The first season of Amazon Prime’s The Boys ended with Butcher discovering that Homelander had been raising a son with his wife, who he’d thought had been murdered. It’s quite the departure from the comic source material and should make things even more interesting as we head into Season 2.
This time around, we’ll be doing recaps/reviews for each episode since they’ll be released weekly instead of all at once…except for the first three, which were released today. Is it worth delaying your Labor Day weekend a few hours to binge The Boys’ sophomore season? Let’s find out.
Setting the Board
The episode opens with Vought CEO Stan Edgar hashing out military operating procedures with the Department of Defense. It quickly becomes clear that he expects to have full authority over the company’s superheroes even when they are in combat situations. He also demands that the existence of Compound V be kept/classified as top secret and that Vought be given an incredibly high threshold when it comes to collateral damage.
While all this is going on, Black Noire conducts a brutal raid in the country of Syria. After slaughtering nearly everyone inside a compound, he kills Naquib, the super terrorist Homelander created to help get the DoD on board with putting superheroes in the military. After carrying Naquib’s decapitated head into the bedroom of a small boy, he picks up a stuffed bunny and attempts to comfort the child before exiting the bloody premises.
Later, Homelander announces Naquib’s death at the memorial for Translucent, who was killed by Hughie last season. Publicly, however, Vought claims that the former member of the The Seven was killed by a cartel of super-powered terrorists. Following Homelander’s eulogy, Starlight/Annie performs a cheesy song in the hero’s memory.
Homelander and Starlight depart the ceremony hand-in-hand, much to the delight of fans and reporters alike. Hughie watches the proceedings on a phone from a dingy room, clearly annoyed/jealous at seeing Annie appear friendly with the super-powered narcissist (even if it is all for show). He then prepares to leave the underground drug den where he and the rest of Butcher’s abandoned crew are currently hiding out.
After lying to Mother’s Milk about going on a run for hand sanitizer, Hughie covertly meets up with a de-glamified Annie on the subway. He provides her with a personnel file for a Vought employee, who she assures won’t be any trouble despite having known him as a teenager. The pair then awkwardly bring up the past, making it clear that Annie still resents/distrusts Hughie and that he still feels very strongly for her.
Later, Hughie returns to the drug den and watches a ridiculously inaccurate TV reenactment of Madelyn Stillwell‘s murder. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, Butcher is the the one who killed the former Vought executive while her infant child was miraculously spared. The program then shows wanted notices for him, Butcher, Mother’s Milk, and Frenchie. Hughie suggests they try exposing Vought by obtaining a sample of Compound V, but is furiously shut down.
At a bar in Sandusky, Ohio, the Deep watches Translucent’s memorial service and reacts angrily to being cropped out of the file photo of The Seven. After the bartender kicks him out, he heads to a water park and drunkenly yells at children, resulting in him having a total breakdown and being arrested.
Later, he’s unexpectedly bailed out by a fellow superhero (and brilliant Hawkeye knockoff/parody) named Eagle the Archer. Despite not remembering him after multiple introductions, Eagle still remains committed to helping the Deep, explaining that “even heroes need a hand once in a while.” He also offers him a Fresca, which is not only one of the world’s most underrated soft drinks, but also ends up becoming a bizarre running theme.
After crashing on Eagle’s couch, the Deep wakes up to find that the archer has been joined by a woman named Carol, who offers him another Fresca. Eagle explains how she helped him recover from hitting rock bottom after running out of arrows during a hostage crisis (HA!) and questioning his self-worth. Carol then asks the Deep to tell her why he struggles with drinking and demeaning women, causing him to get up and begin to storm out. He changes his mind, however, when she offers to help him reclaim his spot on the Seven.
She also reveals herself to be part of something called the Church of the Collective.
After wandering into Stillwell’s old office, Homelander finds and drinks a bottle of her pumped breast milk. While an adult man guzzling breast milk is unsettling enough on its own, he partakes of it in about the most disturbing manner imaginable.
