How do you top the most addictive, violent, and utterly insane show of 2019? More violence? More insanity? It is true that the second season of The Boys certainly has those elements, with absolutely no aversion to coating its cast in copious amounts of goopy blood. But with a lacking assuredness of its anti-superhero satire that made the first season feel so fresh, season two wobbles with a meandering focus whilst occasionally hitting the peaks of its predecessor.
While I still had a great time with season two, its pacing is superbly damaged by its weekly release schedule – taking over from the Netflix-styled all-in-one release of season one, which made it the last good binge I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. In an age where bingeing has become the norm, this staggered release proves itself yet again to be a detrimental way of telling a story that is better viewed as a whole.
Luckily for Amazon Prime, The Boys has some of the most well-cast character in television, with Anthony Starr as Homelander continuing to be the standout that grabs you by the scruff of your collar every time he walks onscreen. Aya Cash as Stormfront is a welcome addition, who quickly fits into this world whilst effortlessly making you hate her from the very start.
The rest of the squad turn up as well with Karl Urban being as grizzled as ever as Butcher, Laz Alonzo wisely inspiring as Mother’s Milk, and Erin Moriarty moving out of Vought’s shadow as Starlight. Sadly, however the likes of Hughey, Frenchie, Kimiko, and the Deep are side-lined at times by aggressively forced character arcs that left me eager to return to the tension and drama of mere mortal men, playing with the fire of god-like superheroes.
Throughout its eight-episode run, we see struggles in fatherhood, questionings of faith, family relationship issues and slow burning romances. Each of these have merits on their own, but often detract from the cohesiveness that the first seasons had, as it pulls characters away from its central premise. It contributes to those peaks and troughs as looking back, I didn’t have that same desperation to find out what happens in the next episode that was very much present last year.
My issues continue past these subplots however, with cause and effect style of storytelling that often contradicts what we know from the previous season – and it concerns public perception. Various members of The Seven are still concerned with the audience number – like how to monopolize a coming out story – yet it remains indecisive on when it wants their actions to have consequence. It’s a missing element that was integral to that spark in the first season, as the show seems to have become overly concerned with whatever destination it has set for itself later down the line.
These fuzzier narrative moments made me question the rules that the first season itself had established, and often took knocks out of my unquestioning loyalty. Yet in its later episodes, as the narrative begins to come whole circle, faith was restored as The Boys offered up a very different, yet equally entrancing conclusion to its violent pulpy story, and has me eager to see how the choices made in season two will influence its future.
So yes, The Boys has managed to keep me hooked for another season, despite feeling the need to swerve away from its main storyline. Moving forward I do hope that this segregated season allows for all parties to butt heads once again next season, getting up to all kinds of gruesome, depraved shenanigans.