With only two more episodes to go now, I thoroughly enjoyed episode 6 of “The Boys” season 2. Apparently, I’m not alone, because we just got word that so many people are watching, that Amazon is already planning a spinoff! Congrats, Kripke and co!
There are always multiple story lines running parallel in this show, thanks to its large cast, but this episode slowed down a little to really trace a few of the important arcs and pivotal relationships more fully than it has before. It was an episode all about telling the truth – something that can set you free or tear your carefully constructed world apart.
Hughie and Annie
I’ve enjoyed Hughie and Annie’s relationship from the start, and we get a little more clarity on what that relationship is evolving to be in this episode – perhaps not so much romance as a deep mutual respect and affection. But the really interesting relationship evolution that occurs happens not to Hughie but to the people orbiting around him, as Butcher and Starlight come to a reluctant truce and even a grudging understanding by the end of the episode. As much as Butcher mistrusts her (and just plain hates all Supes), the two are connected by their love of Hughie. When he’s badly injured, the differences between them are put aside in favor of their shared desperation to save him – and that begins to create a bond between them.
Butcher is at first clearly not happy to have Starlight brought back to their hideout (although Frenchie has successfully managed to extract her microchip). She brings them the intel that Vought’s Stan Edgar has been emailing with Stormfront about a shady facility called Sage Grove, so they decide to investigate. Butcher agrees to take her along on the trip only because if things go sideways, he figures Vought will come after her instead of them. There’s even a moment when, after they arrive and Annie blasts a hole in the fence to let the Boys inside, Butcher trains his sights on her and contemplates shooting her. He doesn’t, but there’s a moment when he wants to.
Annie has finally had it with his obvious revulsion.
Annie: What you can’t stand is in my blood! The only good Supe is a dead Supe. Underneath all that swagger, you’re just a bigot and a bully. I know another guy just like that – and he’s got a flag for a cape.
Gotta admit, I cheered for Annie. Butcher is all those things at times, and she rightly calls him on it. I’m hoping his view of good/bad gets more nuanced as time goes on, much like the progression of Dean Winchester’s understanding of monsters evolved on Supernatural.
He’s given up pretending he doesn’t care about Hughie, that much is clear. Things inevitably do go south and as Hughie bleeds out, Butcher and Annie team up to get him to a hospital, both of them clearly freaking out. Some random guy comes driving along and they demand that he give them his car.
Understandably freaked out, the guy pulls a gun on them. Starlight ends up zapping him and killing him, and while she’s clearly shocked that she did it (even more when she sees his child’s car seat in the back seat), she resists Butcher’s glances in the rear view that say he’s got a newfound respect for her.
Butcher: I appreciate what you did back there. You didn’t have a choice.
Annie: No. No to that look of respect or approval. I don’t want it. We’re nothing alike. Nothing.
But she admits that what she kept thinking when that random guy wouldn’t cooperate was just ‘why’d you pull a gun, you stupid fuck? Now he was just another person in our way.’
Not so different after all.
Later, as Hughie recovers in the hospital, Butcher and Annie trade fond stories about him.
Annie: He’s too good for either of us.
It’s, at the very least, a truce.
Another relationship that evolves in this episode is Frenchie and Kimiko’s – but even more interesting is Frenchie’s relationship to his own past. We find out that eight years ago he was robbing banks and doing drugs and watching Golden Girls with his chosen family, Cherie and Jay. While he insists he “never gets caught” we find out that he did back then, after weaponizing Xanax to turn a Supe activated by rage into a cupcake. Mallory offers him a deal for those skills – Cherie and Jay go free, he comes to work for her.
A few years later, we see that as Mother’s Milk shares his plans to propose, Frenchie’s tragic history with ex-Seven Supe Lamplighter plays out. Mallory and Butcher were forcing him to spy for them, though Mallory recognizes how dangerous it is to “back an animal like that into a corner”. Frenchie was given the job of tailing Lamplighter, but left to go back to try to save Jay from an overdose when Cherie called. In one tragic night, he lost sight of Lamplighter by taking that half hour detour, and lost his found family by running right back out again before Jay has recovered fully. That was the night that Lamplighter burnt up a bunch of children, including Mallory’s grandchildren, and Frenchie has never forgiven himself.
