The Boys season 2 (series streaming on Amazon Prime); Cast: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, Aya Cash, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher; Developed by: Eric Kripke; Rating: * * * and 1/2 (three and a half stars)
By Vinayak Chakravorty
Lots of insanity, lots of blood, a little politics and loads of quirks. Season two of The Boys is a continuing toast to irreverence, taking the brutally bizarre superhero universe of the franchise to a new high.
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s bestselling comicbook concept was always meant to be a cheeky reimagination of the superhero space that is often trademarked by the sunshine superstars of Marvel, who thrive on the generic virtues of glory, valour and idealism. The heroes in The Boys are imperfect, and they stand as a brute reminder to the fact that humans being bestowed with abundant (super)power may not be a good thing.
Showrunner Eric Kripke, who also scripts and executive produces the season, has used that premise smartly to leave a hint of socio-political comment. As heads explode and viscera gets gleefully sprayed all over the frames, Kripke’s slant at using entertainment to disseminate opinion surfaces. If season one referenced capitalism in parts, the new season creates space for racism and white dominance in America of the Trump era, besides highlighting how those in power with vested interest invariably thrive by exploiting public paranoia.
The Boys in its second season also continues being blunt in the depiction of toxicity that fame and superpower might bring in the wake. Superheroes are famous people. Here, they are too drunk in their privilege as celebrities and influencers for their own good.
For those who came in late, a brief reckoner. The world of The Boys is one where individuals with superpowers, worshipped as gods by the masses, are managed and marketed by a powerful, multimillion dollar firm named Vought International. The superheroes do their heroic bits, but they are also often corrupt and evil. The plot essentially follows two sets of heroes. You have the Seven, Vought International’s chosen selection, and then there are the Boys, who work at keeping a check on superheroes gone rogue.
Season two begins where the first season ended. The Boys are on the run from the law, desperate to regroup. While their leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) is initially absconding, other regulars including Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) line up for action.
Among the Seven, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) still genuinely wants to make a difference, while the group’s leader Homelander (Antony Starr), who is Butcher’s sworn enemy, is struggling with a new problem. His supremacy is challenged by new addition, the social media-savvy Stormfront (Aya Cash).
Non-conformism always works for fiction and The Boys is a winner in its second season for the unapologetic relish with which it balances wicked humour and blood-splattered mayhem. This was never meant to be a sombre observation of contemporary socio-politics (something that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films have already accomplished marvelously all those years ago). Rather, chucking aside all semblance of subtlety, The Boys 2 continues with the franchise’s sardonic vibes, and yet manages to stay human about it.
The eight episodes of season two unfold as staggered release. While the first three episodes drop on September 4, a new episode follows every Friday with the finale premiering on October 9.
(Vinayak Chakravorty can be reached at email@example.com)
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