|Air Date||November 28, 2017|
Well, nobody ran away. But this week we got to hear that word, “runaways”, used to describe not our heroes, but the victims of their parents. At the end of episode 4, we learned that Leslie Dean, under the cover of her church, has been handpicking waifs and strays for the Pride’s annual ritual sacrifice. Homeless. Orphans. Runaways. People nobody will miss. And she’s been doing it for the last 15 years.
It’s a revelation, certainly. And the show’s overarching plot continues to be a major hook. But, once again, “Fifteen” allowed us to see these characters learn more about themselves and each other. The development of their personalities and relationships continues to be the main attraction, and this week’s episode added new dimensions and dynamics to their already-complex clique.
Oh, and Molly punched a dinosaur.
All in good time.
Anyway, we opened up with a flashback to the death, apparently by suicide, of Nico’s sister Amy. That her death might be related to the current predicament isn’t exactly a surprise, but like almost everything in Runaways, the sequence served a purpose. Through the costume design, we got to see Nico as she once was, without the dark clothes and makeup, before she rejected her lifestyle and abandoned her faith in family and friends. It was split-second character development that also filled in some plot particulars. Amy died on the day of the Pride’s annual ceremony. Was she a sacrifice? Would they spill their own blood?
We didn’t stay in the past for long, but Amy’s spectre continued to haunt the episode. Back where we left off last week, the Pride is panicking. Their crusty bedridden mate is in dire straits, and only another sacrifice will sort him out. (Leslie does, though, give him what looked like a quick handjob, presumably for a morale boost.) Robert and Victor nipped off to find some undesirables to kidnap, landing them both in police custody at around the same time Nico and Alex have decided to report Amy’s “suicide” as a murder.
Very – especially when Nico made extended eye contact with the nakedly suspicious detective who also happened to turn up immediately after Amy topped herself. The Pride has the police in their pockets? Who’d have thought it?
What were the rest of the kids up to in Marvel’s Runaways?
Ah, see, this is where Runaways really excels. The shenanigans of a supervillain cabal are interesting and all, but what we really care about is how the various teens are getting on at school. And man, I really wish I was being sarcastic. It’s a testament to the show’s writing, and the strength of its performances, that I give a single, discount **** about whether or not Chase remains on the school’s lacrosse team. But, gotta say – I was thrilled when he quit.
There’s a lot of interesting tension in how these characters deal with the revelations about their parents bringing them closer together, just as their social statuses threaten to pull them apart. Chase quit the lacrosse team because he refuses to associate with the dopey teammates who he smacked around for trying to rape Karolina, but he still won’t talk to Gert on campus because he thinks it’ll look weird. Gert still believes in her “Undermining the Patriarchy” club, but she chins off her newfound allies when Karolina wants a word with her. Its trivial stuff, but it’s compelling.
What’s compelling about high-school drama?
It isn’t so much the cliquey lunchroom politics, but how neatly the typical teenage angst is woven into the amateur sleuthing and nebulous magical goings-on. Karolina and Gert bond over poking around Leslie’s office, where they manage to copy a file containing the names of all the human sacrifices. (Alex makes himself useful by breaking the encryption, but the detail I enjoyed more is that he gave everyone USB flash drives for their birthdays.)
See, Gert likes Chase, but Chase likes Karolina, so when Chase turns up at Karolina’s house and finds Gert there… well, you can imagine. Can’t you?
No matter. Because Runaways is different. Sure, Chase gets invited to Karolina’s bedroom, where she closes the curtains and slips off her jacket. But this is the kind of show where she does that because she wants to remove her magical bracelet and reveal how she turns into a lava lamp without it. The weirdness runs parallel to all the relatable growing pains. Just when you think the show’s becoming one thing, it reveals itself to be another.
Speaking of which. You mentioned a dinosaur fight in Fifteen?
Oh, yeah. So, the Yorkes’ velociraptor escaped last week, and it turns out it’s been hiding in an upstairs bedroom waiting to ambush Molly. Big mistake. I still have no idea why Molly gets all glowy-eyed and super-strong whenever she’s scared, but I also don’t care. She kicked a dinosaur through the ceiling. How often can you say those words?
The Yorkes are wonderful, by the way. All the members of the Pride fall on different points of the moral spectrum, but the Yorkes are as much captives as the unfortunate girl who finds herself tied up in the back of Victor’s panel van. This week, they detailed their plans to escape. They’re the runaways. Only Tina Minoru has evidently been spying on them and knows all about their scheme. The scene in which she confronts and slyly threatens them was faintly tragic, really. These are people who don’t want to be in the position they’re in; who have been bullied and cajoled into using their obvious talents for nefarious ends. They want out – and they’re quite clearly not going to get out. In fact, I’m going out on a limb here: They’ll be the first to die. And it’ll be a sad day when they do.
Any stray observations in episode 4?
- Nico’s home security system is super conspicuous.
- For a genius, Victor’s plan for kidnapping the homeless guy was incredibly stupid.
- Gert’s reaction to finding out the dinosaur was a girl was kind of an amazing payoff to their little subplot.
- This show doesn’t make much use of special effects, but they sure do look special when it does.
Marvel’s Runaways is largely about things that I’m almost genetically predisposed to hate, and I love it anyway. This is arguably the strongest, most compelling television that Marvel has produced since Jessica Jones, and that I care about some made-up jock’s sporting future should tell you an awful lot about where I stand here.
Keep watching – it’s great.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.