Back to the present…
When Frenchie, Kimiko and MM find Lamplighter in Sage Grove in the present, there’s a long overdue confrontation between the two. The Boys break into the facility and watch on the monitors as Stormfront visits what seems to be another Supe in the making, a Nazi-esque human experiment that’s about to go very wrong. When the guy just wants to go home and see his family, she nods to Lamplighter (who’s working as an orderly) to torch him. There are other Supes-in-the-making confined there too, including a guy with a giant dick and a woman named Cindy who can explode people’s heads with a hand gesture. There’s also a guy who vomits acid on people; when the inevitable fight breaks out, Kimiko stomps on him and he chokes and splutters and basically acids his own face off.
Lamplighter (witnessing that): Okay, you guys can come with me.
They’re trapped in a room together, and Frenchie and Lamplighter finally get to have it out.
Lamplighter: I remember you. Why didn’t you stop me that night? Maybe you like watching people burn too….
Frenchie freaks out, destroying the room in a blind rage that’s mostly directed at himself.
Frenchie: You’re an animal, you burned them alive!
But Lamplighter yells back with something they didn’t expect.
Lamplighter: I didn’t know! I didn’t know they were gonna be in there, it was supposed to be your boss. And then they started screaming…it was too late… why didn’t you stop me?
Apparently, Lamplighter has some regret about burning up a bunch of children.
In response to his question, Frenchie finally tells the truth about that night – Cherie’s call, Jay’s overdose. Mother’s Milk is shocked, wanting to know why he didn’t tell them, so he could be let off the hook about something that drove a wedge between them.
Frenchie: What makes you think I want to be let off the hook?
That was the last time Frenchie saw Jay, who overdosed and died a few months later.
Truth telling is a theme of this episode – and it’s powerful in each case. After Frenchie’s admission, Lamplighter confides that the people confined at Sage Grove are test subjects. Vought is trying to stabilize Compound V for adults.
The revelations are interrupted by someone/something breaking through the door, a giant tentacle-like-thing choking Mother’s Milk before they pull it off. Turns out it was the guy with the giant dick, known in the comics as Love Sausage. For obvious reasons.
MM: That was his fucking dick!
Frenchie: Don’t be so closed minded.
I admit I laughed in the middle of all this, because sometimes this show is like fanfic come to life. I mean that as a compliment.
Stormfront comes back to kill the escaped Supe experiments, and Lamplighter doesn’t rat the Boys out to her. Eventually they make their way out. Near the episode’s end, Frenchie apologies to Kimiko.
Frenchie: I’m sorry. I was trying to save you. I thought if I did that would make up for the things I’d done. You never asked to be saved. You cannot absolve my sins. I’ll leave you alone.
I’m not sure she wants to be left alone, but it’s a poignant moment between them. Again, a telling of truth.
The Boys meet up with Mallory on the road, opening up the back of the truck to reveal Lamplighter. Mallory pulls a gun on him, enraged, but he doesn’t fight back, as consumed with guilt as Frenchie has been over that night, it seems.
Lamplighter: Do it, you’d be doing me a favor.
Frenchie begs her to spare his life, saying it won’t help her.
She does, leaving what happens next hanging in the balance.
Meanwhile, there’s more learning of truths and some tough consequences. The Deep finds the black box of the airplane that went down that Queen Maeve and Homelander didn’t save, and brings it to Maeve. Unfortunately, Elena finds footage of the doomed people as Maeve and Homelander desert them, and is appalled. Maeve insists that it’s what’s going to save them – blackmail material against Homelander. But it’s clear that Elena is horrified by what Maeve did. That relationship evolution isn’t going in a positive direction, at least for now. Sometimes the truth hurts.
There’s also some truth going down between ex and almost-ex-Seven Supes The Deep and A Train. The Deep engages A Train in conversation while he’s back in town, telling him that he’s sorry, that he sees what they’re trying to do to him. A Train is deep in denial, trying to take his ‘very own anthem’ in the Vought film seriously – which is awesome because it’s being performed by none other than Christopher Lennertz, who does the music for “The Boys” (and for “Supernatural” too). I was so surprised to see him I actually yelled “Wait, is that???!!!”
