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'The Boys' season 2 episode 8 'What I Know' recap/review

Television

‘The Boys’ season 2 episode 8 ‘What I Know’ recap/review

‘The Boys’ tops off a phenomenal second season with a thrilling, poignant, and haunting finale.

Last week’s episode of The Boys concluded in the most mind blowing manner imaginable. Yes, I hate myself for making that pun, but I’m rolling with it.

In addition to all the death and carnage, the failed Congressional hearing also served as the final push needed for the government to allow/request Vought to create more supes using Compound V. Considering all that craziness, it might be easy to overlook that Homelander and Stormfront also turned Ryan against Becca before flying off with her son.

Everybody Loves You Now

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The episode opens with Homelander and the New York City Sheriff doing a PSA/instructional video for schools on how to survive an attack from a super terrorist.

We then jump to the Whitehouse, where the President is preparing to sign an executive order authorizing the use of Compound V by law enforcement and first responders. Apparently watching members of Congress get their heads exploded on live TV made everyone willing to put Vought in charge of national security.

Victoria Nueman and Colonel Mallory make a last ditch plea to the Secretary of Defense, but he says the POTUS’s mind is made up. He also tells them that only way things could reverse course is if Homelander himself made a public statement against the use of Compound V (which isn’t an option for obvious reasons).

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Over at Vought Tower, Black Noire remains in a coma from Maeve’s Almond Joy attack while Homelander tries to figure out who starting popping heads at the Congressional hearing. Stormfront reminds him that it doesn’t matter who did it since they’re now one giant step closer to their goal of leading an army of supes.

Stormfront then mentions how excited she is to free herself from the shackles of celebrity life, but Homelander definitely doesn’t appear to be on the same page about that. He’s also concerned about what will happen if the wrong people start getting their hands on Compound V. Stormfront assures him that her late husband (Frederick Vought) had a “solution” for everything. If you know you’re Nazi history, then you know the awful/terrifying thing she is referring to.

Later, the couple go to retrieve Ryan, who’s been stuck in an office with Ashley all day. Homelander is annoyed to see his son is voluntarily doing homework. He becomes even more disappointed when the boy asks to call his mom.

Stormfront steps in and suggest that they all take a trip to Plane Vought (a gigantic Vought theme park), which Ryan happily agrees to.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

At first, he’s all types of thrilled to be out and about, especially when it becomes clear that his dad and Stormfront are so beloved/admired. When they sit down to eat, however, fans immediately swarm the table. The two heroes easily handle the adoring public, but Ryan completely freaks out. Considering that the poor kid’s been isolated from most of humanity his entire life, it’s completely understandable.

Homelander sees that his son in distress and immediately flies him away.

Keeping the Faith

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

After Annie and her mother share a heartfelt goodbye, she and Hughie attempt to talk the rest of the team down from going on a suicide mission to take out The Seven themselves. She manages to slow things down a bit by suggesting that there’s still someone out there who’s testimony can bring down Vought–all while keeping their head intact. She asks for the group to give her and Hughie the rest of the day before going through with their blunt force plan.

As the pair drive toward their destination, Annie admits that she doesn’t actually think her plan will work. But just like when Hughie faced down impossible odds to find her, he’s committed to trying this with her. That combination of resilience, determination, and loyalty is one of the major reasons why she cares so much about him.

Annie also finally asks the question we’ve all been wondering: Why is Hughie so obsessed with Billy Joel’s music? He gives a painfully mundane answer about it being the music that was always playing in his house when he was growing up.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

As Butcher and his crew continue to prepare for war, he’s interrupted by the shocking arrival of Becca, who managed to escape the Vought Compound.

*Side Note: I should also note that during her escape from the Vought compound, she slid a knife into her sleeve that might as well have had the name “Chekov” inscribed on the blade.*

After heading downstairs and meeting the crew (who are thrilled to finally meet Becca in person), Butcher promises he’ll find her son. He then heads out on his own to “do some digging.”

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Meanwhile, Alastair Aldana has Stan Edgar over to his mansion to negotiate Deep and A-Train rejoining The Seven. Edgar is willing to take Deep back, but draws the line at the team’s former speedster. In his mind, taking back one “has been” is a story of redemption. Taking back two is weakness.

He also strongly implies that Stormfront doesn’t want A-Train on the team because he’s black–something he’s willing to indulge as both a black man and Vought’s CEO due to her current usefulness/popularity.

