WarningMight contain spoilers.

I am as repulsed as ever by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s love for egregious violence and crudity, which Jason Kehe dismantled beautifully for Wired:

When the evil-Superman Homelander, played with such disgusting magnificence by Antony Starr that the patriotic suit and cape should be permanently retired, masturbates on the roof of a skyscraper, he is The Boys itself, naked and shameless.

The gore and violence contribute nothing. They don’t reveal a profound truth about humanity or elevate the story. They exist only to shock you.

I won’t deny I’m still watching, because the show is compelling. However, I do wonder whether, as with Preacher from the same team, I’ll start the next season only to immediately think, ‘well, that’s enough of that, then’. The Boys is never far from that point. A bleak world without empathy and compassion is not novel or imaginative, it’s trite and oppressive. I don’t care about most of the characters; only Starlight and M.M. seem worth being invested in.[1] Butcher is an unlikeable psychopath and the true hero of the story.

Queen Maeve has nothing to do except be subjugated, refuse to be involved in anything, and then play the deus ex machina in every other scene. Becca is disposable—Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles explains it well:

So, Becca is dead, then? — Yes. And that’s a shame, too, because I really like the actress who plays her, Shantel VanSanten. Also, I’m perplexed by the decision to kill her off. I haven’t read the comics, but I know enough about them to understand that Garth Ennis regretted the decision to fridge Becca in the comics, where she dies a gruesome, painful death while giving birth to a baby conceived when Homelander raped her. The anguish Billy Butcher feels over his wife’s death is what motivates him in the comics. Eric Kripke does not fridge Becca in that manner on the Amazon series, but he still kills her. The anguish that Billy Butcher feels over his dead wife is still what will ultimately motivate him to take a job with a Supes-hunting team on behalf of the CIA, which is essentially where the story begins in Ennis’ comics. (This is a similar choice made by producers, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, on the adaptation of Ennis’ Preacher, where they basically built a prequel to the comics into the television series).

Obviously, there’s a difference between the choice made in the comics and the one made on the TV series, where Becca was able to hide from Homelander and live long enough to raise her son for several years, but ultimately, I feel like the result is the same: She’s cast off in order to motivate Billy. She’s a more fully realized plot device, but still a plot device all the same.

Well, irrespective of the problems with the story and the world, Anthony Starr’s incredible performance as Homelander is a towering achievement (the scene where his son rejects him being a perfect example), but it would be remiss of me not to mention how good the cast is as a whole, whether it’s Chace Crawford as The Deep, Aya Cash as Stormfront, Laz Alonso as M.M., Erin Moriarty as Starlight, Tomer Capone as Frenchie, Goran Višnjić as Alastair Adana, or… well, almost everyone on the show.

The twist ending with Victoria Neuman being revealed as the telepathic killer makes no sense.

  1. The only other sympathetic character is The Deep, who is portrayed as an insecure, easily-manipulated manchild rather than the serial sexual predator he is.

Next in series: (#2 in Thoughts & Spoilers: Show: The Boys (2019))