The following contains spoilers for The boys season 2 finale.
The Boys’ second season has featured everything from some long-awaited superhero faceoffs and multiple exploding heads to literal Nazis and almost everything in between. The season 2 finale “What I Know” wraps up a surprising amount of plot in a single installment, as Stormfront finally gets her comeuppance, Butcher and Becca attempt to rescue a kidnapped Ryan, and Starlight finally gets the evidence that could bring down Vought. That none of these plots turn out the way most of us expected shouldn’t be surprising at this point, and yet…
Here’s a rundown of how everything wrapped up – or didn’t – and what we think it all might mean for The Boys season 3.
Stormfront’s Past is Exposed
The finale is another great example of the deft way The Boys has used Stormfront’s character to illustrate the insidious nature of white supremacy all season long – her explanation of the false idea of “white genocide” is particularly chilling – culminating in her declaration that a lot of people actually like what she has to say, and what they’re really afraid of is the word “Nazi”.
However, thanks to some sleuthing by Hughie and Starlight – with an important assist from A-Train – Stormfront is finally publicly exposed as the monster we’ve known her to be since Season 2’s second episode. Photos of Stormfront’s wedding to original founder Frederick Vought are leaked to the press, complete with giant swastika and photos with notorious figures from Hitler’s regime like Henrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels.
The fact that the same kind of memes and social videos that facilitated her rise are precisely what help bring her down is just the icing on the cake of her comeuppance. Yet, “What I Know” doesn’t really do much in the way of interrogating Homelander’s apparent support of her ideals and/or plans for a superior race of supes, instead choosing to make his motivation primarily about the gaping emotional void inside himself rather than his thoughts on race. Maybe that’s for the best, in the end, but it’s a plot point that would be worth revisiting in season 3.
A-Train Teams Up with Starlight
After eavesdropping on Stan Edgar and Alastair Adana, A-Train learns that the reason he’s been pushed out of the Seven is because Stormfront is a Nazi and virulent racist. Despite his previous beef with Starlight and Hughie (and, you know, the fact that he killed Hughie’s girlfriend in season 1), A-Train deliberately seeks the duo out to pass along a folder of information he’s stolen from the Church of the Collective’s apparently very extensive secret document database.
Though A-Train insists no one can know he played a part in leaking this material that will drive his rival out of his former superhero team, his willingness to work with someone he vowed to kill just a few short episodes to go certainly seems to indicate that he and Starlight could be uneasy allies going forward.
Butcher Makes a Deal
Billy Butcher’s goal for most of The Boys has been fairly straightforward – find out what happened to his wife. After discovering she was still alive that goal shifted to reuniting with her. But no matter what, Becca was always the foremost thing in Butcher’s mind. This is why it isn’t surprising that Billy both vows to help Becca rescue her son from Homelander’s clutches and immediately promises to turn Ryan over to Vought as long as they separate him from his mother. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to ensure that he can “get Becca back” without also having to be involved in her son’s life (see also: “Nothing Like It In the World”). But it is the first time he apparently realizes that what he’s been doing is wrong.
In the end, Butcher changes his mind, luring Vought to Homelander’s cabin to give Becca and Ryan time to escape and insisting that he can’t come with them because he can’t be trusted around the boy. It’s perhaps the first selfless decision we’ve ever actually seen Butcher make, and it’s unexpectedly moving, as is his decision to confess his deal in an attempt to get Becca to leave without him.
The Girls Get It Done
Though Maeve initially rebuffs Starlight’s request to turn on – and testify against – Homelander, the warrior queen still shows up when it counts, appearing out of nowhere to deck Stormfront, rescue Starlight and her friends, and ultimately blackmail Homelander into leaving them all alone.
The “Girls Get It Done” marketing ploy that has infused much of The Boys season 2 has meant a lot of lip service to the idea of female empowerment, but not much backing it up with action. (Though Starlight’s arc has seen her reclaiming her own voice and working against Vought from within.) In the finale, we finally get to see the series’ women come together in a meaningful way – and beat the crap out of a Nazi at the same time.
