We all love superheroes, right? The Boys season one is, now streaming on Amazon Prime, this is our review. It presents an inverted – and really perverted – take on the traditional superhero story.
I mean, think about it. They fight and defeat bad guys! Defend innocent people! They give the common man something to believe in! They have superpowers and can do things that no one else can, and give people something to look up to and aspire to in life.
Now imagine all that, but just the total opposite.
What if superheroes were actually self-involved narcissists who cared more about their brand and public opinion than on the true content of their character? What if marketing numbers mattered more to superheroes than actually fighting crime? And what if superheroes weren’t bastions of greatness but instead corporate shills?
And most importantly: what if superheroes were, like, assholes?
If they were, who would keep them in check?
SPOILERS: Welcome to the first season review of The Boys. And before we go any further, this part should be obvious but massive spoilers lay ahead!
The Boys Season 1: What’s it all about?
In short, The Boys is based on the DC comic series of the same name. It doesn’t take a straightforward superhero story like so many others. The show takes a darker and more satirical look at what being a superhero would look like. If being a superhero was less “saving the world” and more “big business.” And boy does the satire cut deep.
The show starts off with a (very literal) bang, as mild-mannered Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend Robin is killed by a superhero named A-Train. A-Train is a member of the superhero group called The Seven, which is essentially the elite group of the greatest superheroes in America. As one might surmise, getting back at this elite group of superheroes would be nearly impossible. Not only are they literal superheroes with superpowers, but they are also protected by a group of lawyers, handlers, businessmen, and – especially – the shadowy Vought corporation.
But that doesn’t stop Hughie from trying, especially when he meets the enigmatic and nasty Billy Butcher. Butcher has an ax to grind against The Seven, much like Hughie does, but we don’t find out why early on. Instead, Butcher shows Hughie the seamy underworld of superheroes. He shows them the club where superheroes go to do drugs and party, and shows Hughie footage of A-Train laughing about Robin’s murder. Butcher convinces Hughie to plant a bug in Seven Tower to spy on the superhero team. This plan goes awry when one of the superheroes – Translucent – finds the bug and assaults both Hughie and Butcher before they subdue him. The two then team up with Butcher’s old friends Frenchie and Mother’s Milk (MM) to form The Boys, who keep Translucent captive until they ultimately kill him with a C4 explosive.
As all this is happening, we also follow the story of the newest superhero in The Seven named Starlight, aka Annie January. Starlight is a wide-eyed girl from the Midwest who gets inducted into The Seven after the retirement of Lamplighter. However, her optimism is quickly dashed when she is sexually assaulted by The Deep. Since she is new and can’t speak out yet, she is forced to be silent on this assault for a long time.
The Deep’s actions are far from unique for The Seven. Every member of the group is either overtly reprehensible (The Deep), conflicted and depressed (Queen Maeve), a self-important narcissist (A-Train), or some combination. The only one who seems above everything early on is the group leader: Homelander. Homelander is a representation of all that is good and pure about American values and wholesomeness…until he turns at the end of episode one by blowing up the mayor of Baltimore’s plane, killing him, his son, and everyone else on board.
As season one progresses, two main stories begin to drive the plot. The first is the budding relationship of Starlight and Hughie. The two of them begin as simply friends, then progress to reluctant lovers. After that, Starlight turns on the group and helps Hughie and The Boys attempt to take The Seven down from within. The second major is story is that of Compound V. Compound V is a mysterious substance that we learn is the fuel behind superheroes’ “origin stories.” Instead of being born superheroes as could be seen as “God’s will,” superheroes are corporate creations in federally funded labs. Compound V is yet another example in The Boys that there is nothing pure or natural about superheroes. It’s only about the bottom line and corporate greed.
There is, of course, more to the story of The Boys season one than what I’ve laid out here in this review. But rather than summarize every little point, I want to talk about why exactly this show is so good…
The Boys Season 1: What’s good about it?
In previous pieces that I’ve written for this site. I’ve taken a look at several movies that were really good – or even great – but could have been better. One of them was The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In that review, I made a point that trying to shoehorn “name actors” that really didn’t fit (see: Wood, Elijah) for the sake of drawing mainstream attention ended up hurting the overall movie. The story sold itself. People would have come to see the LOTR trilogy regardless of who was in it.
The Boys, under the direction of Amazon Prime, took my advice (well obviously they didn’t take my advice) and ran with it. They took a strong story with a cult following and cast the best people to fit the roles. And do they ever fit the roles?
Probably the biggest “star” of the cast is Karl Urban, who is well-known in sci-fi and fantasy circles but not exactly a household name. He was a featured player in the aforementioned Lord of the Rings movies and had a starring role in movies like Doom. Most of the other actors have been in movies and TV show but none are instantly recognizable. In fact, the most famous cast member is Elizabeth Shue (who stars as The Seven’s manipulative handler). Shue was a big star in the 1980s and early-1990s but has faded in recent years. A larger, more contemporary star shows up in Season 2, but I will get to that later.
