So, this is it. The Boys season 2 finale is here – and it lives up to the hype in more ways than one. Not only is “What I Know” a stellar end to a super season, the eighth and final episode of the Amazon Prime show’s sophomore run pulls no punches and achieves that rare thing in television: a finale that feels like a proper send-off, high stakes and all.
For all of its many, many successes this year, The Boys has been guilty of cramming far too much in. Even with an hour-plus runtime, the finale rolls all of its stories and side characters into one main plot. It’s a smart move that sidesteps any bloated scenes in favour of an efficient, all-encompassing plot that drives the story forward and will leave you short of breath on more than one occasion.
At first, it’s the rush to get a witness to testify against Vought after last week’s head-exploding assault. Latterly, it’s a pulse-pounding final assault that sees The Boys and Supes collide in meaty, though no less entertaining, scenes that have been a season (or two) in the making.
Despite Homelander, Butcher, a returning Stan Edgar, and several more forming the core of the action, it’s Maeve who might hold your attention the longest. Having crashed and burned after Elena’s departure, the Queen of the Seven has the most compelling arc of the lot in the finale, moving from an achingly believable rendition of a break-up (Dominique McElligott should be commended here; these scenes don’t miss the mark at all) to fist-pumping moments that Maeve – and the audience – have richly deserved for some time.
It’s not just Maeve who gets a chance to shine in the finale. The criminally under-utilised Becca Butcher (Shantel VanSanten) finally gets some agency and features in the season’s most heart-rending scenes as Ryan is torn between his mother and the corrupting influence of Stormfront and Homelander. If you thought The Boys was just a vehicle for clever pop-culture references and parodying politics, you might be surprised by the lump in your throat once the credits roll.
Of course, it’s not all sob stories and Supe redemptions. The action, somehow, takes a step up this week. The Boys consistently has had some of the best set-pieces and fight scenes on television (and a long overdue pat on the back to the stunt team and coordinators involved this year), but there are some Supe scraps that will rightly live long in the memory and, outside of a few shaky camera cuts, wouldn’t look too far out of place if plonked into the MCU.
Most importantly, though, The Boys season 2 finale adds a final ingredient that is sure to send it on its way to being an all-timer of a series: a real sense of peril. Plot armour, especially with the lovingly pathetic Hughie, has always been a roadblock for tension on the show. You can go into the finale knowing that the shackles are off – no one is safe. It’s something that made Game of Thrones so utterly unmissable week-to-week and, now that there is actual danger at play for those on both sides, it stands to reason that The Boys will only soar further because of what goes down throughout the episode.
That’s not to say the finale is perfect. Homelander’s son, Ryan, weighs down early scenes and becomes both baggage and prop later on, which is a disservice to young actor Cameron Crovetti who has done a phenomenal job in a thankless task as the fruit of Homelander’s loins. There is also one debatable plot point that, when coupled with The Boys’ parallels to the real world, could cause some real consternation.
The Boys season 2, episode 7 review: "The best cliffhanger in the show's short history"
Season finales often fall into the trap of setting up the next season in favour of drawing its current stories to a close. In that respect, The Boys season 2 finale is surprisingly restrained. Not only do several story arcs reach satisfying and cathartic conclusions, there’s actually very little in the way of forward momentum for the confirmed third season – outside of a shocking late twist that will have fans discussing and debating its ramifications well into next year. It’s almost too clean a break.
In effect, The Boys season 2 finale actually operates as a series finale up to a point. That air of finality punctuates the episode’s third act. On one hand, the show makes good on everything that has been set up so far, and tying any disparate story threads together means the entire season will be even better on a rewatch. On the other, there’s a slight worry that The Boys has gone all-in on a superb finale at the risk of scuppering the long-term potential and world building the show was so carefully crafting earlier in the season.
But that’s a story for another day. On its own merits, the Boys season 2 finale astounds, shocks, and surprises in equal measure. The third season can’t come soon enough.