By Nick Schager
October 09, 2020 at 05:35 PM EDT
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Everyone learns something about themselves in the season 2 finale “What I Know,” although whether that self-awareness is a plus or a minus depends on which of The Boys’ dysfunctional characters you’re discussing.

In the aftermath of the head-exploding congressional massacre, Secretary of Defense Robert A. Singer (Jim Beaver) announces to Grace and Neuman that the president is declaring a national emergency, bypassing the FDA, and authorizing Compound-V to be used by law enforcement and first responders (with Pentagon and ICE orders in the works). Beaver agrees with their objections, as well as with Neuman’s theory that the slaughter was a coup orchestrated by Vought to make Compound-V a hot commodity. However, he says the only way they can stop this process is by finding a witness who’ll go on the record.

Donna gives Starlight a new crucifix (to renew her faith) before leaving New York City to hide from Vought. Starlight joins the Boys in their basement HQ, where they’re preparing for war. Hughie objects to their battle strategy and advises that they find a witness to bring Vought down, but to no avail; Frenchie compares Hughie to Wile E. Coyote, always trying and failing to kill the Roadrunner with an elaborate plan. Starlight offers to be their star witness, and when that idea is rejected, she says she knows another person who might fit the bill.

Homelander watches TV news about the Congressional attack with dismay. Stormfront soothes him by stating that it doesn’t matter that Black Noir may be a vegetable (thanks to this allergic reaction to Almond Joy), and that Lamplighter is toast and Starlight is on the run — the important thing is that Compound-V is going to be released, which will mean the end of their empty celebrity duties. Homelander fears that a lot of evil people will want Compound-V. Stormfront’s response is not to worry, because Friedrich had a solution (or is that a Final Solution?) for everything.

While driving, Starlight wonders if Billy is right to think that it’s impossible to take down Vought “the right way.” She and Hughie show up at Maeve’s apartment and Starlight begs her to come forward against Vought. After badmouthing Hughie as “even more of a twink than in the photo,” she refuses (“Nothing ever changes or gets better. And I’m tired”), and throws them out.

At the Church of the Collective Renewal Centre, Edgar negotiates with Alastair about getting the Deep and A-Train back in the Seven. Edgar only wants one of them, and opts for the Deep, because white-nationalist Stormfront has an issue with A-Train (he’s Black!) that, as Alastair knows, dates back to her grandfather, who was one of the Church’s first followers. A-Train overhears this and fumes.

Having escaped her prison-like home, Becca reunites with Billy at the Boys’ HQ. Mother’s Milk, Frenchie, and Kimiko love her, and Billy promises, “I will find your son.” Said boy, Ryan, is currently at Vought Tower. To brighten his day (and to stop him from doing self-assigned geography homework), Homelander and Stormfront take Ryan to the Planet Vought theme restaurant. Ryan is initially impressed by the fans swarming his dad and Stormfront with requests for selfies. Yet he quickly freaks out over being in such a fervent crowd. He lets Homelander know he wants his mommy, and Homelander flies him away from the scene.

On the drive back from Maeve’s, Hughie confesses that he loves Billy Joel because of his mom, who left him and his dad for no apparent reason when he was a kid. Her abandonment is why he never cuts and runs, even when the going gets tough. A-Train suddenly appears in the backseat of their car and hands them a file on Stormfront that he stole from the Church of the Collective’s archives (“F--- that Nazi bitch,” he exclaims). Its contents make Starlight and Hughie’s jaws drop.

Billy successfully orchestrates a restaurant sit-down with Edgar, and argues that Ryan is Vought’s only contingency plan against Homelander and that it doesn’t work if the supe and his son are “off playing Ward and the Beav.” Billy labels Edgar “ruthless” because of the CEO’s efforts to turn racist Stormfront into America’s sweetheart. Edgar contends that Stormfront is good at making people angry, which makes them want Compound-V, which raises Vought’s stock prices (“It’s not ruthless. It’s prices per share. That’s all”). Billy says that Stormfront should infuriate someone with Edgar’s (Black) skin color, and Edgar confesses that she does, but that he “can’t lash out like some raging entitled maniac. That’s a white man’s luxury.” Touché!

Though Edgar only cares about business, Billy convinces him to accept a deal: Billy will get Ryan from Homelander so Vought can hide him away (more successfully, this time), so long as Becca doesn’t go with her son; Billy wants to be with her.

Homelander comforts Ryan at his cabin, explaining — with uncharacteristic sensitivity — that he too felt uncomfortable when first surrounded by others. He tells Ryan he’ll teach him how to fly, and how to cope with his untapped powers, because he loves him.

Returning to his mates, Billy is thrilled to see the file that Starlight and Hughie have procured. The team begins prepping for war, and though Billy tries to dissuade Becca from coming, he can’t. She makes him swear on Lenny’s soul that he’ll save Ryan and return him to her, and — despite the deal he’s just cut with Edgar — he does. Frenchie, meanwhile, assures Kimiko that she won’t freeze up when confronting Stormfront (as she did at the supe’s prior rally) because he knows she can care for herself and will do the right thing when the time comes.

Despite Homelander’s tutelage, Ryan fails to use his heat vision. Homelander suggests thinking of someone he hates (because anger might trigger his powers). When Ryan says he doesn’t hate anyone (because he’s lived a very sheltered life), Stormfront lectures Ryan that he can’t afford to be so nice, because people are trying to wipe them off the face of the Earth just because of the color of their skin. “It’s called white genocide, and we’re going to need people like you to protect our kind.” Homelander smiles uncomfortably at this bluntly articulated neo-Nazi worldview.

