Authors: Kenedi, Brianna
As June 3rd and the premiere of The Boys season 3 draws near, fans everywhere grow ever more excited — and terrified. It’s rare that a television show continues to top its own storylines season after season, but Eric Kripke and the rest of the team definitely managed it for season 2 — and the way season 3 has been promoted so far seems to promise more of the same. As the premiere approaches, we thought it’d be pertinent to take a walk down memory lane for a quick refresher of what went on in seasons past. Without further ado, here’s a recap of the major plot points that went down in The Boys season 1.
Our introduction to the world of The Boys is through the eyes of Hughie who traumatically watches his girlfriend, Robin, die at the hands of A-Train, who quite literally runs through her with his super-speed. Things go downhill for Hughie from here when he falls in with Billy Butcher. He’s shockingly good at it, and even gets his very first Supe kill by blowing up Translucent. The boyishly innocent-looking Hughie somehow becomes the gang’s espionage agent. He sneaks into the Capes for Christ events, he gets inside the Vought offices to bug the rooms, and he gets the tech hooked up to spy on Popclaw. It seems Hughie was made for this life (minus the very real moments of panic and PTSD in early episodes).
A happy accident finds him and Annie, AKA Starlight, striking up a friendship that quickly becomes romantic. Hughie plays the double agent, pumping her for information and VIP hookups to get close to Vought’s dirty secrets. Halfway through the season, The Boys discover Compound V, the drug that makes superheroes super. The world has been peddled the belief that Supes are born this way, chosen by God. This discovery sets things in motion to expose the multi-billion dollar company. Of course, the crew gets caught by Vought in the season finale, very nearly dying in the process of exposing the truth.
Now calm in deadly situations, Hughie transforms into a full-fledged member of the group, hellbent on taking down the company. He never loses his strong moral compass, an important part of his character. In the finale, moments after he and Starlight reconcile the fact that he was using her and blew up her life with the discovery of Compound V, he’s trying to save a dying A-Train. It’s a full-circle moment; on the brink of killing the Supe on which he sought revenge, he instead tries to save his life. All in all, Hughie is on the run as a wanted man as the season comes to a close.
Annie (Starlight) begins the season as the newest member of The Seven. She fully believes she’ll be doing good in the world at the highest level, but those expectations are quickly diminished as one of her first encounters is a sexual assault by The Deep. Things only go downhill as she realizes Vought is just a big PR firm; she’s barely ever saving people. Episode 3 sees her get a costume revamp after she saves a woman (without Vought’s approval) from getting raped. The public loves her for it and her new costume is… well let’s just say it’s barely more than a bathing suit. Starlight hates it and we can’t blame her. She finally cracks at the Capes for Christ event, telling the world during her speech that she was assaulted and her life is nothing like she expected. Through all this, she’s had Hughie — or so she thought until his dealings with Butcher are revealed. She chooses to forgive him (though it takes a while) when he explains what they’ve been doing to expose Vought.
Starlight gets her worldview turned upside down with this news. Realizing she’s part of an organization that’s been pumping babies full of illegal drugs for years, she comes around to Hughie’s point of view and shows up to save him and The Boys (minus Butcher) when they are arrested in the finale.
Billy Butcher enters the scene shortly after Robin’s death, offering Hughie the revenge he rightly deserves. Butcher has his own past with crime and an unparalleled hatred for Supes. He’ll stop at nothing to bring down Homelander, who we discover is responsible for his wife’s death. He raped her before she disappeared, and Butcher assumes he either killed her or she killed herself following the attack. Throughout the season, Butcher is willing to lie, cheat, and even betray his friends (to a degree) in the name of revenge. As the leader of the group, he’s the glue holding everything together and the one calling the shots. Does everyone always follow those calls? Well, no.
