It’s been a couple of days now since I watched “What I Know,” the second season finale of The Boys, the Amazon Prime series based on the comic book from Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson. I’ve been taking my time processing what I saw, because I can’t believe how amazing the second season of the show actually was. It blew away every expectation that I had and just kept improving episode by episode.
At the end of the FIRST SEASON, I marveled at how true to the comic the TV series felt despite the significant changes to characters and story. The series’ first 8 episodes really took the bulk of Billy Butcher’s story from the comics, culminating in finding out his wife is alive with the child of Homelander – this world’s greatest hero – in a secret location where not even the boy’s father can find him.
As the second season gets underway, Butcher is trying to figure how to get back to his wife’s hidden location, basically abandoning his team. But Homelander is reveling in the experience of being a dad, trying to connect with his son and teach him how to use his powers.
As Homelander gets more desperate to get his kid to like him, he resorts to worse and worse tactics to turn the child against his mother. And Butcher’s desperation to reunite with his wife leads to his worse tendencies as he makes a deal with Vought – the company that created and owns this world’s supes – to return the child to Vought so he can go into hiding with Becca.
Meanwhile, former Vought supe The Deep – who was kicked off superteam The Seven for inappropriate actions towards new member Starlight – joins a religious cult. Queen Maeve gets turned into an unwilling LGBTQ advocate after her relationship with a longtime girlfriend is outed. And speedster A-Train gets kicked off the team for image purposes. Kimiko’s brother gets brought over to the U.S. in a human trafficking ring and is eventually murdered.
Pretty much none of this was in the original source material. The whole of the second season feels like a completely original story with characters that bear striking resemblances to the ones in the comic book. But making an exact adaptation never seemed to be in the cards for this series, and that’s OK, because the story its telling is compelling. Each episode built on what’s come before and made me want to watch more in a way that I haven’t felt from a series in a long time. Yes, it’s still crude, it’s still gory and violent. But it’s all used to enhance the story without being beholden to what’s come before.
The biggest change from page to small screen in season 2 is the character of Stormfront. Originally imagined as a male character in the comics, the new iteration of Stormfront is a woman, played by Aya Cash. She’s still a white nationalist, though, who uses savvy social media posts to raise her profile. As a member of the Seven, she’s given a huge platform which only grows larger when she starts dating Homelander. A large part of season 2 is unraveling Stormfront’s mysterious past, until everything comes apart with the revelation that she’s an actual Nazi who was alive during Hitler’s reign in Germany.
Everything about the second season built perfectly to a final battle with Stormfront, which actually does play out similarly in the comics with fully-gender-swapped roles.
Watching Maeve, Starlight and Kimiko kick the living shit out of the Nazi is maybe one of the most cathartic moments of television this year. There’s no need for over-the-top blood and guts here. Just three strong women taking out their frustrations on a white supremecist who’s been causing them problems all season.
The fight with Maeve, Starlight and Kimiko isn’t the end of Stromfront, though. That comes in a final confrontation with Becca and her son, as she tries to give Homelander his son without the interference of the boy’s mother. The battle doesn’t really end well for anyone. Becca is dead, Stormfront is left limbless and charred. And the boy is an orphan.
This is just a small sample of a wide-ranging season for The Boys, which managed to stuff a lot into just 8 episodes. The final scenes for the year sets up a third season, which we know is coming, along with a possible spin-off.
I may have been shocked by how good the second season was, even compared to a very good debut offering. But this raised expectations. Season 3 is going to have to be off the charts. I think The Boys can do it.