As one "teen" show ends (Titans), another one begins. Which brings us to Marvel's Runaways, which Hulu dropped Season 2 at 12:01 am on 12/21/18. That brings up two conundrums. I don't have time to binge-watch most shows. So it's not like I can watch 13 episodes in a row and then write 13 reviews in a row. So sorry, most of the reviews that I do of Marvel's Runaways will be late.
How many reviews? That's the second conundrum. I don't really want to do 13 reviews of the series. Even with most American TV on hiatus for the holiday, I've got other shows to watch (Sapphire and Steel comes to mind), and reviews to write. The fact that the later Runaways reviews will come out days and weeks after the premiere means that their utility be somewhat less than ideal.
So we'll see what happens. I'll probably do a few more reviews of the episodes that strike me as particularly amusing and/or entertaining. Heck, maybe I'll do all 13. What can I say? My destiny calls and I go, and the wild winds of fortune will carry me onward, oh whithersoever they blow.
And of course, feel free to provide feedback. Do folks want to see reviews of all 13 episodes?
Oh, and a disclaimer. I've never read the comic book(s), and have no idea what the Runaways' background is in the comic books. From what I've read on Wikipedia it sounds quite... complicated. But then again, it's Marvel, so what do you expect?
Since this is the first time I'm reviewing Runaways and it's been over a year since season 1 ended, I'll recap. Runaways deals with the exploits of six teenagers: Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Gert Yorkes (Arela Boyer), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta). They're friends at least somewhat because their parents are members of a group called PRIDE.
The parents? Respectively, there are Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder (Ryan Sands, Angel Parker), Tina and Robert Minoru (Brittany Ishibashi, James Yaegashi), Leslie and Frank Dean (Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue), Dale and Stacey Yorkes (Kevin Weisman, Brigid Brannagh), and Victor and Janet Stein (James Marsters, Ever Carradine). Molly's parents died years ago and the Yorkes have brought he up.
What the teenagers don't know is that their parents are actually super-villains of a sort. They each bring a different skill set to the tables: Geoffrey Wilder is a former criminal boss and his wife is a criminal lawyer; the Minorus are businessman and tech experts and Tina wields a magic-like staff; the Deans run a religious cult-like organization; the Yorkes are geneticists and breed dinosaurs; and Victor is a Tony Stark-like inventor. Their children benefit from these skills: Alex is a leader type; Nico gets hold of her mother's staff and can use it since it's genetically coded to Minoru women; Karolina is one of the angelic flowing beings that the cult seems to worship; the Yorkes' dinosaur Old Lace has bonded with Gert; and Chase has come up with an invention of his own, power gauntlets called Fistigons. Molly received genetic treatments giving her super-strength but it takes a lot out of her and she tends to pass out shortly thereafter.
The teenagers discover their parents are working for a mystery guy named Jonah (Julian McMahon). He is apparently an alien like Karolina, and there's seemingly a race of his people at a construction site that PRIDE is supervising. They kinda/sorta work for Jonah but don't know what he's up to. He requires the occasional sacrifice of young teenagers, and Victor created a high-tech box that transfers their energy to Jonah to keep him rejuvenated while the sacrifices comes from Leslie's church.
There's other subplots along the way: Frank was mind-wiped when he found out too much and/or objected to PRIDE's plans, and now he's cutting his own deal with Jonah. Janet doesn't have anything to contribute to PRIDE other than being Victor's wife. Victor is a big ole jerk and mentally (and physically?) abuses Janet and Chase.
The kids eventually find out their parents sacrifice teenagers from Leslie's cult. They're not too happy about it, and they also find out Jonah and Leslie killed the Hernandezes when they found out too much. Most of season 1 has them poking around trying to get evidence to prove their parents are villains. Nico and Karolina fall in love, Alex loves Nico, Chase and Gert have sex after Karolina rejects Chase for Nico. At the end of the season, it's a big ole showdown between parents and children, and the kids take out the drill site but then flee. The parents control the police through Geoffrey's connections, and have their children declared runaways and the police are hunting them down.
Yep, it's a lot to unpack. Live with it.
"Gimmie Shelter" begins with the Runaways chasing after a thief who stole the Fistigons and their money. He loses them, and they head for a homeless shelter to get food. Molly's aunt Graciela (Marlene Forte) has the tape where the Hernandezes explained what they found out about Jonah's plan. The Yorkes go to get it. Being 60s hippies, socially-inept geniuses, and most of the show's comic relief, they don't do very well, so Tina steps in and kills Graciela with the Staff of One.