But really, the best thing about The Boys is the way they masterfully create the characters. There are no stock heroes or villains in this series. Every character has layers that make him or her both sympathetic and terrible. A-Train may be an unfeeling narcissist who murdered Hughie’s girlfriend, that is true. Yet, he is driven by the need to be the fastest man alive. It is all he has, and he knows that without this designation he will be useless to the Vought corporation and will be tossed aside. The Deep, while a rapist and all around sleazeball, is clearly affected by the fact that he is the butt of all The Seven’s jokes and plays the macho man to make up for it.
And then there’s Homelander. Homelander is one of the most gleefully twisted characters in recent TV, and will be the subject of an article all his own. But that is for a later time.
The Boys Season 1: What could have been improved?
Umm…there could have been more of it?
But in all seriousness, this series is nearly perfect. Perhaps the show could be a little less gratuitous in its over-the-top violence. Perhaps Hughie could be less of a wishy-washy nerd who goes back and forth on what he wants to do. For a show that borders on being Shakespearean, Hughie does a great job of being a Hamlet-esque lead. He keeps going back and forth on what he wants to do. More often than not, it almost costs The Boys dearly in the end.
Other than that? I don’t have much to complain about here. Maybe a few pacing issues could be addressed. Some of the early scenes with Kimiko, a mercenary who teams up with The Boys and becomes something of a love interest to Frenchie, could be shortened. But nothing about this season ever made me want to stop watching.
The Boys Season 1: a summary and look ahead?
As noted above, the only real nitpicks are Hughie’s occasional indecisiveness and occasional pacing issues. But other than that, the season is nearly flawless.
Stay tuned for my next review, where I take a look at Season 2 of The Boys, where the stakes most definitely get raised.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of The Boys Season One. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read about superhero movies to get excited about in 2021 HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Boys HERE.
10 Years Of Game Of Thrones
Since it first aired on 17 April 2011, Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of many fans from start to finish. But, after the lacklustre and rushed ending of this epic fantasy series in 2019, we find ourselves wondering: has its legacy been completely ruined? After 10 years is it worth looking again at the legacy of Game of Thrones? After all, like the fallen Ned Stark once said: “some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word”.
Have Game of Thrones fan’s been hit too hard by the hurried and unjust ending? Are there storylines and characters within the eight seasons that make up for the less than favourable ending?
After looking back through the seasons, below are what we think are some of the best and most redeeming moments and characters within the series. These could be the reason why fans stay loyal to Game of Thrones and even get excited about future prequels or sequels. We already have next year’s Game of Thrones – House of Dragons series to expect.
WARNING: Only read on if you have watched the entire series as there are spoilers.
Sansa Stark becomes Queen of the North
We ended the series with Winterfell once again being led by a member of the House of Stark. Queen Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who regained The North as an independent Kingdom. This decision from the writers is easily the most satisfying conclusion to come out of the finale. And easily one of the best beginning to end character arcs in all Game of Thrones.
Starting out as quite an unfavourable character and the least liked Stark of the pack, mainly due to her spoiled and brattish behaviour. Sansa ended up being the character we were all rooting for. Especially when it came to regaining the north and standing her ground with Daenerys Targaryen – “What about the North”.
But it wasn’t an easy road for her to get to that point. She had to endure a lot of horrific scenes, storylines, and marriages which shaped her character from a little bird to a Queen. But as Sansa said herself, whilst talking to The Hound/Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), “Without Little Finger and Ramsey and the rest I would have stayed a little bird all my life”. We’re glad she didn’t stay a little bird and became the Queen the North.
Arya Stark kills the Night King
When it came to the death of the Night King there were only a handful of characters who could do the deed. But, if you were anything like us, we had our money firmly on Jon Snow (Kit Harington). But, it was his kick-ass little sister, Arya Stark (Masie Williams), that ended the long night. With a fatal blow to the Night King’s heart with her Valyrian Steel Dagger.
In this episode, there was hardly any dialogue, especially in the last 30 minutes, which made the whole cinematography of the final scenes so much more poignant. From the camera angles to the incredible score which was accompanied only by sound effects and the odd fighting shout of pain. It left us in suspense and just as we thought all hope was lost, as the Night King approached Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and fans started to believe that Game of Thrones was going to take another huge twist, winter was here to stay. Out came our hero from the dark, the epic shot where Arya was flying through the air will always be one of our all-time favourites.
The night before winter came
Another part of the final series that I think deserves some props, was episode two (mainly the last 30ish minutes). This episode was the calm before the storm. But it was also very well done, from this point, as a viewer we didn’t really know who was going to survive and who was going to die. Something that we were never sure with when watching Game of Thrones.
We managed to get some nice send-off scenes for most of the characters which kept the suspense alive. We saw Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) meet again, Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) finally ‘get together’ but most notably there was a comical and heart-warming meeting by the fire with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolin Christie), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).
There were jokes, Brienne got knighted and we even got a song from Podrick. Which was made into a satisfying montage for other characters around Winterfell as well.