Aldana still considers getting Deep back in to be a win and accepts. Unbeknownst to them, A-Train is in the next room and heard everything…which seems weird, right? You’d figure the dude in charge of the Church of Sci…er…the Collective would have better security measures in place for such an important meeting.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

But I digress…Edgar walks out of the meeting and receives a call from Butcher, whose “digging” turns out to be an unlikely meeting between the two of them. After some menacing banter (which was really great), Butcher leverages his knowledge of Ryan into an offer: He’ll find the boy if Vought takes Ryan into permanent custody and allows Becca stay with him.

When Edgar asks what he should do if/when Becca demands her son back, Butcher tells him to tell her that the only way the he can be kept safe from Homelander is to remain under Vought’s protection. Edgar is impressed that his useful adversary might quite possibly be more ruthless than he is. He also agrees to the deal while providing Homelander and Stormfront’s current location.

Just the Way You Are

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Hughie and Annie arrive at Maeve’s apartment and ask her to testify. Annie also explains that she is very likely their last chance to take Vought down. Unfortunately, Maeve is far too jaded and emotionally beaten down to even think about going along with their plan. As far as she’s concerned, nothing will ever change no matter what anyone does, including her.

On their way back to the hideout, Annie makes a crack about the new cross necklace Donna gave her and how annoying moms can be. This leads her to realize that Hughie never talks about his mother, which causes her to assume she’s dead.

Hughie reveals that his mom actually left his family when he was six. Before that, however, she’d been warm, affectionate, and fun; the type of mother who’d have impromptu dance parties with her son to Billy Joel’s music. Then one day she took off without ever contacting him or his father again.

In addition to imprinting his nostalgic love for the Piano Man, Hughie’s memories of her are the reason he hangs around with people long after most folks would’ve left or gone their own way–he doesn’t want to ever do what she did to him.

And now I feel like a total a-----e for making fun of him about his Billy Joel obsession.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Annie is right in the middle of telling Hughie how sweet/admirable that part of him is (rather than clingy) when A-Train pops up in the back seat of their car.

After scaring the crap out of them, he explains that it’s not hard to find someone in the city when he can cover all of New York’s boroughs in three hours. He also passes them damning intel on Stormfront courtesy of some files he stole from the Church of the Collective.

When they ask why he’s doing this for them, A-Train responds by saying that he wants back in The Seven, which requires “that Nazi b****” to be gone.

I’ll Cry Instead

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

After returning to the hideout, Hughie giddily greets Becca before showing everyone what A-Train gave them. The entire team is blown away–even Butcher.

With a new plan taking shape, Butcher tells his crew that he doesn’t expect them to help with getting Ryan back. Mother’s Milk & Co. respond by stridently refusing to sit this particular mission out, especially when it means helping Butcher’s long lost wife get her child back (or so they think).

The team then begins gearing up while Hughie and Annie collate and distribute the damning information about Stormfront to the masses. Butcher also tries to tell Becca that he won’t allow her to help, which goes over about as well as you’d expect. She refuses to be sidelined during a rescue mission for her son, putting Butcher in a severely compromised position if his plan to dump Ryan off on Vought comes to fruition. As if that weren’t bad enough, Becca also makes Butcher swear on his dead brother’s soul that he will do everything possible to save Ryan and get him back to her.

Meanwhile, Kimiko expresses her fear to Frenchie that she’ll freeze up if they come face-to-face with Stormfront. Frenchie assures her that when the time comes, she’ll know what to do.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Over at Homelander’s secret cabin, the most powerful man in the world is at a loss for how to talk to his traumatized son. Surprisingly, Stormfront manages to give him some good advice on how to do so.

Even more surprisingly, Homelander actually has a breakthrough moment with Ryan–with genuine empathy and everything. He also sprinkles in some encouraging manipulation for the boy to use his powers (of course), but it was still a surprisingly sweet moment.

Unfortunately, the good vibes are ruined when Homelander takes Ryan outside to try and unlock his laser vision on an action figure of the Deep. As hilarious as this set up is, his advice to “imagine someone he hates” doesn’t land well with the sweet-natured boy. Things get even worse when Stormfront tells Ryan that he needs to learn to protect people like them from “white genocide“, a statement/concept so ridiculous that it even throws Homelander for a loop.

Thankfully, the weirdness comes to a screeching halt when Stormfront’s phone starts blowing up with notifications about the info Hughie and Annie released.

