Finally, we’ve reached the end of Season 2. It certainly was a wild ride, and while I don’t think it was as effective as Season 1, it’s a solid continuation of what continues to be a breath of fresh air in the formulaic superhero genre.
The big spoilers this episode have to do with “Boys” leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), and his plan to save his wife, Becca (Shantel VanSanten), and his illegitimate stepson, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) from Homelander (Antony Starr) and Stormfront (Aya Cash). Butcher is no fan of superheroes, and knows he would either be a disappointing father to Ryan, or might get himself into a situation where he outright kills him. So he makes a deal with Vought President Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) to return Ryan to Vought’s care in a way that will separate him from his mother. But he can’t follow through with it, which leads to a deadly confrontation between the Butchers and Stormfront.
The subplot about A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) and the Church of the Collective pays off in this episode in a big way. In short, A-Train and The Deep (Chace Crawford) both see themselves kicked out of The Seven, and join the cult-like group Church of the Collective, which Stormfront was a past member of, to try to gain re-entry into the elite group. A-Train learns that Stormfront is barring his entry because of his race, and promptly decides to hand her complete file to Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty), who leaks it to the public. As we learned in previous episodes, Stormfront is over 100 years old, and is a former Nazi, and plans to use her position in The Seven to push white supremacy.
A large public outcry ensues as the world rightfully turns on Vought for putting her in such a position of power. This unbalances Stormfront, and she lashes out at The Boys, who do their best to hold her off while the Butchers try to escape. They are helped unexpectedly by Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), who shows up out of nowhere in order to make the finale possible (they would’ve been killed instantly by Stormfront and Homelander without her).
**Extra large spoilers**
This results in the unfortunate death of Becca, as Stormfront decides to try to kill her in a fit of rage. But before she can, Ryan unleashes his untamed powers on them both, mortally wounding his mother and burning Stormfront to a crisp, leaving her close to death. Becca’s dying wish is for Butcher to keep her son safe, which he begrudgingly obliges to. Homelander finds them, but Maeve threatens to release an incriminating video unless he allows them to go.
**Extra large spoilers end**
The episode wraps everything up in a neat bow that allows for a new equilibrium to take place. Without unleashing spoilers, Stormfront is blamed for the attacks on the capital last episode, which shatters Vought’s hopes of getting military contracts and possibly selling Compound V to the government. In fact, it leads to a special superhero oversight body Butcher is invited to join after The Boys have their records scrubbed of everything they’re wanted for, even the crimes they did commit. Everyone is allowed to have a life again – Starlight even get reinstated into The Seven, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) gets to live with his family, and Hughie even gets a job at a sketchy political campaign at the end of the episode – but I have a feeling they’re not completely off the hook.
I’m still not a fan of the red herring plot from Episode 7, as I feel like it’s quest for misdirection led to this episode having to work overtime to set up the finale, and as it stands, it does feel rushed. I understand why Maeve has to come to the rescue in this episode (the scenario cannot work without her being a counterweight to Homelander), but I found her motivations murky and baffling given how worn out and broken her character has been up to this point, and her turn against Homelander – which should be a huge deal – not believable. Homelander letting Billy and Ryan go also felt very rushed and out of character; I was waiting for him to take his rage out on something or someone he could get away with, but it never came.
I do like Edgar as a villain, mostly by how he makes Vought adapt through everything The Boys throw at him. More so than ever, I got the sense that he’s realizing the group is more valuable to him alive than dead, as in their quest to bring the company down, they’ve inadvertently pushed it to a place where they can openly talk about and potentially sell Compound V, while reigning in Homelander and ridding the company of the toxic personality of Stormfront. The Boys hoped to be like a deadly disease to the company, but Edgar manipulated them into antibodies. Though as a character, I do think Edgar is a little too close to Esposito’s portrayal of Gus Fring on “Breaking Bad,” albeit a bad copy.
Overall, I liked this episode, but it has its flaws. I liked Season 1 much more than Season 2, as I felt like it had more room to play with its satirical elements of the superhero genre. Season 2 feels bogged down with the responsibilities of telling a real story, and it was also at a huge disadvantage of being constructed to be binged, but released piecemeal by Amazon.
I don’t know what to expect from Season 3, whenever we get it. I expect it’ll be more of the same Butcher vs. Vought stuff we’ve come to know and love, and I don’t expect our heroes to be sitting comfortably for long.
Season 2, Episode 8 gets an 8.5/10
Season 2 (Overall) gets a 7.9/10