As Runaways begins its run up to the season finale, it becomes more and more clear that the writers and showrunners are looking at the long game with this property. While a second season has not be announced, it wouldn’t surprise me if internally they already planned on giving these kids at least another ten episodes. This episode began to tip their hand as to where the show is ultimately going.
I’m of the opinion that one of the things comics do well is to tell multiple story arcs that come to a combined finale. This impulse can lead to shows that feel frantic and cluttered to many TV viewers (Daredevil Season 2 is a prime example), but also thrilling to fans of that form of storytelling. The key is that the disparate story elements have to finally settle and jive. If no coherence happens then the show feels like a six-year-old wrote the plot. “This happens and then this and then this and BOOM this happens and…” But if the viewer pulls a multitude of threads and finds they unravel the same fabric, then everything shows master planning. Runaways is showing signs of the latter.
As the plot moves, storylines that seemed unimportant, and that I lamented in reviews, are now coming to a head. The Robert/Janet affair is causing some cracks in the Pride and forcing Leslie into a more assertive position in the group. It also distracts the Steins, Deans, and Minorus from noticing that the Yorkes and Wilders are headed for series drama. Victor’s time machine TV feels far more interesting after future-Chase sent a message back in time, which Victor totally ignored. As Molly’s hair clip and caving under pressure leads to her possibly being shipped out of town, the specters of the Hernandez deaths and Amy’s mysterious demise are now feeling more important. Frank Dean is becoming a person even! And at the center of it all is Jonah, his power, and what he will ultimately ask of the Pride.
All of the character work is starting to pay off. When the Yorkes decide to send Molly away, it heightens the fear of Jonah in the viewer. Clearly, they love Molly as their own. They’ve shown that they are willing to run off and leave the Pride behind. The only reason they are making this decision is due to Jonah being a material threat to the youngest of the Runaways. All of the fractures in relationships around the affair feels heavier because the characters involved are real people, not just caricatures. Most of all, Janet’s decision to shoot Victor is legitimately surprising. Just at the moment she seemed ready to return to her abusive relationship (as Robert tried to explain to her), she now has to make such a fateful call. Her confusion in pain is the pouring out of six episodes of character building.
Over on the kids’ side of things, the Nico and Alex storyline over how he knows Tina’s password is getting tiresome. This beat may be a way to introduce a major comic plot into the show that all comic aware fans are waiting for. Given how obvious that decision would be, I’m guessing this is actually a red herring. Either way, its a mess. That’s either signaling too strongly what should be a surprise or purposefully misdirecting the audience. Either way, it is a story that didn’t deserve one, much less two, cliffhanger moments.
The Gert and Molly connection in this show is a newer element not in the comics, seeing as Molly doesn’t live with the Yorkes in the source material. It is a nice addition. Their connection provides a different kind of heart to the team. Gert’s maternal leadership instinct is a great nuance to the character. It also foreshadows the fact that ultimately these kids don’t recognize she has the best potential to lead the whole group. This constant push and pull of who is really leading the group is a fun dynamic for the characters. Chalk up Gert’s leadership as one more element that could grow in a future season.
Many people continue to make jokes about the fact that the Runaways are far more the Stayathomes right now. That basic plot driving issue, their attempts to escape their parents, is still missing. My guess is that it will continue to be so until the finale. Why? Because quite simply this show was never going to be only 10 episodes. The writers decided to explore these families pre-runaway this season because they plan on never having that element again once the kids fly the coop. Molly’s current predicament seems like it may be the first precipitating event in that exile. I’ve decided that I’m going to just take that decision at face value and appreciate what is happening now. There will be plenty of time to runaway in the seasons that likely will follow.
Final Verdict: 4 out of 5 Jonah Blood Trips
- Where is Old Lace?!?!?! This is starting to feel like Lockjaw or Medusa hair all over. Give fans what they want!
- So Jonah has known Leslie since she was a little girl. For about the sixth time in seven episodes, that made me go “Ewwwwww….” with his character.
- Robert Minoru is starting to make up serious ground in the “Which Parent is Most Pathetic?” derby. With Frank showing some initiative, while also totally being played by Jonah, Robert’s inability to grasp that the Janet Stein thing is just an affair is becoming the saddest thing any of the parents do.
- Loved the line about Tina being the second most feared entity after Jonah. It’d be great to see her go back to the cold terrifying presence of earlier in the show. It seems though like Leslie Dean is being set up as the ultimate bad parent.
- I’m still hoping that the Gibborim are giant animal-headed deities, not just a watered-down version of the Majesdane.
- The idea that Victor Stein has been up and down because of his Jonah treatments is a convenient explanation for his uneven writing. I’m not sure that explanation, however, will pass muster when the continuity issues are carefully weighed.