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The Boys TV Series

Totenkindly

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Season 1 came out about ten days ago, eight episodes. It wasn't a hard watch, despite the 50-60 minute episodes. I've seen some critics who were kinda "meh" since "other series have said it better," but I personally found the series to occupy a fairly unique niche and of course doing it right when Avengers: Endgame hit the cinemas and our cultural veneration of the superhero mythos its peak.

Since then I've read most of the graphic novel (book 1), I think Season 1 stretches into Book 2. Personally it's one of those where I think the TV series is better than the comics source. Garth Ennis never had any problems with stretching boundaries, but if you were shocked by some of the events (and graphic depictions) of Season 1, let me assure you the book is far more graphic and raunchy. Maybe you can do certain things and is just comes off as "cutting edge" in terms of pushing boundaries, on the page; but on the screen it would be even harder to stomach.

So yes, that early "violation" of the new member of The Seven is taken from the book -- but in the book, it's THREE of them, not just one, who are involved. The characters are also more bitchy / nasty / amoral ... and ultimately less likable. It all seems to be more concept based ("What if we had heroes and people fighting them who were amoral, hedonistic, and petulant?") without as much structured and goal-minded narrative plotting. The show actually has tried to clean up some of the narrative mess in order to derive (1) clearer characters you can (2) identify with more, even when they suck and (3) there are clearer narrative goals involved so you have a sense of where the story is going / what the characters each want. It's a more mature version of the comic series, IOW, rather than the out-of-control version. Characters suck but discover Reasons why they might suck, and it makes the viewer more interested in them. They each have actual arcs to pursue.

One funny bit that non-book readers would not know: Wee Hughie (the protagonist) is visually modeled off Simon Pegg. As soon as I saw the character's appearance, I was like, "Damn, he's looking at photos of Pegg," and later I ran across a comment by the artist that specifically said he was using Pegg as his model. This is amusing because in the show, Pegg plays Hugh's father.
 

Totenkindly

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Anyway, one thing in general I like about the show is that the villains (who are often the "heroes") often do some nasty stuff, but as the series unfolds, it seems more like Vought (the corporation "owning" the images and branding of The Seven and other heroes) is more villainous and might be the ultimate bad, although Homelander steps up a bit in the final episodes to become genuinely awful. We eventually see that all the heroes are kind of damaged goods -- they've had to sell parts of themselves (emotionally, spiritually, otherwise) in order to get good press, prestige, opportunities to serve. It's a virtual deal with the devil, sell your soul for superhero status. And possibly not even THAT much choice involved. (But watch the show to learn specifics.)

Some things I found interesting during my first view, as far as I remember:

 

Totenkindly

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The Boys Is the Rare Dark and Gritty Superhero Series That’s Actually Good

Like, maybe the TV show isn't quite on the level of Breaking Bad or something, but looking at the source graphic novels -- the books seem to be more about outrage and being edgy just to be edgy. It's kind of aimless provocation and I was bored at least by Book One. The show tries to develop more concern for the characters and make them interesting/relatable. I was having trouble finding anyone in the book I cared for.
 

The Cat

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Its hard for me to watch any part of this and not think that would be the way it actually would be. -_-
 

Totenkindly

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Its hard for me to watch any part of this and not think that would be the way it actually would be. -_-

Yeah, it pretends at being "dystopian" to some degree but sadly considering what's in the news daily, it's hard to view it as fantasy.
 

The Cat

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Yeah, it pretends at being "dystopian" to some degree but sadly considering what's in the news daily, it's hard to view it as fantasy.

I totally believe we live in Dystopia. :mellow:
 

Totenkindly

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Welp, the next to last episode of Season 2 just aired today. (Finale is last week.) Jeez, man, if this wasn't the finale, I have no idea what level of crazy will happen next week. It's definitely lived up to its reputation.

