The Boys Season 2 Finale: Even That Actor Didn't Know The Twist Was Coming
The Boys' Season 2 finale answered a big question in an unexpected way.
With The Boys Season 2 finally in the rearview, we have plenty to discuss. Let us know what you thought of the season as a whole in the comments below, then check out our interview with actor Nathan Mitchell about Black Noir's future, our discussion with VFX supervisor Stephan Fleet about the season's excellent head-exploding gore, and our explanation of Season 2's ending.
If you, like us, spent your time with The Boys Season 2 over the past two months wondering and theorizing about who was popping people's heads like bubble gum, you were probably happy to finally get an answer at the very end of the Season 2 finale, Episode 8, "What I Know." That said, you may not have been thrilled about what that answer actually was.
Warning: This article contains massive spoilers for The Boys Season 2. You've been warned.
As Congresswoman Victoria Neuman's presence grew throughout The Boys Season 2, it became more and more clear that the anti-Vought politician would have a large role to play. Her resemblance to real-life progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) helped endear her to viewers whose politics align with the show's progressive stance, and by the end, many fans no doubt found themselves clinging to Neuman as the last hope to curtail Vought's power going forward. Unfortunately, as the finale's final scenes revealed, Neuman has actually been working for Vought all along. Not only is she a supe herself, but she's been responsible for the head-exploding murders throughout Season 2, from CIA Deputy Director Raynor in the Season 2 premiere to the bloodbath at the hearing in Episode 7.
Hats off to you if you saw this coming, because we absolutely did not. Despite knowing that the comics version of the character--Victor Neuman, or Vic the Veep--was in Vought's pocket, it seemed like the show was simply using the name while taking the character in a completely different direction. Unfortunately for The Boys--and for viewers who hoped Congresswoman Neuman would be a force for good--her entire arc this season turned out to be one giant misdirect. So naturally, we jumped at the chance to speak with Claudia Doumit, the actress who plays Congresswoman Neuman, about the character's trajectory.
Right off the bat, we learned that even Doumit didn't know her character would turn out to be evil, until it came time to shoot one pivotal scene.
"I remember, I'd run into [showrunner Eric Kripke] on occasion on set, he'd be passing to go somewhere else, and he would just say to me, 'Big stuff for Neuman, very exciting! We've got some big stuff coming!' I'd have no idea what he was talking about. And I'd get the script for the next episode. And she's like, at a rally. I was like, 'Yeah, this is exciting, I guess!'...It was just so confusing how excited the writers were and everyone was for this character, because in comparison, there are scenes where way more intense s*** is happening in the season with [other] characters. But then I got the script for Episode 7."
Doumit realized that Neuman was the head-exploder when she reached the hearing scene. That's one of the reasons this twist was so hard to predict: Up until that moment, even the actor hadn't known that Neuman was a villain. She played the character completely straight, without even subconscious hints at her true nature.
Doumit recalled that Kripke had told her to think of Neuman as "just a person" in this over-the-top world of supes and villains (who are usually one and the same). "I remember he said to me--which is hilarious--he was like, 'People with power don't have to
show that they have power. They just have it.'" Kripke told her to think of Neuman like a "very well known celebrity"--someone who effortlessly exudes power and influence without appearing like they're showing off, like George Clooney.
Even in the murky trenches of YouTube comments and Reddit threads, few Boys fans guessed that Neuman was the culprit. Doumit said there actually are hints throughout the season, but they're nebulous and few. One example she gave is more of a wink and a nudge in hindsight: In the Season 2 premiere, shortly after Raynor is assassinated, Neuman's appearance on a news show serves as a scene transition, connecting the character with the act, albeit subtly to the point that it serves as more of a retrospective "a-ha" than an actual clue.
The biggest hint came from the end of Episode 7, during the carnage at the hearing. Those who re-watch that scene with the knowledge we have now will find that Neuman, though acting perfectly shocked, looks directly at several victims the moment before their heads erupt. When Mallory begins pulling her out of the room, nobody dies for a second or two, until Neuman glances back at her campaign manager, who promptly pops. It's a marvelous ballet of masterful choreography, acting, and editing that makes it completely clear what's going on, but only once you know what to look for.
"So there are kind of Easter eggs in there, but it's very subtle," Doumit said. "I think it's good. I think that's how they should do it. You should not expect her."
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If there's one group of people who should have seen this twist coming, it's fans who have read The Boys comics. In the books, Vic the Veep is a Vought-funded politician who the company hopes to install in the highest office in the land. But Doumit was unaware even of the comics version of her character, leaving her as in-the-dark as most viewers.
When it came time to film the hearing, Doumit said she came back from a break and found the room covered floor to ceiling with blood. For her part, they did some takes where she looked completely shocked, and others where her reaction was "a little bit more measured."
There's one last factor here to discuss, beyond the shock value of Neuman's villainous reveal. It's the fact that we're living through a time of turmoil, and AOC, on whom the character was openly based, is a beacon of hope for many of the show's viewers. So many characters on The Boys are corrupt or evil, and it was nice having just one person in a position of power who was on the right side of history. There's no doubt that some fans will not be crazy about this knife twist.
"The Boys tackles issues that are very timely--painfully timely. And I think that the characters that they implement as vehicles to tackle these issues and to bring them up and to talk about them are just as timely," Doumit said. She understands that people are drawn to AOC's voice and messages, but said the focus for fans should be on the issues and themes that the show brings up, and not on what the narrative might say about the real-life figures each character represents.
"I think the characters are very timely and the themes are very timely," she said. "And I think that's what's more of the focus than, like, commenting on AOC."
That said, "Yes, AOC does blow my mind, you know what I mean?" Doumit laughed. "Maybe they're seeing it in more of a metaphor kind of way."
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