– Written by Michael Saltzman
– Directed by Fred Toye
A woman we’ve never seen before talks to the camera, telling the story of a marriage that never happened. She’s the first of several similar talking heads dotted throughout the episode.
Frenchie is taking drugs in the bathroom. In the apartment, the TV news reports that Stormfront’s explosive handiwork in the previous episode left 59 dead and over 100 injured – but blames the late Kenji for the destruction. Frenchie tells Kimiko it wasn’t her fault and tries to kiss her. She pushes him away.
Homelander, agitated by Stormfront hogging all of the Seven’s media coverage, turns up at a house where he’s greeted by – surprise – the late Madelyn Stillwell. “I’ve missed you so much,” she says, before feeding him milk from her fingers.
Billy Butcher meets up with Grace Mallory, telling her that The Boys hit a dead end on their investigation into Susan Raynor’s death. She hands him a beer advert featuring a photo of Liberty, a second-tier supe from the 1970s who was all over Raynor’s server. Mallory hands Butcher an address in North Carolina and instructs him to send Mother’s Milk to speak to Liberty. She also gives Butcher her “best guess” on where he can find Becca.
Homelander complains to Madelyn about Stormfront. Madelyn tells him not to “take that shit”, and that it’s time to “take out the weeds and start all over again”. Madelyn moans and transforms into Doppelganger, who complains that he can only hold onto a form for a certain amount of time before it really hurts. When Homelander protests, Doppelganger turns back into ‘Madelyn’, who tells him he’s the most powerful man in the world.
As Butcher sets off to find Becca, he tells a reluctant Milk to go and find Liberty – explaining that if he helps Mallory, she’ll be more likely to help him get his family back. Milk agrees to take Hughie with him.
In the Vought building, Homelander forces his way into Starlight’s elevator. He pushes her against the wall by the throat, saying he gave Starlight a second chance after Queen Maeve begged him to spare her life, and that she’s failed him by disobeying his order to kill Hughie. Starlight responds that Hughie broke her heart worse than everyone and they’re not together anymore. Homelander believes her.
Starlight and Hughie meet in Central Park. She tells him she received his voicemail from the yacht, and that she’s disillusioned that Vought is still thriving despite the Compound V revelations: “We risked our lives to make the world way worse.” Hughie says that these things take time. She tearfully tells him she can’t go back to the Vought tower.
Hughie meets Milk for their drive to North Carolina, and Starlight is with him. Milk says she can’t go with them because she’s chipped. Hughie argues that it makes sense to have a supe knock on another supe’s door – and that she needs this. Milk eventually agrees.
A-Train sees Shockwave leaving Ashley’s office in the Vought Tower. Despite her initial claims that Shockwave was there to discuss a charity initiative, Homelander cuts to the chase and tells A-Train he’s out of the Seven in favour of Shockwave.
Frenchie pays a visit on ex-girlfriend Cherie. He explains that he thought kissing Kimiko would make her feel better. Cherie tells him that he’s just trying to make amends for the children Lamplighter burned and that he needs to leave her alone to grieve.
Stopping at a diner on their road trip, Starlight and Mother’s Milk bond over stories of their respective fathers’ love of donuts and ice cream. As they leave, they see a lorry crash into a car – Milk has to hold back Starlight to stop her intervening, to avoid blowing their cover.
Butcher finds Becca’s house. They arrange to meet somewhere away from Vought’s cameras. He explains that he thought she was dead; she says she was forbidden from saying where she was. She tells Butcher about a garbage truck that goes past at the same time every day that they could use to escape.
Starlight, Hughie and Milk stop off at a motel for the night. Starlight and Hughie meet at the vending machine and have a heart to heart. They end up sleeping together.
As do Butcher and Becca. She tells him all about Ryan, while he tells her about his unfortunate current living arrangements.
Homelander and Maeve appear on a talk show, where they claim they knew nothing about Compound V. The talk show host asks why there isn’t more racial diversity among Vought’s heroes. Homelander is clearly agitated and counters by outing Maeve as gay, mentioning her girlfriend, Elena. Homelander subsequently tells Maeve that, after he heard them talking on the phone, he did some digging. When Maeve eventually admits they’re still together, Homelander says he’s really, really happy for Maeve – in a spectacularly unconvincing manner.
Stormfront speaks in front of a group of protesters, winning their support by saying that Vought needs to do more to protect them from superterrorists. Kimiko moves through the crowd, waiting to make a move on her brother’s killer, but Frenchie stops her.