Thankfully, he’s interrupted by The Seven’s publicist Ashley, who excitedly tells him about a new candidate to fill Translucent’s spot on the team. She leads him to a training room where a blind superhero (Blindspot) is putting his impressive Daredevil-like skills on display. Ashley gushes over how adding a “differently abled” team member will poll with millennials.
Homelander calls Blindspot over, expresses admiration/amazement at his heightened hearing abilities, and promptly busts both of his eardrums. As the hero lays writing and bleeding on the floor, Homelander chastises Ashley for thinking he would every want or allow a “cripple” to join The Seven. He also menacingly reminds her that he is the only one who gets to find and approve any new team members.
Later, Homelander sits in with Ashely on a focus group session. He correctly predicts that the term “super villain” will test infinitely better with the general public than “super terrorist.” When the group says they like slogan “Saving the World” better than “Saving America,” however, Homelander overrides them.
Ashley gently tries to push back, but he firmly reminds her that the Seven will be working with the United State military, not everyone else. He also has final say over everything, meaning that “Saving America” is going to be their new motto no matter what the market research says.
I think it’s safe to say at this point that Ashley wishes she could go back to just being Starlight’s agent.
Storm on the Horizon
At a sound stage built to look like a military outpost, Homelander and Maeve produce a commercial for their new Saving America alliance with the military (which features a soldier who is actually an actor).
Production is interrupted when a superhero named Stormfront shows up, livestreaming everything on Instagram and revealing all the behind-the-scenes details. After brashly introducing herself to Homelander and Maeve, she informs them that she’s been selected by Edgar to be the newest member of The Seven.
As you can probably imagine, Ashley is shocked/terrified at the news. Homelander, on the other hand, is just plain pissed.
He makes an announced visit to Edgar’s office, where the superhero reminds the CEO that he’s the face of Vought before threatening to leave at end of the year when his contract is up.
Instead of being intimidated, Edgar breezily regales Homelander with the cooperation’s non-publicized origins. It was founded by Frederick Vought, a high level Nazi scientist who Hitler provided with endless supply of test subjects to form and develop Compound V. In 1944, he saw that the Axis was destined to lose and defected to the United States, where Compound V was used to create American super soldiers that helped end the war.
For his work with the United State Military, Vought was given a full pardon from President Roosevelt, leading to the highly sanitized and pro-American image his legacy enjoys today.
Edgar parlays this history lesson into Vought’s current reality, which is actually not in the business of making superheroes. They are first and foremost a pharmaceutical company–and Compound V is their most valuable asset. Not Homelander or any of the other heroes they have created with it.
Edgar also reveals that he knows Homelander released Compound V to other countries, jeopardizing both the company and America’s national defense along with alerting the FDA to the formula’s existence. Now he has to clean up the mess Homelander made, which could easily go public and ruin the beloved superhero’s reputation. As far as Edgar is concerned, he doesn’t have to consult him on anything–especially new team members.
Enraged at being boxed in and defeated, Homelander flies to the house we saw at the end of Season 1. After politely knocking on the door, he tells a shocked and scared Becca Butcher that he would like to see his son.
Starlight/Annie ignores multiple texts from her mother while riding a cab to a motel. She secretly videos the Vought employee Hughie showed her having his arm chopped off (which he painlessly regrows) by a sadistic man for cash.
Later, she walks into a diner and pretends to randomly run into Gecko. The pair have coffee and reminisce a bit before Annie asks for a favor: Break into the Vought labs (where he works) and steal a sample of Compound V. When Gecko pretends not to know what Compound V is, she shows him the video she took at the motel, threatening to post it on social media if he doesn’t cooperate.
Gecko is hurt and infuriated at his former friend’s betrayal, but has no choice other than to help her.
Back at the drug den, one of the gang members returns from a job with inhumanly severe injuries. Hughie & Co. head down to the docks, where they find a boat that had been lifted and dropped on its side. Kimiko also finds a piece of origami near the wreckage that clearly means something to her.
Later, the team watches surveillance video from the docks, which reveals two very bad things:
- The gang Frenchie has them shacking up with is also involved in human trafficking.
- One of the people they smuggled in is a super-powered terrorist who can telekinetically lift/control objects…and he managed to escape.