A Matter of Trust

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

By the time Stormfront flies back to Vought Tower, news about her Nazi past and marriage to Frederick Vought is everywhere. In addition to the public’s opinion completely turning against her, Maeve looks like she wants to break her severely tainted teammate in half.

Meanwhile, The Boys arrive just outside Homelander’s cabin and set a cluster of ultrasonic weapons. With Stormfront gone, they are able to set them off and draw Homelander out. Butcher and Becca use the opening to rush into the cabin and grab Ryan, who’s thrilled to be reunited with his mother

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

After the three of them return to the rendezvous point, Butcher changes the plan, instructing Mother’s Milk to use his car and take Becca and Ryan away. He then reveals to Becca that he cut a deal with Edgar to give Ryan over to Vought, but couldn’t do it. Instead, he’s decided to buy them time to get away. Part of that involved leaving the phone he was supposed to use to call Vought inside Homelander’s empty cabin.

As you might imagine, the armed personnel who showed up looking for Ryan are met with a grisly end when Homelander returns and sees that his son is gone.

Becca still insists Butcher come with them, pointing out that he had a perfect chance to give Ryan up and didn’t. He counters by confessing his fear that he’d be an extremely toxic influence on the boy. Even if that weren’t true, though, they are currently out of options and time. Realizing that her husband is right, Becca tearfully kisses him goodbye before getting in the car with Ryan and MM and departing.

They’re only able to travel a few feet when Stormfront returns and violently tosses the vehicle through the air.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Butcher immediately runs over to the car. MM is able to get out under his own power, but Becca is badly shaken up. She’s also much more concerned about Ryan, who’s physically unharmed (likely due to being a supe). MM commands the three of them to go while he joins the others in attempting to hold Stormfront off.

Speaking of her, she is all types pissed. After explaining that her ideology would be fully embraced if it didn’t have the word “Nazi” behind it, Kimiko begins to laugh…like, audibly. She then signs to Frenchie, who translates that that they’re about to whoop her ass.

Sure enough, Annie and Kimiko go full beast bode and knock Stormfront down hard. Unfortunately, she manages to get up and telekinetically hurl Annie away before blowing up all of Frenchie’s carefully crafted anti-supe weapons. Kimiko immediately jumps in and begins absolutely wailing on her. Just when it looks like she’s about to put her brother’s killer down for good, Stormfront gets the upper hand and snaps Kimiko’s neck.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)The Boys (Amazon Prime)

MM, Frenchie, and Hughie respond to seeing their friend go down by unleashing a hail of futile gunfire. Stormfront easily flings them all away before countering another attack from Annie. As she begins to stalk toward them, Maeve shows up out of nowhere and delivers a vicious right hook to Stormfront’s face.

After Kimiko heals from her injuries, she joins Annie and Maeve in kicking the absolute crap out of their Nazi adversary. The beatdown is so relentless and severe (and awesome) that Stormfront ends up exclaiming “F*** this!” before flying away in retreat.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Back at the cabin, Homelander emerges covered in the Vought security forces’ blood before heading into the woods to look for his son.

Meanwhile, Butcher, Becca, and Ryan are stopped by a bruised and battered Stormfront. Butcher tries to neutralize her, but she easily tosses him aside before telling Ryan to come to her. Despite not having any powers, Becca steps in front of her boy to protect him. When Stormfront reaches for him, she whips out the knife from before (told ya) and jams it into her eye.

After screaming in agony, Stormfront pulls out the knife, grabs Becca by the throat, and begins choking her to death. Butcher tries shooting and beating his wife’s attacker, but it barely affects her. As Becca’s eyes begin to roll back in her head, Stormfront demands she look at her so she can see the lights go out.

Before that can happen, however, Ryan’s cries to leave his mom alone transform into rage, which manifests into the first use of his heat vision. After a blinding blast, Butcher awakens to find Stormfront completely mutilated and barely alive. He also sees Ryan crying and apologizing to his mother, who he accidentally shot in the neck.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Butcher runs over and tries to put pressure on the wound, but Becca is too far gone to be saved. With her dying breaths, she asks her husband to make sure Ryan knows her death wasn’t his fault. She also makes him promise to watch over her son and keep him safe.

After she passes away, Butcher begins to cry (which honestly got to me a bit). He then picks up his crowbar and glares at the child who accidentally killed the woman he loved. Before things can go in a very dark direction, Homelander shows up and looks upon his mutilated girlfriend with the closest thing to pity we’ve ever seen from him. After holding back some tears of his own, he angrily asks his son if he was responsible and demands that he come to him.

