Nick Romano Previews What the Second Season of ‘The Boys’ Will Offer the Show’s Rapidly Growing Fanbase
EW writer, Nick Romano, discusses what to expect from 'The Boys' season two, if newcomers should watch season one before tackling the new season, and Giancarlo Esposito's role as TV's new resident villain!
The mysteries of the past can’t stay hidden forever, and in “The Bloody Doors Come Off,” secrets emerge from the shadows with furious purpose.
Eight years ago, Frenchie is manufacturing drugs with Cherie and his best friend Jay (Michael Ayres). He expounds on the fact that, during a dark time in his life in New York City, he was saved by watching early morning episodes of The Golden Girls, which he loved because “those saucy ladies, they made their own family.” Frenchie imagines himself as the Betty White of his current makeshift clan.
In a present-day alleyway, Stormfront and Homelander get hot and bothered while stopping a thief, with Homelander crushing the guy’s skull as Stormfront massages his crotch. The two enjoy bloody sex in a grimy doorway.
Watching that super-duo act cutesy on TV, Billy and Kimiko both realize that the two are sleeping together. Frenchie removes Starlight’s tracking device, and she makes her first visit to the Boys’ gross HQ. Starlight discloses that she found emails on Stormfront’s computer from Edgar about Sage Grove Center, a Pennsylvania psychiatric hospital. Billy is intrigued, and — much to Hughie’s surprise — invites Starlight to join them on their mission to break into the facility. His reason? If things go badly, Vought will come after Starlight, “their billion-dollar baby-turned-traitor, who just ripped out her own f---ing chip. Never go into shark-infested waters without chum!”
The Deep appears uninvited in Maeve’s movie trailer and delivers a camera recovered from the wreckage of the plane that, in season 1, Homelander and Maeve didn’t save. Maeve tells the Deep that if he wants to get back in the Seven, he should keep his mouth shut about this.
Ashley shows A-Train a corny demo of his “lit” new hip-hop anthem. Ashley hopes to get Lil Nas X to perform it, but A-Train is unimpressed. A-Train then runs into the Deep, who commiserates with him about being kicked out of the Seven, and offers his help by handing him a Fresca.
The Boys arrive just outside Sage Grove (which is a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Vought). Tensions are still high between Kimiko and Frenchie, and in another flashback to eight years prior, we see a detained Frenchie get recruited by Grace for her new anti-supes team. She’s particularly impressed with his creative construction of a weaponized Xanax bomb that took out a rage-fueled supe.
Homelander asks Stormfront to join him in his movie trailer for a “surprise,” but she claims to have a Vought Tower meeting with her social-media guys. Homelander doesn’t like being told no and sulks back in his trailer, where he stares at the bouquet of roses (and card) that he got for Stormfront. He finally blows his top, melting down his trailer. When Stormfront returns and asks what happened, he responds by saying that he knows she wasn’t at the Tower and hates being deceived.
We already know where Stormfront has been — at Sage Grove. Billy considers sniping Starlight after she gets Mother’s Milk, Frenchie, and Kimiko (all wearing Sage Grove orderly scrubs) into the building, but he doesn’t pull the trigger. Starlight subsequently confronts Billy about his hatred of her, which is rooted in his disgust for all superheroes. “Underneath all that swagger, you’re just a bigot and a bully. I know another guy just like that; he’s got a flag for a cape,” Starlight spits.
Billy, Starlight, and Hughie watch Stormfront arrive at Sage Grove and let Mother’s Milk know about it. He’s already seen her on a monitor in the security room they’ve infiltrated; she’s visiting a superpowered patient alongside Shawn Ashmore’s orderly. Sage Grove is housing various unstable supes, and when Stormfront doesn’t like this particular patient’s attitude, she has Ashmore’s orderly torch him with a lighter and his incendiary superpowers. Thus, he reveals himself to be Lamplighter, the former member of the Seven who was responsible for burning Grace’s kids alive — an atrocity that took place before the series began, and which still haunts Frenchie, who feels guilty for not preventing it.
On their way out of Sage Grove with a collection of hard drives, Frenchie is recognized by Lamplighter, and a scuffle leads to Lamplighter accidentally freeing a patient named Cindy (Ess Hödlmoser), who quickly shows off her formidable ability: she can crush/twist/destroy objects, including security guards (SPLAT!), by simply clenching her fists. As Cindy frees her fellow incarcerated supes, the heroes and Lamplighter flee into a locked room. Lamplighter says he’ll escape on his own, but after he’s saved by Kimiko from an acid-vomiting inmate, he reluctantly agrees to join forces with them.
A-Train has lunch with the Deep and Alastair at the Church of the Collective’s Renewal Centre. Though he’s initially uninterested in their cult-y assistance (he’s apparently seen a documentary about their lunacy), A-Train is persuaded to hear their pitch — and to endure some share-your-true-feelings therapy with the Deep — after Alastair makes clear that they know about his debt, Compound-V addiction, and heart condition, and can help him rejoin the Seven.