The Deep offers A Train a Fresca, and uh oh, we know what that means. Sure enough, A Train and The Deep end up at Church of the Collective HQ and A Train is soon in over his head. Guest star Goran Visjnic makes a compelling argument, laying out all he knows about A Train’s heart condition, seven figure debt and heavy withdrawal, and giving him the bad news that Vought is planning on giving his successor his uniform and his identity. A Train is thus convinced to sit back down and listen to The Deep’s “truth exchange”.
The Deep: You sabotaged me again and again… I fantasize about drowning you over and over again, but I don’t want to feel that way anymore…
That’s a lot of truth in one session, but we later see that it seemed to work. The Church of the Collective seems every bit as capable as Vought at identifying vulnerabilities and then masterfully manipulating people (and Supes) through that knowledge. “The Boys” is just as adept at taking a hard look at some aspects of religion as it is more obvious targets like nationalism and white supremacy or softer ones like celebrity and social media. It’s one of the things I so love about it.
The Shocker Scene
I’ve saved the most tense, disturbing, shocking reveal for last – which, if you’ve been watching along with me, you know has to mean Homelander and Stormfront. These two are hard to watch, sometimes veering away from the ‘love to hate them’ and getting close to ‘just plain hate them, get them off my screen’ boundary, but for me they never quite cross over. That’s in part due to Antony Starr and Aya Cash, who manage to invest their characters with just the smallest amounts of vulnerability underneath their posturing and strutting around and unrepentantly dishing out violence. I sometimes want to stop looking but can’t seem to manage it.
The “romance” of Homelander and Stormfront is off to a (disturbing) good start in the beginning of the episode, as the two catch a thief and then toy with him like two alley cats who cornered a hapless mouse. They taunt and torture him while faux lamenting that the justice system just doesn’t work anymore, while he begs for his life, the whole scene making Homelander hard as Stormfront jerks him off and we watch like reluctant (and slightly nauseous) voyeurs. The familiar strains of “So Happy Together” plays jauntily in the background as Homelander crushes the guy’s skull with his bare hands and then he and Stormfront happily get it on with the dead guy’s blood smeared between their lips.
Sometimes I just shake my head muttering ‘Wow, show, really?’
The couple’s happiness is short lived, because how can two fucked up people like this ever hope to have something close to a successful relationship? Homelander, in a telling display of the longing for affection he tries to annihilate with constant violence, buys Stormfront flowers complete with a thank you note, and invites her to his trailer. She tells him she has a meeting at Vought and will be back in twenty minutes, and we watch him wait, minutes tick tick ticking by, and oh we have a very bad feeling about this.
A little while later, Stormfront dealing with the chaos at Sage Grove, Homelander’s trailer is exploded, burnt flowers and half incinerated note in the ashes. Narcissists do not like being stood up; rejection is the most consistent trigger.
When Stormfront returns, he confronts her about lying to him, and she eventually promises she won’t lie to him again – and that she’ll start telling him the truth right now. She opens a trunk and reverently takes out a photo of her and an old woman.
Homelander: Your grandmother?
Stormfront: My daughter.
Her daughter Chloe who died of Alzheimers a few years ago.
Homelander (stunned): When were you born?
Stormfront: 1919. In Berlin.
The plot thickens as we find out that Fredrick Vought gave her the first successful Compound V injection.
Stormfront: Then we fell in love, and he gave me a daughter. He made me – and his genius made you. We’re in a culture war, and you will be the man who will lead us. You’re the man we dreamed of, so I love you with all my heart. Everyone I’ve ever loved is in the ground, and then I found you. We found each other. Now neither of us has to be alone, ever again.
She gets him; and it works. They kiss passionately, as “Thank You For Being A Friend” plays merrily in the background.
I don’t know how much of that she meant and how much was calculated to pull Homelander back in, but some of it I think was genuine. Her passion for the so-called “culture war”, her single minded racist xenophobic desire for keeping the “right” ones in power, was very real and very chilling. Especially right now. Making that desire something handed down and carried out by a super-villain sends a message that hits home too.
The last shot is powerful. Cindy, one of the ‘experiments’ from Sage Grove, escaped the melee, multiple shots in her back notwithstanding. She hitches a ride, headed away from the facility and back out into the world.
That can’t be good.
Stay tuned for the last two episodes of “The Boys” Season 2 – this Friday and then the season finale the following Friday. And tune into After Show with Aisha Tyler for more deep dives into what makes The Boys tick!