#DUB Review – The Boys: Bigger, Nastier and More Profound

Picking up right after the first season, The Boys Season 2 fires on all cylinders right from the outset. 

Everything that made The Boys Season one an excellent show, when it premiered in 2019, is dialled up even further in Season 2 with an even more ambitious story from showrunner Eric Kripke. This second run of the dark superhero satire is loaded up with noteworthy, nuanced characters and plenty of stylized and irreverent drama most of us expected.

Of the many high points from Season 2, perhaps none is more memorable than the debut of Aya Cash’s Stormfront as the series’ devious new social media-literate member of The Seven. Cash’s charisma shines through in every scene, especially when she’s paired with Homelander – first as a manipulative rival and then as a partner in crime and messed-up love interest. 

Antony Starr also gives a riveting performance alongside her, as the two actors shared uncanny chemistry throughout. One of their best scenes had to be their awkward but also hilarious encounter which gave “eyeing her chest” a bizarre new meaning.

Plus, after watching Homelander bully pretty much every other member of The Seven around (minus Black Noir, of course), Season 2 offered a welcome change of pace, as we begin to witness his already fragile mental state deteriorate even further. He first seeks to recreate and then rejects his relationship with the late Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue).

The Boys, in its first season found out that a substance called Compound V was responsible for the powers of the supes, and they were not born special as the official story said. However, it backfired after Homelander distributed the substance to different corners of the world, giving birth to supe-terrorists. Obviously, only supes could defeat their terrorist counterparts, so the public opinion was once again on the side of Vought and the supes.

Picking up right after the first season, the sophomore outing fires on all cylinders right from the outset. The Boys are licking their wounds after the fallout in the finale. They are wanted by not just law enforcement, but also Homelander.

One of the best things about the second season has to be Aya Cash as Stormfront, the newest member of the Seven. Cash’s Stormfront is a rabble-rouser through and through and uses social media extremely well to achieve her ends. She employs memes, trolls and inflammatory views about those who are not white, especially ones who have illegally migrated into the country. 

Even more charismatic than Homelander, she quickly rises in the popularity charts, and this irks the leader of the Seven. Cash is so convincing as a nazi, so reprehensible, that I had to look up her social media feeds to see if she really does believe all that filthy racist, xenophobic balderdash. (spoiler alert: she doesn’t). It is not normal for me to conflate an actor with their character.

Antony Starr as Homelander is simply King Joffrey with superpowers. The actor, despite playing the most vile man on television, is still somehow immensely watchable. Truth be told, every actor is superb. The returning cast members give better, more confident performances. Urban remains the force of nature. His Butcher has a redemptive arc this time, and it turns out he is not the jerk we thought he was.

Karen Fukuhara, who really should have been brought back by James Gunn as Katana in The Suicide Squad, is not allowed to speak in the show as her character Kimiko is mute. Yet, she manages to leave a significant impact just through her eyes and facial muscles. And her fists, of course. We get to see a lot more of her character, which in turn makes us care about her more. Thankfully that is true for almost every major character.

The writing is one of the things that was really satisfying for me this season. Despite getting a lot bigger, the writing is more streamlined and less messy than before. Each and every significant character grew considerably and believably, which is a testament to the superlative creative minds behind the show. And, the collision of those character arcs in the end felt more credible and exciting. While The Boys may be loud and unsubtle, it also has a superb foundation underneath.

The most surprising aspect of the series, at this point, is that despite conceptually being about the morally complicated, The Boys is actually pretty lacking in grey areas, with the good guys and bad guys pretty well defined. (Some new characters might seem to be question marks, but as a rule, allegiances get sorted out pretty quickly.)

The twist the show is working with, is the fact that archetypes we have canonized within our pop culture are, in this universe, oftentimes actual perversions of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. And perhaps the most important thing that Season 2 does is push the show’s scope beyond the realm of capes and tights.

Featured Image Credit – The Amazon Studio

Sloka Roy