Starlight, Hughie and Milk arrive at the address Mallory gave them. When they ask for Liberty, Valerie, the woman inside, closes the door on them: “I kept your money, I signed your damn papers.” Milk tells her the story of his father, a lawyer who went after Vought despite considerable odds, never giving up despite having their corporate might against him. He was found dead over his typewriter at 55 in suspicious circumstances, which is when Milk vowed to take Vought down.
Valerie lets them in and recalls an event that happened 48 years earlier – she says that nobody in Raleigh back then would believe a black girl accusing a white superhero of murder. She tells them that she was asleep in the back of a car her brother was driving when a supe stopped the vehicle, telling him to get out and that their car had involved in a robbery. The ‘hero’ killed her brother in a racially motivated attack. Valerie’s parents thought going to the police was pointless, so they accepted a pay-off of $2000 to stay quiet. The supe was Liberty and nobody has seen her since 1979.
Or so they thought… Valerie says she’s seen her in the newspaper, pointing to a photo of Stormfront – the Seven’s new star is Liberty.
Back in the Vought tower, Homelander sees numerous internet memes mocking him while celebrating Stormfront. He confronts his new rival, insisting that he’s the face of the Seven and scores higher on every demo that counts. She tells him that his need to be loved by everyone is pathetic, which gets Homelander riled to the point of unleashing his glowing red eyes. She pulls back, telling him he’s everything the Seven should be – he just needs a bit of help connecting with his audience. “Change with the times,” she says. “God knows I did.” Homelander says he doesn’t need help.
Becca meets Butcher but Ryan isn’t with her. She says she’s not leaving because Butcher doesn’t really want the boy to go with them – she suspects he’ll find a way to get rid of the kid. When he says they’re not going to let a billion-dollar piece of Vought property get away, she says she can’t leave him behind and let Homelander raise him. She explains that she went to Vought rather than Butcher after Homelander raped her because she knew her husband would go all out for revenge. She tells him she can’t be with him.
As they part, Starlight tells Hughie they can’t be together like that again – she believes they can’t afford to feel good or safe at the moment. He says it doesn’t have to be that way, but she kisses him goodbye and doesn’t look back.
Another woman talks about her relationship history. The camera pans out to reveal that The Deep and Carol have been conducting interviews. It turns out they’re looking to find a wife for The Deep to restore his image and get him back in the Seven. She tells him they’re selecting Cassandra – not his first choice – because she’s a valued member of the Collective.
Homelander pays another visit to ‘Madelyn’. She says she can be whoever he wants her to be, and Doppelganger morphs into a double of Homelander. Homelander eventually responds: “I don’t need everyone to love me, I don’t need anyone, I don’t need you.” He breaks Doppelganger’s neck.
There’s a real change of pace in this slower, more character-driven episode. It’s a welcome gear shift, however, because it’s arguably the best instalment of the season so far. Relationships come to the forefront, as Starlight and Hughie briefly rekindle their romance – touching but ultimately sad; they’re the most relatable characters in the show – and Butcher finally tracks down Becca. That she ultimately abandons him is heartbreaking but also understandable, given his rather obvious anger management issues.
There’s also plenty of great stuff with the Seven. A paranoid Homelander is even more chilling than the standard version, and his meetings with Madelyn (okay, Doppelganger) are an ingenious way of bringing back a deceased character for a heart-to-heart. Stormfront may just be winning the upper hand in the worst-of-the-worst stakes, however – especially after the revelation she was the racist, murderous Liberty in a previous incarnation. It’ll be intriguing to see how she’s managed to make a comeback half a century later.
And despite all the serious stuff, there’s still room for a bit of fun. The talking heads that appear at random throughout are utterly baffling first time you watch the episode, but totally worth it when we see The Deep at the big reveal. There’s something rather sinister about the way the mysterious Collective are taking such an interest in his comeback – they’ve surely got a big part to play as the season plays out.
- Shockwave, the newest member of the Seven, is another speedster. We previously saw him in season one when he raced A-Train for the title of fastest man in the world.
- In a neat The Boys-themed twist, this week’s Billy Joel offering, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, appeared on an album called Storm Front.
- Maria Menounos is a real-life presenter in the US, though her In Depth TV show only exists in the world of The Boys.
Episodes 1-4 of The Boys season 2 are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now. New episodes appear every Friday.
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