Arya Stark and the house of Frey
The demise of the House of Frey was indeed a good and a well-justified one. Positioned over the last episode of season six and the first episode of season seven. Arya Stark used her new newly found face-swapping abilities to first bamboozle Walder Frey (David Bradley) into eating a pie. Food made from his sons and then again to become Frey to poison the rest of the house.
This was the revenge we wanted for the fallen Starks of The Red Wedding and Arya was just the person to serve it! Because the revenge plot was separated between the two seasons it almost confused us fans. When we started to watch season seven and saw that Walder Fray was still alive the quick-minded ones of us straight away realised what was happening. Yet, there was a handful of us who looked just as confused at Frey’s wife/daughter who was standing next to him. That was until Arya took Walder Frey’s face off.
Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor
Another example where the series utilises an amazing music score is in the last episode of season 10. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) finally goes all out with her vindictive evilness and blows up the Sept of Baelor. With her daughter in law Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and a host of other people she didn’t like, locked inside.
The whole scene lasts about eight minutes and also includes Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), having his tendons slit by one of Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) little birds, so he couldn’t stop the destruction which was about to happen. There was also the violent demise of Pycelle (Julian Glover), once again by Lord Varys’s little birds. Which was orchestrated by the crafty Qyburn (Anton Lesser).
Whilst this is happening a very smug Cersei watches over the chaos, with a glass of red. But, one thing Cersei didn’t account for was after the acknowledgement of his new bride’s murder, her son, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) walked himself out of the window to his death.
Battle of the B**tards
Most of the battle scenes in Game of Thrones are pretty epic, but The Battle of the B**tards was by far one of the best. Accompanied by a killer soundtrack and great sound effects this battle was both jaw-dropping and breathtaking.
From the moment Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) was killed by Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to the moment Sansa sets Bolton’s dogs on him, there was action scene after action scene that captivated all of us and also gave us the Winterfell redemption story we needed. The death of Ramsey Bolton was also the most satisfying death since that of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson).
In this section of high intercity scenes, we get to see Little Finger/ Lord Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen) do something useful for once by bringing the Vale Knights of House Arryn to save Jon Snow from dying… for a second time.
Daenerys Targaryen and the unsullied
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was a fan favourite from her first scene. But the admiration for her character grew and grew throughout the seasons. One of the most defining moments was when she visits Astapor on the search for an army to aid her in reclaiming the throne.
After meeting the hostile and pig-headed Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand), Master of Astapor, Slaver and Unsullied overseer, who taunts Daenerys, believing she didn’t know how to speak Valyrian, he agrees to sell her all 8,000 Unsullied members for one of her dragons.
As most of their communications were through his servant Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) he believed Daenerys didn’t hear all the things he was saying. Which made the end scene so much more satisfying. Once the exchange is done, she has the Unsullied whip in hand and Krazny is trying to hold on to the dragon on a chain. She speaks to the Unsullied in clear Valyrian and finally tells Krazny who she is – Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen the blood of old Valyrian.
The moment she tells the Unsullied to slay the masters and uttered the word Dracarys, will forever be the day when we truly started to see how badass she really is!
The red wedding
As horrendous as it is to watch it’s clear that the Red Wedding is still a highlight of season three and indeed the series.
Yes, we already knew by now that anything could happen in Game of Thrones. And blood and gore was a regular occurrence. But this scene took things to a new level with a blood bath no one saw coming… Not even King of the North Rob Stark.
This heart-stopping 10 minutes of cushion grabbing TV, not only saw the death of two of the most loved Starks Rob and Catelyn Stark but also the death of Rob’s wife and unborn child. As well as the betrayal of Roose Bolton a supposed friend of the Starks (Michael McElhatton) and the house of Frey.
This scene cemented for us that no one can predict what is going to happen when you play the Game of Thrones. You win or You Die, there is no middle ground.
The two most sassy characters
When it comes to Game of Thrones, I think we can all agree that the one thing they got right, time and time again was the casting. And this never rang truer than with Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). They didn’t have the biggest parts within the series, but boy, did they make their presence known. It got to the point where we were just waiting for their scenes to see what would come out of their mouths next.
Who’s the most impressive pre-teen in the whole of Westeros? That’s right Lyanna Mormont. Even at 10 years old I wouldn’t mess with her. Through the whole three seasons she was in, she demanded and captivated the audience. She said it how it was, and she wasn’t scared of a single thing. She came in like a warrior, back chatting Jon Snow and Sansa and acting like a total boss. Finally, she went out like a warrior taking a giant walker down with her.
The original, potty-mouthed grandmother Olenna Tyrell had line after line of roasting stingers. No one was safe from her sharp-tongued antics. But the one person that was firmly on her radar was Cersei Lannister. Especially after Cersei killed her family in the sept. In true Olenna style, even after she had been fatally poisoned, she still had the last word, admitting to Jamie Lannister that it was her that killed his and Cersei’s son, King Joffrey Baratheon.
There you have it, some of our favourites and redeeming scenes from Game of Thrones after 10 years, what do you think? What are your favourite scenes or storylines? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our seven lost plot threads from Game of Thrones HERE.
Read iMDB information on Game of Thrones HERE.
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