This is not your daddy's superhero show! If you watched season 1 of The Boys, Amazon's reimagining of Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson's controversial comic then you'll know that this series' caped crusaders are far from the saccharine do-gooders that we're used to. There's no Marvel Cinematic Universe moralising or teamwork saving the day, this is down and dirty superhero-subversion that has a lot to say about the perils of corporate ownership, the evils of capitalism, and, of course, there are all those almost comically gruesome deaths.
But seeing as if you haven't caught up with The Boys in a while, then let's go over the basics: the anti-superhero vigilante team is led by Billy the Butcher (Karl Urban), who hates supers after his wife was raped and killed by Homelander (Anthony Starr) — more on that later. He crosses paths with Hughie (Jack Quaid), who's harbouring a similar resentment after the killing of his partner at the hands of one of the celebrity superheroes known as The Seven. Made up of Homelander, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie Usher), Translucent (Alex Hassell), Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), The Deep (Chace Crawford), and new naive recruit Starlight (Erin Moriarty), the team members are the biggest heroes and celebrities on Earth.
Run by the devastatingly powerful and evil corporation known as Vought, The Seven — and the rest of the superpowered heroes in existence — are revealed to be nothing more than lab rats created by Vought using the mysterious and dangerous drug known only as Compound V.
As any film, TV, or comic book fan knows, uncovering a global conspiracy is incredibly dangerous. And, because of a series of increasingly bad and violent decisions, the crew quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of Vought and The Seven. At the forefront of that war is Homelander, who's been puppeteering The Seven and their evil cohorts at Vought since the first episode. Starr's villainous superhero was willing to kill anyone he needed to make sure that The Seven and superheroes everywhere are allowed into the military. His own emotional issues mean that The Boys are not the only casualty, though, as Homelander ultimately kills his own boss and oedipal mother figure, Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), the one time VP of Vought International.
After their showdown with Stillwell, Homelander and Billy discovered the truth about the latter's wife: She was actually still alive and had been living in secret with her superpowered son who seems to be the outcome of her affair with Homelander. The ramifications of that discovery and the death of Stillwell are being felt heavily as we move into season 2. Vought has a new head who represents a huge threat to Homelander's power, Billy the Butcher is still missing, and The Seven are still the world's greatest superhero team... although the question is for how long?
Episode 1: "The Big Ride"
It all begins with a funeral. Yep, after the blood-soaked-madness of last season, the superheroes are reunited at a celebration of ex-Seven member Translucent's short life (you might remember that he got killed by Hughie after he detonated a smartly placed bomb in a particularly uncomfortable place). It's a smart way of filling us in on what's been going on whilst the teams have been gone. Supes are being inducted into the military with the help of a new shady Vought head Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), Black Noir has killed the superpowered terrorist created by Homelander, and now The Seven are heroes again. Starlight is deeply embedded in The Seven but still in touch with Hughie and it turns out that The Deep (Chace Crawford) isn't taking to his banishment in Sandusky, Ohio so well.
After going wild in a kids water park, the one-time member of The Seven is picked up and put in prison, but he's bailed out by a new (to us) hero from Cleveland named Eagle the Archer (Langston Kerman). This is a great example of this episode's really fun uses of the ever-widening superhero knowledge in pop culture. Eagle has always been an analogue for archer characters like DC Comics' Green Arrow and Marvel's Hawkeye, but here the writers lean into the contemporary comic book literacy by using his origin to make the jokes comic book fans have been laughing at for years.
While The Deep makes new friends, Homelander (Antony Starr) is trying to recruit a new member of The Seven and the first try goes in just the disgusting and grim fashion you'd expect. Blindspot is a dynamic gymnast, incredible martial artist, and generally incredible superhero but he also happens to be blind. Just like Marvel's Daredevil, his heightened extra senses allow him to fight crime and preempt his enemies. He seems like a great pick but just in case you weren't aware that Homelander is truly evil, he deafens the hero and lets his feelings about Deaf people and disabled heroes be known, using slurs and slights to tell his newly rehired-PR woman, Ashley (Colby Minifie), exactly how he feels about Blindspot and her choices in life.
If you're wondering where the titular team of anti-super anti-heroes have been, well they're on the run, living underground with a group of ragtag crew members led by Frenchie (Tomer Kapon). It turns out that his new compadres have been trafficking humans, including a new super-terrorist. Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso), Hughie, and Frenchie are all horrified when they realise the truth and, with Billy still nowhere to be seen, no one seems to have a plan for what to do next. While the vigilante team suffers a crisis of their own, The Deep is struggling with a far more personal battle. After waking up at Eagle's house, the hero is introduced to Carol (Jessica Hecht) who seems to be a Scientology-inspired figure who despises therapy but wants the supe to open up to her in a very intimate way. But when she offers to get him back in The Seven, he can't say no.
