Ruby and Billy struggle to find common ground in “Kiss”, as the runaway starts to look less adventurously romantic and more like something resembling a tragedy.
This recap of Run Season 1, Episode 2, “Kiss”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It becomes clear at some point during Run Episode 2 that the show’s essential dramatic question is what it really means to run away. During the pilot, Billy (Domhnall Gleeson) and Ruby (Merritt Wever) were a bit like those highly-strung animals that hump random pieces of furniture, as some dogs do, and their semi-luxury train journey seemed to be running on their ample sexual chemistry. Right at the beginning of “Kiss” they attempt to consummate their reunion in a much-too-small train car bedroom and it’s a disaster, and not just because they keep bumping their heads on the bunks. Billy’s endlessly concerned with Ruby’s phone, which has a lock screen wallpaper showing off her husband and children and won’t stop ringing – when he sees her C-section scar as they clumsily undress, it only winds him up even more.
You have to wonder what he was expecting. In the opening scene of Run Episode 2, we see him tearfully send that initial text in a hotel room strewn with beer bottles; he negotiates with someone on the phone, presumably Fiona, about not bringing someone – a “him” – around. Billy was clearly running away from something, and it seems painfully naïve that he expected Ruby not to be.
Then again, it doesn’t seem entirely reasonable that Ruby expects him to simply regress into carefree college student mode at a moment’s notice. She insists that she came here for sex, and she’s going to get it one way or another, even if she has to seduce the next person, man or woman, who leaves the train bathroom. It’s no surprise that this person turns out to be a handsome man, and even less of a surprise that Ruby can’t commit to sleeping with him, although his woeful dirty talk might be part of the reason why. If Ruby was going to flee her family, she obviously wanted to do so in a comfortable no-strings-attached way that seems to me almost as naïve as Billy assuming she wouldn’t have a family to flee from in the first place.
Ruby insists time and again throughout “Kiss” that her pride is at stake here. She’s older and has succumbed somewhat to life and gravity and wants to know that she still has it – and Billy, in his reticence, is convincing her that she doesn’t. (She does since Merritt Wever is leaning so much into the part that watching her sometimes feels like being unfaithful to my partner, but you know how these things go.) Eventually, Billy’s drinking games and sly gags become too much for her to handle, and she attempts to flee. Her escape plan is thwarted, though, first by her debit card being declined, then by her husband’s phone going straight to a voicemail message that announces she has abandoned her family.
What’s going on here? As some of the sexual tension begins to fizzle out, and the idea of a romantic runaway begins to seem more and more like an unfeasibly stupid idea, Run Season 1, Episode 2 suggests a darker tone. Is Billy sabotaging Ruby’s means of escape? If so, why? And what’s going to happen when they get wherever they’re going? Run isn’t in a rush to answer any of these questions, which I suppose is just as well. We’ll have to stick with the journey to find out.
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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.