Friday, October 9, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Boys' - The Boys and Their Allies Face Off Against Homelander and Stormfront to Save Ryan in 'What I Know'

Amazon's The Boys - Episode 2.08 "What I Know"

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In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of Amazon's The Boys.

"What I Know" was written by Rebecca Sonnenshine and directed by Alex Graves

Everyone is exhausted. Every day seems to offer some new tragedy that is absolutely unbearable on top of everything else that is going on. And yet, the public can't be defeated. They can't give up and just allow the corruption to win. That's what the people in power want. Even when exposed as corrupt, they have to be held accountable by someone. It's important for people to speak their minds and have the ability to speak up against injustice. Being silent allows even more tragedy to occur. It allows people to grow numb to the pain. It makes it seem reasonable to arm teachers and expect children to view everything as a potential weapon they can use to defend themselves when the worst inevitably happens. It's agonizing to live in that mindset every single day. People need the perspective to understand that this is not normal. Over time though, that grows harder and harder to do. It makes it seem like an uphill battle to actually change anything. The Boys are just a small team trying to expose Homelander as a monster. But he may be too powerful to ever fall. Stormfront experiences that quick downfall here. In fact, the show once again uses a character death as a scapegoat for every single corrupt and criminal action that has taken place. Vought survives everything despite so much information suddenly becoming public. That happens in such a bizarre way too. A-Train gives Annie and Hughie the evidence they need because he listens in on a conversation between Edgar and Alistair. He just happens to be within the organization that has the dirty secrets of so many celebrities. The same bad fortune could happen to him or the Deep should they ever speak out against the Church of the Collective. However, A-Train was never as devoted as his fellow hero was. In fact, this story never truly came together. That's what makes it baffling that it is the reason why so much comes toppling down for Stormfront. She is filled with anger and rage. She still manages to make the argument that it is all fake. People are using her image to target her. That isn't fair. Her beliefs are popular. The association to Nazism makes them toxic. That comparison shouldn't be necessary. For some, it is though. In order for someone to believe that Stormfront is dangerous, they literally have to see her in a picture next to Hitler. It's disgusting. This is still part of the recent past though. The nationalism that almost destroyed the world can't be forgotten. Stormfront has been a powerful adversary this entire season. She tries to influence minds to her agenda. She even does so here with Ryan. He is the most impressionable. He has only known one life. He is quickly taken away from that which leads to an immediate sense of tragedy. His father overwhelms him with grand ideas of what he is capable of. Being a superhero means proudly displaying one's powers all the time. Ryan is untrained. That creates tragedy where Becca is caught in the crossfire.

Becca and Stormfront die. Butcher has to step up to care for Ryan. He has to encourage this young soul and reassure him that it wasn't his fault. He was trying to protect his mother. But Butcher isn't going to be a part of Ryan's life. He sends him off in hiding with Mallory. They hope for the best. But the only maternal figure he has ever known is gone. That will have far-reaching consequences even though he will carry around a piece of her. Butcher is devastated. He puts on a front of being ruthless. He is willing to do whatever it takes to take down those with powers. He only succeeds here because he has to rely on others seeing the light and calling out injustice. It takes real courage for Maeve to fight alongside Annie and Kimiko. It's only because they all work together that Stormfront is defeated. That showcases how it's not good enough to simply sit on the sidelines being a passive observer to what is going on in the world. Maeve makes herself known as an ally only in moments. She is still afraid of the potential costs to her. She is tired and doesn't want to change the status quo. She has accepted it despite the despair it has brought to her relationship with Elena. She is overwhelmed by the misery. But she still delivers the threat against Homelander. That is the only way to stop him from committing more harm. It underlines how he still needs praise and adoration. He wasn't completely persuaded to Stormfront's white nationalism. He spoke the words but was always incredibly selfish. That allows him to survive and even continue being seen as a trusted voice. He is continually propping himself up as being able to do whatever he wants. Many more in the ensemble are free though. The Boys each have the individual choice of what their futures look like. They could join the unofficial team working with Congresswoman Neuman's new task force to oversee superheroes. Or they could escape to the peace of being with their families. Of course, the final twist reveals that Neuman is the one who has caused so many heads to explode this season. She obviously delights in the chaos as well. She wields power in a different way. She is working from the inside. She is still accumulating influence. That is precarious. It means that the public still has to hold the powerful accountable no matter who they are. Our humanity can't get lost in the process though. Hughie holds onto that with Annie while acknowledging the need for distance from the Boys. That is healthy and everyone should respect that too despite how crazy and messed up the world still is. There is more than one way to make a difference. That hope is uplifting even though the audience knows it's probably fleeting because of just how all-consuming the chaos is in this particular world.