It does continue to add some humanity to the characters beyond what the comic didn't bother with. It also upped the stakes with the Stormfront character and how that plays off Homelander. In general, they've given a bit of humanity to the worst characters on the show; they still suck but they're more nuanced than expected.

Still, I'm vaguely disappointed; like, it's still kind of playing out as expected and a bit by the numbers, so I'm not as on the edge of my seat as much as Season 1. And I'm kind of bored by the cult, they are just pretty much your scientology-style cult after all, pulling all the same shenanigans.

I still feel like The Deep is a douchebag, he has no inner compass and still takes the path of least resistance. A-Train might still be malleable and find some redemption; whereas The Deep just seems desperate to feed his own emptiness and be adored, A-Train is hitting the kind of bottom where he's becoming cynical of everyone... so he could go harder into cynicism or maybe instead he could realize that no one but himself can make him feel like he is worthwhile.

How many supes died this season so far? I can recall four at this point (probably), plus some no names in a particular episode. I have a feeling there might be a few more after next week.

It was kind of ironic to see John Noble playing Butcher's dad, although it didn't QUITE align with LotR -- If you remember, Karl Urban played Eomer (the prince of Rohan) in that series, while John Noble played Denethor (Boromir and Faramir's dad), the Steward of Minas Tirith, the other significant force of men in the series. However the one similarity is that the kid hates him and the dad is an asshat.
 

Totenkindly

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I still think the one scene that gut-punched me the most in the entire series so far (aside from the death of Hughie's fiance that was promo'ed and opened the first few minutes of the series, setting so much into motion) was the plane crash sequence from Season 1, where Homelander and Maeve show up to stop a terrorist hijacking at 35,000 feet and things go to shit.

That all felt really real to me -- real stakes, moral ambiguity, the callous disdain of the powerful versus the battle inside the soul between one's godhood and one's humanity, and all the lives that were at stake. It was the one time when I think I almost cried, it was so agonizing to watch. To me, it captures the whole essence of the series.

There was also a great moment in today's episode (s2e7) where Ashley is called out by Maeve and I really had no idea what Ashley was going to do. I got a lump in my throat watching it. Again, moral choice on how we weigh other people's needs against our own.
 

Totenkindly

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So the finale just aired. (They've been dropping them hours early at least by USA time -- the "friday" finale dropped by 11pm EST since that's when I watched it.)

I have some mixed feelings about the season. I think I enjoyed Season 1 better in terms of story. I feel like Season 2 started to get out of their grasp and they had to rein some plotting back in by the end. There were a lot of closed threads in the finale to events of Season 2, which doesn't align with how open-ended Season 1 felt in many ways. I can speculate that they might have operated with COVID in back of mind, considering that some series that were green-lighted for additional seasons, like this was (season 3), have now been canceled (e.g. GLOW) by streaming services. It felt almost like a preemptive wrap up, while adding a few new threads to lead to Season 3. But dang, so much closure; it felt like a two-year comic book arc wrapping up.

In general, the season still had some unpredictability to it. It's unfortunate with such a large cast that some characters get little screen-time. The Deep definitely got shafted the most with his terrible arc (kind of approaching Finn's messy non-arc from SW sequels), although he did have one of the better scenes when he has to deal with gill-shame in episode 2-3 or something.

There's a hell of a fight in the finale and some crazy shit goes down. I think anyone watching it will also immediately recall the "girl power" moment in Avengers: Endgame; but here, this moment is far more earned rather than feeling staged and it's just freaking nuts. In fact, the whole Stormfront arc takes a wild turn in the last part of the finale.

It also gets back to Homelander's one major vulnerability + his narcissism and loneliness. It's a really interesting performance because no one can excuse his behavior but you can track where some of it comes from.

Butcher gets probably the most catalytic arc throughout, and the finale has a hell of an impact on him, demanding that he rise to the occasion.

Also, the exploding head thing -- yes, this is explained even as it raises more questions.

Final tallies:
 

ceecee

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I think I'm going to start watching this.
 

