It's no stretch of the imagination to say that Annie, aka Starlight (played by Erin Moriarty), has come a long way since Season 1 of The Boys. After being sexually assaulted by The Deep (Chace Crawford) and realizing that The Seven is full of ego-inflated supe psychopaths, the wide-eyed character decided to secretly rebel against her corporate masters at Vought.
**The following contains spoilers for the first three episodes of The Boys Season 2.**
While she isn't happy about Hughie (Jack Quaid) lying to her for most of their relationship, Annie does see the Boys as the lesser of two evils in the dangerous battle against Vought. Across the first four episodes of Season 2, we've seen the character blackmail Gecko (David Thompson) for a vial of Compound V, stand up to a suspicious A-Train (Jessie Usher), and go toe to toe with a homicidal Homelander (Antony Starr). In that last instance, the psychotic and milk-loving Homelander wants to kill Starlight for her refusal to kill Hughie in the previous episode ... but she actually gets away with it!
"Her entire trajectory is being caught in little acts of defiance and figuring her way out of being punished for them," Moriarty told members of the press during SYFY WIRE's visit to the show's Toronto set last fall. "But you can only do that for so long, especially when you have people like Homelander, who are at the front of The Seven and has temper problems and ego problems, and want to make sure that they are always able to uphold the power. [In] Season 2, her relationship with The Seven [is] about navigating situations where she is caught doing sneaky things. But she’s always managing to figure out a way out of the hole she digs herself into."
Moriarty went on to say that Annie's relationship with Homelander all depends on the latter's relationship with his young son (Cameron Crovetti).
"Homelander is the head of The Seven," the actress said when asked about how the Becca Butcher reveal would affect the rest of the characters. "Whatever he is going through has a ripple effect through all of Vought ... He’s a moody dude. So, if he’s not feeling too good and he’s having a bad mood, everyone is going to feel it, especially Starlight, because she’s pretty defiant and rebellious. All I will say is that he has a tumultuous relationship with this child in Season 2. At times, when that relationship is dipping and Annie is maybe in a peak of defiance, she is definitely going to feel his wrath."
Will Starlight's defiance catch up with her in coming episodes? We'll just have to wait and see. Still, Annie "is very aware" of the dangerous minefield she's currently walking. "One wrong step and Homelander would kill her," Moriarty added. "She’s very aware, working in the same building, in the same room often, and on the same missions as a murderer."
It's a very thin line, indeed, one that requires Starlight to "superficially cooperate a lot more than she did in Season 1," Moriarty explained. "But there are reasons for her cooperation that will ultimately serve her objective, which is to seek justice on her behalf and towards Vought. It’s within her best interest to reduce tension between herself and Vought this season, meaning she cooperates with Ashley [played by Colby Minifie] ... Sometimes you need to make certain sacrifices to obtain long-term goals."
Moriarty is perhaps the luckiest member of the series' talented ensemble, as her character gets to enjoy the best of both worlds: the ever-shifting supe sphere and the fun camaraderie of the Boys. But who does the actress identify with more? Well, the answer to that question is pretty obvious.
"As I’ve played this role and spent more time in her shoes, I feel like I am one with Annie and Starlight, and I’ve become more and more resentful of Vought and the suits and that whole world," she said. "It’s also reflective in Annie’s trajectory and her camaraderie with Hughie. Initially, her objective is to save the world. It shifts. Saving the world kind of happens to involve seeking justice on behalf of herself towards Vought. I think, overall, Erin and Annie [are] inching closer and closer to the world of the Boys."
Nowhere is that more evident than in Episode 4, where Annie throws caution to the wind by traveling to South Carolina with Hughie and Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso). There they learn that an old, second-tier supe known as Liberty (a repugnantly racist and homicidal individual) has taken up the moniker of Stormfront (played by Aya Cash). The latest addition to The Seven, Stormfront is dangerously swaying the hearts and minds of the American public with a toxic combination of internet memes and xenophobia. Originally impressed by Stormfront's devil-may-care attitude toward Vought and glutinous media promotion, Annie comes to realize that her colleague is, in reality, a murderous bigot.
"Stormfront is very feisty," Moriarty said. "I think that Annie is surprised when Stormfront even gets inducted into The Seven, because she has a rebellious streak like Annie. I think she sees Stormfront as a potential ally, who has similar values to her own. But like every other character on the show, there is more to Stormfront than meets the eye. Who Annie thinks is a potential ally ends up surprising her a lot [and] ends up fitting into more into the category of the people who she is against."
Sadly, it's all too reminiscent of modern society, but that helps Moriarty immerse herself in the performance. "It motivates me more because it makes me think doing a show like this, that is sort of anti-establishment and trying to capture the zeitgeist, is important," she continued. "Unfortunately, I can relate to a lot of what Starlight is going through, which kind of sucks on a personal level. But from an actor’s performance standpoint, it allows me to access it a little more easily."
Where sexism was a major theme in the first season (a sharp parallel of the #MeToo movement), racism is the overarching motif the second time around.
"I think our political state right now in the United States is reflective of the fact that a lot of these things are so present," Moriarty said. "We are leaning into that. We’ve dismissed certain things such as racism as being over because slavery is over. Unfortunately, these things are still present. But by not addressing them, by letting them remain taboo, we are not doing anything to move forward and address those issues. Season 2 continues to touch on those things in our society that are definitely problems that we don’t like to admit are problems. But that we have to for the sake of correcting."
In addition to the shocking Stormfront revelation aside, the Boys' mission to the South also results in a truly heartwarming moment between Annie and MM, where they bond over the fact that their dads used to take them out for sweets growing up.
"I was really excited to work with Mother’s Milk because I have never had a scene with him," Moriarty said. "Just the idea of having a scene with a character who feels like they are on a different show is really cool. We worked together and I just loved it ... Because we are working on a show that is a comedy, but also can get quite serious, it’s kind of important between takes to maintain a certain level of levity. And he's just a goofball ... He felt like such a foreign character to me, and we get to work together a lot this season in a way that has a lot of depth to it, and it was just really fun. It was really fun for Mother's Milk and Annie to connect on a very personal level."
The first four episodes of The Boys Season 2 are now streaming on Prime Video. The remaining installments are now being released on a weekly basis every Friday. Aisha Tyler (Archer) is hosting a special aftershow for all eight episodes. A third season has already been ordered, with Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) set to appear as the Captain America-esque Soldier Boy, who, according to Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), was the result of sadistic Nazi experimentation.
For more of SYFY WIRE's set coverage of the second season, check out the stories below:
- The Boys' cast had a bloody good time shooting an exceptionally biting Season 2
- Where do The Boys go from here? Laz Alonso and Karen Fukuhara talk growth and 'soulmates' in Season 2