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Runaways Bonds its Heroes and Fractures its Villains

Runaways kicked off its premiere season with a three episode dose last week full of promise despite a few questionable choices. The main cast was fun and diverse, the blend of genres worked pretty well, and overall the show was a welcome breath of fresh air infused into the Marvel TV universe. I couldn’t wait to finish another episode. But wait, Hulu doesn’t release the entire season at once! Who has an online streaming service and still makes you wait for weekly releases. What is this, 2010?

I’m here again to cover episode 4, “Fifteen”.

Recap

This episode kicks off with an important flashback showing Nico discovering her sister Amy dead in bed. Their parents rush into the room while Nico freaks out. When Nico tries to call 911, though, her mother uses the magic staff to knock her out and lock her in her room.

Weird to see Nico dressed in anything except black.

When Nico wakes up, she uses the house’s surveillance to spy on her mother’s room. There she sees a detective promise to “handle” Amy’s body.

Back in the present day, Nico looks through Amy’s journal until an incoming group chat from the others interrupts her. They tell her about Destiny’s body washing up on the beach. Nico tells them the journal was not one you’d expect of a girl that commits suicide and she suspects her death was not suicide. They end the call without agreement on what to do.

While Chase works on some kind of Asami Sato glove, Alex tries to get back into the secret room beneath his house. He finds the secret switch changed and searches the rest of the office. Instead he finds a pistol in a hidden compartment and takes it.

Next we see Chase’s father Victor driving a van with a woman tied up in the back while Yorkes’s argue in their kitchen after discovering their dinosaur has escaped. Molly listens and eventually bursts into the kitchen. Her parents lie very badly about a hedgehog escaping and go off to find their lost dinosaur. They think they did a good job, bless their souls. They get a call before they leave about a secret Pride meeting and choose to ignore it.

Victor arrives at a meeting spot to meet Robert Minoru and Geoffrey Wilder. When he opens the door to show his captive, though, the van is empty. The rest of the parents sans Yorkes meet to talk about what to do about Destiny. Leslie arrives to tell them “he” is sicker than he’s ever been and they need someone else. It’s agreed that Victor and Robert will go together to find a replacement sacrifice.

Hey, school time! Nico approaches Alex when he arrives to tell him she’s going to the cops. She wants him to go with her. Alex half-heartedly argues against her and unsuccessfully. Gert and Chase eat lunch together but Chase’s rapist lacrosse buddies interrupt to demand an apology for him beating their asses. Excuse me, what? Chase fights them again and the lacrosse coach breaks it up.

Karolina shows up as well and a girl blames her for ruining the lacrosse team by sleeping with the two rapists. Why, Runaways? Why do this? Karolina insists to Gert that nothing happened.

Speaking of uncomfortable sexual content, Leslie watches over the dying man in her meditation room, and eventually climbs naked into bed with him. And his crotch glows beneath the blanket. Yeah, that was weird to type. When she leaves the room afterwards her husband Frank is waiting. He confronts her, thinking she is having an affair. Leslie deflects by saying she was preparing to ascend him higher in their church.

Meanwhile, Karolina faces more students victim-shaming her while Chase rides a bus to another lacrosse game. Three kids approach Gert wanting to join her club but Karolina shows up to talk to her. Gert puts the club on hold to go with her, and Karolina wants her help searching her mother’s house. Nico takes a Lyft from school, and Alex comes across Gert and Karolina. They ask if he wants to help since they are the only ones considering their parents might be innocent. He declines.

Victor and Robert hit a homeless alley to find another sacrifice. They find an old man passed out but when Victor tries to hit him with a tire iron, the old man wakes up and fights them off. The police come across them and arrest them.

While searching Leslie’s office, Karolina and Gert find a laptop. On it they find files about “ultra,” the ascension program Leslie told Destiny she would go through. They transfer the files to a USB drive when Chase’s arrival interrupts them. He asks to talk to Karolina alone. When Gert leaves, obviously bummed out, Karolina makes sure to thank her.

Turns out Chase quit lacrosse. Karolina asks him for the truth about the party and Chase tells her. In turn, Karolina decides to show him what happened when passed out. She takes off her bracelet and this time her entire body turns rainbow-colored. They talk about what it means as he leaves. Chase tells her she’s beautiful.

BTW, everyone who calls this straight-baiting? Imagine scenes like this happening basically every time the two are on screen and having the actors crush your dreams through a mocking song. That’s why Supercorp fans were upset.

Alex joins Nico at the police station so she won’t have to make her report alone. After a long wait a cop tells her the detective had a lead on Destiny’s case. Nico spots her dad and Victor at the station, along with the detective she saw the day Amy died. They assume the police are on Pride’s payroll and leave. Alex shows Nico his father’s gun and says Chase was right about them all needing to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, Tina meets with a private detective who delivers some information. The Yorkes continue searching fruitlessly for their dinosaur. Stacey wants to leave the country with their daughters.  Dale agrees.

