The Boys season 2: Shock Over Substance

I just want to start by saying I went into this with low expectations based on reviews, leaks and information that was shared to me.. I completely loved the show in the first season and thought it was clever and had something to say about society but this one seemed more shock over substance in terms of writing. Everything else was impeccable. I liked the comic even if I found some of it dated and done for shock over plot. I get it. It was a different time and different audience.

So there was some stuff I liked a lot. Frenchie and Kimiko scenes were incredible and I really think Tomer is so underrated. Ryan was amazing, that little guy can act. His stuff with the anxiety and stress was really heartbreaking but what set it apart as a great moment was when Homelander finally seemed like Homelander and a dad and took him away from the situation and Stromfront. Antonys performce was amazing but that’s a given but I think Shantel, Jessie and Karen were so captivating but never given the chance to do much.

I watched the first season 19 times. It never wavered. Now for the stuff that has effectively ruined the show for me.

First of all, the pacing. The episodes seemed to lack direction with plots working against each other rather than contribute to the overall story. Season 1, they weaved together so cleverly and it felt like everything would pay off which I didn’t get with this.

Becca and Ryan. Honestly, the most intriguing thing of the build up to the season. So just mystery and stuff to explore. The end of the first season Homelander killed Madelyn and crippled Vogelbaum because he was lied to and kept away from Ryan. His last words in the season are “we are family” yet for the majority of the season he forgets about them because he gets laid. He was that dad you see on Facebook “miss my kids, your mum is keeping me away *frowny face*” but ditches the kid because he has a new girlfriend. At the end of the season I was surprised and happy to see him taking a role in Ryan’s life and was hoping for some more of that. Everyone was saying there was going to be a battle of Ryan’s soul. He ends up Homelander or the next Jesus when honestly he wasn’t in the show much to get that. Then the ending. I was SO HAPPY to see Becca fight Stromfront but then we know what happened. She was fridged for 2 male characters. I thought well maybe Ryan and Billy’s relationship will be explored and then nope. He’s shipped away to the CIA as if nothing happens for safety or whatever. Becca could have been there. She didn’t have to die to motivate Billy or Ryan. He could have been motivated enough just to keep her safe OR we could have had Becca fight against her rapist and help out an end to Vought. For those that do not know what fridging is https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/sep/21/from-bond-to-itvs-strangers-why-is-everyone-fridging and https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge . Becca was fridged. The story, her, the show and actor did not deserve that.

The racism. The worst thing the show has done. A choice was made to explore racism which is great but it was done so damaging. I see a lot of people in the fandom using racism and racist slurs and it’s now passed off as meme humour and if you don’t get it you’re a snowflake. Not only did the nazi character not die but people are made to feel sorry for her throughout the show with her daughter and then when she dies because the creator wanted to “humanise.” No. Racists do not need to be humanised when they think people who aren’t white are beneath the basic right to live. Aside from Stromfront the poc cast barely had any scenes despite being really compelling. A-Train and his recovery and redemption. Jessie is fantastic and really gave a lot of depth to the role but he’s used as a someone for Stromfront to be racist to with no consequence and as the white guys sidekick (The Deep) which happened with Eagle the archer. After they got a new black character to help what happened to him? He vanished with a quick explanation. A-Trains moments are not his own but to aid white characters when they could have been more focused on himself. This happens with Starlight, The Deep and Hughie. Kimiko didn’t have much going on except a little bit of her trauma which, again, was overlooked and rushed. As for MM he is so clearly the emotional and moral centre of the group and the conscience but that’s pushed aside so Hughie can be it. We don’t get much of MM.

Back to Stormfront. There were no consequences. Racism was shown to be okay so long as it is memed and it pleases the crowd but with no consequences. She is still mourned and the viewer manipulated into feeling sorry for her as she dies. Watchmen did it so cleverly and the boys can’t use the excuse of “our show was written by white men ‘’ because Watchmen was as well. Watchmen showed from the get go how racism hides, how it festers, how it is wrong but without preaching. A scene that comes to mind is Regina King in the pilot when her child says her classmate acted racist towards King to which she replies “no, but he’s off to a good start.” Powerful and shows what racism is as a commentary without glorifying. The cavalry stuff in Watchmen was done well but I think the problem with the boys is that it wanted to be shocking and to be memed rather than make a commentary on something.

For racism, Watchmen explores all of what I’ve said as it is. Racism is abhorrent and not entertaining. The boys wanted to make it entertaining so validated and encouraged it with no consequence . The boys did it to appeal to white people and I know I’m saying this as the palest white person ever while Watchmen did it to show racism for what it is and how it is disguised and infiltrates society from the public figures down to the normal man.

The Homelander cut scene from season 1. There was no point to it. Shock over substance. They did this to appeal to the dudebro “gIvE uS hErOgAsM!!” dudebro that has, no doubt, been very eager about a lot of stuff in the show and missed the subtle and almost none exist point of exploring racism and the influence it has in society from idolised figures. This was done as victory and fuck you to Amaon, quoting the Homelander himself. I can do whatever the fuck I want, even if it is unnessicary and a gimmick.

A lot of stuff went very game of thrones finale. Lots of plot with rushed ending. The church of the collective, what was the point? Especially Alistar. I thought there would be intrigue with him and mystery when it just fell flat. Nothing paid off. Take him out of the show and it remains the same. I’m guessing he was created so Kripke could hire his friend but no substance was put to him when he had a talented actor and a character that was supposed to be the secondary antagonist but was more of a glorified cameo. Not only was Gorjan Visnjic underused but the biggest underusing of the cast fell to Giancarlo Esposito. A presence of a man with skill, talent and intrigue that gets very little screen time but he makes every second he is on the screen noteworthy and matches the other amazing cast members.

A few other things. There was no point in the Lamplighter as a whole. My sister had a theory that he would create payback to take on the seven in season 3 and that would have been a much better idea than the short and lackluster effect we got. My thought is they hired Shawn Rashmore because of his status and history in the superhero world and if Lamplighter had more screen time I would have rooted for him but he was rushed and not given time to shine.

Overall, performances from most of the cast were exceptional with depth and adding something to an otherwise lackluster season. Jessie T Usher, Tomer Kapon, Nathan Mitchell, Dominique McElligott, Shantel VanSanten, Karen Fukahara, Laz Alonso and Antony Starr shine and try to bring the show back to what it was in season one. They were enjoyable, intimating at times, and you rooted for them despite some of them being the villains of the story. Last season bravely and unashamedly moved away from the source material and created something better. This season has crammed it back in at the cost of any substance and credit the previous season built.