The Boys series review (so far)

In the past few months, the Amazon series The Boys has generated a lot of buzz. The show, based on the comic series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, and co-produced by Seth Rogan, basically takes the superhero craze that Disney and Marvel have run with for years now and turns it on its ear. So much so that, unlike those movies, this series is definitely not for kids too young to vote. Imagine a superhero series directed by Rob Zombie and that should give you an idea of what The Boys is like.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
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The show deals with an Avengers/Justice League-esque super-powered group called the Seven that are hailed as heroes by the public. The Seven is endorsed/controlled by a corporation called Vought International. The septet themselves are:

Homelander (Antony Starr), who dresses like Superman and is the arrogant, self-proclaimed head of the Seven, and who privately goes by the name John.

Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), a Wonder Woman-esque hero, who was once romantically involved with Homelander. Her secret identity is Maggie Shaw.

A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), also known as Reggie Franklin, who can run at super-speed like the Flash and is determined to not be outdone in that field.

The Deep (Chace Crawford), also known as Kevin Moskowitz, who’s the Aquaman of this group.

Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), who dresses in black and says nothing.

Translucent (Alex Hassell), who has the power of invisibility.

Starlight (Erin Moriarty), also known as Annie January, who becomes the latest member of the Seven as the series begins and who has light-emitting powers.

The series wastes no time putting superheroes in a different light as it begins with A-Train accidentally killing a girl by violently running into her. This sends the girl’s boyfriend Hughie (Jack Quaid) into despair, to the point where the short-tempered Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) recruits him to be one of the “boys” of the title. This title group is dedicated to bringing down the superheroes, or Supes as the public calls them. With the reluctant assistance of his acquaintances Marvin “Mother’s” Milk (Laz Alonzo) and Frenchie (Tomer Capon), Butcher explains to Hughie that his beef with the Supes started when Homelander took his wife Becca (Shantel Van Santen) from him.

We soon see that there are other reasons why the Supes, despite their public displays of heroism, may not exactly be heroic. For instance, Homelander’s egotism eventually leads to him to leave dozens of people to die in a plane crash. He even blackmails Maeve into keeping silent about it, as she’s afraid he’ll kill Maeve’s former girlfriend Elena (Nicola Correia-Damude).

At the same time, Starlight is beginning to realize that entering the Seven is not the great adventure she thought it would be, when she has to contend with sexual harassment from the Deep. This eventually leads to Vought’s VP Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) forcing him to take a sabbatical from the Seven. Stillwell likewise proves herself calculating in her efforts to keep the Seven, and by extension, the public under her thumb. She entices Homelander with sex to ensure that he keeps up his public image for her.

Soon, Starlight and Hughie meet and begin a romantic relationship. Despite Butcher’s distrust of her, Starlight and Hughie soon agree to work together to stop the machinations of Vought.

The Boys’ work soon leads to the death of Translucent as well as the revelation that Vought is controlling the Seven with a drug known as Compound V. They also gain a new ally when they rescue the mute Kimiko Miyashiro (Karen Fukuhara), who herself has healing powers thanks to the Compound V that Vought gave her. Starlight even confronts her mother Donna (Ann Cusack), who admits giving her the substance to ensure that her little girl would be a celebrity.

The first season ends with Homelander ending Stillwell’s manipulation of him by killing her, although this doesn’t stop Homelander from asking the villainous Doppelganger (Dan Darin-Zanco) to assume her form in a later episode to appease him. Homelander later expresses his gratitude by killing Doppelganger as well. He also shows Butcher that Becca is alive and well by taking him to Becca’s home, which he shares with her son, who was fathered by Homelander.

Season two begins with the void left by Translucent’s death being filled by the ambitious Stormfront (Aya Cash), who quickly becomes the world’s favorite new Supe. She even has a sexual relationship with Homelander when he discovers that she was one of the first to get Compound V, which is why she was a young adult in Nazi Germany. This upbringing also explains her racist ideology, which she acts upon at times. Her previous superhero name was Liberty, who the Boys learn murdered without remorse during the ’60s.

As Stillwell’s replacement Ashley Barrett (Colby Minifie) tries to maintain the Seven’s image, Butcher attempts to get Becca back. But she doesn’t want to abandon her son Ryan, who like his dad has superpowers.

But the Boys also discover that Vought has been developing super-villains in secret in order to ensure that the Seven will always be needed in the world. One such villain has the ability to telekinetically make people’s heads explode. This tidbit is seen at the end of the episode “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Makerwhen the Boys and Congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) are about to get Vought scientist Johan Vogelbaum (John Doman) to testify against the Supes before Congress, only to see his head and others in the courtroom explode.

Eventually, A-Train, having seen Stormfront for the racist that she is, is able to get the Boys info that allows them to expose her true self to the world. Season two ends with Stormfront going down thanks to Ryan using his powers, although sadly, at the cost of Becca’s life (but before that, we see Starlight, Maeve, and Kumiko all kicking Stormfront’s ass). But this makes Neuman a hero herself, as Homelander, Maeve, Starlight, and the rest of the Seven present a united front to the world. As for the Boys, Butcher takes Ryan to a place of safety (in government hands), Mother’s Milk happily reunites with his family, and Starlight and Hughie are apparently still together.

We also learn that Neuman herself is the supervillain with the head-exploding telekinesis. Season 2 ends with her using that ability on the head of the Church of the Collective Alistair Adana (Goran Visnjic), just after he speaks to her on the phone about getting tax-exempt status.

The show has a lot of interconnecting storylines to it, and the cast has certainly made the show worth watching. There are even a few surprise cameos, such as Haley Joel Osment as a former child star/Supe who comes to a violent end. With all the various subplots involving conspiracies, backstabbing, etc., The Boys can certainly be seen as timely. Season 2 ends on a nice, ominous note that makes the viewer want Season 3, whenever the damn pandemic allows.

Rob Kirchgassner

Rob is a blogger, critic, and author. His latest novel is The Thoughts of a Proud Nerd: A Story of Hope, available now from Amazon.

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