The Boys season 2 review

Buckle up because The Boys are back in town for an even bigger and bloodier outing – trust me this isn’t for the faint hearted! Based on The New York Times best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the debut season of the superhero satire was one of the most watched Amazon Original series. Developed by showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Executive Produced by Seth Rogen (Preacher), excitement for the second series has reached new heights thanks to a fantastic panel at SDCC@Home. Even before the second series airs, a third has already been greenlit, with Jensen Ackles on board as super Soldier Boy. So for this huge fan, I’m so glad to confirm that this is one of the must-watch shows of the Autumn, and definitely just as bingeable as the first!

Following the shocking events of the first season, The Boys find themselves on the run from both the law and the Supes, with Butcher (Karl Urban) now AWOL. Hughie’s (Jack Quaid) still working with Starlight (Erin Moriarty) to try and bring down Vought by exposing Compound V to the public, putting the Supe in an awkward position with the dangerous and controlling Homelander (Antony Starr). Meanwhile, the addition of new member Stormfront (Aya Cash) upsets the unstable balance of the Seven, with her newfound popularity threatening Homelander. But does the mysterious Supe have an agenda of her own amongst Vought’s fight against Supervillains?

The eight episode series features brand new additions to the cast, with Kripke further expanding the world of the Seven and Vought, along with exploring a number of the character’s backstories. Interestingly, the first few episodes are a bit of a slow burn, gradually introducing you to mysterious newcomer Stormfront, whilst establishing various plot points in the narrative. And Kripke juggles A LOT of interlinking plots; the overarching mission is still the Boys working undercover with Starlight to expose the truth about Vought, Compound V and how superheroes are made, not born. The opening sequence with Black Noir viciously dispatching super terrorists in Syria definitely sets the scene, as Vought is still waging war against ‘super villains’. Also explored is The Deep’s transformation via the suspicious Church of the Collective, Butcher’s plan to save his wife and one of the biggest questions – who really is Stormfront?! If there was one main criticism of the second season, it would be the juggling of the numerous plots getting a little convoluted, at times taking the focus away from the main Vought narrative.

The series once again hilariously satirises the overstuffed superhero genre. Painting the Seven as film and social media stars, Kripke takes on the media and current commercialised celebrity culture, along with wonderfully portraying the PR and corporate motivations behind the Supes. Vought, the multi-billion dollar conglomerate, controls all of their branding, damage control, constructed narratives just like reality TV shows – it’s all so fake. There’s a hilarious p**s take on press junkets, film pitches and sets and even a nod to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – it’s honestly so genius. Alongside the irreverent media deconstruction, there’s also an interesting commentary on terrorism and racism, particularly with the subplot involving the appearance of “super terrorists”, created by Homelander himself. But underneath this super fun, outrageous satire, the sophomore season dives even deeper into the heart of the character’s motivations and past traumas. Members of both The Boys and The Seven are messy and complicated characters, with plenty of twists and turns, including betrayal and manipulations, along the way. And yes it’s just as shocking and ultra violent as you’d come to expect; if you’ve seen the whale scene, you’ll know what I’m talking about!

Personally, one of the main draws of this series is how wonderful the ensemble cast is – it genuinely seems like they’re all having a real blast with the show, especially during the panel at SDCC@Home. The status quo for The Boys has changed dramatically since the first season; the loveable antiheroes are now on the run and wanted fugitives. With Butcher (Karl Urban) missing in action, Hughie (Jack Quaid) steps up and assumes the leadership role, proving a great moral compass for the group. Urban’s Butcher has an outstanding arc too; last season he was ruthless and obsessed with seeking revenge against Stormlander for what he did to his wife. Now he knows she’s alive, he’ll do anything to get her back; but there’s one complication – Homelander’s son. You finally find out more about his family and backstory this time round, really giving a lot of depth to the character. Karen Fukuhara deservedly gets more screentime too, particularly with her sweet relationship with Frenchie (Tomer Capon).

On the other hand, the dynamics and power structure within The Seven have changed dramatically. One of the standouts continues to be Anthony Starr, with Homelander even more out of control this season as his power over the other Supes slowly dissipates. His narcism has been dialled up to 11; he only cares about points, focus groups and audience ratings. To top that off, he’s even more violent (he viciously injures a Supe for being blind) and manipulative, particularly towards Queen Maeve and Starlight. With the addition of newbie Stormfront getting better ratings and following than him, he begins to lose it and goes off the deep end. Speaking of The Deep, he has a particularly interesting arc too, following his “sabbatical” to Sandusky, Ohio after the sexual abuse scandal. He undergoes a fascinating transformation, working through his trauma (he’s so alone and Homelander vocally abuses him about his gills) thanks to the questionable Church of the Collective. We also finally learn more about Queen Maeve and her secret sexuality, along with the introduction of newcomer Aya Cash who is just so brash and hilarious as the kick ass Stormfront, often stealing scenes from Anthony Starr. Another addition is the ever classy Giancarlo Esposito as Vought CEO Stan Edgar, who’s professional yet imposing presence may add an interesting dynamic to the Homelander and Vought relationship.

As expected, there’s plenty of carnage and gruesome violence to satisfy the most ardent gore fans. The whale scene is possibly the most outrageous thing I’ve seen on TV for a while; there’s also even more explosions and people’s faces are literally ripped off. The practical effects, particularly the prosthetics and make-up, are truly phenomenal and just so believable. There’s a particularly hilarious Supe sex scene which is just brilliantly done too. The costumes from designer LJ Shannon are equally as impressive and detailed, with newcomer Stormfront’s particularly standing out. And yes, Karl Urban somehow manages to top the amount of of times “c***s” is used in a sentence!

Verdict

Rude, crude and ultra-violent; The Boys are most certainly back with another hugely diabolical but enjoyable outing. Kripke and crew are clearly having fun with these heinous “heroes” and definitely milking the controversial topics for the sake of being sensational. Whilst I appreciate the further expansion of the world and the better developed character arcs, the subversion of the superhero genre doesn’t quite have the same impact as it did when it first graced our screens.

Rating:

The Boys season 2 launches 4th September on Amazon Prime Video.

Nicola Austin

Nicola is the Editor-in-Chief of WHAH, alongside her day job in digital marketing. As well as writing for the site and podcasting, she is also a contributor to the fantastic JumpCut Online.

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