By Akshay Prabhakaran

Are you ready for ‘The Boys’ season 3? Here’s a ready reference to recap or start anew THE BOYS

There are a lot of superheroes out there in many universes even multiple universes within some of them. If you are overloaded with all the superheroes out there and are peer pressured into watching THE BOYS season 3 but haven’t watched the first 2 seasons (and don’t intend to) or just need a palate cleanser to catchup with the new universe Amazon “created”, here we go:

Season 1 starts off by playing into the hands of the audience this show has been curated for. If you go, “here’s another studio milking a superhero series/ everyone wants to do Avengers now!”, you will be right. This world is used to celebrity superheroes with the most popular being “The Seven”. While the characters are obviously “inspired” from existing comic book superheroes (Homelander = Superman + Ozymandias, A-train = Flash, Queen Maeve = Wonder Woman, Deep = Aquaman, The translucent = Invisible Woman, Black Noir = Kinda like Black Panther, Lamplighter = combo of green lantern and human torch), the story however turns away from the Justice League and the Avengers towards a combination of: “if Hydra were successful meets The Watchmen”. Basically, superheroes are the bad guys because they enjoy power and fame too much to do questionable things to keep and abuse their power. Being a superhero is like being a drug dealer, there are so many heroes, so the bottom of the chain is bleh, at the top of the chain are your crime bosses who control everything. If you weren’t already overwhelmed there are humans wanting to keep superheroes in check. Mostly motivated by their personal vendetta of losing someone close to them in a superhero accident.

Enter the loveable scared docile nobody caught in the middle of this universe – Hughie Campbell who loses his girlfriend when a drugged-up A-Train accidentally runs through her. Nothing happens to A-Train and Hughie gets upset when the don’t-give-a-damn veteran Billy Butcher(motivated by losing his wife to Homelander) shows up to give him a chance at getting back at the 7 by joining THE BOYS a la SUICIDE SQUAD (without any superpowers). In their quest for revenge THE BOYS apprehend and kill a member of the Seven, Translucent. They learn about a drug called Compound V and recruit a tortured superhero in their anti-superhero squad.

In a perpendicular storyline that will join tracks very soon. Lamplighter is out of The Seven and we find out about Vought, the company behind the famous superheroes who include a new member Annie (Starlight) into their cast. The goody two shoes goes through a girl out of Kansas scenario and is sexually assaulted by The Deep. Through the eyes of Annie, we learn to form the perception of superheroes = bad.

Somewhere in between the two storylines collide with a meet-cute between Annie and Hughie, both members of the opposing entities a la Romeo and Juliet. They encourage each other to do the right thing. Tired of Vought’s control over her outfit and public image, she reveals to the public the perverted actions of The Deep. Compound V seems to be more widespread than previously imagined with The Boys finding out that Vought has been injecting babies with it in hope they will produce superpowers only to later reveal (in season 2) all superheroes in the world are babies who had been injected with Compound V.

The series moves into a more complex storyline with Homelander who has a questionable relationship with Vought executive Madelyn Stillwell, which Billy uses to trap and kill Homelander. We learn that Billy’s wife previously thought to be dead is alive and has a child. Homelander finds out along with us that he is the father. Furious at the betrayal by Madelyn, Homelander enters the trap Billy has set up and kills Madelyn himself while taking Billy to his wife and their 8-year-old son Ryan (who has Homelander’s powers).

The stretched and headless season 2 tries to tie up all open story lines in Season 1 while introducing supposedly powerful new characters. In true Hydra/Captain America format Vought has its origin from Nazi era. The Nazi scientist Fredrick Vought developed compound V made it into a company, used it on his wife (Stormfront = Storm, earlier Liberty). Stormfront takes the modern Nazi format: white supremacist and teams up with Homelander. Vought CEO Stan Edgar replaces Madlyn Stillwell as authoritative evil person, and a new organization Church of the Collective shows up to help. The Seven rejects Deep and now A-train (because of his Compound V addiction).

The boys keep themselves relevant by trying to go up against Vought and The Seven by going to the press, to courts and many gory fight scenes in between. A new mysterious assassin comes up, whose superpower is to blow people’s heads up right when they are about to help The Boys. Parental squabble ensues on raising Ryan as Becca Butcher wants to keep her son isolated and becomes the culmination point of the second season. In a fight between the boys and Vought, Becca Butcher and Stormfront die at the hands of Ryan. Everyone else is alive and well and The Boys are no more fugitives/ vigilantes. The cruel and villainous Homelander who has been fighting for his son Ryan, gives him up to Billy Butcher as he is threatened by Maeve with a cell phone video exposing his ways. To tie up all lose ends an AOC inspired congresswoman who has been helping the boys against Vought is revealed to be the superhero who blows people’s heads up. Hughie unbeknownst to her powers ends up joining her political campaign at the end of season 2.