Review by James Lindorf
Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” are back in town, and they are ready to continue their fight against the corporate superhero team The Seven. Life as wanted men is a bit rough on ex-CIA operative Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his band of misfits. Lovelorn Frenchie (Tomer Capon), homesick Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), and Hughie (Jack Quaid), who is nearing his breaking point. The weight of them living in near squalor in a pawnshop’s basement results in the second season being less funny. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still laugh out loud moments throughout the season; they just come at a slower pace, kind of like A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). The irreverent show continually proves that it holds nothing sacred while also demonstrating its relevance to 2020 America. The decision to tackle capitalism and the Alt-Right, along with the further exploration and evolution of Homelander (Antony Starr), means that despite fewer laughs, “The Boys” season easily surpasses its predecessor.
In Season one, Homelander was wrestling with being the man, the hero Vaught demanded of him, and the broken childhood he was still trying to mend. With the loss, at his hands, of his boss and mother figure Madelyn Stillwell Homelander has freed himself from every restraint but one, the need to be loved. In season two, that need spreads from the general public to his son Ryan. While that love is genuine, he’s a horribly damaged person who is more likely to ruin the kid than raise him right. As his self-control weakens and he commits atrocity after atrocity, the show reveals more of his humanity, making the events that much more tragic.
The newest addition to the series and “The Seven” is Stormfront (Aya Cash). In the comics, the character is male, but the creative team thought that an outspoken powerful woman would be challenging to Homelander on more levels. She’s super cynical, comes off as brutally honest, and stands up for the other put-upon women in The Seven, which makes her an instant fan favorite. She uses people’s fears about super-powered terrorists to whip her massive fan base into a frenzy. In her mind, the solution to this new threat is supers like herself and the blue-eyed, blonde heroes like Homelander. She is here to upset the status quo, and with no one aware of her real motivations she could spell trouble for both Butcher’s crew and The Seven.
The standout character for me this season is probably Frenchie. He was used more for comedic effect last season, but this time around, we delve deep into his past and psyche. He is tortured by a five-year-old mistake and is unwilling to forgive himself. This has a profound impact on all of his relationships especially with Butcher and Mother’s Milk. It is endearing to watch him continue to work with Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), trying to integrate her into the team and win her affection simultaneously. Even without being able to fully communicate with each other, his love for her runs deep, and he would die for her, like he would for the rest of the team. A standout moment is Hughie’s tirade against Almond Joy, which is the single funniest scene in this season.
Amazon will be releasing the series in a slightly different format this time around. Instead of dropping all eight episodes at once, they will release the first three on September 4th with the final five coming out weekly. Watching a show once a week can build anticipation and add longevity to the series itself; look at Game of Thrones vs. Stranger Things. Both are immensely popular, but one captures your attention for a week, maybe two, while the other owns a corner of your mind for months. If fans respond to this format, I expect it to roll out on many of the upcoming Prime Originals.
Episodes 1-3: September 4th
Episode 4: September 11th
Episode 5: September 18th
Episode 6: September 25th
Episode 7: October 2nd
Episode 8: October 9th
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