Carl unpacks the gripping season finale of ‘The Boys‘ Season 2
***SPOILER WARNING-DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SEASON 2 FINALE-FINAL WARNING***
Ok, it’s been several days since the finale of season 2 of ‘The Boys‘ dropped online. Days for the fans and non-fans alike to watch the bloodthirsty and gory denouement of the season. And now, thoughts turn to what will happen in season 3. But wait! Are we not going to discuss what we saw? Are we not going to mention our feelings and our thoughts about where this will lead in the third season? Are we not going to discuss that final shot of Homelander? We will but in tasteful detail. And of course, are we going to ignore the shocking revelation that hit us square between the eyes almost right at the death? Not a chance. We have to discuss and place our thoughts and feelings on record. These are mine. And I must stress, these are STRICTLY MINE. What I’m going to write in this piece are my feelings and thoughts and should not be construed as the thoughts and feelings of the entire Future Of The Force team or any other of my fellow writers. If anything offends you in this piece, then direct your comments to me alone. I’m a big boy, I can take it.
Ready? Ok, here we go. Let us start with the fight between Stormfront, Kimiko, and Starlight/Annie. This has been coming for almost the entire season and when it happened, it was a doozy. We almost got Kimiko speaking and were led into the feeling that she would utter something, even a four-letter insult to the former Nazi member of The Seven. Of course, she only laughed but the feeling that she was going to launch a verbal assault at Stormfront was there. The fight between the three of them was interesting and enjoyable to a certain extent but something was lacking in it. But when both Annie and Kimiko were lying on the ground and at Stormfront’s mercy, the words that were uttered off-screen and from behind the villainess sent shivers down the spine. “Hey! Kraut!” was uttered by a special guest appearance from Queen Maeve. Now, let’s not put too fine a point on this. The German nation has for years tried to live down the atrocities that a large number of their countrymen committed over seventy years ago. The older generation will probably never forgive the entire country for what they did, even though 99.99% of the German people abhor their history. But having said that, the statement felt just so right. It fit the narrative and the sequence perfectly. And I’ll go further. It is possibly better than we experienced this moment in our homes. Why? Because IF it was shown in a movie theatre, I can 100% confidently predict that the entire audience would cheer, clap and whoop loudly. And so they should. Even Aya Cash, the talented actress who plays Stormfront, has admitted cheering when her character got her just desserts. And she’s the one who plays her! That one single statement about her heritage, followed by Queen Maeve joining forces with Starlight and Kimiko to deliver an ass-kicking, a beatdown to someone so deserving of it without mercy, is a welcome addition to an already great sequence and was a real highlight of the entire episode. I watched transfixed at the 3 on 1 beating Stormfront took. I had been waiting for this for six episodes and it didn’t disappoint me. That Stormfront turned tail and flew away demonstrated that bullies always get what’s coming to them and showed what a real coward the character is.
We now move to Billy Butcher, Becca, and Ryan. It was inevitable that at least one of them wouldn’t make it to season 3. And so it proved, in a shocking way. Those who believed Stormfront was done were proven mistaken as she confronted the trio. Once again, she tried to lure Ryan away from his mother. This, of course, didn’t go to plan. With Butcher being put down and after Becca had rammed a knife through one of Stormfront’s eyes, Stormfront grabbed Becca by the throat and pinned her against a tree where she preceded to attempt to squeeze the life out of her, despite Billy reviving and at first, shooting Stormfront before hitting her several times with a crowbar before being thrown off once again. This led to what everyone watching could have predicted. Ryan, in a fit of pure anger, blasted Stormfront full power with his laser vision.
Unlike his father though, Ryan’s eye beams were more powerful than Homelander‘s and did more than hurt Stormfront. They almost obliterated her. But then came the kicker. Attempting to save his mother inadvertently led to her death. Here the writers pulled off a masterstroke. We were led to believe that the trio had a chance to get away and be together. That Butcher would get to reconcile with his wife finally and go back to being a dutiful husband. We were given a spark of hope, only to have it ripped from us in the most shocking way possible. Ryan had accidentally killed his mother while trying to save her. Becca died in her husband’s arms after making him promise to look after her son. Butcher grabbed the crowbar off the ground. For about ten frightening seconds, we were actually afraid for Ryan’s life. The look of pure anger and unadulterated hatred that occupied Butcher’s face led us to believe that Butcher would happily kill the boy. At this moment, we got to see all sides of Billy Butcher. The fear, the anger, the hatred, the devastation, the grief, and finally the understanding were all conveyed in those vital seconds. We saw every aspect of a man who walks the thin line between sanity and total madness. At times throughout the season and to a certain extent, in the first season, we come to understand that Butcher isn’t of the right mind, that he’s already way over the line into insanity. But by the closing of the episode, we see that the old Butcher is back, the one that existed before the show even began. A hard man but one with determination to do the right thing and one that was capable of real and genuine emotion. In holding his wife as she died, Butcher recrossed the line to the right side once more.
