The second season of Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys—based on the celebrated graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson—has made me thirsty (in the original sense of the word) for Fresca. It also made me wonder if Amazon and Coca-Cola weren’t somehow in collusion to drive up the sales of the carbonated grapefruit-based beverage that appears to be the drink of choice for members of the religious group, the Church of the Collective, which becomes an important cog in the machinery of this season of the series.
Before we go any further—you and I—my goal in this review is not to spoil the season for anyone who hasn’t watched it yet. That said, I may inadvertantly spoil the season for you if you haven’t watched it yet. Forewarned is forearmed.
Everything that I liked about the first season of this Amazon original, this dark superhero satire that I never knew I wanted, is amped up this season. The surprising violence that’s sanitized in most superhero fare. The subverting of normal superhero comic book expectations. The profanity and adult content. The increasingly convoluted plot.
We know showrunner Eric Kripke as the creator of the CW series Supernatural, which recently wrapped up its fifteen-season run. The first five seasons of that series were considered the Kripke Era. Many fans of the show, including this one, consider the episodes in the Kripke Era to be among the best ones of the entire series. After Kripke left, the series lost a bit of its creative spark, I think. Don’t misunderstand me: I liked the next ten seasons of the show just fine, but I think the ultimate longevity of the series grew organically from the foundation laid by Kripke.
I hope Kripke doesn’t do the same thing with this series. I want him to remain the showrunner for its entire run, for that unity of vision. Maybe it’s different in this type of series, where much of the creative work was done beforehand by Ennis and Robertson. Kripke has stewardship over someone else’s intellectual property, adding his own inimitable twist to it.
I read Volume 1 of The Boys trade paperbacks after watching Season 1 of the series. There are distinct differences in the source material and the Amazon show. I have no intention of reading any further comic books until after the series finishes its streaming run. However, from this limited sampling, I have to say I prefer the live-action series. At this point, I’m way beyond the storyline of the first volume in the trades, so my brain remains uncluttered by the cognitive dissonance I might suffer otherwise.
Season 1 of the streaming series mostly concerned our dual leads, Hughie and Starlight, and their introduction to the reality behind the Supes. Season 2 takes on a more ambitious story arc.
A lot of the season’s drama centers around the debut of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a strong female addition to The Seven who initially seems like a rival to Homelander (Antony Starr), but later becomes more and something else. Homelander, meanwhile, goes further down the looney path, trying to recreate his relationship with Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) through using a supe with mimicking powers. He also torments Queen Maeve (Dominique Elligott) throughout the season.
Beleagured members of The Seven—The Deep (Chace Crawford) and A-Train (Jessie T. Usher)—are getting in deep with the Church of the Collective. This is a sideplot that seems a bit extraneous to me, but I have to believe that The Deep and A-Train are being kept relevant for a reason. The Church of the Collective seems more like the Church of Scientology to me than seems legally safe, although there does seem to be an open season on Scientology in the media lately.
I’m not saying that Scientology doesn’t deserve a bit of satire and scorn. I can still remember reading an article about the most dangerous cults in America and seeing Scientology listed there. This article was around 1978, I’m guessing, when Jim Jones made suicide cults a popular topic. And, now, it’s a bona fide religion and it’s not nice to make fun of it.
Fie on that! Make fun of all the religions, if you want to. It’s just that, at this moment in time, making a wisecrack about Scientology is not met with the same sheer volume of retribution as poking fun at, say, Christianity or Judaism might be. But, I digress—
The real star of the show this season was Butcher (Karl Urban). Urban is always a standout as an actor, of course, but this season we get more familiar with his wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), who was thought dead until the Season 1 finale. We also meet Butcher’s estranged father, played by John Noble, who was in Lord of the Rings with Urban, but whom I know from that fine J.J. Abrams series Fringe (which is due for a rewatch, I think).
Butcher’s relationship with Hughie changes and seems to grow more brotherly this season. Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Annie January AKA Starlight (Erin Moriarty) are still the couple to watch. Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Frenchie (Tomer Capon) get some deserved and needed character development this season also.
Without giving everything away, I’ll just add that this season has a secret supe who has the power to blow up people’s heads, and a lot of heads pop this season. Also, there are superpowered terrorists around, Lamplighter makes a guest-appearance and he has a familiar face, and, not surprisingly, Vought International has a secret Nazi connection.
The finale was a satisfying one, but already hinted at trouble ahead for Season 3, which is coming.
I remain a fan of this series and look forward to what lies ahead.
Firewater’s My-Nana’s-Your-Biggest-Fan Report Card: A
This stuff isn’t for everyone. I realize that. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll like it.