The Boys Season 2: What Is Lamplighter Hiding?
How exactly did The Boys blackmail Lamplighter? We got some hints.
Despite only appearing in a single episode, Lamplighter has proven himself to be one of the most complex characters The Boys has ever introduced. The former member of The Seven played a prominent role this week in Season 2, Episode 6, "The Bloody Doors Off," and through his interactions with Frenchie, Kimiko, and Mother's Milk, we learned a lot about The Boys' history and the characters' current situation.
When Lamplighter was mentioned previously, it was usually to curse him for murdering Grace Mallory's grandchildren--the inciting tragedy that caused The Boys to break up before the series' events kicked off. But it turns out things are slightly more complicated than they may have seemed. According to Lamplighter, he'd been intending to kill Mallory herself--not innocent children sleeping in bed. Does that make him less evil? Maybe a little, but more importantly, it adds some dimension to the character, and Lamplighter's remorse makes for yet another villain on this show who is--well, if not totally loveable, at least sympathetic.
What set Lamplighter off, though, and made him set out to kill Mallory in the first place? Through a series of flashbacks, we learned that The Boys tried to blackmail the supe. But thanks to tricky camera angles, we didn't get to see exactly what they blackmailed him with. But thankfully, we had a chance to chat with Shawn Ashmore, the actor who plays him, and we tried to get some answers.
It all relates to his signature "Titty Committee" lighter, which provided a small hint to his identity back when Lamplighter was introduced in Episode 5. The slogan on that lighter could have seemingly been anything, but Ashmore told us the phrase "Titty Committee" was actually a subtle hint about his character.
"Without getting into detail, because it's pretty dark, it ties into his sexuality, I suppose, and his aggressiveness," Ashmore said.
"Mallory shows him images of something in the warehouse in a flashback sequence, and it's alluded that he's, you know, had sex with a bunch of underage girls or whatever," the actor continued. "I know what those images were of, because it was the first question I asked. I was like, 'Why would Lamplighter turn?' Like how bad are the pictures that Mallory shows him in that warehouse? Why would he do that? He could burn everybody in this room--if those were to come out, how bad are they? And they're worse than I could ever imagine."
Ashmore wouldn't say exactly what the pictures were--but all these small details combine to paint a vivid picture of yet another supe whose real essence is much darker than his public persona.
"I'm not going to say what it is, because I think it's just better not to know, but it alludes to his sexuality and his preferences," the actor said. "He's just kind of a very intense sexual being and to walk around with a 'Titty Committee' lighter is a small part of a bigger story with Lamplighter."
If you've read the comics on which The Boys is based, you're probably surprised about the way that story is taking shape. This adaptation is frequently different from the source material, but Lamplighter is practically unrecognizable in the show compared with his comics counterpart, who was rendered a mindless husk after being killed by The Boys and then reanimated by Vought. Comics Lamplighter huddles in a cell at The Seven's headquarters, smeared in his own excrement, and contributes nothing to the series' story except in flashbacks.
Ashmore said that before taking the part, he was aware of the character's minuscule role in the comics, but also that it would be different in the show.
"I knew that we weren't going that way," he said. "But I at least had a reference of what happened to him in the books, and the differences between what the show was trying to achieve versus what the books did."
Of course, fans of the superhero genre might recognize Ashmore from his previous comics-inspired role as Iceman in the X-Men movies. He said it was "exciting" to return to the world of supes. "I wanted to do something completely different. I wanted to be a character on a show that goes against conventions of what people might expect of me as an actor and of some of the work that I've done," he said. "I'm pretty sure that [The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke] and the team intentionally cast the guy that played Iceman to be the fire guy. I think it just is like a middle finger to the established superhero genre."
It's a genre that's historically been plagued by stereotypical, one-note bad guys, but The Boys continues to subvert expectations. Almost all of the show's villains have sides that viewers can identify with or find sympathetic--except maybe Stormfront, who was revealed this week to be a literal Nazi. Ashmore said he was excited to follow on the path that Homelander carved throughout Season 1.
"In the first season, the most moving, effective scene to me was when Homelander is walking through his house on the reality tour and he sees the blanket and he freaks out," the actor said. The scene is followed by flashbacks to Homelander's upbringing in a sterile lab, which also feature a blanket. "From that moment forward, you can hate what he does and the choices that he continues to make, but you understand why he's making those decisions. And I think the same is true for Lamplighter."
He said the real villain of The Boys is the company behind the supes. "To me, the supes aren't the villains. Like, Vought is the villain. The system is the villain," he said. "People that are born as normal human beings are injected with the serum, given abilities that no human being could really handle, having the powers that they have--and then, above that, lifted to a status of fame and notoriety and success that nobody could really handle."
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That's part of why Lamplighter does what he does in "The Bloody Doors Off," allying with The Boys, covering for them when Stormfront appears, and giving himself up to Mallory at the end.
"I think he's looking for a way out. I think he has real regret," Ashmore said. After all, Lamplighter was first shown in a brief scene in Episode 5 in which he tried to push back against Stormfront over killing patients. Understandably, he's terrified of her. "He's not happy with what he's doing, but Stormfront would kill him," Ashmore continued. "I think when he comes face to face with Frenchie, and tells him what really happened and why it happened, and they sort of accept him a little bit, he realizes that this is his only way out of this evil cycle that he's in."
"Lamplighter was just one of these guys that his whole identity was being a supe and having this ability and being a part of The Seven, and he kind of went along with whatever [Vought] asked him to do," Ashmore explained. "When we find Lamplighter in Season 2, he's now dealing with the ramifications of what he did…His conscience has kicked in and he's dealing with the things that he has done. So I never looked at him as a villain--I looked at him as a human being who did really bad things, and is now paying for that."
Naturally, there's more to this story that we've yet to see. The Boys Season 2 has two more episodes to come, streaming Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.
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