'The Boys' season finale even had its villain cheering. Here's how they pulled it off
I love you, goodbye: Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) makes the hardest choice of his life in the finale of the second season of "The Boys". (Amazon Studios)
The following contains spoilers from the season two finale of "The Boys".
After a second season, "The Boys" stars Aya Cash, Karen Fukuhara, Antony Starr and Karl Urban as well as showrunner Eric Kripke sat down with The Times to sift through the ruins of the epic finale.
Stormfront (Aya Cash) used her social media flair to normalize her views on white supremacists. (Jasper Savage / Amazon Studios)
The most noticeable addition to season 2 was one that even fans didn't see coming: the white supremacist superhero Stormfront went from the Aryan, Thor-esque Bruiser of the comics to a social media-savvy, petite woman played by Aya Cash. It had perhaps the best line of the season: "People like what I say; they just don't like the word 'Nazi'."
Eric Kripke: I wanted to set my goal on white supremacy and how it mixes with old-right nationalism. It is amazing to me that I get questions like, "Were you concerned about the controversy that a Nazi is supposed to be your bad guy?" Welcome to 2020 where it's suddenly a nervous choice.
Aya Cash: [Eric and I] talked a little bit about people in our world who use social media that way, the kind of cute social media star who uses coded language a lot, dog whistles. Instead of the hatred of the Nazis under the flag that was in the comic. I've listened to a few podcasts - I don't want to mention anything in particular because I don't want to reinforce anyone - but there were some people I listened to to get a feel for this world and this rhetoric.
The all-American heroine Homelander (Antony Starr) 's bond with Stormfront is not deterred by the disclosure of her true nature.
Antony Starr: Well, Homelander is a true narcissist who isn't all that different from certain current political figures. He puts his own feelings in the foreground, above those of others. And the need he has for her replaces everything ... I don't think he's as racist as her, definitely not. He is an equal opportunity hater in that he despises all people equally, regardless of race.
The forecast calls for a flood of kicks and a rain of blows: Stormfront (Aya Cash) has a comeuppance that she expected from the Nazis. (Amazon Studios)
Stormfront, too powerful for any of the female Supers to defeat, couldn't stand fighting three of them - Starlight, Queen Maeve, and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) - at the same time.
Kripke: We wanted to play out the satirical "Girls Get It Done" theme that was in the season but instead of the fake corporate version this was a real one where the girls are like screeching swear words and curbing Stormfront and real people are instead of this fake one , "Strong Is the New Pretty" sanitary dung that Vought sells.
Karen Fukuhara: Eric told me that the fight should be very practical. They are less superpowers; It's a blow. We had a lot of fun doing it. It was also great fun to be on set with a total of four girls. especially Kimiko - she doesn't have many scenes with the women in the cast.
Cash: I too cheer. And I want a job in 2021. Even I say, "Get her."
Fukuhara: If Kimiko [who doesn't speak] laughs a little ... "I'll do something with your Nazi cat." She makes this movement [Fukuhara makes a gesture out of Kimiko's unique sign language]. Amanda [Richer] created all the language for us. There's a movement, it's someone licking someone - I don't know if that's appropriate for [the newspaper], but it's a fun little thing.
Cash: When I did ADR for my "death" I couldn't stop laughing. "That is fine!" We want her to get what comes to her and it's so satisfying. I memorized a whole monologue in German - so much of it made it. ... It is so satisfying to see that it is all burned.
Choice of butcher
Butcher's quest ends tragically in the second season finale of "The Boys". Pictured: Karl Urban as Billy Butcher and Shantel VanSanten as Becca Butcher. (Amazon Studios)
For boy leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the series has taken two emotional, tough turns that he takes in the finale.
Kripke: We wanted Butcher to wrestle with his humanity in season 2. Is he human - represented a bit by Becca and Hughie - or is he a monster - represented by his father? The good side wins ... it shows he has a soul and it comes at a terrible, terrible price. Just because you have a soul doesn't mean it is easy for you. It's easy to be human in good moments. What is hard is being human in the bad.
Karl Urban: Becca's plot and what happens to it gives this season an emotional depth that was badly needed. Full credit for Shantel VanSanten; Her character went through a terrible ordeal this season, and as an actress, she has appeared day in and day out and delivered them in spades. To tell the truth, these scenes were remarkably easy to shoot. If you are lucky enough to experience this a few times in your career where you get the quality of writing that makes the execution seamless. All I really had to do was work with Shantel, look her in the eyes and tell the truth.
Urban names the moment when Butcher realizes he cannot betray Becca by separating her from her son Ryan, one of "pure and absolute love".
Urban: There was something that Eric Kripke pushed me to do in this scene, I didn't really want to go there, but I did - just like Butcher Becca says he can't be part of her life, there's a harshness, almost a brutality about it. He does this to make it easier for her to accept it.
That fight between two natures in Butcher re-emerges when Becca dies, almost damaging Ryan.
Urban: He takes the crowbar and you see the inner monster that is in Butcher. At that moment, this monster is going to do something pretty terrible. Then he sees Homelander and snaps out.
Kripke: Butcher is preparing that for season 3. He has these two sides that are even more intense. He's not someone who knows how to handle those emotions really well, which puts him on a real roller coaster ride in season 3.
Being a hero is damn hard: The most powerful being in the world, Homelander (Antony Starr), goes through a few things in the finale of the second season of "The Boys". (Amazon Studios)
Homelander's last moment in season 2 is when he has an X-rated "me" time on a building.
Starr: This is a moment of sheer weakness, hardship and his raw inability to deal with how he feels ... He is completely alone and emasculated. Powerless. It seems funny on the outside, this particular act in this particular setting, and it's amusing in a visual sense, but I've always seen the tragedy in it from the start. I asked Eric, "Where are we going from here?" And his answer was "Homicidal Maniac ..." which I thought he already was, so god only knows what Eric is going to cook. But I'll enjoy it, I'm sure of it!
Kripke: A fun side note about this rooftop scene is that it was actually shot in season 1. It was the one scene Amazon asked me to do because they felt like it went too far in the show's early days. In [season two finale] we actually had another moment for Homelander at the end, and Amazon gave us the note, "It's probably just a little bit ambiguous. Can you give us something with a little more punch?" "I just have the idea!"
Season 3 and the spinoff in development
After some difficult times, things are looking good for Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) until the end of season two of "The Boys". (Amazon Studios)
Kripke confirmed that Black Noir would return despite losing his battle with an almond delight. He was not optimistic about stormfronts (or "stump fronts" as he called them) possible assembly. He confirmed that CIA agent Mallory would actually turn the comics into the official team.
Kripke: The guys you meet up in season 3 are the recognizable guys from the comic. You work for the CIA; They collect dirt on superheroes. Their offices are in the Flatiron building. I think the fans will love it because it's the guys as they know them. And obviously everything goes to hell from there.
Kimiko and Frenchie seem in a good place ...
Fukuhara: In the final scene where they dance away and go upstairs, we recorded different versions of it. It is romantically lit, these two silhouettes dance. We took one shot with them, just walking and one with the vortex, and I think the vortex did it. I thought it was a sweet moment and we'll see where this takes us. I have no idea.
The as yet unnamed split takes place in a school for superheroes. But X-Men isn't.
Kripke: It's almost a sports show of athletes fighting for the best city in the draft at the end of the year. But we also love the idea that we want to do a spin-off. It's very different from "The Boys". It's a college show and ... we want to deal with real college problems; It's just that superheroes are the main characters. It's our usual "The Boys" thing - sex and brotherhoods and corruption, and everyone worries about the big draft. I think it's going to be a pretty powerful, realistic college show.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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