TV Review: The Boys (Season 2, 2020)

[Please note: there are no spoilers for season 2, but incidental spoiler for season 1. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the comics, but will not spoil anything in them, even though the show going in a very different direction already.]

Loosely adapted from Garth Ennis’ comic book series of the same name, The Boys is a superhero action parody series released onto Amazon Prime. In a world where superheroes exist and are monotized by brands, the Vought Company owns The Seven, a group of all powerful heroes who are fan favourites, but horrible people behind the scenes. Chief among them, Homelander (Antony Starr), who finds his public status in doubt with the arrival of a new heroine, Stormfront (Aya Cash). Opposed to them, the titular group of vigilantes work to take down Vought and all superheroes led by the brutal Billy Butcher (Karl Urban). Simultaneously, vigilante Hughie (Jack Quaid) and superheroine Starlight (Erin Moriarty) continue to meet, despite the risks to both of their respective teams. Introduced in the second season in main or cameo roles are Giancarlo Esposito, Shawn Ashmore and John Noble.

+ Antony Starr is absolutely phenomenal as the super man, Homelander, particular in just how emotional and terrifying his eyes can be while the rest of him is happy or blank. I tell everybody I see that Banshee is a must-watch for any fan of action/thriller TV series, and I genuinely hope that the success of this show will spur people to seek it out.
+ there is a lot of character development for Stormfront, A Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Starlight, for better or worse in each regard. I really want to see more of Black Noir, because it’s clear his comic storyline will not be copied. On the vigilante side, The Female (Karen Fukuhara) and Frenchie (Tomer Capon) get their own episodes or so,
+ the parody of specific DC superheroes and the (hugely successful) Marvel Cinematic Universe is perhaps not as appropriate as the timing of the first season, but still made abundantly clear. Not having three MCU offerings this year gives us more a chance to reflect on the aspects we miss, and the parts that are so brutally mocked by this show
+ I enjoyed the majority of the changes to the comic series, and the omissions made of certain characters and plotlines from the early comic stories where the series takes the bulk of its material
+ visually the show is a treat. Subtle jewellery choices more obvious symbolism and the extreme graphic violence all work together to show what the MCU may well be like if it was made to be as edgy as possible
+ every episode has the title card smash cut into a different scene each time. It’s one of my favourite TV show gimmicks

– as much as I did like Aya Cash as Stormfront, the need for her to be a female foil to Homelander only happened because of the changes the show already made (such as plot points around Mallory, Becca and Stan Edgar). Part of me does wish we got the overtly racist Stormfront from the comics, but I can understand why a lot of his dialogue wouldn’t work (see also: Negan on The Walking Dead)
– unlike many other Supes above, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) does not get as much development, but a little bit is more than I was expecting and she has a few good moments. I think she was the biggest missed opportunity this season, as her entire arc was boiled down to one aspect of her character
– with no spoilers of course, the side plot of the Church of the Collective is a real waste. It all eventually makes sense, I promise, despite some early weirdness, but it just felt like filler for The Deep to start fresh with next season
– there are a lot of writing gaffs and faux pas, such as spending several scenes mocking a concept only to use it seriously an episode or two later. A lot of aspects will need to be explained in the future, or have already just been handwaved with a throwaway line, and if you go back and watch some scenes too closely you’ll certainly have even more questions
– did anyone else realise that there was only ever six members of ‘The Seven’ for most of this season? That bothered me more than it should have

> fans of Garth Ennis will know he is also the mind behind Preacher (all four seasons available now), Crossed (which I genuinely believe will see a much watered down series in the future) and various versions of Marvel’s The Punisher, of which the Netflix series took some inspiration. Not a bad track record, for my money

Should you watch this show: To be blunt, season two was not as good as season 1, and that is mostly because the changes to the comics are beginning to pile up and domino into each other. But that said, there is still move than enough twists and turns and ultra violence, which paired with Antony Starr’s performance gives more than enough to warrant a viewing.

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