In its first Season, Erik Kripke’s The Boys was more like a spoof. As the Superhero stuff was dominating Hollywood at that point (even now), this interpretation of Superheroes aka Supes was really catchy. The story had depth, the characters were distinct and the level of brutality and swagger one gets to see was clearly unique. What is so good about the second season of The Boys is that it goes deep into the story and it now no longer looks like a spoof. The intent is very precise and we get to know the characters in a three-dimensional way, making it all the more compelling rather than terming it as a “good fun” show.
The premise in the second season has The Boys getting labeled as wanted criminals after the death of Madelyn Sitwell. Now with the new revelation about Becca, Butcher’s hate for Homelander has taken a new dimension and he wanted to free her from the Vought facility. After the exit of Translucent, the Seven has a new member named Stormfront who got into the Seven without the approval of Homelander. The power dynamics within the Seven are going through a major shift and in the meantime, Butcher and his boys (and girls) are trying to expose Vought. What all happens in their attempt to do this is what we get to see in Season 2.
The mood here has a drastic shift. The scale, the fun, the goriness, etc goes to the next level. In comparison to season 2, I would say season 1 was pretty simplistic and fun. From more of a Deadpool zone of irreverence, the second season adds solid layers of emotions and intent to almost all the characters that appear on the screen. The writing has that elaborate nature and now when I look at it, I feel there is a possibility to create a spin-off series about almost every main character. Homelander’s childhood, Butcher’s past, A-Tran’s journey, Hughie and Annie’s childhood, Stormfront’s Wonder Woman like character arc, Maeve’s relationship, Frenchie and Kimiko’s backstories; I feel somewhere the series manages to manipulate us to create a mental image about these stories without actually deviating into those stories.
The construction of the content is very gripping here. It is really interesting how they stretched and developed this “taking-down-Vought” theme into a fascinating drama. There is some surprise in every episode that disrupts the rhythm we tend to predict. By the third or fourth episode, my prediction strategy changed and I was trying to predict the moment were the unpredictable would happen. As I said, the character development is the key here. The Wikipedia page shows a list of 13 characters as the main ones and I would say if you binge-watch the two series along with someone, you will end up talking enthusiastically about each of those characters. The perceptions we have about characters also go through drastic and sometimes “diabolical” changes.
Karl Urban as Billy Butcher in that British accent has the same swagger we saw in him in the last season. Butcher has that ruthless side in him which makes him greyer. Like the story this time has a deeper exploration happening with most of the characters, Billy also has moments that are on the vulnerable side. We get to know more about who he really is, his family equations, and how he still wanted to protect Becca, etc. Urban manages to balance the angry face and the underplayed empathetic side of Butcher very neatly. The writing for the character of Homelander is very atypical and it goes from being inhumanly creepy to rib-tickling level hilarious. And Antony Starr does know how to convincingly portray that ego-driven megalomaniac.
A major and important addition to the character set this time is Stormfront played by Aya Cash. Stormfront is irritable, manipulative, and dangerous and Cash was able to show these dimensions of this cryptic character in a credible way. The rest of the major cast members are also really good in their respective roles, I am not really emphasizing on their performance largely because most of the characters are pretty much in the same zone we saw them last time.
It is interesting how this series despite having an MCU like a pool of Superheroes never really feels like a CGI fiesta. The use of superpowers is actually limited here and whenever it is used there is a negative aura around it. The PR stunts, the way religion tries to take advantage even when Superheroes are created, the obsession for power, etc gets addressed in a very satirical way. The bad guys here are actually represented as misogynists, racists, and power greedy. Looking at the construction of the antagonists in the series, we can clearly see the makers taking a stand in the real world. The high contrast visual language does give the series that peculiar outlook.
Season 2 of The Boys delivers a really fascinating, scaled up, and an in-depth look at the world of Supes. The story never stops to linger on anything particular and we are kept in that space of unpredictable detours in each episode. The second season was so eventful that I had to watch the recaps on YouTube to order my thoughts about the series. The second season is definitely superior to the first one and it will leave you in that “can’t wait for season 3” excitement.
Season 2 of The Boys delivers a really fascinating, scaled up, and an in-depth look at the world of Supes.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended