead but is actually the mother of Homelander's son. Season 2’s theme is about the rediscovery of identity, and uncovering truths, and this extends to every character out there.
While Season 1 served more as an origins story of our titular delinquent superheroes, this season shows us the vulnerability beneath all the badassery—we even learn that one of the supes has a nut allergy. Homelander, who’s lost Madelyn Stillwell, is on the look out for reassurance and affection and goes to creepier extremes than you have already seen from him in the first season. Billy, who has not had time to process his new reality, is desperate to save his wife from Homelander. Meanwhile, Homelander is also trying to be a better dad for a son who happens to be the first human to have natural superpowers. Hughie (Jack Quaid), who’s as clueless as we was during the previous season, finds his ground and is shown to be the only moral person around along with Starlight (Erin Moriarty). A-Train (Jessie T Usher) and the Deep (Chace Crawford) are fighting their own battles, while we learn more about the background of Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). We also get a new joinee to The Seven in the form of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a rebel who looks to upset the established order.
Season 2 is as much, if not more, unapologetic than its predecessor. Xenophobia, racism, animal cruelty, misogyny, corporate greed, substance abuse… you name it, you get it. The Boys tops it all up with a liberal dose of reference to Hitler and the Nazi regime. This unapologetically dark storytelling has been the USP of the series and is a relief from some superhero films that are dark only in how little light is used to show proceedings. I liked that while The Boys Season 2 has its proceedings set in today’s world, it resists the temptation to satire it. For example, a character who gets ousted for being a sexual predator turns to a 'religion' for help, reminding us of a popular real-world example. There's also a running gag on the Coca-Cola drink, Fresca. The Boys is a cleverly written series where even the smallest of details are paid attention to. In a blink-and-miss scene, we get shown the website of Vought International, and if you google that—as I did—you get taken to Sony Pictures’ page for The Boys. Such little details add up to make you fonder of this series.
The tragic backstories provide ample room for the cast to showcase their performative prowess. The characters are also more fleshed out than before, which has the effect of making each episode almost one-hour long. Though plenty can be spoken about the enjoyable performances, Antony Starr, as Homelander, quite steals the show. Be it the character’s struggling personal life or the equally distressing professional side, where his public image as the friendly neighbourhood superhero gets increasingly tarnished, the way he sucks it all up without breaking down makes for some intense scenes. As an aside, that Giancarlo Esposito is getting a longer role than what we saw in Season 1 is enough to spark joy for Breaking Bad fans.
Season 2 captures the twisted and ludicrous lives of almost a dozen grey characters in the most disturbing, and yet, entertaining way. For every CGI-heavy, big-budget superhero film that's going to come up soon, let's hope that we get more grounded stories like these. With Season 3 confirmed, it's safe to say that The Boys are here to stay, and I, for one, am thrilled.