Hi folks! Welcome to our weekly recap of Amazon’s newest series, The Boys. This episode is called “The Name of the Game” and of course it was a great introduction to the main characters and the setup of the main conflict of the show. Let’s dive right in!
The series starts with a logo of Vought Studios, with a lot of pictures of the superheroes, and with a final pose from the Seven, mocking from its very beginning the MCU and the DCEU, then, we see an ad from Translucent: Invisible Force 2, the newest movie from Vought. Two kids are talking about who would win a fight between the titular hero and The Deep, then, an armored van is seen driving reckless, and about to be run over, they are saved by Queen Maeve. Then Homelander appears, finishes two robbers and turns the moment into a meet and greet, and I already know all I need to know about the world we are in with the first two minutes.
This series puts the superheroes into the real world and practically creates the “Superhero Industry”, where you must pay if you want a hero in your city, or you can buy a celebrity endorsement for your cereal and go watch a movie of your heroes. The most famous are analogues from DC comics, bringing Homelander to a status of almost god. And there’s a little bit of misogyny explored in this scene, because the one who saved the day was Queen Maeve, but the news are driven by the Superman analogue.
2. Chivalry, you know, like not killing people
Hughie is introduced to the show, a technology store clerk with a struggling life, fearful of even asking his boss for a raise, we meet his girlfriend who encourages him to do better, because they could start thinking about moving in togeth-BOOM she’s dead.
And that’s how Hughie’s life is permanently changed forever, A-Train run over her while running faster than sound, and only what’s left of her are her hands, still holding Hughie. As he mourns her loss, we meet his father (the real life, visual inspiration for Hughie, Simon Pegg) who discourages his son to do anything about her death, after a lawyer from Vought tries to, ahem, buy Hughie’s silence, he wants justice, he doesn’t want 45 grand, what he wants is a public apology, not that kind of shit companies do of not admitting guilt, only saying they are sad for his loss. And given that that’s not going to happen, he might think about retaliation, and that’s where the Butcher comes in.
3. Little Miss Hero Pageants
On the other side of the story, we meet Annie January known as Starlight, a hopeful, well-intentioned and naïve girl, who doesn’t even notice that the casting she’s doing is more like a modeling –even porn-like– casting than a superhero introduction. She has a dream of being part of the Seven, of saving people, and she is accepted in the team, finally she will be able to save people, right?
Well, when she gets to New York, she discovers that the real superhero world is a charade. The director of talent relations treats her tape as “great acting” instead of she telling her truth; she is introduced, not to the city but to the shareholders of the company, she meet her hero, the Deep only to be raped by him, when he threatens to denounce her for attacking him unless she gives him an oral, and in the first meeting, they are more worried about piracy than violent crimes.
Annie and Hughie meet at a bench in a park, where she almost tell him that she was raped, and he unknowingly encourages to fight for her dream, not knowing that her dream is to be a superhero.
4. “How many nannies shake their babies?”
Billy Butcher has a great introduction to the series, asking weird questions to Hughie, he offers him to be a part of something better, like keeping her girlfriend’s truth. He takes the boy to a superhero bar, where everyone are being themselves, flying orgies, a Christian superhero getting oral from another man, drugs, alcohol, you name it.Continued below
Butcher reveals that every hero is like that, except maybe for Homelander who doesn’t do drugs or alcohol, he is a saint, a saint that at the end of the episode brings down an airplane with a child inside, that is. They see a tape of A-Train laughing at the death of Robin, which naturally infuriates Hughie and Butcher convinces him of doing something about it: planting a bug in the Seven’s hall of… justice?
He manages to plant the bug, after a tense moment of pause with A-Train, convinced that he is going to get justice, only to be discouraged by Butcher, but turns out Translucent saw everything and he goes after Hughie, which, with the help of the Butcher, kills his first superhero. And Butcher reveals that he is not technically a federal officer.
5. The series’ directing, direction and future
I want to talk about the series’ technical aspects, this episode, naturally takes stories from the comic while creating a more ad hoc story for television. The fact that every episode of the season is named like a storyline, makes me feel confident that they are being respectful to the original material, while adapting it to a new medium.
And this adaptation does great things with the material while criticizing this era, we see corporate-greed, a realistic portrayal of what would happen if we had superheroes on real life –obviously they would become monsters–, and our real life worshiping of superheroes, thanks to the flood of movies coming, the flood of TV shows coming and the excess of branding in everything from bubble baths to peanuts.
Some might argue it was a slow episode for its lack of constant violence, but it does what was expected perfectly. We got introduced to the main characters, we got the reveal that superheroes, even Homelander are corrupt, we got high tension and engaging moments, this episode is directed by Dan Trachtenberg, known for 10 Cloverfield Lane, an incredibly tense and thoughtful movie that doesn’t rely on gratuitous violence to deliver it’s themes, so he was the perfect choice for this episode.
I also liked the use of documentary-style takes, for the more intimate or personal scenes, and the use of slow motion to glorify violence, like Queen Maeve’s destruction of the van, or Robin’s extremely gory death. I feel that executive producers Goldberg and Rogen took what they did great with Preacher and perfected it here. And Amazon is so confident on the success of the show that a second season was already ordered even before they released the first one.
And that’s it for this episode, I couldn’t ask more of it, I wouldn’t dare say it was perfect on the technical or the narrative side, but It was exactly what I needed from the show even when I came in not knowing what to expect, so, perfect for me, I loved it. What did you think of this episode? Leave your comments below and join us next week for our take on episode 102, “Cherry.”
P.S. Matthew Ledger wrote a review of “The Boys” vol. 1 earlier this month, you can read it here. Also take advantage of your Prime subscription and go watch The Tick, it was an amazing show and it’s a shame that we only got two seasons.