It wouldn’t have been fitting to leave this moment without Homelander making himself known. As he lands in the clearing where Butcher, Ryan, and what’s left of Stormfront reside, the look on his face is one of shock and distress. Now he knows that his son is more powerful than he will ever be, that Ryan, although having a kind heart and feelings, can quite easily kill anyone if he so desires or as he needs to. He’s already killed his mother, although accidentally but now, the power has manifested itself, has been brought to the surface by sheer anger and fear. Although still only a child, Ryan will soon become a man and when that happens, he will be more dangerous than Homelander could ever be. Even then, Homelander still shows anger towards his son at what he’s done to Stormfront.
She lies on the ground, severely burnt and with no arms or legs left. They have been destroyed by Ryan in his anger. Although still alive, her fate is left ambiguous. Later, we hear Homelander say she is in custody and at an undisclosed facility but in what condition? There is almost nothing of her left when we leave her. Now, here is where things get strange. While she’s lying on the ground ‘Dying’, Stormfront is speaking German. She continues to speak her first language as she lies at Homelander’s feet. Now, here’s where things get complicated. As the character is a former nazi, with racist overtones and has done some extremely despicable things throughout her life, we feel pleased and with great satisfaction that she has been left like this. However, someone has gone to the liberty (no pun intended) after the episode had finished to go back to this part and to translate exactly what Stormfront is saying. And what she utters is quite surprising. We can all be forgiven for thinking she is quoting some vile words or some Nazi propaganda. WRONG. She is speaking in her native tongue to her dead husband, Frederick, and remembering a joyful day she spent with him and their daughter, Chloe. Her words are of someone who does have real feelings. Someone who does have a beating heart despite the vileness she spouts. A loving wife and mother, remembering days have gone by when things were different and a more genial time. Someone who is remembering her dead husband and daughter. She even says she wishes she could go back to this time once again when she was happy. Our feelings now are conflicted. We still feel she deserved her fate but at the same time, find ourselves feeling a sense of sympathy for her. A feeling of sorrow. We still don’t know whether the character will return somewhere and somehow down the line but, from a personal point of view, do hope that Aya Cash will be in the next season or the season after as Stormfront again.
Homelander calls to his son to come to him but Ryan refuses, crossing over to stand by Butcher’s side. Butcher is in mourning for his wife but here, he has the ultimate chance of hurting Homelander. He can either kill Ryan, thus depriving Homelander of his son or he can fulfill his promise to Becca and take care of the boy. Surprisingly, he chooses the latter. Homelander taunts Butcher with his wife’s death but Butcher is aided by an unexpected source. Queen Maeve has joined them in the clearing, much to Homelander’s surprise. It is here where Maeve drops her bombshell on him. Either he leaves her, her family, and friends in peace, stop his harassment and persecution of Starlight and readmits her to the Seven, and lets Butcher and Ryan go or she will release the video of him abandoning the passengers aboard the Airliner from season one. He responds by telling her, he will kill everyone she loves if she does. Maeve says he can do that but he will lose all the attention, all the love, and all the worship he enjoys from the entire world if he does. Can he live with that?
Butcher walks away with Ryan, a small sense of satisfaction on his face. He has put one over on his sworn enemy finally. Homelander’s face says it all. Not only has he lost his girlfriend at the hands of his son, not only has everything he was attempting come falling around him but he’s been called out by one of his team. And after everything he has put Maeve through over the past two seasons, it has all come back to bite him. And of all the people to bring him to his knees, it had to be Maeve. For both seasons, she has been in fear of Homelander. His blatant and flippant way of outing her sexuality to the world and his way of trying to control her has taken an almost unbearable toll on her. But just like everyone else in the world that gets treated as bad as she’s been, Maeve finally gets the courage and not only confronts her tormentor but now holds the power in her hands. Homelander can no longer hold anything over her head to keep her in line, it is over. He can no longer get to her, control her, or threaten her. Or so she thinks.