Totenkindly

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I have to give Aya Cash props for taking a really distasteful role and trying to find points of humanity in it, even while never muddying the line about how shitty Stormfront is.

There's also some fun on-the-nose interplay early in the season of Fi vs Fe between Stormfront and Starlight -- it's pretty textbook.
 

Totenkindly

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I was wondering if someone translated some things that Stormfront says in the finale in German, since they were not part of the subtitles. Thankfully someone did, already, on reddit. Including the link to the article here (spoilers for finale tho):

The Boys: What Stormfront Says In German In The Season 2 Finale

Again, it's such a conflicting bit, which is great. Because she's a monster, honestly, but she also has these human elements that bang around in one's skull as a viewer -- things that I could identify with, but I can't reconcile with her other values.



Here's another article with snippets from the cast about Season 2, but it's laden with spoilers so don't read unless you've viewed.
'The Boys' season finale even had its villain cheering. Here's how they pulled it off
 

Totenkindly

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whether you love or hate Laurie Holden, I think there is something here for everyone.

If you like her, she's gonna be in Season 3.
If you hate her, she's probably gonna get messed up pretty bad like everyone else on this show.


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Abcdenfp

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I absolutely loved the series, the whole concept and the way seasons 2 ended. cant wait for season 3.
 

Totenkindly

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Watched the first three episodes of Season 3. (The others will release Thurs night / Friday on a weekly basis.)

Pretty happy with them, and I think it might be better than Season 2. It feels like they've hammered out the characters and write/act them more easily. Also, they seem to have a plan. They don't sit on certain revelations either, which shows some confidence. The gore also seems to fit into the plotting better versus being entirely random.

Great opener in the first five minutes of the season, which might have been spoiled now with all the crappy news feeds out there who post pictures with their headlines.

Plotting also feels relevant to current events.

Still lots of humor, despite the heavy stuff.

They're really exploring the impact of ratings in the superhero business. At heart, the show contains a lot of cynicism and yet there are still characters to root for who might be tainted (which I like -- no one is immune to compromise) but good at least in intention, versus other characters that are just awful.

 

Totenkindly

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Partway through Episode 4, will finish rest later. It just keeps getting better, and still all the regular set pieces that are mortifying + hilarious simultaneously:



They are doing a really great job with the character work compared to the comic. Basically the comic was a great source of ideas and scenarios/plot, but the show has really invested in setting up all the character and dramatic arcs to make the show actually meaningful while outrageous.

EDIT: Well, geez, one of my spoiler guesses already came true by the end of the episode.
 
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Totenkindly

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While they were touting "Herogasm" all season (and it finally arrives in Episode 6), I found it one of the least interesting parts of the episode. I guess if it had been handled at a more frenetic pace, it might have been more interesting, but the underwhelming nature of it along with so many other dramatic beats going down makes it more of a backdrop than an actual set piece of interest in itself.

 

Totenkindly

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I should get back to Episode 5, which is mostly laying groundwork for what happens in Episode 6. However, a nice shoutout to Paul Reiser, who is really great as The Legend -- he really didn't know much about the show when he was given the part and just hits his role out of the park, he can dominate a room with other strong character personalities.
 

Totenkindly

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The season 3 finale was merely okay, which is disappointing after some actual good plotting earlier in the season. Everything felt pretty much by the numbers, all just purely plot mechanics, little actual tension. Still, there are some resolutions here, a semi-happy ending for one, a sad ending for another, and the rest was kind of... whatever?

There's also a plot turn that is justified, but just wasn't tracked properly during the season -- so in hindsight it makes sense but the series failed to capitalize on it / telegraph it to make it a growing source of tension. At the end of the season, a lot of it just feels like a reset and not much has changed.

They also have backed themselves into a corner. If they take out Homelander, can the show continue since he's the main villain / BBEG? But if they don't do that, after reaching plausible points in the plotting where that could happen, he then has plot armor and there's not much tension.
 
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