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Nobody loves a superhero team-up more than Ashley, Vought International's former publicist turned vice president for superhero management. If asked, she can rattle off the figures to prove how popular they are among the key demos. It is unlikely she would demonstrate this level of animated enthusiasm regarding the surprise superhero squad formation in the Season 2 finale of The Boys. But for audiences watching the hit Amazon Prime series, seeing Stormfront (Aya Cash) take a beating is incredibly satisfying.
Spoilers for Season 2 of The Boys ahead.
Unmasked as a literal Nazi, the 100-year-old original Supe is hellbent on getting her revenge on her former colleague Starlight aka Annie January (Erin Moriarty). Correctly deducting that she is the source of the leak (with an assist from A-Train), this open field provides the arena for this showdown. Stormfront and Starlight have been an integral part of the Girls Get It Done campaign that was introduced in the episode "Proper Presentation and Planning." The pithy marketing slogan was created to celebrate the Seven milestone — this is the first time three women have been in the active line-up — using "girl power"-heavy language.
Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) bailed on the junket due to a family emergency — her girlfriend had been taken to hospital with appendicitis — which left her fellow supes fielding a range of eye-roll-inducing questions. This is indicative of how companies use female empowerment to sell a product and is a continuation of the conversation about Annie's Starlight costume in Season 1.
This episode was written by Rebecca Sonnenshine — who also wrote the finale — which turned Stormfront into a new "feminist" hero. Her unfiltered responses at the junket, including a diatribe about her costume lacking pockets and pointing out the very obvious factor that neither gender makes a better hero lay the "shero" groundwork. But it is her inspiring Pippi Longstocking speech to Starlight that truly sells her as a feminist badass — a status that was short-lived, thanks to the racist hatred she unleashes in the following episode when she slaughters innocent people before killing Kimiko's (Karen Fukuhara) younger brother. People who are familiar with the comics (in which Stormfront is a guy) or the Third Reich connotations of this character name were prepared for this reveal, but not all viewers were.
Since then, the jigsaw pieces of the Nazi-Vought puzzle have fallen into place with each episode pulling back this swastika-emblazoned curtain. The switch from the all-at-once drop of Season 1 to a weekly release schedule on the streaming platform may have been met with boos from some fans, but it undoubtedly helped raise the tension which quite literally explodes in "What I Know." Stormfront's plan to divide a country aided by an online army and ramp up hatred was going swimmingly until her true origin was leaked to the news. Branding has a way of building someone up, but it can just as easily tear someone down.
"People love what I have to say. They believe in it. They just don't like the word Nazi, that's all," she tells Annie who has been working with the titular Boys. Bolstered by weapons — including something Frenchie has rigged up to weaken Stormfront's powers — it looks like it will be a relatively easy fight during the final confrontation. Two supes plus three locked-and-loaded guys versus one original Vought-made superhero doesn't sound too tough, all things considered, except Stormfront has decades on them and quickly destroys the weapons cache. Starlight's power and Kimiko's strength are not enough, which leaves Kimiko temporarily dispatched while she recovers from death by broken neck. When all seems lost, the surprise arrival of Queen Maeve is a cheer-inducing moment.
Cue a walloping punch worthy of a Batman '60s graphic and the start of an incredibly satisfying fight. When Aya Cash recently spoke to SYFY FANGRRLS, she discussed the viewer's reaction to her character, saying, "She's a vile, horrible, disgusting person. So it's very intense, because people hate me, as they should as that character." The jubilation and meme-filled reactions to this sequence on Twitter further emphasize how much the audience wanted to see Stormfront taken down. It isn't just Indiana Jones and Captain America who get to beat on Nazis in pop culture.
In fact, another satisfaction sweet spot is reached before Maeve even shows up, when Kimiko laughs at the mere presence of Stormfront. Previously, her consuming rage has rendered her frozen, and Kimiko has expressed concern to Frenchie that she will crumble again. Instead, as a silent tear for her brother rolls down her face, this mocking laughter marks the first time we have heard any sound come from her mouth, a defining moment that is further elevated when Frenchie translates where she is going to stick her boot.
"Boys Wanna Be Her" by Peaches kicks in as the three-on-one unofficial team-up gets to work on Stormfront. Is this song on the nose? Sure, but sometimes subtly gets thrown out the window for an excellent soundtrack choice. "Eat my s***, you Nazi bitch," Annie emphatically yells, and it is extremely cathartic to witness this no-frills fight, given that the show has been building to this moment all season. It is gratifying to see the three women who have been wronged by the very machine that made and emboldened Stormfront collaborating against evil. Knowing it is a lost battle, Stormfront makes her escape and Frenchie gets to use the Vought tagline, "Girls do get it done." Unlike the cheesy "Dawn of the Seven" movie scene that tried to make this tagline happen in Episode 5, Frenchie's awed line reading is the icing on the cake.
Between Kimiko's bold "Bossy" ring, the press junket, and the Nazi-bashing fight, this season has explored the marketing and portrayal of strong women. The first season depicted the inner workings of toxic workplaces and how these environments thrive, as Annie found herself without any allies within the Vought HQ. Madelyn Stillwell had no time for her legitimate complaints and Maeve was a nihilistic shell of a person. After Annie called her personal hero out, Queen Maeve responded by standing up for her young colleague against Homelander's rage. Weariness and self-loathing has threatened to consume her once again, and the Seven veteran is leaning into a vaping DGAF attitude: "It doesn't matter what we do. Nothing changes. Nothing ever changes or gets better. And I'm tired of it."
It is unclear exactly what tips Maeve into action but her timely arrival is unexpected because of this earlier conversation. However, it also fits her pattern of doing the right thing and Annie's ability to get under her skin. While this team-up is on a much smaller scale with somewhat lower stakes — the fate of the world does ride on whether Compound V is kept under lock and key — it has drawn comparisons to the Avengers: Endgame arrival of Captain Marvel and every other female Avenger when the odds are stacked against them. Because The Boys is a satire of the superhero genre, it is impossible to ignore these connotations, particularly as the "she's not alone" scene was on the receiving end of both cheers and cries of "token female empowerment." But unlike the overt skewering in the "Dawn of the Seven" movie with its very obvious nods to the DCU and MCU, this fight sequence isn't as obvious in its critique — even if Eric Kripke has noted the aforementioned Avengers scene is a "satirical target."
Another factor that cannot be disregarded is how women are always pitted against each other, as if it is a Highlander scenario where there can be only one. The first season of The Boys showed the toxic side effects of this outdated notion in how Maeve first responded to her younger colleague with derision. Because it took Marvel so long to have a female-fronted movie (another reason why some thought the Endgame moment rang hollow), the future of women getting to headline a superhero film was put on Captain Marvel's shoulders — something Wonder Woman also faced. No doubt if Black Widow and WW84 had been released earlier this year it would've been a similar tale of which woman fared better at the box office. But both can exist simultaneously without turning it into a "who did it better?" moment.
One reason why The Boys feels like such a breath of fresh air is that it doesn't have the same kind of baggage or pressure on its caped shoulders. The writers have the space to explore performative feminism and deliver a physical sequence that feels earned. Girls can and have always been able to get it done.