DISCLAIMER: This review of The Boys Season Two is bereft of spoilers. If you’re looking for insight into Butcher’s favorite Hawaiian t-shirt or how many times Homelander says, “You guys are the real heroes!” then look elsewhere.
Like so many around the world, I was wholly smitten with Amazon Prime’s anti-superhero series The Boys when it premiered last year. Eric Kripke (Supernatural) had something of a masterpiece on his hands. In an age where superheroes reign supreme, bringing with them escapism and tight pants, The Boys was a breath of fresh air. It’s an introspective piece that delves into our obsession with heroes. What if they really existed? Would they act just like us or would they proceed to parade about with a massive god complex? Since capitalism is our bread and butter, would corporations monetize superheroes, raking in billions off their heroic exploits?
In case you’re wondering if The Boys continues to hold fast to the aforementioned themes, rest assured that the series does and then some. Homelander (Antony Starr) remains a focal point of feigned heroism, taking his villainous antics up a notch. However, we’re also privy to a softer side of the leader of The Seven. Starr puts in the work — he manages to make us sympathize with Homelander while simultaneously wishing he would sit on a barbed wire fence. Starr imbues him with a multitude of traits, fully fleshing the villain out to the point that the actor truly embodies Homelander. You believe he’s real. Starr was not only a standout in the first season, but he takes his star to the stratosphere in Season Two of The Boys. He evokes so much while saying so little. If Starr isn’t critically lauded for his work, then there is no God.
Another stellar performance in Season Two is courtesy of none other than Karen Fukuhara, who portrays The Female/Kimiko. Besides Starr, Fukuhara is my favorite performer in both seasons. Kimiko undergoes a transformation of sorts. She’s vastly different from the feral fighter we met in the first season. Fukuhara injects Kimiko with a raw vulnerability without uttering a single word. To me, she has the toughest job as a performer. When I studied acting, I had a teacher that would incessantly remind me that “acting is what happens between the lines.” Fukuhara conveys everything sans words. She mines for treasure between those lines and enacts a gold rush. Her evolution as Kimiko is altogether touching and visceral. Not to mention, Kimiko’s relationship with Frenchie (Tomer Capon) undergoes its own evolution. It’s a beautifully fragile connection as taut as a tightrope and their chemistry is undeniable.
Now, let’s talk about Aya Cash. Her work in You’re the Worst was damn award-worthy and I’ll gladly die on that hill. Cash brings something new to the table with Stormfront. Stormfront is a character fraught with unexpected depths. Additionally, Cash steals every scene she’s in. Stormfront is the night to Gretchen’s day, so if you’re expecting a similar performance, then you’ll be disappointed. Her work in The Boys reminds us that Cash has versatility up her sleeve in spades. Admittedly, it’s quite difficult to describe Stormfront without unleashing a plethora of spoilers. Just know that you’re in for a treat this season as far as the above is concerned.
Dominique McElligott is, as per her usual, a simmering tempest as Queen Maeve. Maeve’s arc also evolves. Of course, Maeve is still under Homelander’s thumb and endures abuse after abuse by his hand. While her story is often a supporting one, McElligott brings Maeve to life with a subtly nuanced performance. She’s a storm brewing beneath the surface just waiting to wreak havoc.
I’d be remiss if I left out Karl Urban, the titular leader of The Boys. Urban’s Billy Butcher is just as cheeky and diabolical as ever. You can tell that he truly has a blast portraying Butcher. To me, I’m always more captivated by a performer who enjoys their work as opposed to one who “phones it in.” Butcher’s character also grows in unexpected ways, but not to worry — he’s still just as fraught with sharp edges and razor-blade quips. Jack Quaid continues to be the beating heart of the series, providing the lens through which the audience can observe this world. Hughie’s almost blinding optimism and perseverance remind us of the resilience of humankind. You don’t need superpowers to be strong.
The Boys Season Two delves into a greedy capitalist society that closely mirrors our own. Superheroes aren’t who they appear to be in front of an audience. It’s a stark reminder of our societal obsession with celebrity. Oftentimes what we see on camera is a boldfaced lie. Our favorite celebrities typically present a different face to the world than the ones they don when the cameras aren’t rolling. Saving the world is a business in The Boys, one that accrues a lot of dollar bills and no humanity. The show holds up a mirror to our world, pointing fingers at how we hold celebrities to unrealistic expectations and incessantly spit-shine the pedestal on which they stand. Idolization is a bumpy road and The Boys masterfully explores it.
In addition to the deep-dive into celebrity, The Boys Season Two opens a religious and political can of worms. Religion and politics tend to go hand-in-hand despite our separation of church and state. Heroism becomes political as politicians get involved this season. Not to mention, heroism takes a religious turn as civilians idolize the supes as gods. Oh, and remember the Church of Scientology? Let’s just say The Boys develops its own answer to that. A “celebrity” church is on the rise in the world of The Boys. The show pokes fun at, again, churches that exploit the masses for profit. Televangelists rise to prominence, which is reminiscent of the current crop of God’s leaders that rack up millions off innocent folks looking for religious comfort. Everything is connected in this universe, which makes the second season all the more enjoyable.
The Boys is known for an overabundance of bloodshed and the second season ups the ante in that regard. Gory deaths at the hands of supes and bloody brawls become all the rage. Of course, while the series continues to make us squirm with the macabre, it never shies away from its signature dark humor. Frankly, it reminds me tonally of AMC’s Preacher, which Seth Rogen also produced. Oodles and oodles of bloody gore and sadistic japes. In addition to the amped up bloodshed and dark comedy, The Boys provides sex scenes aplenty, so brace yourselves for some steamy stuff.
The Boys Season Two is better than the first season, in my humble opinion. Everything that you loved from Season One is produced tenfold in the second season. It’s blood-driven insanity coupled with burning intensity and darkly comedic antics. There’s more plot twists and quite a few “audible gasp” scenes. The violence and funny are also taken up a few notches, with heartfelt moments sprinkled intermittently throughout the drama and levity. Even the cast appears to be more in tune with one another as bonds have surely developed off screen. By season’s end, the show manages to tie loose ends while posing a handful of questions for Season Three, leaving viewers plenty to mull over until The Boys are back in town.
Overall Grade: A-
The Boys stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Karen Fukuhara, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Laz Alonso, Nathan Mitchell, Jessie T. Usher, and Aya Cash. Season Two will fly freely September 4th on Amazon Prime.
Check back with Geek Girl Authority for our The Boys Season Two recaps!
This review was originally published 8/24/20
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