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Why The Boys' episode titles mean more than you realize

Eric Kripke's Amazon Prime Video series The Boys contains so many hidden symbols, Easter eggs, and pop culture references that it gives even the most-layered episode of Rick and Morty a run for its money in this department. If anything, the second season, which premiered its first three episodes on September 4, has only doubled down on this propensity.

For a sense of just what we're talking about, look no further than the episode titles from the new season — all eight of which have already been made available by Amazon Studios. Aside from cleverly framing the content of each episode, each title also contains an explicit allusion to the popular series' source material.

The Boys is adapted from an even more cynical (if you can believe that) comic series of the same name by sequential art's baddest bad boy, Garth Ennis (Preacher, Hitman). The ornery Irish writer set out to pillory the kinds of rote, diametric superhero stories that have come to define the medium without any of the delicate literary nuance of Alan Moore's essential Watchmen. The result is a 72-issue creator-owned romp through the superhero genre's valuables, one that sadly offers a pretty compelling answer to the question, "What if you added superheroes to the world we actually live in?"

When Kripke set out to adapt the irreverent series, he obviously made the creative decision to sand off some of Ennis' rougher edges, but that doesn't mean he's abandoned the source material whole hog. Much of the story being told on Amazon Prime Video tracks closely with the plot of Ennis' comics, and Kripke has even seen fit to honor the books with a clever homage.

It's right there — in the season 2 episode titles.

The Boys season 2 episode titles reference story arcs from the comics

The first three episodes of season 2 are entitled "The Big Ride," "Proper Preparation and Planning," and "Over the Hill with the Sword of a Thousand Men." Aside from elliptically referencing the actual content of the episodes, these three titles all refer directly to some of the latter story arcs in Ennis' original comics — though, not necessarily in order.

"The Big Ride" is also the title of the story arc contained in issues 56-59 of the Ennis comics, while "Proper Preparation and Planning" is the title of issues 48-51. "Over the Hill with the Sword of a Thousand Men" is the title of the story arc told over issues 60-65.

The remaining episodes in season 2 follow the same format. "Nothing Like It in the World" matches the title of issues 35-36. "We Gotta Go Now" refers to issues 23-30, and so on and so forth. This season's penultimate episode, entitled "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker," actually refers to a six-issue spinoff miniseries of the same name.

It should be noted that these clever episode titles are little more than allusions to the source material. Attempting to figure out how each episode tracks with the comics that bear the same title is a fool's errand — they don't. Kripke's series is most certainly forging its own path through the world that Ennis created, but the titles are a fun little connection between the show and the work that inspired it.