Season Review Mixed (Stick Around) The Boys: Season 1 - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

The Boys: Season 1 – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Like many shows which use violence as a selling point, The Boys’ use of gore and shock wears off fast. Thankfully, however, there is a sense of emotional depth to compensate.

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Network
Amazon Prime
Creator(s) Eric Kripke
Genre(s) Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Good If You Like
  • Super Heroes Behaving Badly
  • Origin Stories
  • Gore
  • Evil Corporations
  • Light Romance
Noted Cast
Billy Butcher Karl Urban
Grace Mallory Laila Robins
A-Train Jessie T. Usher
Homelander Anthony Starr
Starlight aka Annie Erin Moriarty
Hughie Jack Quaid
The Deep Chance Crawford
Donna Ann Cusack
Maeve Dominique McElligott
Madelyn Elisabeth Shue
Black Noir Nathan Mitchell
Frenchie Tomer Capon

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The Boys – Season 1 Summary

In a world where superheroes roam freely, there are The Seven. They are the equivalent to our Avengers and Vought International is like a sinister version of Disney. For beyond dominating the box office and television, they also are trying to push their way into being a government contractor – specifically supplying heroes to different states if not to the US army. However, there is one man, Billy Butcher, who wants to stand in the way of Vought’s grand plans.

Problem is, the group he used to work with, under this woman named Grace Mallory, has long since disbanded. But, with him finding a brother in arms in Hughie, someone who recently lost his girlfriend to the Super, as they are called, A-Train, that’s his in and so begins Billy getting the boys back together and preparing to take down Vought – specifically the most marketable superhero of them all: Homelander.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Why didn’t Vought have, or why didn’t we see Vought’s, heroes in other countries?

Highlights

Erin Moriarty – 95

Annie aka Starlight (Erin Moriarty) sitting with The Seven.
Annie aka Starlight (Erin Moriarty)

The selling point of this entire show is Erin Moriarty as Starlight. While Hughie is the lead character, Starlight, real name Annie, presents the origin story you are familiar with. She is this girl from the Midwest, a fish out of water, with big dreams of becoming one of The Seven. A job her mother indoctrinated her into and has been her entire life.

Thus making her venture from the Midwest to New York City, becoming the newest member of Vought International a better baseline story than Hughie. Specifically us getting to see both sides of the life of heroes. From the corporate side, there is the learning there is an entire team dedicated to handling the detective part, learning how to be a spokesperson, and then dealing with the other members of The Seven. Which is a difficult adjustment within itself for most of the heroes are decades into their time as heroes. Also, some, like The Deep, decide to take advantage of Annie and push her to realize that the façade of heroes seen in shows, theaters, and advertisements, doesn’t match who they are behind closed doors.

That is when her worth really plays a role. Her being our medium allows us to see who these heroes truly are and, like any superhero show, comic, etc., it is the villains, or anti-heroes, who are the most interesting. But, alongside being our medium to how Vought is truly run, there is also her relationship with her mother Donna and Hughie. With that, we get to see her human side and this duality gives us everything you’d want from her character. We see the trauma caused by her mother making her a long term investment, the adorable relationship she forms with Hughie and you gaining this emotional attachment will be the driving force keeping you watching through the highs and lows of the show.

Heroes Portrayed Like Greco-Roman Gods – 85

Annie aka Starlight (Erin Moriarty) in front of a statue of The Seven.
Annie aka Starlight (Erin Moriarty)

Thanks to the MCU and DCU, heroes have largely been shown as good guys and despite the carnage and damage they cause, be it personal or in terms of property, they are absolved. With The Boys, with A-Train killing Robin, Hughie’s girlfriend – quite brutally – it is made clear that heroes are held accountable in this world. Well, to a point. Vought pays out hush money yet from Hughie to Billy, it is clear many either don’t accept the money or they struggle with knowing they’ll be hushed. We even, partly as a joke, see a support group for those crushed, hurt, or maimed by supers.

Yet, despite the accidents and damages, even supers sometimes making things worse, many see them as Starlight once did. They are god-like, infallible, and beloved. Which as we see each one either say or act callous, be vulgar, or harm those without powers indiscriminately, its eye opening.

Homelander & Maeve – 87

The two leads of The Seven also share a certain amount of complexities that are quite illuminating. One of the main things being how much control Vought has over those, even if they are at the top of the pyramid. For example, one of the things we learn is that Vought controls who the heroes date which, for Maeve, is an issue since she is queer. Something Vought doesn’t necessarily approve of for while it isn’t a conservative company, they fund many conservative organizations and movements. So, of course, they aren’t going to have a lesbian as their top female superhero.

Homelander (Anthony Starr) having a meeting with Madelyn.
Homelander (Anthony Starr)

But things get real deep, and real messed up, when it comes to Homelander. While he isn’t one of the first heroes discovered, he is one of the few we know which were raised in a lab and studied. I’m talking a room, bigger than a prison cell, but as plain and dreary, where he didn’t really get affection or maternal love. At least, until he was older but when it came to many of the women who provided it, he killed them. Mostly due to him sensing they lied to him and with that being a major trigger, he’d break them in a hug, or kill them in another way. Which, as an adult, creates this really twisted relationship he has with Madelyn that, honestly, show’s how, for a lack of a better word, demented, if not institutionalized, in a way, he was made to be.

