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Just what in the World is Runaways Doing?

At this point I’m not the least bit sure. Runaways vexes me constantly throughout these episodes. It’s very much a spinning coin; one moment an episode is fun and subversive and has me eagerly looking forward to what comes next, the next I’m groaning and checking how much time remains. One moment the writing seems razor sharp, the next it’s ridiculous. I just don’t know what this show wants to do anymore. Frankly, I wonder if Runaways itself knows.

runaways red carpet

Recap

We start off another episode with another look back at Pride’s origins. The guy Pride revived (?) turns out to be named Jonah and gives the Wilders their current estate. We see the first sacrifice Pride made 15 years ago for Jonah and also see Molly’s parents for the first time. After the sacrifice, most of them freak out about killing some poor kid but don’t do anything because the entire thing was taped. Turns out Tina was in on it.

Yeah, they went along way too easily.

Back in the present day, Jonah readies for a Pride fundraiser that Leslie doesn’t want him to attend. Leslie tries to talk him out of it. He insists because he wants to meet Karolina, confirming she’s his daughter, and wants to keep a closer eye on everyone.

Alex calls Nico and delivers exposition about a plan the teens have to expose their parents at the fundraiser. Tina comes in afterwards to train her daughter in using her staff. She explains the magickey science behind its operation and how it only works for Tina’s DNA. They also have a brief conversation about Amy’s suicide.

Karolina’s “dad” checks in on her while she looks at illustrations of “beings of light” her grandfather claimed to see, which is part of their church. She asks whether they were literal (considering she’s a being of light) and they have a little bonding moment establishing Frank as an outsider. Chase also has more bonding with his father over his fistigon gloves. After he leaves to meet his friends, Victor listens in on his wife and Nico’s father talking about their affair and her leaving Victor. Nico’s father wants to tell Victor about the affair.

The teens meet up to talk their strategy at the fundraiser. There’s some sexual tension between Chase, Karolina, Nico, and Gert, and their plain is to release video of a Pride sacrifice taken from Tina’s mother’s company servers, where they upload it. Chase and Nico are reluctant but agree. Alex again angrily avoids his father while preparing for the fundraiser and Nico goes over to Karolina’s to prepare for the party, but not before another scene of Tina playing nice. Tina also plays nice with her husband and seems to want to reconcile. While Nico and Karolina get ready for the party, Nico reassures her about her rainbow powers and identity. Karolina worries about her powers and nearly confesses her feelings until Molly and Gert interrupt.

They all ride together to the fundraiser in a limo. Gert talks trash about red carpets until Molly tells her how amazing she looks. They talk again about bringing their parents down with varying reactions. Leslie and Frank discuss his failed “Ultra” attempt until Jonah interrupts. The two men have immediate tension, and as Jonah and Leslie walk away Frank has what appears to be a hazy memory of catching the two having sex.

When the teens are ready for their plan, Gert takes Karolina aside to ask if she’s into Nico. Karolina reacts badly and accuses Gert of only being supportive so she can have Chase. Then Karolina asks Chase to get her a drink before walking off. Gert, Alex, and Nico head off to find the server room. Meanwhile, Molly sends a text asking Catherine Wilder for information about her parents before “time runs out.”

Alex and Nico send Gert to flirt and distract the security desk while they sneak on the elevator, which she does through Kafka. The Yorkes’ gossip about Jonah is interrupted by Karolina walking by on her way to grab a bottle of vodka and sneak off to the roof. Leslie and Jonah ask Chase where she is and he heads off to look for her. Chase finds Karolina chugging vodka on the roof. Karolina vents about her powers and her parents’ secrets and jumps up on a ledge.

Nico and Alex reach the server room and find out they can’t plug Alex’s laptop into the servers. Nico suggests they go to Tina’s office to do so. The security guy Gert is distracting notices the elevator in use but is distracted again when Gert starts playing an arcade machine nearby. Alex guesses the passcode into Tina’s office while Gert’s efforts draw another security guy in. In Tina’s office, Nico’s blood activates the computer, just like the staff.

While continuing to vent, Karolina falls from the roof and Chase grabs her bracelet when she falls off. Turns out her rainbow powers also let her fly! Which is awesome. After she lands back on the roof, Chase kisses her while Karolina clearly doesn’t feel a thing.

While Pride gives their comments about the fundraiser, Victor takes the mic and blurts out about his wife having an affair with Tina’s husband. He collapses afterwards. They take him somewhere and his brain tumor is revealed. Leslie brings Jonah to the room. Tina hurries to her office, and Gert warns Nico and Alex. They hide under the desk while Tina sits beside the window and cries. Alex stops Nico from going to her. Jonah gives Victor a shot of something to help him.

