[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Boys, Season 2, Episode 1, “The Big Ride.”]
The season premiere of The Boys in many respects plays a lot like a direct sequel to the events of Season 1, which is probably the right call, given how many loose threads were blowing in the breeze after the season finale.
Things begin with a touch of the ol’ ultra-violence, as the always-masked Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) tears through a “super-terrorist” compound, killing everyone in his path except for a young boy, and taking the head of a terrorist named Yakim with him as a souvenir. It’s an event intercut with Vought head honcho Mr. Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) holding a board meeting only somewhat distracted by the delivery of lunch; just another day in the corporate America of Vought.
Doing their best to stay off the grid after everything that went down last season are Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), hiding out in the basement of a pawnshop (one which happens to sell comics as well as buy gold), looking to less-than-legal schemes to raise enough money for new passports.
But their plan to hide out until they can make a clean escape from the authorities gets more complicated when one of the shady guys Frenchie’s been working shows up seriously injured, and what happened to him ends up creating a whole new problem: Turns out Frenchie has been unknowingly assisting in some human trafficking, and one of the people brought into the country on a cargo ship had enough super-juice to cause some serious damage.
Hoping to use this as leverage, the guys decide to contact Raynor (Jennifer Esposito) and share what they know — a meeting which goes well, with MM even getting an update on his family… oh, until Raynor makes a connection that might make the whole puzzle make sense… at which point, her head just explodes. (It is, like so many other moments of The Boys, gloriously gross/awesome.)
All this while, Hughie is also secretly meeting with Annie (Erin Moriarty), as he hasn’t given up on the fight against Vought, and she’s pissed as hell at the company which has controlled her life for far longer than she ever realized — even though she’s still putting on her public image of Starlight for the cameras, fake boobs, hair, smile and all.
They have their own plan for exposing Vought, involving getting their hands on some Compound V, which Annie contrives to do by reconnecting with an old “Capes for Christ” friend, a supe named Gecko (David Thompson) who supplements working in the Vought labs with a very unusual form of selling himself: For enough cash, he’ll let you take him to a motel room and chop off one of his regrowing limbs. Annie once again proves her mettle when confronting her old friend with enough evidence to blackmail him, and him agreeing to help her.
Meanwhile, in Sandusky, Ohio… The Deep (Chace Crawford) isn’t doing too great, getting drunk in what looks like an Appleby’s and truly losing it at a local water park. He gets bailed out, though, by a new friend: Eagle the Archer (Langston Kerman) from Cleveland. The Fresca-toting Eagle wants to help Deep pull out of his depression spiral, with some assistance from Susan from Friends Carol (Jessica Hecht), a “teacher” from the Church of the Collective. “If you don’t have any self-esteem issues, why are you constantly demeaning women?” she asks him, and he seems somewhat willing to listen.
At Vought, the only person who really seems to miss Madeline (Elisabeth Shue) is Homelander (Antony Starr), which is a bit unexpected given that he’s the one who melted her skull in the Season 1 finale. However, Homelander is also determined that following her death, he’s able to exert more control over not just the Seven but everything Vought is up to — something which he learns, by the end of the episode, might not be as easy as he thinks.
Homelander flexes his literal and figurative muscles by disabling Ashley’s (Colby Minifie) potential new recruit, telling her that he’s the one who will pick who joins the Seven. But he’s caught off guard by an interruption on set for a PSA he’s shooting with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) — announcing her presence via social media is the newly selected member of the elite superhero team is Stormfront (Aya Cash), who has no problem revealing to her followers just how fake this PSA shoot is, or with standing up to Homelander.
A pissed Homelander confronts Edgar about Stormfront’s hiring, but it ends up being a sobering conversation meant to put Homelander’s role in the company in place, as Edgar not only explains the real backstory of founder Frederick Vought (who, like Oppenheimer, was a Nazi scientist brought to America, except his specialty was genetics) but how ultimately Homelander is “under a misconception that we are a superhero company.” Really, they’re a pharmaceutical company, and Compound V is the asset that matters most.
The conversation upsets Homelander, or at least inspires him to visit Becca (Shantel VanSanten), the former Mrs. Billy Butcher who is also the mother of Homelander’s son. Time for some father-son bonding time, I guess.
That’s a whole lot to pack into one hour of TV, and there’s just one more thing worth mentioning — after being absent all episode, our pal Billy (Karl Urban) finally makes his big entrance, reassuring his shell-shocked team that don’t worry…
- I’m not here to tell you how to watch this show (officially), but I will say this — paying attention to the work put into the production design, especially the set decoration, pays off huge. Sometimes it’s just a funny gag, like the poster in the pawn shop for 1970s-era feminine products branded with a previously unmentioned hero. And then sometimes it’s a subway ad spotted over Hughie’s shoulder for the Church of the Collective, well before The Deep gets handed a copy of the Destinations text later in the episode.
- Black Noir’s impromptu stuffed bunny dance is the sort of weirdo touch that makes The Boys such a surprisingly fun viewing experience (given the mayhem and murder otherwise on screen.
- Okay, so while on set Stormfront is correct in remembering that there was an episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders entitled “The Devil’s Breath,” there is no IMDB listing for a character named Hotel Clerk #2, and The Boys credited actor Isaiah Adam does not appeared to have ever appeared on that show. (The Expanse, Supernatural, and Fringe, yes, though). So maybe he just went uncredited, or that was an almost perfect but not quite meta-reference.
- Boy, Homelander sure loves his milk, huh? (That’s all I really want to say about that bit.)
- Starlight is publicly dating Alden Ehrenreich (or at least being spotted with him at awards shows)? Okay! As much as Hughie and Annie are clearly endgame love story material, still, girl, good for you and Alden. His last name might be hard to spell, but he seems nice.
The Boys Season 2, Episodes 1-3 are streaming now on Amazon. And here’s our recap of Season 2, Episode 2.