Waiting for their comrades to return, Billy, Starlight, and Hughie are met at their van by an escaped supe who emits a concussive blast that topples the van with Hughie inside, leaving him with a dire stomach wound. Since this attack has temporarily neutralized Starlight’s powers, she and Billy hightail it to a nearby road and flag down a car. A stand-off with the driver (Jason Gray-Stanford) ensues, compelling Starlight to use her now-renewed powers against the guy so they can commander his vehicle. Starlight feels awful about this (especially since her victim was a father, as evidenced by the car’s child seat). Mad that she’s done exactly what Billy wanted (and would have done himself), she admonishes him by stating, “We’re nothing alike. Nothing.”
Mother’s Milk, Kimiko, Frenchie, and Lamplighter sneak over to a room full of drugs and medical supplies. Frenchie demands to know why Lamplighter killed those kids, and he responds by asking why Frenchie stopped tailing him that night. A flashback to five years earlier involves Grace, Frenchie, Billy, and Mother’s Milk (who’s about to propose to his wife) having a clandestine warehouse meeting with Lamplighter, whom Grace is blackmailing into being their spy. Billy mocks Lamplighter (in his full hooded costume and giant torch), snickering, “Sorry, mate — you just look like one of them poncy baton twirlers.” Lamplighter leaves and Frenchie follows him. However, Frenchie has to abandon his duty to race back home and revive Jay from an overdose; this is the reason he wasn’t around to stop Lamplighter from killing Grace’s kids.
Frenchie’s disclosure of this long-buried secret — and the fact that, though he saved Jay, his friend died a few months later from another OD — stuns Mother’s Milk (who’s long been bitter at Frenchie for not thwarting Lamplighter), and earns the sympathy of Kimiko, who now views him as a kindred guilt-ridden soul. Lamplighter confesses that he never told the Seven about his slaughter because it was a mistake; he thought he was assassinating Grace, and by the time he realized his error, it was too late.
Lamplighter also explains what Vought is up to at Sage Grove: they’re conducting experiments to find a way to safely and stably inject adults with Compound-V, which normally takes hold most successfully in infants. Why they’d want to mass-market their most valuable commodity, however, remains unknown.
The foursome begin exiting the facility but are confronted by Cindy, who dispatches with Frenchie’s newly homemade bomb. Before she can kill them, Stormfront appears and incapacitates Cindy. Lamplighter sends her in search of other inmates, thus clearing a path for the group’s escape. Shortly thereafter on a forested road, Frenchie apologizes to Kimiko for trying to save her as a means of making up for his own mistakes. “You cannot absolve my sins,” he sighs, as she gazes at him with intense compassion.
Grace pulls up, sees that Lamplighter is still alive, and threatens to finally exact her revenge. Lamplighter begs her to kill him and end his misery. Frenchie persuades Grace that the worst punishment would be to let him live with his own torment.
Billy and Starlight get Hughie to the hospital, and over his recuperating sleeping body, they lovingly talk about how he uses strawberry smoothie-scented L'Oréal for Kids shampoo and Axe body spray (“That’s how Vin Diesel must smell”). They’re like doting lovers/parents, marveling at how “he really just never gives up on you, does he?” and that “he’s too good for either of us.”
Elena discovers the plane-crash video in Maeve’s possession. Despite Maeve’s declaration of remorse, and assurance that she’s going to use it to get Homelander off their back, Elena shoots her girlfriend a witheringly disgusted look.
Stormfront finds Homelander in her Vought Tower room and apologizes for lying. He demands the truth, and she complies. Opening a trunk that contains her old Liberty costume, she shows him a picture of her with an elderly woman — who, it turns out, is her now-deceased daughter. Explaining that she was born in 1919 Berlin, Stormfront produces another photo, this one of her with Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels. Then, for the coup-de-grace, she exhibits her wedding photo to original Vought founder Friedrich Vought, the happy couple standing in front of a Nazi flag. Stormfront was Vought’s first successful Compound-V subject, and she fell in love with the mad Third Reich genius and they had a kid.
To a stunned Homelander, she continues: “We are in a war for the culture. The other races are grinding us down and taking what is rightfully ours. But we can fight back. With an army of supermen, millions strong. Because that is Vought’s true destiny. And you will be the man who will lead us. You’re everything that we dreamed of. So I love you with all of my heart. How could I not? Everyone I have ever loved is in the ground. And then I found you.”
Understanding he’s the realization of the Nazis’ Aryan ubermensch dream — and that the Eva Braun-ish Stormfront is his spiritual mom, meaning he can fully fulfill his own Oedipal longing with her — Homelander kisses her passionately.
As the Golden Girls’ theme song “Thank You for Being a Friend” kicks in, Cindy successfully hitches a ride on a remote country road.
Mother’s Milk’s run-in with a psycho-supe bestowed with a phallic tentacle (Andrew Jackson’s aptly named Love Sausage) stands as one of the season’s humorous highlights.
Grace may have been convinced that revenge doesn’t solve anything, but Billy hasn’t learned that lesson just yet.
Maeve’s Pride Bars (“Because you can’t be proud on an empty stomach”) are a pitch-perfect example of the way in which everything — including progressive social issues — is crassly commercialized by modern corporate culture.