Looking for superheroes? Well, you’re not going to find them here among The Boys. Amazon Prime Video’s bloody sendup of the superhero genre is finally back with season 2 to remind us once again that sometimes the good guys aren’t always the good guys and sometimes the so-called “bad guys” actually have the right idea all along.
Season 2 of the series picks up shortly after season 1 ended, but a lot of TV has aired between seasons, which might leave some viewers racking their patchy memories about what happened, who are all these people, and why are some people dressed like supes and some aren’t. Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Boys follows two groups of people who think they’re saving the world: We have the titular Boys, made up of a ragtag group of scorned and budding heroes, and the Seven who have been genetically enhanced to have super abilities — what could go wrong?
What Is Compound V, Again?
What makes a superhero actually super? They're not born with it — it's Compound V. The V stands for Vought, as in Vought International, as in the company that employs, creates, and profits off of superheroes. We learn in season 1, that for decades Vought has secretly administered the compound to infants in hopes of giving them superpowers, though most supers have grown up with no idea that they've been dosed (nor do most of them know their parents received payments for said dosing).
For adult supes, Compound V is part steroid and part party drug, a dose of which greatly enhance their abilities. It can also lead to dire consequences. It’s very easy to get addicted to Compound V, and overuse can lead to side effects like uncontrollable abilities, paranoia, and heart attacks.
The now former VP of Vought International (more on that in a minute) Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) was well aware of everything shady going on behind the scenes. And in the final moments of season 1, the deployment of a Compound V copycat creates terrorists and a crack in the facade surrounding Vought and its questionable practices.
What Happened Between Starlight & A-Train?
Now that you know about Compound V, that leads us to one of the Seven, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). He’s been addicted to Compound V this entire time and has been using so much of it he can’t control his speed force anymore (including when, during the opening moments of the series, he runs so fast he kills someone).
While paranoia is a side effect of too much Compound V use, he correctly senses that something fishy is up with new Seven member Starlight (Erin Moriarty). His suspicions, and her ties to the Boys, all come to a head in the season 1 finale and he confronts her for trying to get to expose Compound V and Vought. They fight, but due to his rampant drug use, he suffers a heart attack. Starlight, the only person close to being a real hero in the entire series, attempts to help him, rather than flee the scene, but the season ends with his condition unknown.
Did Hughie & Annie Break Up Or Not?
Most of season 1 actually revolves around two people in completely different worlds: We’ve got Hughie (Jack Quaid), who’s very much an outsider to the world of The Boys and also the Seven, and Annie, aka Starlight, a brand new member of the supe group.
After a chance meeting, the two begin a relationship but eventually, the truth comes out that Hughie is working to take down Vought, and even though Annie has her own suspicions about Vought and Hughie just wants to help her, she doesn’t think she can trust him anymore. This is effectively their breakup, but things start to change when Starlight steps in to help save Hughie during her showdown with A-Train. She helps Hughie get away while she deals with A-Train's sudden cardiac arrest.
So their relationship is a bit murky, but that was always going to be the way of things. Starlight begins the series by grappling with her newfound fame and the fact that her mother lied to her for much of her childhood. On top of that, she can't seem to bond with any of her Seven teammates (the show rightly asserts that just because Dominique McElligott's Queen Maeve is another female superhero, that doesn't mean she and Starlight are automatically best friends) and Vought corporate is forcing her to compromise herself in the name of marketing. She’s also still dealing with the emotional aftermath of being sexual assaulted by The Deep (Chace Crawford) minutes into her career as a big time supe.
Hughie is also having a rough go. His girlfriend was killed very early in the series by A-Train, and while Vought does offer a meager settlement for his loss, he later teams up with Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and the rest of The Boys in hopes of exacting vengeance on the supe factory. And in case that wasn't enough trauma, his dad — also named Hugh (and played by Simon Pegg) — was kidnapped by A-Train at the end of season 1 (papa Hugh was later rescued, unlike the deceased girlfriend).
By the end of the season, it’s clear that Hughie feels trapped by the new vigilante life he’s stumbled into and Annie has just put herself in a massive professional pickle by taking on A-Train, so "relationship" is the last word on either of their minds.
