The Boys (2019)
The Boys Season 2 Part II: Butcher's Character Arc Change & The Becca Dilemma
By: Domonique Cox-Salberg
As mentioned in Part I, Homelander The Boys Season 2: The Brilliant Grayness of ‘Homelander’ & His Achilles Heel, there were plenty of memorable moments this season, as well as a few stumbles. We got to see a new side of Butcher, a villain indeed close to home, and plenty of shocking moments. Nonetheless, aside from Homelander, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) undoubtedly had significant character development for not only his persona but the tone of the show going forward.
The Becca Dilemma
Butcher began season two reuniting with Hughie (Jack Quaid), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and Mothers Milk (Laz Alonso), where we had one of the show’s most iconic moments—slaying the whale—with nothing after topping it. However, what would become a major turning point for Billy transpires once he rekindles his short-lived romance with Becca. Infiltrating the Vought compound, we learn Butcher’s intention only to rescue Becca (Shantel VanSanten), leading to their failed reunion and her choosing to end things for good. Moreover, that is where the problem lies. We do not see their relationship explored enough for context about not only the good (we always saw them in a honeymoon phase) but the bad moments that Becca identifies as her reasoning for ending things.
Because frankly, and unpopular opinion, the show (maybe on purpose) made the Homelander rape plot ambiguous and contradicting on many levels. If it were done to subvert our expectations and force us to reconsider the show’s moral dynamic, that would have been brilliant, but it turns out they did not. And as a result, Becca’s choice materialized as frustrating and not selfless as the writers were hoping for. After all, Butcher gave up his life to find her, take down Homelander and make things right, only to be turned away leaves a bad taste. It would have been better executed if the show featured more flashbacks of their dynamic and without the Homelander ambiguity.
It is just not credible or weak writing to force us to put everything together and understand her choice with no context to go off. Now disliking Becca and bringing those feelings into the finale since we never see her and Butcher together again until then, made Butcher’s choices that follow vexing. Choices that would rob him of being the enigmatic gutsy badass he was in the first season. It became only about Becca, losing Butcher in it all.
Butcher’s Character Development: Tenacious and Enigmatic?
But let us go back a bit to better support that last statement where Becca was not the only character in which Butcher’s badass persona took a back seat. Hughie and the addition of Butcher’s family had their pros and cons. Such as developing Butcher’s sentimental side, never explored until now, had some great surprises. Notably, finally meeting Terror from the comics, seeing how much he cares for Hughie, and meeting his monstrous father were excellent additions to his arc. It gave Butcher more depth and reasoning behind his outlook on life.
However, some of this came at the expense of shedding Butcher of his gutsy and fun persona as did the Becca dilemma did. Most of the season Butcher spent saving Hughie, arguing about never leaving each other, and so on—something already established early in their relationship. In season one, Butcher warmly says to Hughie as he rips up the $45,000 check from Vought, “Hughie. You’re a good lad.” Short and sweet, but powerful and what we were missing in season two, where the melodrama took over in some instances.
Nevertheless, at least a few Butcher moments captured the spirit of his character when he threatened to kill Jonah Vogelbaum’s entire family, moments with Terror, picking up a crowbar after Ryan accidentally kills Becca—and ending with him accepting Grace’s offer. An offer where Butcher, Frenchie, and Mother’s Milk are already established in from the first comic issue, so it may bring us back the no-holds-barred, super funny Butcher we deserve for season 3. He no longer is attached to Becca, Ryan, or Homelander for that matter, which leaves room to focus more on his character doing epic Supe take-down operations with The Boys.
My Note To The Reader:
The Boys had some missteps, but overall it was a decent season. What did you think of this season? Agree or disagree with this take on Butcher? And if you want to read more on The Boys check out these articles: ‘The Boys’ Homelander: The Greatest Super-villain Brought To The Screen, ‘The Boys’ Season 2 Episode 4: The Calm Before The Storm, and ‘The Boys’ Season 2: The Origins & Creation of Liberty, Supe Immortality.