Ryan goes to Butcher instead, who in that moment resolves to protect Ryan at all costs.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Homelander tells Butcher to let him have his son, but he refuses to budge, explaining that he made a promise to the boy’s mother. Just as Homelander moves in to kill him, Maeve shows up and commands her teammate to let them go. She also informs him that he’ll no longer be hunting Starlight and will leave her and Elena alone. If he doesn’t, she’ll release the video from Transoceanic Flight 37.

Homelander threatens to destroy everyone she knows, but Maeve counters that she doesn’t care as long as everyone gets to learn what a truly vile person he is…and that no one ever loves him again.

That last part convinces him to let Butcher and Ryan go.

And So It Goes

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Edgar holds a press conference where he claims that Stormfront was the sole perpetrator of the Congressional hearing massacre. He also announces that the release of Compound V has been placed on hold indefinitely.

He then turns things over to Homelander, who thanks Maeve and Starlight (now wearing her classic costume) for helping to neutralize Stormfront. He also apologizes to Starlight for wrongly accusing her of sabotage and conspiracy before formally welcoming her back into The Seven.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Meanwhile, Deep and A-Train are watching the press conference when Aldana reveals that he knows A-Train stole the church’s data on Stormfront. Surprisingly, he also commends the speedster on his initiative before telling him that he’s been accepted back into the Seven.

Unfortunately, that means the lone “redemption” spot previously held by the Deep has now been taken away from him.

As A-Train celebrates and departs, Deep lashes out Aldana, angrily pointing out that he did everything the church asked only to be denied what he was promised. Aldana responds by accusing him of being a “toxic personality” and asking him to leave.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Hughie meets Annie in a park, where he’s surprised to see her wearing the cross she got from her mother. Annie explains that if Butcher can do the right thing, then there must be some kind of higher power out there. She also admits that she’s unsure if continuing to live at Vought Tower is safe, but someone taught her that it’s important to keep trying to do the right thing no matter what.

After the two share a kiss, Hughie tells Annie that he’s decided not to be so “clingy” with the people he’s been hanging around and wants to try being on his own for a while. Following an awkward moment/misunderstanding, he admits that he still fully intends to be clingy with her.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Meanwhile, Butcher gives Ryan a necklace of St. Christopher that Becca gave him to keep him safe. He then turns the boy over to Mallory, who promises to protect the boy from Vought.

After the two speculate if Ryan will end up like his father, Mallory tells Butcher that all charges against him and The Boys have been dropped. The White House is also opening up an Office of Superhuman Affairs to be led by Victoria Neuman. She’ll be providing Mallory with some off the book funding to form a team to keep tabs on the supes. She offers Butcher a spot, but his only response is to sullenly walk away.

Elsewhere, MM happily returns to his family, Frenchie and Kimiko go out dancing together, and Homelander stands on a skyscraper and jerks off over the city while proclaiming that he can do whatever he wants.

She’s Got a Way

Aldana makes a phone call to Victoria Neuman to congratulate her on being appointed as the head of the new supe affairs office. He also promises to get her enough dirt on other superheroes to take Vought down if she’s willing to expedite the church’s tax exempt status. She agrees and tells him to call her office to get things rolling.

After Aldana hangs up, he sits back, cracks open an ice cold Fresca, and covers the surrounding walls with blood as his head explodes.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

From outside Aldana’s manor, Neuman’s eyes change to a milky white, revealing her to be the supe who’s been causing craniums to burst all season.

With that bit of nastiness out of the way, she heads back to her office for her next appointment…which turns out to be Hughie asking to come work for her.

The Verdict

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

While we still aren’t 100% clear on Neuman’s motivations, I absolutely loved this ending.

I tend to lean left politically, so The Boys‘ depiction of a not-so-covert Nazi stoking anti-immigrant fears definitely resonated. That said, I often wish that the shows I watch/enjoy would acknowledge the corrupting influence power can have on both sides of the aisle more often. One reason I love The Big Short so much is how the movie presents Left vs. Right as a sideshow compared to the titanic (and one sided) battle between Haves and Have Nots.

Victoria Neuman is an obvious stand in for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s real life status as a right wing boogeyman has always perplexed me. From my vantage point, she appears to be an extremely smart and determined legislator who can also be far too idealistic at times. Perhaps it’s because she entered Congress by beating a heavily entrenched/incumbent primary opponent via grassroots campaigning, all while working a full time service industry job. You’d figure that type of work ethic combined with a rejection of big money politics would endear her at least a little to the same crowd who claims they want to “drain the swamp.”

