Everyone’s favorite superhero-hunting team is finally back, The Boys returns after a stellar debut on Amazon Prime last year. It was a hilarious, gore-filled fest that had fans hooked until the very end. Finishing with a major cliffhanger, anticipation was high for the second installment. And while it may not reach the highs of its freshman season, the series continues to be a compelling and timely look at superheroism deeply rooted in a realistic world.
The finale left audiences wondering what happened to Butcher after his bloody confrontation with Homelander, and, of course, the shocking revelation that his wife is still very much alive raising a superpowered child. Hughie and the crew are still keen on taking down Vought, even if they disagree on how to do it sometimes. Old, forgotten heroes are highlighted as the series reaches deeper into comic book canon to develop some of the biggest questions fans have had since last year. All of that being said, as the saying goes, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. While many of the decisions the series makes enrich the world they’re envisioning, some of the narratives fall to the wayside quality-wise.
Hughie still serves as the audience’s gateway to the Boys, even if his arc is less intriguing and essential this time around. Except for Butcher, the same can be said for the rest of the members of the team. There’s an attempt to further develop Frenchie’s and The Female’s relationship but it feels out of place and low on the priority list. Mother’s Milk is still probably my favorite character yet the series only takes a few moments to passingly develop chunks of his backstory. Karl Urban is still excellent as the ruthless leader, receiving my favorite journey this season. He’s a much more sympathetic personality that perhaps veers away from his comic counterpart, but it feels like the series continues to make wise decisions in delivering a satisfying character arc.
Amazon was evidently very happy with the series as the second season boasts a pretty spectacular production that surpasses what audiences have seen so far. This may not be your typical superhero blockbuster fare, but there’s no doubt the special effects and scope of the story is not unlike what you would see on the big screen. The blood and gore are turned up to 11 and super abilities haven’t looked this clean and creative in a while. However, it’s clear the series wants to break its own rules and lean into those superhero tropes they’re critiquing at times, which can make for moments that feel foreign to what the show has delivered so far.
Along with the higher production value is a group of new faces that help expand the vast world that our favorite characters inhabit. Giancarlo Esposito, only seen briefly last season, is a force to be reckoned with in every scene, even when opposite the menacing man-child Homelander. X-Men star Shawn Ashmore joins the cast as Lamplighter, a former member of the Seven riddled with more secrets than the Boys have combined. His role is brief but vital to fleshing out the backstory of the main crew, paying off key moments from the very first season.
As Stormfront, Aya Cash shines bright as the latest addition to the not-so-nice superhero team, The Seven. Beyond being an entertaining presence and stealing every scene she’s in, her character serves as one of the most realized contemporary allegories the series has to offer. Despite having superpowers, her weapon of choice is strategically manipulating the public for her own personal gain, no matter how repulsive her message may be. A bit on-the-nose? Sure, but they were pulling from our current social climate in a way that consistently gripped me. Not only could this totally occur in a real-life scenario, but I’m also certain it would.
Brilliantly played by Chace Crawford, the Deep continues to be a controversial personality with the supporting cast of characters. His arc in the first season proved to be one of the most surprising elements, surpassing expectations all across the board. This time, although he gets a decent chunk of screen time early on, his story is traded for a not-so-subtle riff on Scientology. Without getting into spoilers, his journey ended up feeling less personal, even if they wanted to accurately reflect what a celebrity like him would do to get on the good side of The Seven.
Despite not surpassing the first season’s best moments, it’s safe to say The Boys still stands as some of the finest superhero content television has to offer. Its criticisms of contemporary culture is a bit on the nose at times, but there’s no doubt the showrunners have their finger on the pulse of what makes this series so special. Karl Urban and crew continue to be the reason why we’re so invested in this ragtag group of people even when the show struggles to find time for all of them.
The Boys arrives to Amazon Prime Video on September 4, 2020.
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