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This year's Fall TV season already looks completely different than it has in previous years, with many productions unable to start up during their usual time windows. But while The CW's Arrowverse shows are all on an extended hiatus and won't start up again until the early months of 2021, audiences will soon get a very different dose of high-flying superheroes and deadly villains when Amazon's The Boys debuts its second season in September. Karl Urban claimed that things would get more diabolical in Season 2, and it appears The Boys delivers on that promise.
The embargo lifted this week for Season 2 reviews, and the vast majority of critics are in agreement that The Boys is even sharper and more on point than ever. In following up on the first season's big deaths and reveals, The Boys is building up Giancarlo Esposito's role within Vaught, and will introduce You're the Worst's Aya Cash as Stormfront, one of the comic's controversial members of The Seven. Having watched Season 2 myself, I can definitely say that hardcore fans will not be disappointed by anything they see, including X-Men's Shawn Ashmore as Lamplighter. But let's dig into what others are saying.
Showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) kicks off Season 2 with even more of the irreverent, gratuitous, and stylized drama that made us all fall in love with Season 1. And while the over-the-top action is a joy to behold, like The Boys ramming a high-speed boat through the belly of a whale, Kripke never forgets to take time to develop his characters. Where Season 1 focused a bit more on the profound effect superheroes have on ordinary people, Season 2 begins by lasering in on how having superpowers affects you as a person.
Many critics agree that The Boys Season 2 successfully builds out its barbed criticism of its superheroes in a way that plays into an assortment of real-world metaphors. Decider's review, for instance, not only gives the new episodes credit for upping the ante on the whole, but also in how its storytelling reflects race and gender issues, as well as celebrity culture, while also teasing some highly fucked-up moments scattered throughout.
If you enjoyed the first season of The Boys, you’re going to love Season 2. The new batch of episodes avoid the pitfalls of a traditional sophomore slump by simply enhancing the most compelling aspects of the first season. . . . Nothing is off limits when it comes to Amazon’s chaotic superhero series. Season 2 tackles timely issues like race and political corruption while also offering snippets of levity (a road trip singalong to a Billy Joel classic is one of the most adorable moments of the season) without giving viewers tonal whiplash. The new season also skewers both Scientology and celebrity marketing culture with entertaining subplots that seamlessly support the main story. Plus, if you thought the sex scene between Popclaw and her landlord was crazy, well, just wait, friend. Just. Wait.
If only "Piano Man" could serve as one of The Seven, amirite? In any case, Collider's review points out that as wild and unpredictable as Season 2 can get, The Boys also manages to focus in on some of its more humanistic elements.
In continuing to explore the history of this oddball world of the superpowered, new elements do push beyond 'being famous is bad for you.' It’s tough to write about this in a spoiler-free context, but what can be said is that while these new episodes are no more subtle than the first season, they do push harder into examining issues beyond how superhuman abilities might warp vulnerable spirits; there’s a deeper sense of humanity as a whole on display here.
Jack Quaid's Hughie and Erin Moriarty's Annie/Starlight are definitely the two beacons of humanity in this sordid universe, with Laz Alonso's protagonist Mother's Milk coming in third place on that scale. But Season 2 also puts other characters into situations where they should have more empathy, compassion and love, even if it doesn't automatically happen. Den of Geek's positive review speaks to that idea, and confidently thinks that this follow-up season will draw in more viewers that were hesitant to go gung ho about Season 1.
In essence, The Boys Season 2 explores the horrible power of abusive relationships, not only with Homelander as a father, but also between Billy and Hughie, in the backstory of Kimiko, and in some ways even within Vaught’s own history of exploitation, which takes on new depth this year. Fortunately, it’s not simply a case of the new season pleasing established fans of the show, which it certainly will; it may also win over those who were on the fence after finding few characters to like in Season 1.
Currently, The Boys Season 2 is rocking a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a nice uptick from Season 1's aggregated score of 84%. (Granted, Season 1 had 99 reviews compared to just over 20 for Season 2 so far, but still.) Currently, the only Rotten review on the site is from Observer, which wasn't a wholly negative outlook by any means. But beyond offering up certain compliments, that particular critic did not seem to think The Boys evolved all that much between seasons, and that it fell victim to the same trappings that hindered Season 1.
Nothing changes in this world and the same holds true for our characters. They continue to make the same mistakes over and over and not in the same way that Tony Soprano’s cyclical behavior became the backbone of a series and a valuable piece of commentary in its own right. In a very literal reading, Karl Urban’s swaggering Billy Butcher fails to deliver on his promises every single time across both seasons. Yet the plot demands that he still wheel and deal with various powerful factions and shadowy figures who trust him despite his abysmal track record. It’s less character development and more plot mechanics papered over with side-eyed emotion. . . . Highly entertaining but grossly flawed, _The Boys _envisions itself as the bad boy of superhero stories. To a degree, it is. But let’s not act as if its the long-awaited mash-up of Shakespeare and Stan Lee.
While there will no doubt be some dissenters who won't be as impressed with Billy Butcher's team taking on Homelander's crew (among other rivalries), that's going to be the case with almost any TV show out there. Especially one that features heads exploding and dogs being commanded to have sex with other creatures and inanimate objects. But if these reviews prove anything, it's that just about everyone who binged Season 1 with glee is going to be equally impressed with the calamitous second season, if not more so.
The Boys Season 2 will make its grand three-episode debut on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, September 4, with future installments releasing weekly. While waiting for the super-mayhem to arrive (and for Supernatural's Jensen Ackles to arrive in Season 3), head to our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows will be around soon.