The Boys Season 2 Episodes 1-3 (Review)

The Boys
Amazon Studios

Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Beware: Full Spoilers for Season 1 and Mild Spoilers for Episodes 1-3 of Season 2

The Boys amps up the Action For Season 2 While Losing None of Its Satirical Charm

For The Boys Season 2, there was seemingly one aim: Deliver on more action, more violence, and more outrageousness. The hit show certainly delivers on that front in the first three episodes of its sophomore season. Season 2 arrives with huge set pieces, loads of gore, Butcher swearing his head off like every second, and general ridiculousness. One would think though that by doubling down, the show would miss out on what made the first season so special. Like film sequels, second seasons often disappoint going in for more but end up delivering less. However, against all odds, Season 2 succeeds and loses none of its satirical charm.

The Boys as a Satire

What Made Last Season So Special

The outrageousness of last season is a large part of what made The Boys feel like a breath of fresh air. The Boys stood apart from literally every superhero show out there. Having said that, gore, swearing, and all would not be enough if Season 1 had not used them so effectively.

Relying on both large scale and smaller, more reflective moments, The Boys was able to function as a smart satire. This was true of the comics and even more so of the hit TV series. Its abrasiveness may have turned off some people but that was part of its charm. The Deep’s gross sexual behaviour took aim at the abuse of power in workplaces. Vought’s coverups reflected how politicians and corporations manipulated the public perception. Homelander was viewed as the perfect hero but was in reality a monster. In this way, season 1 was able to parody standard superhero fare by poking fun at archetypes. As well all this, The Boys took aim at the falseness of celebrity culture and corporations.

More of the Same From Season 2

Fortunately, fans can expect more of the same from Season 2. The Boys does double down on basically everything but importantly not for the sake of it. In Season 2, we can have huge moments like a boat crashing into a giant whale as well as smaller moments like a dramatic retelling of Stillwell’s death on TV. In fact, both of these scenes serve a purpose apart from just being downright hilarious. From a storytelling perspective, the dramatic retelling is obviously Vought propaganda villainising Butcher. However, it also says a lot about our society and our obsession with celebrities. Even the whale moment pokes fun at archetypes showing how ridiculous the Deep is.

The satire here is even more apparent than last season and the layers of meaning are still there. This is not just a dumb superhero show with loads of violence. Having said that, Season 2 still has much work to do in order to differentiate itself from the first season as a satire. In the first three episodes, The Boys mostly comments on stuff already covered in Season 1. Yes, there are some new angles such as cult like religions and social media but nothing major as of yet. As the season progresses, the show would be wise to find something big to comment on.

Taking These Characters on a Journey

Character Arcs In the Aftermath of Last Season

What is new about Season 2 is how it deals with the aftermath of last season. In the finale, Butcher was taken aback at finding his wife alive having had a son with Homelander. Moreover, he was devastated with his entire worldview upended. Butcher will now be acting out of self-interest and doing everything possible this season to get his wife back. From the looks of things, this arc is sure to be emotional. The other side of this is Homelander who has even more of a god complex than before. Now with Stillwell gone, he needs to strike out on his own yet there are certainly obstacles standing in his way though in the form of Stan Edgar and Stormfornt as described in more detail below.

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The rest of The Boys, after the events of last season, have gone underground. Hated and wanted for their crimes against superheroes, The Boys are now effectively celebrities only the wrong kind. With a normal life out of bounds for now, the options are live in fear underground or do something. Surprisingly, for Hughie, it is the latter as he wants to take on a more proactive and independent role. The return of Butcher certainly shakes that up for Hughie with Butcher being the de facto leader. Starlight’s arc is also continued and she along with Hughie sets out to expose Vought. There are obstacles in the way for both of these characters so it remains to be seen how they will push through and where they will end up at the end of the season. For now, it is impressive how the show handles this status quo change by pushing the characters forward in interesting, new directions.

Time To Shine

Season 2 seems to be shining a spotlight on each character with even Black Noir given more time to shine. There is not only character development here but each character is the hero of their own story. You can see where each person is coming from. Maeve is cast in a much, more sympathetic light while the Deep struggles to become a better person with the help of religion. Season 1 placed the audience firmly in the shoes of the eponymous group; however, this season gives us a more, balanced perspective making you care for each character (apart from a notable few) and where they end up. Unlike your standard superhero fare, this is not a simple heroes vs villains narrative. Season 1 flipped that traditional status quo but Season 2 brings more nuance into the equation. It is all rather murky at points as you struggle to decide who to root for.

New Challengers Arrive on the Scene

The major new player that has emerged onto the scene is Stormfront. Stormfront is the newest member of The Seven put forward by Stan Edgar much to Homelander’s annoyance. Giancarlo Esposito excels in basically every role and Edgar is no different. While he made a small appearance in Season 1, Edgar appears to be positioned in a larger role this season as the CEO of Vought. Stormfront and Edgar, at least in these first three episodes, are the major obstacles standing in Homelander’s way.

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As mentioned previously, Homelander has even more of a god complex this season. It was thus important for this season to challenge him since he is basically an unstoppable godlike figure who is all messed up inside. Edgar challenges Homelander in terms of political manoeuvring whilst Stormfront proves herself a match for Homelander both in terms of strength and her inclination towards violence. Furthermore, what separates Stormfront from the rest of The Seven is how she weaponises social media and her cult following. Stormfront is a character who speaks her mind and a dynamic one due to Aya Cash’s acting. Like many other characters, Stormfront is likeable on the surface but one who you root against as the season progresses. Stormfront also brings a much needed freshness to the show. A lot of these episodes retread familiar ground but what stands out above everything is Stormfront and her interactions with the rest of The Seven, particularly Homelander. Add in that social media aspect, and The Boys have a winner of a character on their hands who can hopefully be explored further in future episodes.

Conclusion

The Boys triumphantly returns with a second season that doubles down on its violence, swearing, and general ridiculousness. Everything that made Season 1 stand out from standard superhero fare is there and more. That alone did not make Season 1 so special though as it was all down to the show’s satirical charm. Although The Boys gets an upgrade this time round, fans can expect more of the same from this season on that front. While that bodes in the show’s favour, Season 2 still has a lot of work to do to differentiate itself from last season as a satire. The commentary mostly retreads familiar ground but Stormfront, the latest member of the Seven, could offer some hope in this respect.

On the other side of this, Season 2 simply excels in terms of story. The first three episodes manage to develop these characters in an organic way which picks up right after Season 1 and takes them to fascinating new places. By giving each character time to shine and casting them in a more sympathetic light, the show makes you genuinely invested in where these characters will end up by the end of the season.

It must be comforting for fans to know that this will not even be the end for these characters as Amazon clearly have high hopes for the show’s future having already green-lit Season 3. If these episodes have proved anything, it is that The Boys can push forward while remaining true to the show while remaining true to the spirit of the show. Season 2 is here to remind you that there is still plenty of fuel left in this tank. The Boys Season 2 may not have worked out everything just yet; however, these first three episodes are very promising signs indeed.

Score: 8.0

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