After the massive head explosions that ended last week’s episode, Compound V is being authorised for law enforcement use, putting our heroes at a crisis point. There’s a lot to cover in ‘What I Know’ (The Boys season 2 episode 8), so let’s throw ourselves into it like Maeve, Starlight, and Kimiko beating the tar out of Stormfront!
— The Boys (@TheBoysTV) October 5, 2020
Name that tune: Billy Joel is back with ‘Only the Good Die Young’
Perfectly timed for a momentous season finale, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) finally asks the question that’s been on everyone’s minds for two years: “Why is it always, always Billy Joel?” She’s on yet another car trip with Hughie (Jack Quaid) and ‘Only the Good Die Young,’ a hit single from Joel’s massive 1977 album ‘The Stranger’ prompts her to finally ask about her boyfriend’s favourite musician. Hughie eventually reveals that it was something he shared with his mum, who bailed on the family with no explanation when Hughie was six. He then helpfully connects the dots to his character psychology: he sticks around and tries to do the right thing, even when it seems impossible, because he doesn’t want to be the type who cuts and runs.
Hughie gets plenty of opportunity to stick around in ‘What I Know,’ as he and Starlight make a desperate attempt to prevent the Boys from launching an all-out attack on The Seven (which Hughie points out will not actually stop Vought’s nefarious reach). Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) turns down their pleas to testify against Vought, but A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) unexpectedly runs in at the last minute with a mountain of evidence, pilfered from the Church of the Collective, connecting Stormfront (Aya Cash) to her Nazi past. Is it wishful thinking that this would actually turn public opinion against Stormfront, or is the show slyly satirising the only way fascist ideologies ultimately get condemned? “People love what I have to say… they just don’t like the word ‘Nazi’,” Stormfront laments.
The good guys release this info to the press concurrently with another kamikaze mission: rescue Becca’s son Ryan from the clutches of his dad Homelander (Antony Starr). Initially, Butcher (Karl Urban) makes a deal with Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) to help Vought reclaim the kid from Homelander and Stormfront, in exchange for his and Becca’s safety. Butcher thinks better of this arrangement, supposedly because he can’t bear to betray Becca like this, and presumably also because it would be pretty awkward to spend the rest of your life with someone knowing you had their son sold off to an evil corporation just because he had superpowers.
Anyway, the conflict comes to a head as Stormfront shows up to exact revenge on the Boys for outing her Nazi-ism; Butcher, Becca, and Ryan make a run for it; and Homelander arrives to take Ryan back into his loving arms.
Gnarliest violence: Homelander Jr. uses his powers
Homelander dispatches a team of Vought soldiers with his eye-lasers, but that bit of body-slicing is outdone by his son. When Stormfront is on the brink of killing his mum, Ryan finally gets to follow in Daddy’s footsteps and unleashes eye-blasts of his own. This leaves Stormfront incapacitated in gory detail: severed limbs, face burnt half-off, and muttering to herself in German – though seemingly not quite dead. Unfortunately, Ryan wounds his mum in the process of dispatching Stormfront and Becca dies, making Butcher promise to keep her kid safe. Maeve helps out with that right away, as she finally blackmails Homelander into submission with her video of last season’s plane-crash disaster. Homelander relents; he, Queen Maeve, and Starlight form a tense (and, frankly, kind of inexplicable) detente, appearing at a Vought press conference to blame everything on Stormfront, whose charred body is supposedly locked away somewhere. She has some manner of regeneration powers, so don’t expect her to stay out of commission for long.
Hero watch: a super-powered changing of the guard
Despite his theft of documents from the Church of the Collective, A-Train gets their backing for reinstatement into The Seven; they need someone to replace the disgraced and mangled Stormfront. But they don’t need two heroes, so The Deep is left high and dry again, cursing the Church of the Collective and its fixation on the soft drink Fresca.
The week’s biggest question: How much trouble is Hughie in?
With The Seven’s new status quo under the watchful eyes of Maeve and Starlight, Butcher protected from immediate harm, and the Boys going their separate ways, at least temporarily, it seems like the good guys can tick off a rare win, minus the devastating (and sadly comic-book-y) loss of Becca. But last week’s lingering question about the actual perpetrator of the congressional attack finally gets answered when the head of the Church of the Collective goes pop: it’s congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), who has also been leading the legislative charge against Vought. She has her own concealed, lethal superpowers, and Hughie, eager to work on his own within the system, has just signed up to work for her. In other words, it probably won’t be long before the Boys are charging back into another life-or-death mission next season.