Things take a turn as it’s revealed Butcher has a history with CIA director Susan Raynor, who he takes Compound V to once they uncover the truth of the drug. Though it costs him a shot at Homelander, he trades the information they have on Vought in exchange for keeping The Boys’ families safe. His opportunity to finally face Homelander happens in the finale when he realizes Homelander’s weakness must be Stillwell. He straps her up with explosives while he and Homelander have a chat about Becca. Before Butcher can make good on that threat to take what Homelander loves, Homelander actually kills Stillwell himself. Unable to let the chance to blow up Homelander pass (even if it won’t kill him) Butcher pulls the trigger.
The big season finale twist is Butcher waking up in the front yard of Becca’s house where she and her now 8-year-old son, Ryan, live.
Marvin Milk (“Mother’s Milk”) is a complex character who was able to leave the life he lead with Butcher behind for a short period. Butcher finds him again as a successful employee at a correctional facility when he drags him back into the group with the information that they killed Translucent. M.M. rejoins reluctantly with the condition that Frenchie isn’t back. Spoiler: he is. The two have it out upon first reuniting. M.M. is effectively yanked out of his happy home life with Monique and his daughter, risking it all to once again try and bring justice to Supes and Vought. M.M. seemingly loses everything when Vought and The Seven discover that The Boys are on to them and they’re hunted as wanted criminals.
Unlike Butcher, M.M. has a conscience and isn’t afraid to draw the line in their acts when necessary. The season ends with he and the gang on the run from Vought.
Kimiko (AKA “The Female”) is introduced in season 1 as a terrifying character. The Boys find her locked in a cage in a basement under heavy security, assuming she’s a victim. Frenchie frees her and she quickly murders everyone in sight. Turns out she’s a Supe — an especially lethal one at that. With her free, The Boys set about tracking her down, feeling responsible for setting her loose. Frenchie is able to win her trust slowly. Though she can’t speak, M.M. takes her to another low-level Supe who can read minds. There, it’s revealed that she was kidnapped as a child and forced into fighting for the terrorist organization the Shining Light Liberation Army. At some point, she was dosed with Compound V and her powers were born. Now, she only wants to be reunited with her brother who was also forced into the army.
Slowly, Kimiko becomes less afraid of those around her and begins to trust everyone in the group. She saves everyone’s lives at least once, one of the best parts being breaking A-Trains leg so badly the bone is clean out of the skin. By the end of the season, she’s also been captured by Vought and is being held captive away from The Boys thanks to her status as a Supe “terrorist”.
The majority of Frenchie’s arc this season lies in him establishing a connection with Kimiko that will transcend to season 2. Of course, we learn a bit about his prior involvement with Butcher, M.M., and the Mallory project, but the main transformation we see is the building of trust between these two. While Frenchie may be an extreme drug dealer, he also has a heart of gold, which he demonstrates over and over as he tries to help Kimiko escape her circumstances and find her way home. His gentle way with her enables them to establish a tenuous trust, which eventually aligns Kimiko to their side.
The Deep’s storyline is perhaps the most chaotic in the series (which is saying something) as the show’s resident comic relief. However, his story didn’t start off so comical. The Deep gives us one of the first glimpses into the dark behavior of Supes with him sexually coercing Starlight, who’s still naively riding the high of being named to The Seven.
The Deep paints himself as a big man on campus to Starlight, but as the season progresses, we find out that it’s quite the opposite. Most members of The Seven — and the higher-ups at Vought in general — see Deep as a joke hire. He suffers from terrible self-esteem issues, which we begin to see in his session with his therapist, due to people not taking him seriously within the company.
To prove that he can do something worthwhile, Deep attempts a heist to free a captive dolphin from the despicable Oceanland. During the escape, the unsecured dolphin flies out the windshield after an abrupt stop during a car chase and is promptly run over by a mack truck, starting Deep’s downward spiral. Shortly after, he lands in hot water after Starlight comes out about her sexual assault. He’s subsequently shipped off to Sandusky, Ohio where there’s next to no crime and he continues to face his shortcomings (ex: tries to save lobster from a store, lobster subsequently killed). The major last straw is a cruel twist of karma when The Deep is sexually assaulted by a girl who gets a little too up close and personal with his gills that he usually keeps hidden on account of self-esteem issues. After all of this, when his Sandusky handler tells him that he hasn’t been called back up to The Seven, The Deep really goes off the deep end, shaving his head in the mirror in a fit of rage and despair.