Back at their house, Molly finds the dinosaur. They have a quick, awesome fight scene before Gert stops the dinosaur. Turns out it obeys all her commands. Their parents come home and find them together. Gert tells them about her control over the dinosaur, which surprises them. The Yorkeses try awkwardly to explain why they’re about to leave when Tina arrives. Turns out she knows all about their plans to leave, and that’s what the PI brought her info about. She questions their commitment to Pride and deftly threatens them to stay.

Gert demands answers but her father shuts her down.

Cut to Chase, who continues working on his glove when his father arrives home and interrupts him. Rather than admonish him, he shows real interest in his son’s work. He wants to help Chase build what Chase calls “fistigons”.

And finally, Alex manages to crack the encryption on Leslie’s files. He finds a list of runaways (ayyy) Leslie brought to the church over the years. They want to tell Karolina. They’re interrupted by Alex’s car alarm going off, and he goes to check while Nico calls Karolina. Nico tells her about the runaways. Then she goes out to the parking lot just as a vehicle speeds away with Alex inside.

Review

Overall this was another good step forward for Runaways. The plot took some appreciated steps forward, we learned a lot of new information, and our heroes remained as relatable and fun to watch as ever. I don’t have much negative to say.

So I guess I should go ahead and get the negatives out of the way.

Number one, and the least surprising, is the continued unfortunate handling of the almost rape of Karolina. Just like the first episode, my main question is; why? Why does this exist? I’m struggling to understand the necessity here. Hopefully future episodes will do more than this one to justify the subplot, because right now I’m shaking my head at it.

There’s nothing inherently inaccurate about all the other kids slut-shaming Karolina over false rumors. Teenagers can be assholes, I don’t question that part of it at all. Thing is, right now it feels like the only reason she was nearly raped was so Chase would quit lacrosse and prioritize the group over everything else. You don’t need attempted rape to make something side with another group of people. You just don’t.

I should probably hope something more comes of this because right now it’s just out of place and plain stupid. However, I’ve seen nothing about it to inspire hope. I’m really torn between wanting Runaways to drop the storyline entirely or continue in hopes of redemption.

My other main complaint has to do with Karolina’s mother, Leslie. And really it’s not so much her as the jealous husband storyline happening right now. It’s a perfect example of one of my main complaints about the first three episodes where Runaways injects these old soap opera tropes into the storylines of the parents. I just shake my head whenever her husband walks on screen. Runaways is usually better than this, so it’s always jarring to see it fall back on uninteresting storylines.

Okay, bad stuff out of the way. Let’s dive into the good, because there was plenty of good.

Most of the good centered on the blending of plot development and character interaction. I was happy to see Runaways manage both in this episode. Karolina and Gert grew closer while searching and finding Leslie’s secrets. Karolina and Chase bonded while confirming Karolina as a walking LGBT pride flag. Alex and Nico shared the struggle over the truth of their parents and what to do about it.

At the same time, the plot moved substantially forward. And let’s just say, well…the plot is kind of weird in all kinds of interesting ways. Now we know Destiny was far from the first runaway (ayyy) Pride has taken in and sacrificed to Victor Stein’s weird coffin. These sacrifices are all but confirmed to be aimed at healing the man in Leslie’s “meditation” chamber. Who is almost certainly her father, considering he died of testicular cancer and he had some glowing crotch pseudo-magic happening.

(I’ll just pass on why she had to climb naked in bed with him for now.)

The teens also came closer to the powers and skills they will presumably use as a superhero team. Gert has her dinosaur (so cool), Molly’s gradually mastering her super strength, Chase is building a glove of some kind, and Karolina was able to turn into a rainbow without passing out this time, while also confirming her bracelet inhibits it.

With all this, the stress fracturing Pride apart, and Alex’s abduction to end the episode, I think Runaways is ready to take a big leap forward. Gert and Molly know about their parents, who want to ditch town. Everyone else has taken some action in a definitive direction. The next episode will mark the halfway point of the season and it’s about time to kick things into full gear.

Perhaps they’re taking too long to get there, but I’m hoping all this groundwork works in favor of the events to come. I feel like we really know who these characters are and what they want. We know how they should react when faced with new revelations and incidents. Even better, we give a crap. Or at least I do.

Runaways has taken a bit of a gamble to delay the plot like it has, but I think it will be the right choice in the end. It continued to set up as a refreshing change from any other superhero TV out there.

Runaway Thoughts

  • The Yorkes may seem like goofy, innocent, and ultimately well-meaning people, but I expect they’ll prove just as complicit and morally bankrupt as everyone else.
  • Is it just me or did the woman Victor imagined locked up in his van look like his wife?
  • I found Gert’s hardcore antagonistic feminism a little annoying, so it was cool to see her back off in this episode. You won’t find anyone on The Fandomentals who has a problem with fighting patriarchy, but attacking other women for not being your ideal vision of a feminist just makes you look bad. Which is the point with Gert, but I was still happy to see her back off and be so happy getting along with Karolina.
  • Tina’s PI is definitely going to end up discovering the affair between her husband and Victor’s wife.
  • I love how excited Gert was about the dinosaur being female.

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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