The finale to the first season of Runaways is here and it confirms its place in the MCU. This first season is the greatest prelude in the history of the MCU. Ten hours of prelude. All foreshadowing and set up, very little pay off. It is unfortunate that so much good work went just about nowhere.
Let me be clear about what I’m not saying before I elaborate about what I am saying. This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It doesn’t mean the show is no good. It doesn’t mean it did a disservice to the characters or the comics. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want more of this show specifically and Hulu MCU generally. I am still pretty positive on this show. I think it is better than most of what has come in the last two years on Netflix and most of the history of ABC MCU shows. (Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a little better right now.)
The problem, however, is this season never ended. This finale isn’t a finale in any meaningful way. There is no sense of closure available. None of the plots are particularly well wrapped up. Some of the “reveals” turned into non-events. Too much of the payoff happened off screen. There are so many ways this show never cashed in on the promise of the pilot and some of the development that happened through the season.
Let’s look at a simple example: the powers. All season long each character slowly worked toward their power set from the comics. Almost everything came together for a great moment in Episode 5. But viewers were made to wait for a big fight scene where the team would function together, and the cliffhanger in Episode 9 seemed to have everything in place. Then the “let’s shave Medusa’s hair and give Karnak a concussion” wimp out debacle began with yet another MCU TV writers’ room. Tranquilize the dinosaur. Have the Staff of One mysteriously disappear into the construction equipment. EMP to knock out the Fistagons. Molly is asleep. Karolina’s big showdown takes place partially off screen. Please Jeph Loeb, repeat after me, “I WILL NOT make a superhero show if I don’t have the BUDGET to make a superhero show.”
Another matter of concern is the way they bundled so many subplots. Amy’s death was foreshadowed ominously. Then it is explained, almost cavalierly, off camera. How much more menacing would Jonah be if we saw him strangle Amy? (Remember how the death of Ben Urich helped cement your feelings about Wilson Fisk?) Also, why was Kincaid even on this show again? Other than being an overused red herring of zero signficance? And then don’t even start down the road of all the ways that Alex’s allegiances were hinted at, only to turn into nothing. And who was texting Jonah about how step one was completed? Also, what’s beneath the surface? (Please giant Gibborim gods!) How are Karolina and Jonah’s powers connected? Why is Jonah aging so quick? Will Victor come back? What’s the deal with the magic rocks? One or two of these would be a great way to springboard into Season 2. Together, they make this entire season feel like 1A with 1B coming next year.
On the positive side, there were a few good moments. I didn’t see the final twist of the kids being turned into the cops coming and like how it propels things forward. (Also, was that Geoffrey’s call? Why am I having to ask so many quetions about the basic plot?) Already we are starting to see some of the strain that life on the run will bring to these rich spoiled kids. This is a good new element to push the characters along. Also, the costume designer has recreated some of the outfits perfectly from the original run, especially Karolina’s star shirt. Those are fun details to include. I also really enjoyed finally getting a nickname for Old Lace and how that was constructed. The final shot of them running away looked good, particularly Old Lace’s movement.
Overall, the concern is just that there wasn’t much to satisfy or bring closure in this finale. The plot did finally get to the launching point that the comics managed to get by about issue 3. Which, given that the pilot is close to a shot for shot version of issue 2, means we covered two comics in nine episodes. Its just all a bit long and drawn out. A few meaningful answers would have been nice. This season now in retrospect seems like it was always aimed to merely set up the premise. Let’s hope Season 2 starts to pay off some of the world building. Thirteen episodes of plot teasing without resolution might not be so easy to enjoy.
Final Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 Whole Foods Chickens
- My personal favorite line was “We could kill you tonight in this basement, Leslie, and no one would ever know.” Please let Tina’s angry mom-of-a-murdered-child rage out next season.
- I continue to love the Yorkes. Them getting a little angrier and edgier could be good.
- Anyone else think the EMP was a really convenient plot device? Shouldn’t it have killed the x-ray goggles too? Seems like the Staff of One should be out too.
- We are debating internally here at MCU Exchange, was that newspaper supposed to be a Defenders reference? If so, that’s a pretty non-direct one.
- Frank Dean continues to be such a worthless character. Does he hate Jonah or love him? Kip Pardue also became the weak link in the cast as the show went on.
- Alex’s connection with his dad’s gangster friend makes that whole plot feel like a really elaborate way to answer a minor plot detail.
- Another Inhumans similarity, apparently LA is like Honolulu in that it has wilderness areas that are easy to disappear into but one can also walk out of them and be in civilization quickly.
- They have mastered the “hero shot” poses. Now a little action after them would be good.
- Thanks for reading along. Here’s to Season 2!