The sequence in which Maeve, Starlight, and Kimiko team up to beat down Stormfront is both immensely fun and intensely satisfying, and a sign that Maeve definitely isn’t the lost cause that some of her Seven teammates might be.
Ryan Accidentally Kills Becca
Unfortunately, Becca Butcher is the sort of female character who generally exists in the world of The Boys to provide narrative and emotional motivation for the men around her. The show spends comparatively little time exploring how she felt about either being violated by Homelander or faking her own death, ultimately using her as an emotional lodestone for both her husband and her son.
Desperate to save his mother from Stormfront’s clutches, Ryan’s Homelander-esque super abilities finally activate and he blasts both women with his laser eyes. Stormfront is badly injured, but Becca’s wounds are fatal because there was probably never any future for this character that didn’t include a tragic death. She spends her final moments begging Butcher to protect Ryan and insisting that it’s not his fault she’s dying. In short: That kid is going to need so much therapy.
Homelander Chooses Himself
After Becca’s death, Butcher and Homelander face off over the child. But before Homelander can kill Billy, Maeve arrives and threatens her Seven colleague with the video footage of him leaving a plane full of people to die last season.
Maeve’s terms are: Let Ryan go, stop hunting Starlight, and leave Maeve and Elena alone, or she’ll release the footage to the press. Homelander, predictably, threatens to destroy everything she cares about, but Maeve says that’s fine, as long as she gets to watch the entire world realize he’s a monster first. (Which honestly, would be pretty fun.) It’s the threat of the public condemnation – and the loss of the cult-like worship he currently enjoys – that finally makes Homelander stand down. This isn’t much of a surprise – the giant emotional void in his soul was never going to be filled by a single child that he never actually wanted that much in the first place.
Victoria Neuman’s Secret
The final moments of “What I Know” contain one last surprise – Congresswoman Victoria Neuman, a vocal opponent of Vought and a blood-smeared bystander in the supervillain attack on Congress, is actually a supe herself. And, since her ability allows her to make people’s heads explode, she’s apparently behind the attack on her own hearing.
The episode doesn’t reveal much about her motivation – except power, and more of it – but her decision to murder Chruch of the Collective leader Adana rather than owe him a favor for the information he provided doesn’t bode well for anyone. Especially poor do-gooder Hughie, who’s decided to take a job with her campaign.
The season 2 finale actually manages to tie up quite a few loose story ends, so much so that it’s hard to predict exactly what might happen when The Boys returns for a third season.
Though Stormfront is left badly burned and missing multiple limbs, she’s somehow still alive enough to be blamed for the attack on Congress and used as a scapegoat for all the problems at Vought and with Compound V. Homelander vows she’ll be punished and welcomes Starlight back to The Seven, clearing her name and restoring her original superhero costume in the process. (Thank goodness.)
Starlight and Hughie finally admit what we all knew – that they’re both crazy about each other – and get back together officially. After a season’s worth of the two of them struggling to trust one another again, it’s nice to get to see someone on The Boys get what feels like a legitimate happy ending and these two deserve it more than most. If Vought doesn’t put some Starlight + Hughie forever merch on the market, they’re really missing a trick.
After almost sacrificing himself for Ryan, Butcher turns the boy over to Malory and her CIA team, despite his concerns over whether it’s possible for him to grow up to be better than his father. (“Becca thought so,” he says, and leaves it at that.) With Ryan in what appears to be child superhero witness protection, it’s unclear where Butcher’s story goes from here. And with Mother’s Milk finally returning to his family, Frenchie and Kimiko heading off to do some dancing on their own, and Hughie turning to politics as a legitimate way to fight Vought, it seems as though The Boys are going to spend some time apart. But with Malory’s declaration that she has some off the books cash to fund a group meant to help keep an eye on the supes…it seems unlikely they’ll stay away from each other for long.