After returning to the hideout, Kimiko attempts to communicate something to Frenchie involving the origami she found and the word “boy,” but to no avail. Meanwhile, Hughie tries to ask the others what they should do about the escaped super terrorist. After his suggestion about going to CIA Deputy Director Raynor is shut down, he finally broaches the subject of reaching out to Annie/Starlight.
MM quickly sniffs out that Hughie has already been in contact with her and is about to kick his ass before Frenchie intervenes. After settling down a bit, MM explains that he has no desire to get dragged back into the hunt for superheroes–he just wants to get back to his wife and daughter some day.
Hughie counters that he doesn’t have a family or anything else to go back to. Their group is all he has. He also points out that if they help Raynor catch the terrorist, she might have the power and resources to help MM get back to his family. MM and the rest of the group agree that it’s worth a shot.
On the way to their meeting, MM tells Hughie how obvious it is that he’s not over Annie/Starlight and to stop pressing things with her. Not only is it pathetic, but it also puts her in grave danger if Homelander finds out they’ve been in contact.
When they get to the meeting site, Raynor asks if they’ve heard anything from Butcher. She also gives MM a greatly appreciated update on his family along with a pledge to do all she can to reunite them if their intel checks out.
After providing Raynor with the super terrorist’s description, she begins talking about this being the last piece of a puzzle she’s been trying to solve–one that leads to a coup from within Vought. Before she can explain any further, her head explodes, causing Hughie & Co. to freak out and flee the scene.
Back at the drug den, Hughie is despondent over the fact that he got Raynor killed. MM points out that what happened to her wasn’t meant for them–otherwise they’d all be dead. Someone was watching her and listening to what she said…and when she said the wrong thing, she died. It was also probably Vought, meaning that the company just killed one of the highest ranking law enforcement officers in the country.
Just as the enormity of the trouble they’re in starts to hit, Annie calls Hughie to tell him that she found a way to get a sample of Compound V. She can immediately sense he’s shaken about something, but he lies and says everything’s fine, which she can tell is not the truth.
Just when things appear that they can’t get any worse for Hughie, Butcher strolls into the drug den and boldly declares that he’s back in charge of things.
Despite having a lot of moving parts to navigate, The Boys does a great job bringing most of the series’ plot threads up to speed. We also got a huge dose of Homelander sociopathy, even higher stakes than before, and a gigantic plot twist in the form of poor Raynor’s exploded head.
It was disappointing, however that we didn’t get to learn more about Butcher. I understand the need to create suspense, but having such a huge revelation go unaddressed for the entire first episode of the season was all types of frustrating. Also, I can already tell that this subplot with the Deep is going to drive me nuts. Chace Crawford is great, but his storyline feels ridiculously inconsequential compared to all the other high stakes narratives happening around it. Perhaps that’ll change in future episodes, but for now his appearances only make me wish they’d hurry up and finish.
One big change I’m excited about is more screen time for Ginacarlo Esposito (Stan Edgar)–and not just because I’m a Star Wars fan who loved him in The Mandalorian. The dude stood toe-to-toe with the most powerful superhuman in the world and completely owned the room. That type of smugly assured villainy isn’t easy to pull off. Esposito makes it an art form.
I also love the dynamic that’s been created by super terrorists running amuck, all while Butcher’s crew plays cat & mouse games via Annie/Starlight to take down Vought.
Speaking of Annie, it was jarring to see her be so brutally cutthroat with a friend from her childhood. I get why she did it, but Erin Moriarty does a fantastic job mixing the character’s earned jadedness with the hopeful young hero we met in Season 1. It makes what could have been a simple “gotcha” scene exponentially more powerful and difficult to watch.
I’m honestly not sure what to think about Stormfront yet, although you gotta love anyone who can put Homelander on his heels and livestream it. I have a feeling we’ll learn quite a bit about her next episode–hopefully as much or more as we get to learn about what’s been going on with Butcher and Becca.
Continue to our recap/review of ‘The Boys’ Season 2, Episode 2 ‘Proper Preparation and Planning’ here.