With a distinct lack of summer blockbusters blasting through cinema screens, the second season of The Boys is just in time to satiate our cravings. Amazon’s scathing superhero satire is back for more, releasing the first three episodes of the second season on September 4th, 2020, and then dropping once weekly episodes until the eighth on October 9th.
Having checked out the first three episodes of the second season, I am pleased to report that the bright and shiny superhero show remains as dark as the deepest shades of the night sky. That’s a good thing.
We left the first season having learned that supes are not naturally occurring, but were created with Vought’s own ‘compound V,’ and having witnessed powered people reckon with what their families chose for them. Starlight (Erin Moriarty), whose loyalty has been in flux since her introduction, is left completely alone after the revelation of her parents’ breach of trust, and learning of Huey’s competing motivations. Butcher (Karl Urban) has discovered that his wife is alive and mostly well, locked in a Vought compound of sorts with Homelander’s son. The Boys assume he’s abandoned them.
Season two opens with a distressed and fractured gaggle of teams wiping blood and sweat off their brows. Huey (Jack Quaid) has morphed into everyone’s emo ex boyfriend, leaving voicemails recounting songs that remind him of you. Gross. But not as gross as the sea mammal blood that’s literally all over him. Huey is trying to not only win back the affection of Starlight, but to expose Vought’s misdeeds without needing the help of Butcher.
Starlight herself has some figurative blood to clean up when blackmailing an old friend to steal compound V from a lab, and convincing A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) not to reveal where they last bumped into each other, that place being the scene of her swapping loyalties from The Seven to The Boys. She’s managing this while taking on a girl power press tour alongside her newest teammate, Stormfront (Aya Cash).
Cash’s Stormfront is the newest cast member and continues her long streak of perfectly playing unlikable characters. She purports to be shaking things up with her internet brand of feminism that pushes back at pocketless costumes and manufactured girl gangs. But her quirky side-shave and sensible boots are a shellac over an unlikable mean girl who seems to be a bit more natural of an addition to the sinister The Seven than she lets on.
Homelander (Antony Starr) is threatened by Stormfront’s apparent ambition, but he’s a too busy trying to train the son he just learned was alive. He makes a case for being the most vile member of The Seven with his use of phrases like “superior” and “in plain American,” but some newcomers might come for his throne. If Brightburn flipped Superman on its ass, Homelander and son flipped Brightburn on its own ass. Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) is petrified of his super biological father whose parenting style is a bit more of the “pushing your son into a dangerous sport he hates” variety but the coaching might help him become the only thing able to protect his mother from Homelander and Vought.
Butcher, having discovered his wife is alive, is more fired up than he was when he was driving cars through storefronts. He isn’t missing for long, but he has to win back the trust of his gang and his law enforcement contacts as a means of tackling Vought to rescue his family. It’s hard to imagine him more desperate than we’ve seen him, but with the loss of his allies, and answers to his questions from season one, Butcher is an exceedingly loose canon with more to lose.
The Deep (Chace Crawford) has entered the story in a way that doesn’t redeem him, but finds himself failing at achieving redemption. He’s preyed upon by what purports to be a church as a means of jamming his way back into The Seven by learning to love himself. If you thought Hawkeye couldn’t be more dunked on than he dunks on himself, Deep’s new pal is here to do one better.
I rarely use the phrase “biting wit” but the gags in this season manage to up the ante in a way that shocked me into full body gasps. The glass casket gag is ruthless and I had to pause to ensure I didn’t miss the lines buried in my laughter.
Like it’s opening season, this one spills over with twists and reveals that expand upon the cliff-hangers from season one. The weekly drop schedule will be an exercise in discipline, promising credits rolling while reflecting audience mouth’s aghast in the black mirror.
There are lots of new story threads popping up, from the origins of Vought and its employees to the slowly exposed relationships between The Seven and The Boys. The first three episodes successfully wrap up story threads from the preceding season while introducing a host of new ones to keep us interested in what’s next. I’m absolutely eager to see where Stormfront ends up, how Homelander’s evil could be challenged by a new contender, and what Lamplighter (Shawn Ashmore) will bring. The introduction of supe terrorists (created by Homelander as an attempt to prove the value of Vought’s supes to the government) should prove an indictment of the justification of force while continuing the spirit of the show’s flipping of bad guys and good guys.
The Boys is an on screen adaptation of a comic series that punches your view of superheroes right in their chest plates. Many have taken shots at making superhero media “more realistic and gritty,” and this iteration is a scathing indictment of capitalist culture and politics that would likely arise if superhumans were to show themselves. Manufactured enemies (literally) and private contracts affecting political change continues to hit hard in 2020 and The Boys throws that in our faces while dressing it up with blood, guts, and jarring gags.