The Boys relishes the here and now. The show’s use of contemporary references, social commentary, and ability to warp the superhero genre have meant Amazon’s series easily rivals anything else currently on the air. And now it’s starting to play the long game.
What “The Bloody Doors Off” lacks in Homelander, it more than makes up for by sowing seeds that will blossom years down the line. That’s the sign of a show that’s both comfortable in its own skin and looking ahead to adapt, Doppelganger-style, in the seasons to come. In other words, The Boys has never been better.
Stepping back in time, we see the origins of Frenchie’s relationship with Mother’s Milk, Butcher, and Mallory. It also neatly introduces Lamplighter, a former member of the Seven played by X-Men alumni Shawn Ashmore, who butts heads with Frenchie after we see their tragic shared history.
If you had asked me which character I’d like to see more of this season, Frenchie wouldn’t be top of the list. That doesn’t take away from Tomer Capon’s performance as the snide, wise-cracking, Golden Girls-loving jack of all trades, but speaks volumes to how the show now has me now interested in this flawed, and conflicted character. All in the span of one episode.
This sort of world-building, only hinted at last season, is indicative of The Boys’ new forward-thinking policy: the deeper and further we dive into Vought lore, the greater reason we have to care when these entities inevitably collide. And collide they do in an episode that doesn’t skimp on action, once again presenting some of the best (and most squeamish) superhero-based set-pieces ever seen on television. There are faces being peeled off, skulls being squashed, and a super power that might put you off your dinner and makes last week’s Homelander sex scene look positively pedestrian by comparison.
Frenchie, MM, and Kimiko find themselves infiltrating a Vought facility while, on the outside, Butcher, Stormlight, and Hughie keep watch. The latter trio, while they may operate on the fringes of the episode, are each allowed more time to build a rapport and, eventually, a connection with each other. That’s smart storytelling: even when something doesn’t matter to the grander picture, it still matters.
On the Seven side of things, it’s Stormfront (surprisingly) that takes the reins. It was a pressing concern in recent weeks than any episode without a large amount of Antony Starr’s Homelander would be a tough sell. Not here, as he’s relegated to playing the clingy boyfriend while Stormfront flits between covert clean-ups and the Dawn of the Seven set.
It’s perhaps the episode’s greatest triumph that Starr is so entertaining in such a minor role, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s missing a vital cog in the machine. If there’s one main takeaway from “The Bloody Doors Off,” it’s that The Boys’ future is bright, with or without its major players. Mostly because it’s been busy building up new ones.
While The Boys spends most of the episode fleshing out its ensemble to good effect, it would be remiss of me not to mention two actors that always maximise their time on-screen.
The Boys season 2, episode 5 review: "A welcome, more low-key breather"
Colby Minifie’s manic Vought PR firefighter, Ashley, is consistently the funniest character on the show. Her desperate pleas to find Starlight despite being caught in the fire on the set of the Dawn of the Seven were darkly humorous.
Karen Fukuhara’s Kimiko, similarly, has little meaty material to work with, yet her deeply expressive eyes and body language do more work than most actors can with pages of dialogue. In other (lesser) hands, these characters might have felt like afterthoughts. Here, they each add to the sprawling story that started off with The Boys versus The Seven and has since spiralled off into a punchy, vibrant world filled with characters you want to see in every single scene. There’s very little wasted energy in The Boys – and these two are the best examples of that approach.
Perhaps the only negative aspect of this week’s episode – and much of the second season, really – is the tendency to pack too much in. Everything in the facility (and the Frenchie flashbacks) served its purpose, even if it meandered in places. But that left A-Train’s Church of the Collective sit-down and Maeve’s ace in the sleeve reduced to something beyond even B-plots. Not everyone can share the limelight each week, but The Boys would be better off streamlining a few stories or cutting some entirely for a week or two otherwise it risks story beats losing their impact among the muddle of mayhem that tends to populate each episode.
For the first time, though, The Boys feels like a behemoth. It’s no longer content with being just a very good superhero show. Much like the MCU-style universes it spoofs, the Amazon series has now gone deeper and connects the dots in an episode that feels like it could be the foundation for something very, very special in future.