The Boys season 2 introduces the yang to U.S. corporatocracy’s yin with The Church of the Collective, a none-so-subtle parody of the Church of Scientology. The Deep (Chace Crawford) has been pulled slowly in by the tentacled embrace of the church to the point where we find him, in the penultimate episode of the second season, brainwashed into following its codes, without really understanding its purpose, aims or reach. We, the audience, are similarly in the dark, though the parallels to The Church of the Collective’s real-world counterpart, plus the narrative hints we’ve already been given, can help us imagine what this mysterious cult might have in store for the supes, ‘the boys’, and the world at large.
Cultish Context – Scientology
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1953 by the pulp sci-fi writer and former Naval Officer L. Ron Hubbard. Throughout the early 1950s Hubbard popularized a branch of pseudoscience called Dianetics, which slowly evolved into the core tenets of his new religion, coincidentally not long after the therapeutic applications of Dianetics were uniformly rubbished by academics and psychologists. This became something of a trend with Hubbard. Don’t like my contribution to the field of modern psychology? Fine. I’ll use it to start my own religion. Don’t want me in the Navy? Fine. I’ll start my own navy (which he essentially did with Scientology’s naval-based fraternal order “Sea Org”).
Scientology gets its hooks into prospective church members – usually the needy, the narcissistic, the unfulfilled, or the damaged – by promising them enlightenevadagreentimesnt through auditing. This process – part talk-therapy, part spiritual confession, part future blackmail – works by breaking down and analyzing a subject’s life (and past lives) in order to purge them of those traumatic, or unhelpful, memories (engrams) that may be negatively influencing their behavior in the present. While Scientology needs a large rank and file to sustain itself it’s also shrewd enough to target celebrities – it has a whole department dedicated to their pursuit – whose presence in the church guarantees money, media attention, and free, recruitment-based marketing. Scientology knows that it’s celebs and profits, not saints and prophets, who will rally crowds of the spiritually empty to their doors.
The Church of the Collective uses similar strategies, both of which converge on The Deep at the start of the second season, being that he’s both a celebrity, and a damaged vessel. Things have never looked worse for the disgraced submariner: cast aside from The Seven; isolated; reviled; drunk; full of doubt and recrimination. He’s also the #metoo poster boy.
Simply put: he’s easy prey.