The Vought news conference is where we get our first inclining into what is to come. Homelander HAS to bring Starlight back into the team, he HAS to apologize to her publically, he HAS to thank both Starlight and Queen Maeve and he is forced to denounce his girlfriend and lay the blame for everything that has happened firmly at her feet. She can’t dispute what he’s saying, she’s somewhere where she can’t argue or protest her innocence. As the camera inches closer to Homelander’s face, we hear what he is saying. It has all been scripted for him, composed for him to bring the public back on side. What he doesn’t say is screamed at the audience as we focus on his eyes. He may be speaking the company line and lies but in his eyes, we see all we need to know. He’s hurt, he’s upset. But more than that, he’s angry, he’s vengeful and he’s plotting his revenge. His eyes also show us that Homelander has truly gone over the edge. He is now way over the line into insanity. He has been called out and reduced to what he feels is almost nothing. Adding to the problems he faces in his mind is the reality that his son is more powerful than him. He will be something that Homelander cannot overcome. His son will be stronger than Homelander can ever hope to be. And that frightens him. The proof comes in what has to be a comedic but disturbing scene that stands as the last shot we see of Homelander in this second season. Here he is, the greatest hero that the world knows, a man people look up to and love dearly. He is standing above the world below, with his pants around his ankles, masturbating. Yes, it is comedic and slightly weird. He is saying he can do what he wants. He has fallen over the edge into madness and despair. Is the scene needed in the show? Yes, despite how disturbing and slightly disgusting it is, it is completely needed. It shows us how far the superhero has fallen, how disturbed he is, how his world has been brought crashing down into something he can no longer control. He is trying to reassure himself that he is still important, that the world still worships him. This scene fills us with dread before season 3 is even filmed. Homelander’s comeback is going to be severe and painful for all concerned. He will be searching for his son alongside his quest and desire for revenge against all he feels have wronged him. Eric Kripke has already said that in season 3, Homelander will be a ‘Homicidal Maniac‘. We can truly believe it with his final scenes.
The Boys themselves seemingly end the season on a happy note. Mother’s Milk finally gets to go home and be reunited with his wife and daughter, all charges against him and the team have been dropped. Frenchie and Kimiko end the season closer than ever and in a rather nice, moving, and cute scene, they leave the basement together, Kimiko twirling hand in hand with Frenchie as they prepare to go dancing. Hughie decides to go his own way and not hang onto anyone anymore. In a comedic misunderstanding, Starlight/Annie thinks she is included in Hughie’s plans for going it alone, something Hughie rectifies almost instantly, telling her she is something and someone he will hold on to, saying he’s not crazy. And it is sealed with a kiss. The audience cheer as the happy ending they wanted is granted to them. For now. As for Billy Butcher, he has decided to hand Ryan over to Grace Mallory for safekeeping. But first, he has a touching and nice scene with the boy by the side of a river where he hands the boy a St. Christopher that Becca gave him to keep him safe years ago. It is a touching gesture between him and Ryan, emphasizing that Butcher no longer bears ill-will towards the boy and has accepted him for what he is. He accepts that Ryan was trying to save his mother when he accidentally killed her and, to a certain extent, forgives him. But things wouldn’t be right if Butcher didn’t tell the boy one thing to always remember and of course, the boy repeats it to him in hilarious fashion. You can swear you see a twinkle in Butcher’s eye as Ryan speaks the phrase with the strongest four-letter word imaginable at the end of it.
We felt that Butcher was showing his emotional side and in a way, he has. But that won’t stop him from being mischievous with the boy. As Ryan is driven away, Butcher and Grace Mallory have a conversation regarding the fact that Vought will be looking for Ryan and will want him back. Mallory tells him that they will keep him safe before offering Butcher a legitimate job working alongside her. Butcher doesn’t answer, he just walks away before putting on his shades and continuing on his way. He will hunt the ‘Supes’ his way no matter what, showing his vengeful side once more, just as we like him. But strangely, we know the roles have been reversed. Butcher has crossed the line finally back to the right side of sanity whereas Homelander has stepped in the opposite direction. The pair are now the opposite of what they were at the start of the season and, in a way, have become the other. We know though, that Butcher will cross the line back again at some point.