The Deep Pretty Much Got Fired
Halfway through season 1, the Deep finds himself in hot water, thanks to his choices in episode 1. Tons of followers on social media, a spot in the Seven, and his massive ego convince The Deep that he can get away with anything — including sexually assaulting the newest member of the Seven. At first, Starlight keeps the violation to herself, but when she takes the stage at a Christian festival, she decides to speak her truth on camera. In a moment that quickly goes viral and exposes The Deep as a sexual predator. After a truly unacceptable public apology that includes avoidant "ifs," the public is disgusted with The Deep and he is sent away on “sabbatical” to Sandusky, Ohio.
In Ohio, The Deep is contractually obligated to make appearances at car dealership openings and is given a meager stipend and a sad, lonely apartment where he is eventually sexually assaulted, himself. A woman he brings home treats him as a piece of meat, aggressively fingering his gills despite him repeatedly asking her to stop. As his season 1 storyline comes to a close, he completely questions his life, his choices, and his place among the Seven, which he’s eager to return to.
However, not one person back at Vought is counting down the days until the guy who can talk to fish comes back. In fact, Vought is looking to find his replacement in the Seven.
Queen Maeve & The Plane Crash
And on top of that, Queen Maeve was starting to crumble in season 1. While she wasn't about to blow up her place in the Seven quite as readily as Starlight, she is suffering from extreme burnout. She's completely disillusioned by her life, and every day grows to resent Homelander more and more having been forced into a public relationship with him — all while keeping her actual love, a former ex-girlfriend, very quiet. On top of that, Maeve forced allegiance to Homelander turned to trauma when he forced her to allow an entire plane of innocent people crash into the ocean in order to save his own hide. The moment in which she begs Homelander to at least save a young mother and her daughter, only to be strong-armed into letting them die too haunts her.
Who Is Kimiko, Really?
A quick refresher, the other Boys alongside Billy Butcher and Hughie include Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Kapon), and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) — and she’s the one you really want to watch out for. As a child, she and her brother were kidnapped and injected with Compound V against their will in hopes of creating super-terrorists. She never speaks, and Compound V has given her enhanced strength and regenerative healing powers.
At the close of season 1, we don't know much more about her. But we do see that she is starting to build a bond with Frenchie, which is how she eventually becomes a full fledged member of The Boys.
Who Actually Killed Madelyne Stillwell?
It all happened rather fast in the finale of The Boys season 1, but Madelyn Still, well, is dead. Like, extremely dead. We learn pretty immediately in season 1 that the leader of the Seven, Homelander (Antony Starr), is a merciless and truly awful genetically modified human. In addition to the plane crash and his constant threats against his fellow members of the Seven, he's also got a dicey relationship with Madelyn (it scratches the surface of some unusual kinks like, um, drinking breast milk) and will stop anyone who gets in his way. Someone who constantly gets in his way is Billy Butcher, as the two have a long-standing feud.
Throughout season 1 we follow Billy's quest to expose Vought Industries and Homelander, and towards the end of the season, we learn that the reason behind his anger is that Homelander raped Billy's wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), who then died giving birth to Homelander's son. So, Billy kidnaps the object of Homelander's affection, Madelyn, and threatens to blow up her house, with her and her baby inside. Only Billy didn't know the depth of Homelander's depravity. The supe arrives to save Madelyn, but instead, he lasers a hole in her skull, effectively removing Billy's leverage over him.
Billy, having now lost everything, deploys his explosives in hopes of killing Homelander once and for all, but in the final moments, we see that Homelander has whisked himself and Billy away, to the front lawn of a mystery woman and her son. Surprise! Becca is not, in fact, dead. She’s been in hiding this whole time, raising Homelander’s son in secret.
The important detail to remember, however, is that by blowing up Madelyn's home, Billy effectively helped frame himself for the murder of the very prominent leader of a huge American company. The explosion destroyed all evidence of the laser hole Homelander left in Madelyn's head, which makes Billy's explosion the apparent reason for her death. Shit.