After a brilliant start, The Boys settles in a bit as it begins to bring forth new members of the cast. But not too much though; the series still maintains the excellent momentum generated by the first episode. In fact, Episode 2 picks up right where Episode 1 left off as Hughie and Billy attempt to dispose off the Invisible superhero Translucent’s body to absolve themselves of his murder before the Seven find out about it. Turns out, Translucent isn’t really dead, setting up an interesting back-and-forth of will-they-wont-they kill him before Homelander shows up.
We meet the third member of the Boys crew Frenchie who, with his expertise in weapons and with his knowledge of slaying supes, having presumably taken some down in the past, helps figure out a way to dispose the invincible invisible hero. Their attempts mostly fail but it’s fun to see their banter along with Hughie who now finds himself inadvertently caught in a much bigger mess and game. His worried father calls him up and once again, Simon Pegg plays the practical, pragmatic dad to perfection in just one short snippet as he urges Hughie to get out and take the safe path back home.
At the other end, we’re witness to some more “cruelty” by the Seven. The last episode showed Homelander firing his lasers shooting down the Baltimore Mayor’s plane but apparently leaves behind some evidence that’s brought to Madelyn’s attention by The Deep. This serves two purposes. One, it shows the strangely fragile mentality of Homelander who at this point, has developed an ego too big for his own good to swallow. As he puts it, he “can do whatever the f*** he wants”. He also shares an unsettling relationship with Madelyn who herself has a few secrets up her sleeve. Two, it shows the delicate dynamics between the members of the Seven who, unlike the Justice League or the Avengers, are merely forced to work with each other and not necessarily pals. There’s a whole undercurrent of insecurities, jealousy and sense of betrayal underpinning their equation with each other that’s going to possibly explode at some point.
Fortunately, there’s some good that happens to the main characters Hughie and Annie. On her part, Annie / Starlight gets some catarsis of revenge as she’s able to subdue The Deep and realize he’s no hotshot he promised her to be. It still sucks that she had to be raped to discover that but that’s the brutal world we’re dealing with here. So brutal that her attempts to thwart another girl’s rape end up getting recorded and presented as Starlight beating the sh*t out of two innocent teens, as well as exposing her alter-ego. Vought is distraught and their executives try and do some damage control, as they’re meant to do. There’s a particularly satirical bit involving the A-Train meeting a kid in the final stages of cancer whose dying wish was to meet Translucent. You can see the Facebook Live viewership count drop much like the boy’s excitement and it necessitates how much scripted events involving A-Train need to be, due to his lack of social handling skills.
The Boys gets Matt Shakman of Game of Thrones to direct this episode and he does a rather terrific job of ramping up the tension in the final bits. Sure, there’s no GoT level spectacle like the one he brought in The Spoils of War but he does keep the suspsense high before things literally explode. Again, the end is gory and messy, in tune with the show’s R-rating and can at times be disgusting to watch. Still, the dual endings thus far have managed to keep me hooked to come back for more.
The Boys also continues its at times subtle, at others not so subtle references to other pop-culture items. After last episode’s heavy Matrix callbacks, this episode is most noticeable for comparing The Deep directly to DC’s superhero Aquaman. Sure, the comparison was fairly obvious with the green costume and undersea powers but it goes a step further when Homelander dismisses him as being nothing but the butt of all jokes, a title Aquaman held for the longest time until Zack Snyder cast Jason Momoa in Batman v Superman and Justice League making him the cool dude instead.
In terms of production values, The Boys continues to stun, although there’s a fair bit of more than obvious bloom employed to conceal the visual effects. It’s particularly noticeable in the sequences atop the Seven’s headquarters and it’s almost reminiscent of the Crysis 3 situation in video games a few years back. That minor hiccup aside, the show still looks lavish and rich, with its cinematic qualities intact. The score is a nice mix of orchestral and old pop songs, some of which were used in the trailers as well. I’m still waiting to here some official theme that summarizes the show, given that it doesn’t have an intro yet.
The Boys looks like it’s mainly the journey of Hughie and Starlight at the different factions they’ve been employed in. Hughie’s slow transformation from a scared guy too afraid to ask for a raise in the first episode and Starlight’s metamorphosis from a girl too afraid to risk losing the opportunity to be in the Seven to someone who begins taking matters into her own hands will probably be the focal points going forward. And I’m still excited about what havoc Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher will wreak. It sure as hell would be interesting to see him square off with Antony Starr’s Homelander.