Working Through Hughie’s Trauma – 86

Hughie, in general, doesn’t make for the best lead character. He is kind of whiny, a pawn in a much larger scheme, and while his relationship with Annie is cute, it is rife with issues thanks to Billy. However, one consistent piece of his, Hughie’s, relationship with Annie which benefits him is how it leads to him eventually moving on from the death of his ex. Specifically, the parallel you can draw from him getting a sense of closure, moving on even, and how that allows him to move past his trauma as opposed to Billy who is driven by his trauma.

Low Points

Lack Of Endgame – 65

The Boys has neither good guys, outside of Annie, or bad guys. Almost everyone works in a moral gray area and while it makes for a lot of wonderful characters, it also crafts the vibe that we’re not really working towards anything. Which isn’t to downplay Billy’s pursuit of revenge but said revenge is very unrealistic. So it makes you wonder, and seek out, some kind of big evil for the heroes to take on. Otherwise, what are all these movies and shows they star in about? So with A-Train and Homelander creating villains, it sucks that we don’t get to see any of them in action and will likely not see them become a real threat until season 2.

Black Noir Was Underutilized – 64

Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) seeking out Frenchie.
Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell)

Nearly every member of The Seven gets a storyline, some sort of backstory, but Black Noir. When it comes to him, we see him fight once or twice and for the rest of the season he has moments which are comical, but don’t really explain why he is part of The Seven.

On The Fence

There Isn’t A Real Sense of Urgency – 75

Without a villain, or a deadline for Billy’s desires, the show feels like it could go on forever. As if, rather than weeks before premiering it was renewed, it was always planned for at least two seasons and what we got delivered was part 1. Hence why many of the events don’t really pack a punch, even big reveals, and when you add in how quickly you can become desensitized to the violence, there comes a point you may feel that with a lack of a villain, very little that can be done to rein in supers like Homelander, is this whole season just about setting up season 2 or was it supposed to be able to stand up on its own?

After A While, You Become So Desensitized Even The Events Of The Final Don’t Hit Hard – 70

Treading back to the comment on the violence, while we see characters explode, a baby shoot laser beams out of its head and cut people in half, and are made aware a character was raped, by halfway through the season you may feel the show has reached a saturation point. One which forces it to rely on its characters and story which, don’t get me wrong, are good enough, but surely not strong enough to carry this show and make you want to watch this in one sitting.

Wanting More Out Of Grace – 74

Grace Mallory (Laila Robins) recruiting Billy.
Grace Mallory (Laila Robins)

Grace is the one who found and trained Billy and the others. She is this person touted as a badass who tapped out when she experienced a personal loss. Also, she is talked about throughout the season and yet when we meet her, it is anti-climatic. Add in the show only flashbacks to when she recruited Billy and it gives this feeling that she wasn’t utilized to the fullest.

A-Train & The Deep – 76

The same could be said for A-Train and The Deep. Both are written to be sympathetic, to a point, in terms of A-Train getting older, having his title as the fastest man threatened, and that lingering fear of being dropped from The Seven and what that could mean for his life? After all, he grew up poor and we see what happens to heroes who aren’t considered a priority to Vought. Add in there isn’t any competitor they can work with and it makes A-Train someone who is often seen as an ass, but one who could have been more fleshed out than he was.

The same could be said for The Deep who sexually pressures Annie when the show starts, and never recovers. There is some attempt to do so, as he is punished and forced to realize everyone sees him as a joke, but it never takes. Even as some girl, rather strangely, sticks her hands into his gills.

Annie and Hughie’s Relationship – 79

Here is the thing about Annie and Hughie’s relationship, as noted above, Annie is a major selling point of this show and thanks to Hughie’s relationship with her, we see his journey of recovery. However, their relationship is rooted in manipulation and this false sense of comfort. Making it so, as much as they look cute together, between Hughie or Billy revealing the truth, really making a mess of things, you go back and forth between loving the two and hoping when it is over Annie isn’t too heartbroken.

How Frenchie’s Development Was Handled – 73

Frenchie (Tomer Capon) nervously talking to Homelander.
Frenchie (Tomer Capon)

Largely, Frenchie is a comical character. One who, with him being foreign, that is often made into a joke. But, intermittently, he interjects in conversations about things his dad did to him. This, at first, seems like a twisted joke which goes with the vibe of the show. However, then he actually tells his story and you realize, like with most of the show’s dark humor, you have to take note of the truth in every seemingly comical situation. Which, by the time you get to the point you realize you should take what he said serious, you may not remember his previous statements.

Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?

Yes

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Review Summary

The Short & Sweet Version

Like any series which seeks to do something different, there are some struggles as it comes into its own and sets its foundation. While it has wonderfully complex characters, it isn’t necessarily clear where their stories or arcs are going. Pair that with some being forgotten, like Black Noir, and a lack of a notable villain, besides their egos, and no sense of urgency, and it makes season one seem incomplete. As if, due to the way binge watching is, Amazon split what should be one whole season into two to make the show more easier to consume.
How Frenchie’s Development Was Handled
73 %
Annie and Hughie’s Relationship
79 %
A-Train & The Deep
76 %
Wanting More Out Of Grace
74 %
After A While, You Become So Desensitized Even The Events Of The Final Don’t Hit Hard
70 %
There Isn’t A Real Sense of Urgency
75 %
Black Noir Was Underutilized
64 %
Lack Of Endgame
65 %
Working Through Hughie’s Trauma
86 %
Homelander & Maeve
87 %
Heroes Portrayed Like Greco-Roman God
85 %
Erin Moriarty
95 %
Amari Allahhttps://wherever-i-look.com
I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and from movies, TV, the occasional book, play, and Broadway show, have been trying to bridge the gap between a critic and an avid lover of various forms of media.

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