Review: Marvel’s Runaways – Episodes 2 & 3

Runaways is:

Every teenager thinks their parents are evil. But what if they really were? When six L.A. teens stumble onto a terrible secret, they realize their parents have been lying to them all their lives. But what are their parents after? And why? While the kids investigate, the adults start to wonder if their kids are hiding secrets of their own. The parents close in on the truth just as the kids uncover a plan with devastating consequences. Now, this unlikely crew of teenagers must band together to stop their parents before it’s too late.

Who’s in it: Rhenzy Feliz (Teen Wolf), Gregg Sulkin (Faking It), Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac), Lyrica Okano (The Affair), Ariela Barer (New Girl), Allegra Acosta (100 Things to Do Before High School) & James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Where/When to Watch it: Series premieres Tuesday, November 21st exclusively on Hulu

Fando-review-8.5

***Warning: Spoilers Beyond This Point***

I thought of doing separate reviews for episodes 2 & 3, but there seemed little point to break them up.  This isn’t the kind of series that has stand-alone episodes, just one continuous plot, which is how this story should be told.  So I’m not talking about individual episodes here, but rather the fallout of the Pilot episode.

Now, last warning…(possibly minor) spoilers are coming. I’m not going to detail the plot of the series, but some things will be compared to their comic book counterparts.  You are welcome to bookmark this page and check back once the show airs, but if you don’t want to wait until next week to find this stuff out for yourself, then take the red pill and see how far this rabbit hole goes…

Here we go:

At the end of the pilot, the kids were reunited in time to discover that their parents’ charity organization was a front for villainous activity when they witness what they believe is the death of a young girl.

Naturally, the kids freak.  And, somehow, they play it much cooler than most kids would be able to.  They convince their parents that everything is okay while they go behind their backs to investigate things on their own.

This begins to knit the disparate characters into a unit, allowing them to put aside their differences.  What follows is a little foreshadowing if you know the path the comics take: the will they/won’t they is already evident between Chase and Gert, as well as Alex and Nico.  The latter two have a particularly great scene in Nico’s house when she discovers her mom’s magic staff (the Staff of One, though it has yet to be named in the show) and makes it snow in the office.

The former pair search for Destiny (their parents’ sacrificial lamb), or rather her body, first in Chase’s house, which provides the x-ray goggles that become part of Chase’s ensemble, before moving on to Gert’s basement, where they discover the prehistoric Old Lace (also not yet named), which becomes part of Gert’s.  The psychic link she shares with the dinosaur is even hinted at here.

Molly (not a mutant in the show as she is in the comics) continues to struggle with her blossoming super strength, and it becomes almost infuriating that Gert and the others won’t listen to her or take her seriously each time she tries to tell them about the new ability.  I’m curious to see how they explain her abilities and if there’s some significance to her younger self being in a wheelchair during the flashback to her parents’ funeral.

Karolina’s alien heritage is constantly hinted at, and she even shows off her power to Chase.  I don’t remember her mom being the cultish leader of a church in the books, but you’ve got to love the name here: Church of Gibborim.

On the surface, Gibborim is a Hebrew word meaning “mighty,” yet comic fans will know that the Gibborim in Marvel’s word represents a strange and ancient race of creatures to whom the Pride (the parents) have sworn their allegiance and make their sacrifices to.  Time will tell if the strange man that Karolina’s mom keeps hidden in her meditation chamber is one of these fabled beings or something else?  My wife suspects that it could possibly be Karolina’s grandfather, who started the church.

Either way it shakes out, I’m jazzed for the episodes that follow, and whether or not you’ve read the books, there’s plenty of mystery to keep you guessing.  I tend to appreciate this type of show, as it starts out very grounded, hinting at the paranormal, before reality unravels around the characters and things just get screwy.  I mean, psychic dinosaurs?

On top of that, the Leap Frog gets name dropped, as well as a mention of a frog-shaped vehicle, and Chase’s Fistigons were seen in sketch form.

As for the acting, everyone delivers here.  Strong performances all around, but I have to give it to Lyrica Okano & Ariela Barer, who play Nico and Gert respectively.  Those ladies both bring something special to this show: Barer adds a humor and likability to Gert that I never got from the comics, whereas Okano gives Nico a…je ne sais quoi, for lack of a better term.  As for the unofficial leader, Rhenzy Feliz, who plays Alex, is so good & likable that if the show follows the comic faithfully, it’s going to be absolutely heart-breaking.

As for the parents, the Wilders are both fierce and formidable (Catherine’s scene with Molly in the car is a little intense), but James Marsters has the stand-out performance among them.  His failings, coupled with his insecurity, make him dangerous.  He’s a loaded mouse trap, and you’re just waiting for him to go off.

The other parent that intrigues me, brought to life here by Kip Pardue (from Remember the Titans) is Frank Dean, Karolina’s dad, who doesn’t appear to be an alien and is no longer a member of the Pride, though it hints that he may have had his memories altered.  I’m intrigued to see what part he ends up playing moving forward.

I said it in the pilot review and echo it now: this is Marvel’s best show to date, in terms of originality and faithful adaptation, however that works out.  The drama, the characters, the mystery…all weave together to form a crazy story that leaves you craving the next episode.  Keep this one on your radar and check back here for a final review once the season wraps.

 

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