Amazon’s The Boys’ impressive first season left fans on a cliffhanger that deviated from the comics with a surprising new direction: Billy Butcher’s wife is still alive. To make matters worse, she’s also had Homelander’s child. If this wasn’t dramatic enough, the rest of the team are on the run after their attack on Vought International and Billy was framed for the death of Madelyn Stillwell. Surely, the only way is up for The Boys in season two? Wrong, but watching the team scramble to fight back against the Seven is insanely entertaining.
Without a doubt, the standout star(r) is once again Homelander, mainly because Antony Starr steals every scene with his unpredictable reign of super-terror. He’s constantly chilling, and it’s hard to not feel on edge whenever he’s on-screen. There’s a brief shocking outburst early on which proves he’s not here to play, but it just shows how big his ego has become. A huge driving force of Amazon’s The Boys is the effects of toxic masculinity – and it’s fascinating see that explored through the superhero lens using a range of super-powered antics and vigilantism alike. Homelander’s twisted version of fatherhood is clearly filling the void in his life that he never had growing up. A psychologist would have a field day analysing Homelander’s issues and a desire for family.
His troubles only get worse once Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito joins the Amazon series as Mr. Edgar. It’s fascinating to see Homelander face-up to an opponent who might not have the abilities of a costumed crusader or a veteran soldier, but can absolutely hold his own against him in a match of wits. Esposito brings an incredible amount of gravitas to Mr. Edgar and is entirely commanding as he faces Antony Starr down. His performance speaks volumes about his abilities as an actor and the possibilities of this new addition. Esposito is immediately pushed to the forefront of the series as The Boys begins, and really dives into a super-powered version of the military-industrial complex. Right from the opening, it’s shown how brutally effective the heroes can be in the field. All we’ll say is anyone who had complaints over the lack of Black Noir in the first season will be more pleased this time around.
There’s also another newcomer who shakes the team up – and it’s a breath of fresh air to see Aya Cash’s Stormfront throw a spanner in the works of the monotonous PR routine the heroes constantly put up with to satisfy Vought. But she definitely uses her ‘tell it how it is’ charm to push her far-right, racist ideologies like fans briefly saw in the recent trailer. There’s a particular fight scene towards the end of the third episode that signifies everything we need to know about her, especially when she spits out a particularly venomous line. It’s interesting to see her initially playful dynamic disarm Starlight and Maeve (as well as the audience) while she’s clearly sneaking her true intentions under the radar. Although she’s a re-written version of her comics counterpart, fans of the Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson books will likely know where the Amazon series will take her.
Speaking of a deviation from the comics, Butcher’s new motivation in The Boys season two completely changes him. While he’s always been driven by the disappearance of his wife, Becca, discovering she’s still alive has turned him into a truly desperate version of himself. Karl Urban’s brilliant, sweary metaphors are still hilarious, but his dynamic with the team is definitely different now that they can see how human he really is. And although the first episode definitely feels slower in his absence to begin with, it’s equally great to see how they cope without him. While it takes a little while to get off the ground, the team’s paranoia as they continue the fight only raises the stakes. Unfortunately for Jack Quaid’s Hughie that means being pushed even further down this violent rabbit hole as the reality of everything the team get up to begins to unravel his sanity. Poor Wee Hughie.
Oh, and don’t worry. If you thought the first season was a violent bloodbath, just you wait. There’s decapitations, eviscerations, beheadings, laser burns and a gloriously hideous attack on a whale. If you enjoy your superheroes with a dose of the extreme, The Boys is definitely for you. Sure, it feels a little too gratuitous at times, but part of the show’s charm is seeing how much it can get away with. It’s delightfully twisted.
Speaking of whales, let’s talk about The Deep. He’s in a complete downwards spiral (or is that whirlpool?) after the events of the first season. Surprisingly, he has one of the best and weirdly bizarre character developing moments superhero fans will have seen in a long time. And since he has one if the most abusive streaks so embedded in The Boys‘ story, it’s interesting to see how it pushes him further. And although it borders the line of excusing his actions, the show stays firmly on the side of condemning him as Starlight (rightfully) refuses to forgive him. He’s completely detestable, but his character arc is fascinating. Showrunner Eric Kripke has found the ideal balance of enough social-commentary to be entirely self-aware, but it never forgets just how whacky and savage these heroes can be.
Overall, the second season of Amazon’s The Boys is off to a violently gripping start that promises some brilliant new developments as the ‘Supe’ fever begins to engulf the world.
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