The Boys, Amazon Prime’s subversive superhero show about black-ops vigilantes keeping dangerous and corrupt superheroes in check, is back for it’s second season, and whilst it doesn’t take flight immediately, it’s certainly worth sticking with as the stakes get higher and higher.
Season One closed out with some major revelations but don’t expect all of these to be addressed straight away. The writers, keen to tease out the mysteries surrounding Butcher’s wife and the ongoing ‘supe terrorist’ plot line, take a more laidback approach with this opening set of episodes, reintroducing characters at a leisurely pace and using the time to explore the dynamics of the show’s superhero setting, especially in the wake of last year’s impactful comings and goings.
This approach is slightly to the detriment of the show though. Initially, Season Two’s plotting is rather piecemeal – the various character’s storylines are all mostly scattered and disjointed, with the majority feeling disconnected from the show’s central narrative. The opening episode in particular is rather plodding, spending too much time stewing and recapping events instead of developing them. It doesn’t help that a number of key characters barely make an appearance until episode two.
This particularly applies to the Boys themselves. The team were the core focus last year, particularly Hughie (Jack Quaid) and his journey from weak-willed nobody into superhero stomper, but the screen time for him, Butcher (Karl Urban) and the rest of the team feels considerably lessened compared to last season. In the second episode especially, their appearances are so fleeting, they feel like an afterthought.
However, these detached threads finally begin to coalesce in episode three, an episode which ups the ante considerably, both in terms of visuals and character development. The episode is dynamite stuff and a definite sign that things are back on track, serving up some truly ridiculous action sequences, important character moments and major plot twists! Up till this point, the season has been treading water, afraid to fully commit to the insanity and dark humour of the comic books. When it finally lets rip, the whole endeavour feels so much more confident and self-assured. Here’s hoping this trend continues throughout the remainder of the season.
Like last season, the villains (the superheroes) remain the real reason to tune-in, especially series newcomer Aya Cash as the assertive and antagonistic Stormfront, a fresh recruit who may well prove to be this season’s best asset. Abrasively funny, yet displaying hints of a darker agenda just beneath the surface, her attempts to usurp Homelander (Antony Starr) as the leader of the Seven shows promise, taking the ongoing story of superhero coups and corruption in an enticing new direction.
Elsewhere Starr’s Homelander remains a strong contender for the best psychopath on television, the writers mining new depths of depravity with the character at every opportunity, the tension in any given scene upped considerably every time Starr appears. Equal time is also given to the development of supporting villains like A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and the Deep (Chase Crawford), each of whom are brilliantly nuanced in their performances as these corrupted, emotionally damaged superheroes.
Regardless of the slow start, The Boys remains the perfect antidote for those worn-out by traditional superhero stories, yet also serves as further fun for those who can’t get enough of characters in capes. There’s some excellent satire peppered throughout, blacker-then-black humour by the bucketload and some of the most outlandish violence ever seen on TV ever. An excellent ensemble cast, solid direction and superb visual effects team-up in super heroic fashion to deliver high-quality drama ripped straight from the comics, and in doing so proves that The Boys remains unmissable, super-powerful television!
The Boys: Season 2 (Episodes 1-3) is available to stream September 4th, only on Amazon Prime, with new episodes available to watch weekly.