[Please note: this review contains full spoilers for season 2. I have read the comics, but will not spoil anything in them, despite that the show has clearly gone in a very different direction already.]
Very loosely adapted from the Garth Ennis written comic book series of the same name, The Boys is a superhero action parody series released onto Amazon Prime. The series takes place approximately one year after the second season, with The Boys — William Butcher (Karl Urban), M.M. (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) — working with Annie / Starlight (Erin Moriarty) and Hughie (Jack Quaid) in his role under Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) to take down superheroes. At the same time, Homelander (Antony Starr) continues his downward spiral under the command of Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), while his fellow superheroes, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and the mysterious Black Noir deal with their own issues. Laila Robins and Cameron Crovetti return as Grace Mallory and Ryan, respectively, while Supernatural alumni Jim Beaver joins in the supporting role of Robert Singer, who is looking to become the next President of the United States, and Jensen Ackles as the historic superhero Soldier Boy.
+ once again, Antony Starr is superb as the simultaneously terrifying and pathetic Homelander. Starr’s ability to change his ‘mood’ with just his eyes rivals James McAvoy in Split. Jensen Ackles is absolutely the new star of the show, however, as his blatant parody of Captain America melds into the world of the show. I was thrilled to finally see more of this TV version of Black Noir, especially as they move away from the comic series entirely
+ though still somewhat a product of it’s time, the directly adapted scenes from the comics are as graphic as ever, with any huge number of penises, blood and guts at any moment. The smaller changes from the comic are still well received by me, but these are always a mixed bag
– in a very similar way to my issues with Stormfront in the previous season, the show goes out of their way to make some supes the bad guys… but never lets them do or specifically say the really bad things to make us hate them. It’s as if we are just told “hey, this guy is bad”, and are just meant to believe it
– the whole season builds towards the inevitable confrontation (which can very broadly be boiled down to “Butcher vs Homelander”) but never delivers what it promises. Of course, there is a lot more to it than my three word summary suggests, and rest assured there is a final confrontation, it just all falls a bit flat, and makes me wonder what the point of the season was (and obviously, with a season 4 on the way and most certainly a 5 and beyond, you can make your own assumptions there)
– everything about Annie and Hughie’s relationship just drove me nuts. The theme of the season for The Boys was “whatever it takes” to get the job done, but the very first time Hughie does something Annie disagrees with, the show makes it out like he is the worst person in the world. Then as soon as Annie does something that Hughie disagrees with, it’s because she’s strong and smart and powerful and right all the time. I’m hoping this point doesn’t make me sound like one of them, because I’m not saying either of them was right over the other. I think they both deserve to be called out for their own bullshit
– lots of the writing is just hamfisted and backwards, with our heroes being the ones to break their promises, and then spouting off about how villains can’t be trusted. I entirely understand there is a level of irony there, but it all came across more like the “Girls get it done” scene from the season two finale, with no self-awareness for just how bad it comes across. Similarly, I felt like the writers were confused with who we were meant to feel sorry for, and who we were to think deserved their fates
> Eric Kripke is the showrunner and has worked with Ackles and Beaver before. Beaver returns here as the semi-accurate-to-the-comic named Robert Singer, no doubt a nod to his time on Supernatural as well
Should you watch this show: If Season 2 was a downgrade from Season 1, this was a sideways step at best. I cannot stress how good Starr and Ackles are, and even Karl Urban has a few great moments, but overall it once again never feels like a progression on what Season 1 promised.