[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Boys, Season 2, Episode 4, “Nothing Like It In the World.”]
Each passing week, The Boys Season 2 continues to get more and more wild, with Episode 4, “Nothing Like It In the World,” featuring the return of a familiar face, a tender reunion, a major reveal about Stormfront’s (Aya Cash) past, and a Billy Joel sing-a-long. In addition, it almost included what could have been one of the weirdest sex scenes ever put on television, as Doppelganger (played in his natural form by Dan Darin-Zanco) transforms into a double of Homelander (Antony Starr) and tries to seduce the world’s most famous superhero as himself.
Things end tragically for Doppelganger, but in the below interview, creator Eric Kripke admits that he regrets not going further with the scene. Kripke also reveals that how he and his team paved the road for using lots more Billy Joel in the future, the process behind bringing back Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell (sorta), and why, exactly, he’s not afraid of comparisons between the “wife auditions” being held in this episode for The Deep (Chace Crawford) and alleged real-life events.
To start off, I know I don’t know all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and I was alive when that song came out. So when it came to doing that scene, how much training did Jack Quaid and Erin Moriarty need?
KRIPKE: I actually don’t know the answer to that question, but my guess is they had to study it. But it’s catchy, it’s easy to memorize, it’s set to a tune. When we were thinking about the song that they’re going to sing to have their classic road trip moment, I loved the idea of that song, just because it’s so funny to me, because it’s really just a litany of just terrible things that have happened, none of them are good: like hypodermics on the shore, and AIDS, crack and Bernie Goetz. It was just so funny to me that they’re singing those words to each other as kind of a love song. It’s kind of the theme of this show, which is like the world has a lot of shit in it, but if you’re reaching for each other and trying to find connection then you’re going to be okay.
That’s really nice. In general, of course, Billy Joel is a big part of the show. What kind of difficulties has that presented you in terms of music rights?
KRIPKE: It’s actually been shockingly easy because we knew very early on that Billy Joel was going to be a big part of Hughie’s story this year. We sort of realized in the writers room how many emotional beats Hughie was going through that could be defined by a Billy Joel song. And considering it was the last thing he said to Robin and he’s a Billy Joel super fan it just made sense. So we reached out through our music supervisors to Billy’s gang very early and said, “We have a lot of Billy Joel we want to put into this season and can we get approval?” We gave them a list of songs and we said, “Can we just get approval on all of these at once and then use them as necessary?” And it’s so many songs that, to my knowledge, they took it to Billy Joel and he was a good sport much to his everlasting credit, and had a sense of humor, and gave his approval and gave his approval for the video “You’re Only Human,” which is also impressive. And then we were off to the races.
So what you’re saying is you have a whole bunch of Billy Joel songs yet to come, or you could still have?
KRIPKE: There is more Billy Joel coming. It’s not the last Billy Joel this season. There will be more.
The bride auditions are such a fun When Harry Met Sally-ish motif for the episode. What was the process of coming up with those monologues for those actresses?
KRIPKE: We were inspired by When Harry Met Sally and if you look at them, a lot of them are commenting on the scenes that follow. Not all of them. I mean, for me, the Ed Sheeran one was just hilarious and funny. But Michael Saltzman, the writer who wrote those, were basing them on what comes after. So the opening one is a little vignette about bad communication and then you go to Kimiko and Frenchie who are communicating. And then one in the middle, Cassandra, who ends up becoming his wife, is talking about how you never, ever let go of the person you love, which isn’t, by the way, the healthiest perspective. And then you cut to Butcher who can’t let go of Becca. So they were designed as sort of emotionally be sort of the Greek chorus of the emotion of the episode.
On a different level, when you’re including elements like that — of course there’s no commentary whatsoever in the season about the Church of Scientology whatsoever, but when you’re including an element like that that may or may not reflect an actual thing that may or may not have happened to a member of the Church of Scientology, is there any concern in your head about that?
KRIPKE: No, I mean no, because there’s a lot of religions whose primary motive is to take advantage of their followers. I think it’s a wider comment on that. It’s taking advantage of people who are vulnerable in order to profit off them. There’s a big HBO documentary about all that right now with the girl from Smallville, so there’s several to parody that we’ve taken hits at. It hasn’t really concerned me much. [Editor’s note: Kripke is referring to the series The Vow, directed by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer.]
Finally, one of the big headlines of Episode 4 is that Elisabeth Shue comes back. What went into the decision to find a way to bring back the character in some way?
KRIPKE: Someone in the room had pitched the notion that, just as a random idea, that Homelander by now has pretty much forgotten that he murdered her and he just misses her like a child misses a security blanket. She brought him comfort. And someone pitched, “Well, that character Doppelganger in Season 1 took her form. We’ve actually already set up that he could do it again.” But it just kind of came and went as an idea. And then I happened to be talking to Lisa, because she had just seen I think a lot of the Season 1 episodes and she was telling me how much she loved it and how if there’s any way that she could come back I could just let her know, and I was like, “Funny you asked that, because an idea had been pitched.” So I went back into the room and I was like, “We got it, we’re doing that one.” It would only have worked obviously if Lisa was game and into it. And so once I found out she was, we went forward with the idea.
That’s wonderful. In terms of that storyline, when did you start having the conversation with Antony about, “By the way, we’re going to end it with you in the negligee”?
KRIPKE: My guess is he probably just read it in the script. I don’t remember giving him a particular heads up. I mean, my actors get the scripts very early and we have long conversations about them long before we’re shooting, and I use an incredible amount of their ideas and input, because they know the characters. It’s my job to know the whole chess board, but it’s their job to know their individual piece and so they find angles that need I don’t know. I’m sure we discussed it back and forth and figured out the right way to do it. And he’s just so unbelievable in that scene. That is just the craziest performance. So yeah, it was amazing. I only slightly regret that we just didn’t go through with it and had Homelander perform oral sex on Homelander. I feel we pulled back at the last minute and we should’ve gone all the way.
I mean, I’m not going to say I don’t want to see that but…
KRIPKE: It just seemed like we were right there and then we kind of got scared and backed off.
Which is a very rare moment for this show, I think.
KRIPKE: Right. Well, how many shows can show a guy having a complete perfect double? I mean, it’s something only this show could do.
The Boys Season 2 is streaming now on Amazon. Future episodes debut weekly on Fridays.