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Recap | Marvel’s Runaways | Episode 5

Marvel’s Runaways

Season 1
Episode No. 5
Episode Title “Kingdom”
Air Date December 5, 2017

What happened?

This week, the teens banded together to thwart Alex’s kidnapping. The Pride found a sacrifice for their flaky, bedridden conspirator, or leader, or whatever he turns out to be. That guy’s identity was revealed. Fathers spent some time with their sons, sisters spent some time with their dinosaur, and a good time was had by all.

Especially me.

Still like this show, then?

Yeah, I’m totally sold on Marvel’s Runaways. This episode just reinforced my belief that this is the best television the company has been responsible for thus far – and that includes Agent Carter, which I still insist was great.

So, who kidnapped Alex in episode 5?

Turns out it was Darius – Geoffrey’s old prison buddy who tried to extort him in the premiere – and his crew of crip cronies. Why? Well, according to a flashback at the beginning of the episode, he and Geoff were in prison together. A new character, Jonah (Julian McMahon), turned up out of the blue and offered Geoffrey $5 million for a disused old strip mall in Compton that he inherited from his uncle. Hmm. Geoff offered himself up as a partner in Jonah’s endeavour, but to do that he needed to be free. So he turned to Darius and offered him a deal of his own: If Darius confessed to Geoffrey’s crime and served his sentence, his struggling family would be taken care of for the rest of their lives.

You can probably guess whether or not Geoffrey kept that promise.

What a scumbag.

Yeah, Darius has a point. And the kidnapping led to some interesting interactions between Alex and one of his captors. See, Andre is a kid like him. He’s into technology like him. There’s a moment when Andre is explaining how he cloned Geoffrey’s phone, and Alex is aghast that this Compton hoodlum seems as well-versed in technology as he is. Privilege, folks. It comes in many forms.

Perhaps that’s why Alex shot Andre during Geoffrey’s rescue attempt.

Whoa – what?

He panicked. It’s understandable. You could tell he was a bit torn up about it, but much more so about the fact that he unwittingly handed the Pride another sacrifice. Doh! The teens attempted to intervene late in the episode, but the parents played a blinder and performed the ceremony elsewhere. Goodbye, Andre. You were a well-written bastion of classism and you’ll be missed.

The kids seem to be getting pretty confident.

Well, they’re all starting to discover their new abilities and toys. In “Kingdom”, about halfway through the episode, we got to see everyone come together to save Alex from Darius. And aside from the staging in the scene being a bit static, it was still kind of awesome to witness the nascent team work out the kinks.

We’ve got a handle on what everyone does now, and also the drawbacks to each of their powers or bits of gear. Molly is super-strong, but lifting things knackers her out. Karolina turns into a lava lamp when she removes her bracelet, and she can also fire the light out in beams, but she doesn’t really understand the extent of what she is and what she can do. Nico and Chase, who built some high-tech laser-shooting gloves with his dad, are still trying to figure out their toys. Gert can telepathically communicate with her pet dinosaur, but her dinosaur is locked in her parents’ basement. And Alex… no, I still don’t know what Alex does.

So, Chase and his dad are chums now?

Kind of. One of the themes of “Kingdom” was the relationships between fathers and sons. That of Alex and Geoffrey is becoming irreparably damaged as more revelations about the latter’s true nature are revealed. But the one between Chase and Victor is blossoming. It stems from Victor discovering Chase working on the prototype for his gloves at the end of the previous episode. When he sees his son’s obvious intellect, he wants to work with him. And working with him reminds him of a time before his success, and presumably before the Pride. We also learned that Victor has a terminal brain tumour. So maybe it’s his guilty conscience for a lifetime of abuse. Who knows?

Either way, I enjoyed Chase’s interactions with Victor mostly because they seem so tragically desperate. When Chase defends the parents later in the episode, suggesting that there might be a more benign reason for their behaviour, everyone looks at him like he’s nuts. And quite rightly. But the kid – good-looking, popular, athletic – is so thrilled at attention from his father, so in need of his affection and respect, that he’s willing to overlook flagrant evidence of his criminality just to enjoy a few minutes with him. It’s sad, when you think about it.

What were the girls up to this week in Marvel’s Runaways?

We didn’t see much from Molly and Gert, save from a few feats of strength from the former and a few comedic zingers from the latter. Seriously, Gert might be my favourite character. When she sees Karolina’s powers for the first time, she sighs, “Great, she’s beautiful and she glows.” Her little remarks are a great way of grounding Runaways in a recognisable teenage experience.

Also very teen-centric is the developing love triangle… or square, I guess, between Karolina, Gert, Chase and now Nico. And I guess Alex, too, if we’re including Nico. Not to get too gossipy, but the way I’ve organised it so far is like this:

Gert likes Chase who likes Karolina who likes Nico who likes Alex who likes her back.

Aren’t you too old to care about such things?

You’d think so, but it doesn’t seem like I am. It says a lot about Runaways, though, that even these seemingly-generic relationships are a lot more interesting than they might be in other young-adult stories. Chase and Karolina are the most traditionally attractive, so that one’s to be expected, but Karolina’s a devout member of a religious cult and also a lesbian. Alex and Nico’s blossoming romance is deeply rooted in guilt about the death of Amy, Nico’s sister, whom Alex also apparently liked, and whose funeral he didn’t attend. It just seems like every dynamic in this show has one or two more interesting wrinkles than you first thought. Every time you get a handle on it all, something else is revealed to make things more compelling.

Speaking of which…

Oh, okay, let’s have it.

It turns out that Wrinkly McWrinkleface is Jonah from the beginning of the episode. Whoa! How’s that for a revelation? After Andre’s sacrifice, he’s revitalised and ready for loving. He also seems dead keen on “meeting her”, which suggests to me that he’s probably Karolina’s biological daddy. This show gets weirder and more interesting by the minute. I can’t way to see where it goes next.

Stray observations from Kingdom?

  • The hidden camera in the Wilder basement is just a regular camera sat on a shelf? How is that hidden?
  • If the Pride has performed these sacrifices 15 times in the past, why are they all so perplexed by the technology and the process?
  • I really appreciate that there was a brief scene of Leslie’s husband “failing” to become an ultra, thus proving that Leslie really was teeing him up to be the Pride’s next sacrifice had Geoffrey not stumbled upon Andre.

Keep watching?

For sure. Marvel’s Runaways is currently my favourite thing on TV, and there’s still plenty of time to catch up before it gets even more mental.

I’ll see you next week when hopefully we’ll find out if Alex has any talents beyond downloading torrents or whatever.

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Marvel's Runaways S1E5: "Kingdom"

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Marvel's Runaways S1E5: "Kingdom"
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Plot

8.0/10

Writing

9.0/10

Direction

7.0/10

Performances

8.0/10

Production

8.0/10

Pros

  • We got to see all the teens come together and use their powers.
  • A compelling focus on relationships between fathers and sons.
  • One hell of a cliffhanger.

Cons

  • We've seen the kids try to thwart a sacrifice before.
  • I do hope we move into some slighter fresher territory next week.
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