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The Real Reason Ryan Would Be Better Off With Billy Butcher On The Boys

Season 2 of the Amazon Prime original The Boys doesn't end well for everyone involved. Don't get us wrong — there are definitely some good things that happen. Neither Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) nor any members of the titular team are fugitives anymore, things seem to be looking up for Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty), and while the Nazi supe Stormfront (Aya Cash) survives, she looks worse than Anakin Skywalker does after ignoring Obi-wan's "high ground" warnings in Revenge of the Sith. Of course, more than anything, the young Ryan Butcher is rescued from his father, the homicidal Homelander (Anthony Starr), but that victory comes at a high cost. When he uses his powers to try to save his mother Becca (Shantel VanSanten) from Stormfront, Ryan unintentionally mortally wounds his mother, and she dies in spite of Billy's best efforts to save her.

Before the end of the episode, we learn that Ryan will be left to the care of former CIA deputy director Grace Mallory (Laila Robins), who promises Billy she'll get in the way of any attempts by Vought International to get their hands on the boy. But it's impossible to not ask whether or not it would be best for Ryan to be left in Billy's care. 

It's not easy to imagine Billy as a father. Among other things, in season 1 we watch him brutally beat Haley Joel Osment's Mesmer to death with his bare hands in a public restroom. He's manipulative, lies often and well, and if you were to ask Boys members like Hughie or Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso), they'd probably agree that he's not a particularly good friend. But there's at least one really good reason to think Ryan would be better off with Billy.

Billy is the only part of Ryan's mother the boy has left

We have no doubt that Billy Butcher would not be the best father in the world. But there's one simple reason to think he would be the best father for Ryan — Billy Butcher is the only connection Ryan has left to his mother. 

Ryan was conceived by Homelander's sexual assault of Becca. With Vought wanting any of Homelander's offspring close at hand, Becca is spirited away to be kept in a controlled, isolated environment and Billy is left to believe she's dead. So even before Becca's death, Ryan's world is made pretty small by Vought. But now the person who has been his only source of emotional support, love, and almost his only source of social contact is gone. To make things unimaginably worse, Ryan is himself the one who unintentionally kills Becca. The last place he belongs is in the care of strangers.

Billy Butcher doesn't know Ryan much better than Grace Mallory or anyone else, but he knew Ryan's mother as well as anybody and better than most. He's the only person left in the world who can provide Ryan with even the thinnest link to Becca. And since Becca was essentially the only good thing in Billy's life, he can relate to Ryan. He may have seen him as nothing more than the spawn of the psychotic Homelander at first, but it's clear Billy's feelings toward him are much more kindred after Becca's death. 

Regardless, Ryan's in for a difficult road. But without Billy, it's going to be much more uphill than it needs to be. Let's not forget it's the kind of separation from any true parent figure that Ryan is facing that helped make Homelander the maniac he is today.

Besides being a connection to Becca, Billy is the only one who can keep Ryan safe

Besides caring for Ryan's emotional well-being, there's also his physical health. At the end of the day, out of all the players with whom we've been introduced, there really is no one who can keep Ryan as safe as Billy Butcher can.

We can take Vought International right out of consideration as we've seen with what "care" they've already treated Ryan. The boy would be an asset to them — a failsafe to take out Homelander — and they would gladly make a prisoner of him again if they feel that's the best way to secure their asset. Homelander is, similarly, a bad choice. While he may love his son now, Homelander's feelings toward people tend to change abruptly and violently. We should remember this is the guy who happily pushes Ryan off the roof of a house to test his powers. 

Could Grace Mallory and her government resources be a better choice? For most of what we've seen so far in The Boys, the government can be fairly toothless when it comes to the financial power of Vought and the physical power of their supes. Vought seems to be in a more vulnerable position at the end of season 2, but that could change quickly. Not to mention that, like Vought, Mallory and her colleagues likely want an anti-Homelander failsafe just as badly as the corporation that made him. 

Billy Butcher may not have the resources of the government or Vought — nor the physical might of Homelander –  but it's largely his work and that of his team that brings Vought temporarily to heel at the end of season 2. If Billy can't keep Ryan safe, no one can.