The Runaways get there and find Graciela dead, and realize PRIDE killed her. They flee, and in a touching bit, Wiccan Nico has a funeral-type ceremony honoring Graciela at the tent city where they're staying. The rest of the homeless join in, and Karolina comforts Nico and Chase tries to comfort Gert who is upset at seeing Graciela's body earlier.
Alex has already made a deal with Darius (DeVaughn Nixon), Geoffrey's former gang lieutenant who isn't too happy Geoffrey has "gone straight" and is funding Alex just to irritate Geoffrey. Maybe. Sorta. Darius wants something from Alex, and in a cute subversion of expectations, wants Alex to paint his nursery because Darius' wife Tamar (Ozioma Akagha) is going to deliver soon. Her sister Livvie (Ajiona Alexus) and Alex make eyes at each other. Tamar figures Alex is bad news because he's wanted by the police, but Darius insists he stays.
The whole thing gets Alex enough money to buy supplies for the group. However, they chase after the thief again when they spot him and Karolina literally falls into what appears to be a manor buried in the hills outside of Hollywood (called the Hostel down the road). I have no idea what the place is supposed to be, and it doesn't appear to be very well hidden since other people have used it as a shelter in the past, judging from the graffiti, old shoes, etc.
Meanwhile, the PRIDE parents are conducting their own investigation to find their children. They're not happy with Jonah, who they figure has been using them to do whatever he's doing, so they're plotting against him. The Wilders are plotting against the group but are willing to let the others take out Jonah before they take out the others.
Victor was badly injured in season 1. So he's in some kind of healing stasis. Jonah links up with him mentally and admits he needs Victor's expertise to build a new box.
At the end, Karolina seeks out Jonah privately to find out more about their shared alien heritage. LA shakes from an earthquake, and Jonah says that it's begun. The end.
No doubt about it, "Gimmie Shelter" hits the ground running. Literally, since the Runaways are chasing after the thief. The whole in media res thing is a little bit confusing, since we never saw the thief and the Runaways discuss the situation on the run. With Gert pushing a shopping cart with a blanket-covered Old Lace in it, since they can't have the dinosaur out in public.
Basically, Runaways is more... realistic than Titans. Which is an odd thing to say since Runaways has aliens and magical staffs and Iron Man-type power gloves and a small dinosaur. But somehow it manages to work, mostly by focusing on the fact that it's dealing with teenagers with teenage problems. Including problems with the parents. The Runaways spend a lot of time bickering among themselves: some still trust their parents, some don't, and sometimes they're going in several different directions at once.
The parents are equally divided: some like Leslie still kind of trust Jonah since he's basically the head of her entire religion. Nobody particularly likes the Yorkes, but they're genius geneticists so PRIDE needs them for stuff like their mind-wiping chemical. They're the ones who have the most qualms about what Jonah is doing and how PRIDE has to kill people and make their own children fugitives to pull off their plans.
The whole thing makes for a pretty large cast: 17 main stars, with 6 teenagers and 10 parents and Julian McMahon. But the creative team manages to juggle all 17 stars, giving them equal time and equal input. Even if they may not necessarily all get equal time in any given episode, it tends to average out over 2-3 episodes.
It helps that the actors involved tend to be pretty good. A few of them tend to blend into the background: James Yaegashi, Kip Pardue, and Ever Carradine are probably the most (least?) noticeable in this regard. Annie Wersching tends to blur the lines a bit between her villainous Leslie and her villainous Emma from Timeless.
All the teenager actors are good, though: they not only represent different super types, but different social cliques in your average school: Chase is a jock, Karolina is one of the cheerleader-type girls, Nico is a goth girl, Gert is a "social warrior", and Alex is a nerdy genius. Molly is younger than the rest, something which they bring up from time to time. There are all kinds of dynamic going on: Gert and Molly have an adoptive sister relationship; everyone is protective of Molly; Alex is sometimes several steps ahead of everyone else; Chase is both a genius and a jock, which tends to frustrate him. And Karolina is a cheerleader-type at the private school where they all went in season 1, but she's also fairly isolated because of her religious upbringing. Not to mention the aforementioned romantic relationships.
All 13 episodes of Season 2 of Runaways is out there, thanks to the Hulu drop. Unlike season 1, when it came out on a weekly schedule. Season 2 is a bit difficult to jump into, but that's part of why TVMaze does reviews like this. That, and there's the recaps, and the "Previouslys On" at the beginning of season 2. So it's pretty painless to get into, and while it's apparently part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (complete with a Stan Lee cameo in season 1), it's set in LA so it's set pretty far away from the typical MCU's NYC exploits. Since it's MCU, it may eventually get folded into the Marvel streaming channel like the Netflix stuff purportedly will. But until then, enjoy.
But those are just my opinions, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Dec 22, 2018