As Superheroes return to the television landscape, especially broadcast shows and films celebrating their heroism, only one show makes sense with the 2020 political landscape.
The Boys is that show because it doubles down on the premise that absolute power corrupts absolutely, making a mockery of the Spiderman adage that with great power comes great responsibility.
If you thought The Boys Season 1 was batshit crazy and enjoyed the ride, then you’re in for a tremendous time with The Boys Season 2.
When the second season begins, The Boys are public enemy number one. They dared attack the Supes, and Vought wants them to disappear.
In light of the truly terrible things The Seven does, with the full backing of their corporate benefactors, it amplifies the unfairness of the treatment of the good guys, who are, in this case, not your basic boy scouts.
Part of what makes The Boys work is that the good guys aren’t particularly good at all. As hard as they try, their decisions rarely turn out as they plan, and it’s easy to see why the tides turn against them so often.
The artificial props that The Seven gets through Vought are exacerbated when the Supes fight to land a spot with the department of defense using their failures as justification that, with only a little more autonomy and trust, they could, indeed, make the world a safer place to live.
Thankfully, it’s not as dour as it sounds, as every outrageously bad move they make adds fuel to The Boys’ fire, and while The Seven are aiming for more “responsibility” for the nation and the world, it’s The Boys who get hidden support to work against them.
All of this is a thinly veiled reference to modern-day society and the alts of the world working hard to tear down the democracy we’ve worked hard to erect by belittling one group in favor of another and all of that trash.
And despite showrunner Eric Kripke’s desire to paint the right as the bastard in recent interviews, as an Independent not firmly rooted in any party, I can assure you that no matter what direction you look, you will find plenty of people lying to get your attention and carve out their place in history.
Such is the same with The Boys, with two violent and persuasive factions hoping to upend things as they stand. Even within the nastiness of The Seven, there is some modicum of hope. After all, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) is easily torn between the two and using her powers for good in a group that veers bad far too often for her comfort.
That’s why I consider her and Hughie (Jack Quaid) the Romeo and Juliet of The Boys. With far leaning ideas within both groups, they’re the hope of a future in which all are on the same side.
And man, do things get ugly!
It’s no secret that Butcher is in a shocking position after discovering his wife, who he formerly believed was dead, is alive and kicking, hoping to hide from her reality — that her son is a Supe and Homelander’s son.
She’s probably right in her assessment that her son embracing his superpowers wouldn’t lead anywhere good, even if there are some out there who, in spite of their celebrity, try to use them wisely.
The idea of Homelander and his penchant for Madeline’s breast milk being any kind of father figure is frightening. You’ll get a taste of his parenting style, and it will make you blanch.
Because if Homelander (Antony Starr) was uneasy, at best, during the first season, after losing Madeline, now he loses his grasp on the leadership of The Seven. It makes an already unsteady captain more of a wildcard. Add to that the emergence of another Seven star in the making, Stormfront, and you get a very lethal combination.
Aya Cash joins The Boys as the latest member of The Seven, and she ushers in a new generation, one that is media savvy and shares every action and reaction she has with her ever-growing audience.
Although the Supes have been in the public eye for a very long time and have amassed a following Jesus would envy, Stormfront’s love affair with social media, offering up-to-the-minute communication with the masses, sets her on a trajectory to become the most influential Supe yet.
When you realize the heights they’ve already achieved, that’s a horrifying thought, especially when her message is unclear.
Together, Starr and Cash, are deliciously wicked as Homelander and Stormfront clash and ultimately discover that working together could benefit them both.
With the mysterious Stormfront controlling Homelander’s social media through a series of posts and savage memes, he’s unwittingly played, although I’m not sure he’ll get out of his own way long enough to realize it’s happening.
His attention drawn to Stormfront leaves Maeve (Dominique McElligott) on the outs at the same time it gives Starlight a reprieve from his fiery gaze. The ladies of The Seven begin a strained alliance to promote their gender within the ranks, and it proves that gender isn’t exactly a unifying factor.
In addition to doubling down on the mayhem of the first season, all of the characters are explored in greater depth now that their motives have been established.
With The Boys, that means that Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) takes a stronger position in Butcher’s absence, and the connection between Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) expands, with their story on the forefront. It’s a bit of a secret though, so until it’s unveiled, I’m going to leave it at that.
The Supes get layers far beyond what its leaders express, and while it’s not exactly front and center, finding the affinity between The Deep (Chace Crawford) and A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is a lot of fun. They’re stories deviate from the main group as they compete to regain their active positions on The Seven.
There is a lot to love about The Boys Season 2, not the least of which is the depths to which our fascination with celebrity and politics, and our grave hope that someone will save the world corrupts our ability to see the truth.
For as strong as a message the show sends about our social construct, it never pulls back on the action, gore, or hilarity used to drive it home.
The first three episodes of The Boys drop on Amazon on Friday, September 4 with subsequent episodes dropping weekly. We’ll review it weekly, with reviews dropping on Saturdays at noon Eastern, when the embargo for the latest episodes lifts.
In the meantime, you can also check out our interviews with the cast to get you pumped for the new season.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.