WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Season 1 of The Boys, streaming now on of Amazon Prime Video.
The Amazon adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s satirical superhero comic The Boys is loaded with great plot twists. Naturally, fans fluent in the source material saw most of the shocking moments coming a mile away. However, the season finale had a trick up its sleeve, giving both casual viewers and fans of the comic a sucker punch no one saw coming. Beyond giving everyone something new, the final surprise of the season also dodges one of the more problematic plot details of the comics, specifically when it comes to character motivation.
In both versions of The Boys, Billy Butcher has every right to want Homelander’s head on a silver platter. Just like in the comic, Billy believes the leader of The Seven forced himself onto Butcher’s wife several year before the events of the show. The comics took this horrific trauma even further. The act left Becca Butcher pregnant with Homelander’s child, and unlike poor Becca, the child had powers that no mere human womb could contain (you get the picture). In turn, Billy was left no choice but to dispose of the child soon after its birth, which coincided with the death of Becca. The whole bloody ordeal set the leader of The Boys on his quest for revenge. And while that doesn't excuse Billy for the violence he displays in ever issue, it is difficult to decry his drive.
The show keeps intact the initial shock of finding out what Homelander did to Becca. When Butcher tells Hughie why he has it in for the caped hero, it’s as shocking to Hughie as it is to the audience, even though we already know Homelander isn't the wholesome hero he claims to be. The implications of Becca's ultimate fate hang in the air, begging viewers to reach into that dark vault where all the hypothetical worst-case scenarios play out in our minds and conjure the horrible possibilities. The reason for Becca's eight-year absence not being fully explored for the majority of the first season is almost as haunting as the blatant fate she suffered in the comic books. Almost.
The show handles things much differently. As it turns out, whatever Butcher believed happened to his wife didn't actually happen -- or at the very least, it happened differently than Butcher (or the audience) had originally assumed. In the season finale, Homelander brings Butcher to where Becca, along with the hero's illegitimate son, have been living for the better part of the decade. Becca and her baby being alive gives Amazon's version of The Boys far more dramatic heft. Presumably, with his wife alive, Butcher has something to live for again (you don't go after super-powered maniacs without a death wish).
The result is a reunion that is anything but touching. Ending The Boys' first season by fracturing your protagonist's motivations and giving your lead antagonist a new sense of purpose is pretty gutsy (and insanely effective). The two opposing forces of the series are in places neither thought possible, making the twist play better. For one, a female character isn't used to serve other characters' goals (dead women are the driving force for almost half of the team). Hughie's poor girlfriend, Robin was the first victim. Shortly after meeting her, she is almost immediately "fridged." Becca gets it worse, however, having suffered her fate off the page (initially). We only care about Robin and Becca in the comics because we care about Hughie and Butcher. The women being dead for the entire series is cheap shorthand for character development. And there is no happy surprise in the comics that might lead to one of them being anything more than that.
The final "gotcha" moment of the comics comes when Butcher learns Homelander never attacked his family in the first place, and that it was in fact, Black Noire, who was a deranged clone of Homelander the whole time. It's a final-act Hail Mary that diminishes the cathartic nature of Butcher's journey of finally reaching the man who took everything from him. Now, just because Becca and her son are alive onscreen doesn't mean the producers can't still pull the clone card next season. At that point, anything is possible. What Homelander does in Season 2 will set the tone for the rest of the show. It will either grow with a pair of new characters that we presumed were dead, or else it will use them as fodder to further motivate our protagonists in a new medium. We hope it's the former.
The Boys stars Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, Jack Quaid as Hughie, Laz Alonso as Mother's Milk, Tomer Kapon as Frenchie, Karen Fukuhara as the Female, Erin Moriarty as Annie January, Chace Crawford as the Deep, Antony Starr as Homelander and Simon Pegg as Hughie's dad.