“Vengeance isn’t a path to glory, Hugh. It’s a one-way ticket to a dead end.”
In the battle for the truth, Vought gains the upper hand on the Boys while Hughie and Annie have their own separate epiphanies about what their life is now versus what they want it to be.
The moment Madelyn lays down the ugly truth to Secretary of Defense Robert Singer (Jim Beaver, Supernatural, The Ranch, Justified)—that with terrorists now having their own Supes, the government has no choice but to play ball with Vought, the only people on the block with the remedy—it’s obvious the Boys are in serious trouble. It’s a disgusting turn of events, akin to a drug company releasing a disease for which only they have the cure. Yet the surprise isn’t that something like this happened, rather that Homelander was the architect behind it. For someone who’s never really come off as all that interested in the politics of the whole superhero gig, Homelander’s actions prove that he’s pretty cagey when he puts his mind to it though it’s clear he prefers the brute force approach as proven on more than one occasion during the finale. But even as rousing as him obliterating a terrorist cell to the tune of “Rock the Casbah” is to start the episode, he ultimately saves his best for last.
Breaking away from the chief antagonist for a bit, it’s not long after Madelyn puts the government over a barrel that the Boys find themselves exposed. After Billy takes Hughie to meet with Mallory (Laila Robins, Deception, Murder in the First) on the off chance she has intel on a hidden weakness for Homelander, Kimiko, Frenchie, and MM are captured by spec ops mercs, most likely hired by Vought. The three are taken to a secret base that may or may not be Vought HQ. Admittedly, nothing of real substance happens during their imprisonment save for Frenchie and MM finding common ground on which to stand. It only gets interesting when Hughie makes a stand of his own.
Though he’s been seeing the ugly layers hidden behind Butcher’s smooth-talking and promises of revenge for the last few episodes, Hughie takes Mallory’s words to heart and when Butcher refuses to spend time on rescuing the others, he realizes that Billy Butcher is using him for Butcher’s own personal gain. There is a decent soul in Butcher but it’s been stuffed as far down as can be, covered in memories of loss and a thirst to hurt the superhero bastard that hurt him. Maybe if he’d never met Annie, Hughie’s anger would have festered, taken him over as it did with Billy. But he did meet her and, in a way, Annie has become Hughie’s guiding light. It’s why he goes to her after splitting with Butcher, in the hopes that she can help him rescue the others. But Hughie quickly finds out Annie has her own issues.
Still trying to rectify the truth about her powers and her mother’s (and Hughie’s) lies, Annie is questioning her decisions, her character, and her worth as a superhero. When Hughie asks for her help, she rejects him and, at a Vought party, looks to embrace her darker side. But that isn’t her and after making herself ill from her actions, Annie has a run-in with Maeve who, ever since the Flight 37 crash, has tried and failed to discard the stink of Vought and all things she’s ashamed of. Though Maeve recognizes she doesn’t have the strength or resolve to change her situation, she can help Annie.
In Annie, Maeve sees the reflection of who she once was: idealistic, enthusiastic, and determined to make a difference. Yet she also sees the first signs of Annie succumbing to the lure and seduction of Vought as well as the dysfunction of the Seven. “Just be original,” she tells Annie during another restroom run-in; those words and the conviction with which Maeve speaks remind Annie why she wanted to be a superhero in the first place.
With her mind refocused, Annie shows up when Hughie and the others need her most, even taking on fellow Seven member, A-Train, whose continued use of Compound-V has caused his heart to fail. Despite knowing A-Train will always blame him for Popclaw’s death and never give up chasing him, Hughie takes a page out of Annie’s book and does the right thing, doing what he can to ensure A-Train survives, no matter the personal cost. It’s an ideal befitting a superhero though, as Billy Butcher proves sometimes, that will is in those who are far from heroic.
Ever since Episode One, The Boys has been heading towards the much-anticipated face-to-face between Homelander (superhero extraordinaire and sociopath with mommy issues) and Billy Butcher (superhero killing extraordinaire with narcissistic tendencies, anger, and dead-wife issues). “You Found Me” finally gives viewers that face-off that just so happens to be the highlight of Season One. Attaching explosives to Madelyn, Butcher awaits Homelander’s arrival knowing that, even if he can’t kill the Supe, he can hurt him by killing her. It’s a tactic befitting a villain and, in so many ways, that’s what Billy is. Just because he’s trying to kill another evil bastard doesn’t mean he’s not one himself. But Homelander upends his plans after he does the unexpected—namely, burning Madelyn’s skull out with his laser vision. It is by far the most horrific act he has perpetrated, as even with his other examples of murder, the tenderness at which he does this to Madelyn, not to mention the two consummating their relationship only hours earlier, further emphasizes the sociopathy of Homelander’s character.
Yet, as shocking as that may be, it has nothing on the final moments when Billy wakes up to find himself laying in someone’s front yard. That’s when a young boy walks out closely followed by his mother who is none other than Rebecca Butcher. Homelander’s last line is worthy of Star Wars when he tells the kid (whose eyes glow red for a brief moment) “I’m your father. And we are a family.”
Answering the Call of Duty
- Synergy is when the whole of something is greater than the sum of its parts. No show better exemplifies this concept than The Boys. Though each episode was good to great, the season itself is better than any one episode. Like a solid foundation, each narrative arc was strengthened as the season went on, with the writers maintaining a consistent pace and keeping every plot thread interesting to some extent. This doesn’t even take into account the absolutely brilliant social commentary entwined throughout the series. To some level or another, we’ve all seen how some entertainers can lose control or, in their minds, believing they are better than those who chant their names. Worse is how the idea that because social media said this or showed that, it must be true. It’s not a new concept to use superheroes in this manner, as Alan Moore started this more cynical glimpse of our modern day myths more than thirty years ago. Many believe that no one can truly be trusted with power and though most who wield it lacking the resolute character to carry that mantle, there are a solid handful of people out there who, if given the chance, would do heroic things. Not for likes or recognition, but because it would be the right thing to do.
- The one snag this season was Deep’s story line. Tonally speaking, it was an almost distracting departure from every other narrative arc. Was his arc there to break the tension of the other narrative plot lines or a cautionary tale of how quickly your mistakes can bite you in the ass and how those that once adored you can cast you aside without a second thought? The more I think on this, the more it seems that it’s the latter, and the humorous bits (oftentimes a bit dark) just happened to be there. Maybe next time we see him, Deep will be firmly committed to his redemption tour.
- Thank you, Amazon, for bringing The Boys back for a second season! There are so many unanswered questions and open plot threads to visit. Will Season 2 continue the show’s departure from the comics? Will we characters that did not appear (we’re looking at you, Terror!) grace the screen? And of course, the big one, how in the hell is Butcher going to process the big reveal that Becca is alive and raising Homelander’s kid? However things turn out, I will be there day one.
So what did you think of The Boys? Liked it? Loved it? Loathed it? Either way, let us know your thoughts.