Nico and Alex return from the office and Gert leaves after some kind of creepy comments from the security guards complimenting her. I mean, she is awesome, but I’m glad she shut them down. Nico regrets the plan and asks what the office password was and how he knew. Alex lies about it being “password”. Chase finds them and tells them about Karolina, as well as the affair. Victor reappears looking okay. He acts totally reconciliatory towards his family. Jonah finally finds Karolina and introduces himself, and Frank shows up soon after. He and Jonah go off to talk together. Leslie and the Yorkes see this and it comes out that Mr. Yorkes apparently wiped Frank’s memory of seeing Leslie and Jonah banging.

Gert asks Molly about Chase, and Molly tells her about Karolina and Chase kissing. Molly then approaches Catherine to ask again about her parents. She lets slip about seeing the sacrifice before her mother takes her away.

Review

This episode was really a perfect microcosm of what Runaways does right, what it does wrong, and why I find the show so frustrating. Unfortunately, along the way, it also ended up as my least favorite episode so far by doubling down and bringing many of the least interesting subplots throughout the season. Even worse, they made those subplots worse with their choices.

I didn’t care about the affair between Nico’s father and Chase’s mother before. The fact that I can’t remember their names right now should tell you as much. But then, this episode decided not only to double down on the Victor Stein redemption it began last week, but went a step further and shamed his wife for having an affair.

Am I supposed to blame her? Am I supposed to consider his side in this? Victor Stein physically abuses his wife and son. Runaways makes sure to remind everyone about that when he listens in on his wife’s conversation. Time and time again we’ve seen Chase react like a frightened rabbit around his father. Now suddenly they are the ones who need to make up with him because he has cancer? Why? Why are they the ones who need to make amends?

All I can think of is that Runaways’s apparent insistence on dragging out the actual running away led to this, because otherwise the implications leave me sour.

I feel the same way about Nico and her sudden reluctance to take down her parents. Here at least I’m more understanding. We don’t know much about her parents and their relationship, but it seems clear after the flashback that they began drifting apart once their Pride activities began. Amy’s suicide would likely create an even greater rift. I understand how their relationship is much grayer than the Steins and find Tina’s reconciliation attempt more compelling. I definitely relate with Nico’s desire to have a closer relationship with her mother.

It just happened too damn fast. It was two episodes ago that Nico walked into a police station to rat her parents out. All that changed since is a few kind words about Tina’s staff. Suddenly Nico’s seemingly unwilling to take down her parents at all. This subplot needed more time. She’s done a complete 180 within what feels like a couple days. I can’t say it makes no sense, but like the sudden change with the Steins it feels designed to stall rather than move the plot forward.

As for the jealousy between Jonah and Frank, well, I don’t care at all. It just feels cruel and designed to make us care about Frank before something awful happens to him and the show’s done little to make me care about Frank.

I’m also a bit frustrated with the dynamics among the teens in this episode, too. Rather than continue the typically supportive atmosphere between them all, they revisited an attempt to push them apart and also swerved away from some of the more interesting dynamics among them. Remember when Chase seemed to have a hidden crush on Gert? Nope, never mind, never existed apparently.

I’m not going to say Karolina’s antagonistic reaction to Gert asking her about Nico was wrong or unrealistic. She’s clearly struggling greatly with her parents, her sexuality, and her powers, and her scenes were some of the better ones of the episode. Just, why did it have to lead to two characters “fighting” over Chase? Two characters who were happily getting along and supporting each other just two-three episodes ago? I hope this doesn’t continue too strongly beyond this episode.

But will it? Probably.

It’s a shame because you can see what Runaways does right here, in glimpses. How cool was it for Gert’s milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard while she distracted security? It was a little creepy when the older guy got too direct about it, but the show called it out. It’s great that she isn’t portrayed as frumpy and unattractive or even uncomfortable, because she’s not. How cool was it for Nico and Alex to Mission Impossible their way through the party? Or Karolina’s flying gay rainbow powers?

Stuffed in between the lame scenes were scenes of Nico and Karolina getting ready for the party, Molly cutting through Gert’s takedown of red carpets to call her sister pretty, the hilarity of Karolina’s indifference to Chase’s romantic efforts and eventual kiss, and so on. It just makes things more frustrating. The good is there but you have to wade through some really dumb stuff sometimes to get there. This episode more than any other before it, shows that.

At this point I’m prepared for the rest of the season to continue this frustrating unevenness. I hope they learn from it going into a second season.

Runaway Thoughts:

  • The reaction for the first sacrifice was completely ridiculous. I’m sorry.
  • Karolina’s grandfather might have had some direct connection to beings of light, like her? What does this mean for Jonah?
  • Speaking of which, is Jonah a being of light? How long has Leslie known him? So many questions about this church now.
  • Karolina’s indifference at Chase throughout this episode was hilarious.
  • Stan Lee as the limo driver!
  • Molly cleaned up pretty good, huh?

Images Courtesy of Hulu

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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