But I digress….fair/right or not, AOC is now the defacto face of left wing politics. While I certainly don’t think she’s evil, I love that her show counterpart is. Neuman may run a political facade based on love, equality, and government accountability, but like most politicians on either side, she’s just ruthlessly dedicated to consolidating power for herself.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

As far as the rest of the story is concerned, this was a fantastic finale in what has been an exceptional season. Even the Deep subplot, which was terrible at first, turned out to be pretty good. Of course it certainly helped having Goran Visnjic (Alastair Aldana) and Jessie Usher (A-Train) add their inspired performances into the mix.

We also got some satisfying (and heartbreaking) conclusions to our main story arcs that created some wonderful set ups for season 3. We already know that Butcher is going to get back into the mix somehow, but there’s also no way he doesn’t end up being in Ryan’s orbit again.

Same with Mother’s Milk, who I predict won’t be able to resist the call when Butcher needs him despite finally being reunited with his family. Much as I want to see MM be happy, I want to see Laz Alonso going toe to toe with Butcher/Karl Urban even more.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Over at Vought Tower, Annie is back in her old costume and has a strong ally in Maeve. Unfortunately, she still has to be in same orbit as Homelander, who knows for certain that she was the mole who helped bring down Stormfront.

Speaking of her, there’s no way Stan Edgar doesn’t figure out something awful to do with her mangled form. When you consider what a fantastic job Aya Cash did, I’m predicting they’ll slap some cybernetic limbs on the former Nazi and turn her into an even more soulless assassin than Black Noire was/is (who I fully expect to recover, as well).

Vought is in a very precarious position right now, but that hopefully means we get to watch Giancarlo Esposito work even more of his magic next season. Everything I’ve ever heard about the guy in real life makes him sound like a wonderful person, but damn is he good at playing a smug genious villain.

'The Boys' season 2 episode 8 'What I Know' recap/review

There were so many great performances this season that I could probably fill up another 5,000 words talking about them. Unfortunately, that would likely cause my editor (Gary Catig) to inject Compound V into himself and see if he could explode my head. So I’ll just wrap up this portion of the review by saying that everyone in The Boys this season was at the absolute top of their game. Even though the subject matter/tone is often bombastic and crass, the acting is as good as show on television.

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention by far the best performance of the season: Antony Starr as Homelander. I never would’ve expected a character who’s a complete narcissistic sociopath to have so many complex layers to them. If he doesn’t at least get an Emmy nomination, then you can probably blame Mallory and/or Butcher for finding a way to blackmail the voting committee.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

I will say, though, that one of the few parts of this episode that I didn’t like involved him. While I get that the show’s creators desperately wanted to use the Homelander masturbation scene they were forced to cut in Season 1, it didn’t really work with the otherwise poignant/haunting codas surrounding it.

There were also a few instances where the show’s timing felt a bit too convenient, like both of Stormfront’s appearances during the episode’s climax.

I’m also not sure how to feel about Butcher leaving Ryan with Mallory and the CIA. Considering what a phenomenal job Karl Urban did selling his turn to protecting Becca’s son, him going back on his promise and handing the boy over to the authorities doesn’t feel right…

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

…or maybe one of the plots next season will be Butcher keeping tabs on Ryan from the shadows. It would be a bit of stretch since Mallory is already on his side, but if it means we get to see more of Laila Robbins than I’m all for it.

No matter what’s on deck for Season 3, however, The Boys followed up its great first season with an even better second one filled with incredible world building, engaging plot lines, and even more engaging character arcs. I never like getting my hopes up too high for any series, but I’ve got a feeling this one is going to keep finding ways to top itself for a while.

'The Boys' season 2 episode 8 'What I Know' recap/review
'The Boys' S 2, E 8 'What I Know' Recap/Review
'The Boys' tops off a phenomenal second season with a thrilling, poignant, and haunting finale.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
As has been the case all season, every individual performance was top notch, particularly Antony Starr as Homelander.
The season's storyline provided us with satisfying (and heartbreaking) conclusions that also brilliantly set up next season.
Great action and a shocking twist at the end makes this the most viscerally thrilling episode of the season (which is really saying something).
The scene of Homelander jerking off over the city (which was originally part of Season 1) felt weird and out of place compared to the codas surrounding it.
There were also a few instances where the show's timing felt a bit too convenient, like both of Stormfront's appearances during the episode's climax. 
9.5
Great
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