The Deep might have found solace in the eerie Church of the Collective, but The Boys are arguing amongst themselves. Hughie wants to save the world from the super-terrorist they accidentally smuggled to American shores, but Mother's Milk and Frenchie are loath to do it without Billy. Due to the lack of action from elsewhere, Starlight takes matters into her hands, blackmailing an old friend from church camp into stealing a sample of Compound V from the local Vought lab, putting both of them in grave danger. Ironically, though, it's Hughie who really puts the team in danger when he reaches out to the CIA, getting the deputy director's (Jennifer Esposito) head blown up and alerting Vought to the fact that they've been poking around in their business.
The two biggest reveals from this episode come as the show comes to a close. The first is the introduction of a horrible and timely new foe for The Boys. Stormfront (Aya Cash) bursts her way into The Seven, Instagram-living the entire thing. Without spoiling too much, the show does hint at her comic book origins by stating she's from Portland and playing into the massive internet following that she's gained. Her arrival is a decision that doesn't sit well with Homelander, who heads over to Vought in order to strongarm Stan Edgar. Alas, the new Vought suit doesn't scare easily and reveals that the one-time hero of Vought is next to worthless, and if he doesn't get in line he might not be in any position to have an opinion on Vought, being a hero, or his teammates at all.
And in the moment we've all been waiting for, as The Boys — covered in brains — argue over what to do next. Billy the Butcher returns, kicking a man down the stairs and reassuring Hughie not to worry because "daddy's home."
Episode 2: "Proper Preparation and Planning"
Where was Billy? It's the biggest question after the first episode of the second season and we get a little bit of an answer here: Tony Ciccero's. Well, after he saw his long-believed to be dead wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), he woke up in the parking lot of the Italian restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After quickly writing down everything he could remember on a children's' fun sheet, Billy began his journey back to New York City and his former teammates who are in a lot of trouble.
Speaking of those teammates, Hughie is less than happy to see his one time friend return, seeing as he's convinced that he killed Madelyn Stillwell. Billy didn't, but that doesn't really matter to the angsty kid who feels abandoned by his surrogate foulmouthed father figure. With Billy looking after his adult vigilante children, Homelander is back with Becca and their son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) playing happy families. It turns out that Becca traded the visits with Billy's life, but she's less than happy about it as Homelander begins to try and draw the powers out of her son.
If you were intrigued by The Deep and his exploration of the Church of the Collective, you get to learn more about it and him this week as he takes shrooms and has a conversation with his gills that ends with the pair coming to terms with each other and doing a duet of "You Are So Beautiful." It's a lot. While The Deep gets acquainted with himself, Stormfront and Starlight get put at the front of a corny and cynical new campaign called "Girls Get it Done," which is exactly as terrible as you think it is. Plenty of faux girl power and awful questions about their sex lives sees Starlight play ball and Stormfront act out, but Queen Maeve is nowhere to be seen as she gets a last minute reprieve before the cameras begin to roll.
Billy is on a mission to find his wife and that means another funeral; this time it's for Susan Rayner (Jennifer Esposito), the CIA agent whose head got blown up by Vought last episode. Though he's hardly there for charitable reasons, Billy gets his old contact to agree to help The Boys as part of an incredibly shady scheme that will cause chaos as the episode comes to a close. Queen Maeve is playing a game all of her own as she goes to see her ex-girlfriend in the hospital and after their usual bickering, Maeve reveals why she's been so secretive. It's not because she's ashamed of being queer but because she's worried that Homelander will murder her lover, something that he's done in the past in the most brutal way to people who even look her way.
One of the biggest looming shadows this season is A-Train. He makes a surprise return on live TV in what's supposed to be an emotional moment, but of course sparks a panic attack for Starlight who is aware of the threat he represents. The pair showdown in the VIP area with A-Train threatening to reveal Stargirl and Hughie's secret, and things only get more stressful when Stargirl's contact brings her a sample of Compound V, but she has nowhere to hide it thanks to her skimpy costume which features a total of zero pockets. Another woman in a tight spot is Becca, who drives to a desert lab to beg for Homelander to be put back on his leash, but sadly for her that genie is out of the bottle and there's no going back.
Back in NYC, The Boys are headed to Jersey to follow up on his lead from the CIA taking the crew to a party shop where Kimiko quickly rips a man's head off. Shock horror, the terrorist-smugglers are the same ones who kidnapped her and their newest weapon is... her brother (Abraham Lim). Billy tries to take down the powerful telepath but is stopped by Hughie and has to reveal the truth about Becca, Ryan, and the fact that he made a deal with the CIA to bring in Kimiko's brother in order to find out where his wife is and how he can save her. The honesty inspires momentary loyalty from the team who head back out to hunt down Billy's golden ticket.
