How The Boys Crew Pulled Off Season 2's Wild Whale Scene

One of the funniest running gags in "The Boys" is how the Deep (Chase Crawford) feels a strong emotional connection to all sea-dwelling creatures, yet he can't seem to help accidentally getting them killed. One memorable example of this from season 1 was when he attempted to rescue a dolphin from a SeaWorld park knock-off. When he's forced to slam on the brakes of his getaway vehicle, the dolphin goes flying out the window, rolls around on the road a bit, and is run over by a truck. 

The season 2 episode "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men" outdid the dolphin scene by a mile. Our main heroes are trying to drive their speedboat into a tunnel, but the Deep — who's trying to redeem himself by stopping the super-terrorist they're harboring — decides to block the entrance with a whale. Unfortunately for him, the boat's captain Butcher (Karl Urban) has no qualms about murdering a whale if it means accomplishing his goal. So Butcher picks up the speed and drives straight into the whale's belly, resulting in one of the goriest scenes in a season that already had more than enough gore. 

Whereas season 1's dolphin scene took six-to-eight hours to film, the whale scene took about a week. As for creating the whale set itself? It took about five months.

Very risky business

The actors playing Hughie (Jack Quaid), M.M. (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Butcher were all on the speedboat, with Karl Urban doing the actual piloting. "Jack had it the worst 'cause he was on the nose and they actually had to give him something to hold on to because he's just holding on for dear life," VFX supervisor Stephan Fleet said. "In hindsight, it was a little risky, but I think Karl was having the time of his life."

The hardest part was filming the speedboat from a camera set up in a helicopter flying close by. Getting the perfect shot meant flying very, very close to the water at high speeds. Fleet recalled his stunt coordinator saying to him, "If we hit that water, I'm just gonna tell you right now, you're gonna have to kick that door as hard as you f***ing can because you have about three seconds to get it open or we're all dead."

The final result of the boat crashing into the whale looked pretty darn convincing, but the work wasn't finished there. As fans may remember, "The Boys" didn't just show the speedboat crashing into the whale; they also spent a significant amount of screen time showing us the insides of the whale's stomach. Hughie in particular gets flung from the boat, landing deep within the whale's guts. Although the actual boat crash might've been the most dangerous part of filming, getting the whale intestines right was the most time-consuming.

Poor Lucy the whale

"I went to many meetings in a giant woodshop with a styrofoam whale and then the next time it was a slightly skinned whale," Fleet said about his preparation strategy. "We had a whole show and tell on whale guts 'cause they made all these guts, too, for the inside. They did all their research. They had them on a table and they'd walk us down. It's like we're sampling food for a restaurant. 'This is a whale spleen!'" 

The whole experience of filming inside the whale seemed to be pretty miserable for everyone involved, as Fleet explained: 

"Especially for Jack Quaid because the poor guy just gets slathered in blood in everything he does ... I wanna say it was like 100 degrees out and they were like, 'Here. Get covered in this sticky blood, we're gonna stuff you in this giant silicon whale, and you're gonna sit here for three hours while we do the scene.'"

After shooting, the VFX team added the effect of pulsating organs to the whale's guts, implying that the poor creature was still alive throughout the scene. "The Boys" has always been big on dark comedy, but the decision to have the whale die a slower, more painful death rather than a sudden one ramped the darkness up to pitch-black.

Not just done for spectacle

The unfortunate murder of Lucy the whale and the five months of work, and it wasn't just included in the show for a cheap gross-out gag, or for the spectacle. It also served as a nice character moment for M.M., who sticks around inside the whale with Hughie after Hughie briefly considers giving up on life. Perhaps most notably, it helped to clarify the Deep's character journey.

Introduced into the show as a rapist, it almost seemed like The Deep was receiving a redemption arc in season 1. His love for sea creatures mirrors the common "pet the dog" trope, often used as a cheap way to make an immoral character sympathetic. But the Deep's concern for fish is constantly undercut by his consistent short-sightedness and selfishness, which keeps getting them killed. If you're going to use a whale to block a speedboat's passage, can you really be surprised when the whale gets hit by the speedboat?

It makes sense that in the scene where he's mourning Lucy's death, he also meets Starlight (Erin Moriarty) for the first time in a while and offers her a shallow, self-centered apology for assaulting her back in season 1. The juxtaposition of Lucy and Starlight makes a clear point: his attempts to redeem himself are futile because all he's really motivated by is his own personal interests. Just as he only ever hurts the fish he claims to care about, every attempt he makes to do right by Starlight ends up making the situation worse. For the show, the death of Lucy served as an expensive, time-consuming reminder to the audience that a redemption arc for the Deep isn't going to happy any time soon.