As one of the longest-standing members of The Seven, Queen Maeve’s journey in season 1 mainly revolved around digging beneath her jaded veneer. Constantly under the pressure of Homelander’s watchful, possessive eye — they used to date and now he really won’t let her go –, Maeve has given up on trying to fight the injustice that goes on in The Seven. This disappoints Starlight who Maeve tries to help find her way (through a lot of insults and jaded advice). The turning point for Maeve’s indifference is the stomach-churning Flight 37 incident. After Homelander and Maeve are dispatched to recover the terrorist-hijacked plane in a ploy to get Supes into the military, Maeve is traumatized after Homelander accidentally eyeball-lasers his way through the plane’s console and forces her to abandon the plane full of people. He plays it off to the media as an incident that they could have stopped if they were there, but Maeve knows the truth, and it haunts her.
When you travel back to the beginning of season 1, you’re blissfully unaware of exactly how sociopathic Homelander is — if only it could stay that way. As the season progresses, the audience incrementally discovers how unhinged America’s favorite Supe is. From plunging his fist into the chest of a criminal for sh*ts and giggles to the horrendous abandoning of the hijacked Transoceanic Flight 37 to redistributing Compound V, creating Super-Terrorists to encourage Supes’ incorporation into the U.S. Armed Forces — there was a lot to gawk at in utter disbelief.
In addition to learning just how deep Homelander’s emotional disturbances go, we also get some backstory. Raised in a lab with no parental figures, real attachments, or comfort objects sans one baby blanket, it’s no wonder he has emotional regulation issues. And forming such an unhealthy attachment to Madelyn Stillwell (and jealousy of her baby) — can someone say Oedipus complex?
You also can’t forget the bomb dropped at the end of the season: Homelander has a son with Becca, Butcher’s long-lost wife who catalyzed his whole mission for revenge after Homelander raped her and she subsequently disappeared. As it wasn’t supposed to be possible for him to reproduce, the higher-ups at Vought attempted to hide this. But after paying a visit to one of the scientists that oversaw his upbringing, Jonah Vogelbaum, he learned the truth. This knowledge catalyzed Homelander killing Stillwell for keeping it from him. After Butcher blows up Stillwell’s house in a last-ditch effort for vengeance, he wakes up at Becca’s house after Homelander flies him there.
One word to describe A-Train throughout the entirety of this season? Tweaking. The speedy Supe picked up a Compound V addiction to maintain his speed sometime before season 1. This catalyzes the events of the show when he runs through Robin, Hughie’s girlfriend, while high right in front of him on a mission. This brings Butcher into Hughie’s life and kicks off… well, everything. Along the way, we learn A-Train’s involvement with Compound V extends past its use, as he ran shipments of it down for Kimiko’s captives to inject her with it in order to pilot creating the Super Terrorists Vought needed to push their Supe military agenda forward.
This involvement with Compound V eventually causes him to kill his secret Supe girlfriend Popclaw, who had a similar substance abuse issue and got tangled up with the likes of Butcher and The Boys after crushing a man’s skull while literally riding his face to death while high. This is A-Train’s downfall, as he falls deeper into addiction and eventually suffers a heart attack in the midst of busting Starlight helping the wanted Hughie and his team escape. Ever the kind, soft-hearted man of morals, Hughie convinces Annie to save him as they escape.
If you thought season 1 was crazy, hold on to your hats, because season 2 packed even more of a punch. To make sure you’re caught up, be sure to head on over and check out our character by character recap of season 2!