Starlight and Stormfront have a mini-showdown with the latter telling the former that she needs to stand up for herself more and even "be a bitch." Stargirl wants to reveal her own plan to take down Vought, but Stormfront has zero interest in her new teammate. Her advice does help Starlight, though, who later faces down with A-Train, who uncovers her Compound V. Although he tries to play hardball, she blackmails him with the knowledge that he killed his ex-girlfriend, and he eventually gives her the drug — and the upper hand — back.
After a heartwarming moment and a fight sparked by the reveal that her brother wants to take down America and support the group who kidnapped them, because Homelander destroyed and murdered their village, Kimiko subdues her brother and returns him to The Boys. Billy and Hughie appear to share a moment, but Billy punches Hughie in the face for messing with his plan to save his wife... trouble in paradise, boys?
Episode 3: "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men"
Billy Joel's musical shadow hangs heavy over The Boys this week as the episode begins with a clip from the "You're Only Human" music video. It's a dark reflection of Hughie's state of mind as the video has a setup similar to It's a Wonderful Life, wherein a man is stopped from dying by suicide on a bridge by Joel's magical figure. We join Hughie as he looks over the edge of the boat he's standing on, only to be interrupted by his own Billy. Though Butcher is no angel, he is there to offer up a rare apology for abandoning Hughie and the rest of his crew. But the young man has no interest in accepting the olive branch, instead replying with a surprisingly strong punch to Billy's face. And considering what comes next, we really cannot blame Hughie.
Billy is so concerned with finding his wife that he promises his CIA contact that he'll kill Kimiko if she isn't happy with helping them take her own brother, Kenji, into custody as a super-terrorist. And both she and her best buddy Frenchie overhear his brutally single-minded promise. As one of The Boys' awful father figures decimates his found family, the other is literally destroying the lives of Becca and her son Ryan. Homelander has moved into the family home and is planning to make his son follow in his footsteps by throwing him off a roof. But even though Ryan doesn't fly, he is able to summon his powers when he's forced to protect his mother from his monster of a father. He manages to out-power Homelander and save Becca from the villain's wrath.
Ashley's dreams of becoming the new PR hero for The Seven are dashed as her Avengers-style pitch for a Dawn of The Seven movie is interrupted by the news that all superheroes including the celebrity team were actually created using the mysterious drug Compound V. This inspires a showdown between Starlight and A-Train where she makes him complicit and he calls out her privilege, and there's an emotional fallout for heroes like Black Noir, Queen Maeve, and The Deep as they come to terms with the fact that there was a world where they could have been normal.
When Hughie sees the news he's quick to take credit for Starlight's work, leaving Mother's Milk and Frenchie in awe, but Billy is less than impressed as he's more worried about the supe-terrorist on board. Desperate to communicate with Kimiko, Frenchie asks Kenji to teach him the secret sign language that the two of them created as children. Though Frenchie doesn't get what he wants, he does accidentally create an escape route for the dangerous man he went to for help. As Hughie leaves an emotional message for Starlight expressing his love, a police helicopter turns up to apprehend the crew. Using the energy drink can that Frenchie left behind to escape, Kenji tangles with The Boys, accidentally knocking the craft out of the sky, killing all the cops and sending The Boys to a CIA safehouse with Kenji in chains.
With trading stopped on Vought and the company in shambles, Stan Edgar doesn't seem to be worried about the corp's problems. That's because he has a dastardly plan up his sleeve and it includes The Seven. Redirecting the public conversation to the team hunting down the supe-terrorist puts the heroes on a collision course with The Boys. After being shunned by Becca and Ryan, Homelander tries to turn The Seven against their creators, leading with a resounding chant of "Fuck Vought." But they're not the only people on the lookout for Kenji as The Deep is vying to get back on the team with a tip from the Church of the Collective's leader that takes him and an army of sea creatures to the vigilante team. Sadly for the hero and his blue whale buddy, Billy is insane and drives a boat straight into the whale in one of the season's most disgusting and impressive setpieces so far.
With The Boys on the run through a storm drain, The Seven aren't far behind. Though it seems like nothing good can come out of that, Starlight and Hughie meet in the tunnels, giving the guy the second wind he's been hoping for. But Starlight uses her power to temporarily blind him, and when Homelander discovers the pair, he demands that she murder her one time lover to save her own life. Just as she's poised to strike the fatal blow, realising she's out of options, Billy saves his reluctant friend with the help of Kenji who gets his revenge on the man who destroyed his village.
The victory is short lived, though, as Stormfront finds the siblings and we get to see her powers and true self in action. Not only does she take joy in torturing the pair, but she murders Kenji, using a racial slur as she does so. The racist new member of The Seven also kills a number of innocent Black bystanders on purpose, revealing that the show is following the character's comic book origins where the supe is a virulent Neo Nazi. In a devastating twist, she's lifted up as a brave and powerful woman who saved the day rather than the fascist murderer she truly is.
More to come. We will update this full season recap each Friday, as Amazon releases new episodes.