A-Train and The Deep are seated in Alastair Adana‘s office, listening to the leader of the Church Of The Collective accuse A-Train of stealing the files that were used to bring Stormfront’s true identity to the world. While he tries to wriggle out of it, Adana tells him that he has shown initiative and has been granted his wish to return to The Seven, a fact that makes him jump out of his chair and leave almost immediately. The Deep awaits Adana to confirm he will be returning also. But to his shock and anger, Adana tells him that only A-Train has been accepted back and that he will have to wait. Deep reacts with anger at this point, telling Adana that he has signed over his bank account and everything to the Church as he was instructed to do, entered into an arranged marriage that the Church demanded he does, and has done everything that has been asked of him, to which he is told to be patient and has a poor attitude. Deep angrily storms out of the Church, his time with them at an end. Hopefully, this will lead to bigger roles for both Jessie T Usher and Chace Crawford in the third season as this season, their appearances have been few and far between.
Although both played vital roles in moving the story of the season along, they were underused in my opinion and deserved better. Usher, in his limited screentime, was terrific again as A-Train and using him to be a focus of Stormfront’s racist attitudes, dripping her poison into Homelander’s ear to get rid of him from The Seven due to the color of his skin was inspired and drove the plot forward. However, Crawford was the comedy relief, the buffoon that everyone could pick on. Take episode three of the season and the whale scene. Yes, it was funny and disgusting. Yes, it was filmed and played brilliantly. But you couldn’t help getting the feeling that Crawford was being shortchanged, was there to be laughed at before the others took over with dramatic and gory results to keep the audience happy. It just didn’t seem fair for the actor and this needs to be rectified in season 3.
Adana thinks he has all bases covered as the season draws to a close. He makes a deal with Victoria Neuman during a phone conversation that he thinks will consolidate his power in the Church. He hangs up, a great big smile on his face. He has done what he wanted and has gained what he needs. He opens a can of Fresca, lies back in his chair, and exhales with a sense of satisfaction. And then his head explodes. Just like Susan Raynor in the opening episode of the season, it is violent and gory, although not unexpected this time around. Whereas Raynor’s death was a shock to the audience, this time, we can see it coming a mile off. But that is not a criticism. It feels completely justified. But who has made his head explode? Who is the assassin that has murdered Raynor and several people inside the Vought hearings?
In an earlier episode, we saw the character of Cindy escape from the Sage Grove facility. She has the power to make people explode violently. Is it her that throughout the season has been the killer that we haven’t discovered yet? Or is she just a red herring? The camera pulls back and around and we discover the shocking truth. The last person we thought would turn out to be a ‘Supe’ and the assassin is revealed as being exactly that. It’s Victoria Neuman herself who is the assassin. Neuman is the biggest villain of them all, the one person no one knew existed. She is playing both sides, gaining the best of both worlds. She can fight against Vought and their manufactured heroes while appearing to help Mallory and the world in fighting them, all the while she is killing people who can bring Vought down, who can turn the world against people like her, people with abilities. She is the ultimate villain, the one that hides in plain sight. And to make matters worse, she now has power on the political stage. A fact that comes home to roost when shockingly, Hughie approaches her at the climax of the season to ask for a job. This surprises Neuman who instructs Hughie to close the door to her office so they can ‘discuss’ his request as the camera pulls back and the screen fades to black. Will she kill Hughie in the privacy of her office? Doubtful as Jack Quaid who plays Hughie is confirmed to be back for season 3. What will happen is Neuman will give Hughie the job he asks for and will get her information on Mallory’s team and The Boys from him while she makes sure that nothing can come back on to her. Every move that is made, she will have the inside knowledge of it before it even happens. She will play both sides against each other and sit back and observe and take action where she thinks and sees fit. But the reveal of her being the killer is shocking as it is unexpected. And it is the perfect ending to an already fantastic season. It leaves us in suspense and chomping at the bit to see season 3. Sadly though, we are in for a wait to see what happens next. Season three doesn’t start filming until early next year and after post-production, visual effects, and so on, we probably won’t get to see season 3 until 2022 at the earliest. And that’s a shame. The old saying is strike while the iron is hot. And the iron is on fire at the moment concerning the show.
They also say absence makes the heart grow fonder. ‘The Boys‘ absence from our screens for around a little under two years will not only make our hearts grow fonder but will have us screaming out for the return of Butcher and his crew. And season 3 can’t hit my screen quickly enough.
The Boys: Season 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video NOW.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!