Stormfront departs after receiving a phone call. At Vought Tower, she sees the bad news: her Nazi past has been leaked to the press, thereby putting Compound-V’s public debut in jeopardy. With the first part of their plan now set in motion, the Boys (from a remote airplane hangar) trigger a crate full of Vought sonic devices that deafens Homelander, sending him in agonized search of the cacophony’s source. With Ryan alone in the cabin, Becca and Billy show up and snatch him, with Becca identifying Billy as her “husband.”

The trio return to the hangar, where Billy admits to his deal with Edgar, which he’s now reneging on; in an act of true selflessness, he tells Mother’s Milk to take Becca and Ryan to Grace, who’ll protect them. He knows this means he’ll lose Becca for good, but he’s doing it so she can have what she wants most in the world: to be with Ryan. Understanding this sacrifice, Becca tearfully kisses Billy goodbye.

Homelander returns to his cabin and finds a Vought security squad that was expecting to rendezvous with Billy and Ryan. He slaughters them. As soon as Mother’s Milk begins driving Becca and Ryan away, Stormfront arrives and tosses their vehicle to the side (although no one is injured). Stormfront claims that the photographic Third Reich evidence against her is just a bunch of “deep fakes,” and that “people love what I have to say. They believe in it. They just don’t like the word Nazi, that’s all.”

As Billy flees with Becca and Ryan, a super-fight breaks out between Stormfront, Kimiko, and Starlight. Stormfront manages to snap Kimiko’s neck, but before she can go one-on-one with Starlight, Maeve shows up and begins thrashing Stormfront. Kimiko heals her seemingly fatal wound and joins Maeve and Starlight in kicking the you-know-what out of Stormfront, who escapes by flying away.

Stormfront locates Billy, Becca, and Ryan in the woods, and promptly dispatches with Billy and begins choking Becca to death. At the sight of his mom being murdered, Ryan’s heat vision activates, frying Stormfront to a limbless German-muttering crisp. Unfortunately, Becca has been mortally wounded in this fracas. She tells Billy about her now-traumatized son, “It’s not his fault. You make sure he knows that. He’s good…You promise me you keep him safe.” She then dies, and Ryan recognizes Billy’s tears as a sign that he’s a genuine father figure.

Homelander appears and demands that Ryan come with him. Billy is ready to fight to protect Ryan (no matter how doomed that might be). Maeve arrives and vows to release the damning plane-crash video — thus robbing Homelander of the public’s adoration — if Homelander harms them, or anyone else. He relents, allowing Ryan to leave with Billy.

At a press conference, Edgar announces that Stormfront’s villainy has compelled Vought to put Compound-V’s release on indefinite hold. Quietly seething behind his stoic for-the-cameras expression, Homelander praises the heroism of Maeve and Starlight, welcoming the latter back into the Seven fold.

Alastair meets with A-Train and the Deep. For showing initiative by leaking the church’s dirt on Stormfront, A-Train earns his way back into the Seven. When the Deep hears that he’s not joining A-Train on the team, he freaks out, and, after being labeled a “toxic person,” he bolts.

In the woods, Starlight is wearing her crucifix, her faith restored by the sight of Billy doing the right thing. She kisses Hughie. He wonders if maybe he is too clingy (regarding the Boys, not Starlight). Billy gives Ryan the Saint Christopher medallion he once received from Becca. Ryan subsequently departs with Grace, albeit not before letting Billy know that he remembers Billy’s most important life lesson: “Don’t be a c---.”

Grace tells Billy that all charges have been dropped against the Boys. Moreover, Neuman is the new czar of an official Office of Supe Affairs, and she’s giving Grace funding for a covert team tasked with keeping tabs on supes. Billy doesn’t respond to this offer, although the look on his face suggests he’s going to accept.

Mother’s Milk joyously reunites with his family, and Frenchie and Kimiko agree to go dancing together as they turn out the lights on their basement HQ. Homelander, however, is less than happy as he madly repeats to himself “I can do whatever I want” while pleasuring himself on a skyscraper ledge.

Alastair calls Neuman and congratulates her on her new post. She thanks him for providing the file that took down Stormfront. Alastair says he has additional superhero dirt and will hand it over in return for tax-exempt status for the church. She agrees, but as soon as their chat ends, his head explodes. Outside, we finally learn the identity of the mystery assassin: it’s Neuman!

Neuman returns to her campaign office, where Hughie is waiting. Wanting to fight Vought the right way, and to stand on his own two feet, he asks for a job. As Neuman closes her office door, she asks him when he can start.

Supe-Musings:

  • The satirical “How to Survive A Supervillain Attack at School” public safety video that opens the episode is equal parts amusing and chilling.
  • Maeve’s food line is apparently not just found in the frozen food aisle since a Planet Vought waiter offers diners a “Brave Maeve Rainbow Veggie Burger.”
  • Hidden in the chyron of the Stormfront-is-a-Nazi TV news report is this hilarious footnote: “NYPD: Credible Lead Ties Stormfront to Jeffrey Epstein Death.”

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The Boys (TV Series)

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  • Evan Goldberg
  • Eric Kripke
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