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Marvel’s Runaways 1.8 Review – ‘Tsunami’

December 26, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Marvel's Runaways - Tsunami
8.5
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Marvel’s Runaways 1.8 Review – ‘Tsunami’  

[Warning: spoilers abound for those who have not seen this week’s episode of Marvel’s Runaways.]

Marvel’s Runaways is in the home stretch of its first season. After this week’s episode, there are only two episodes left to go before we’re waiting on renewal news, so it is definitely time in the season for things to start ramping up. Luckily, if there’s one thing that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage know how to do well (aside from galas and a good verbal zinger), it’s when to bring it home in time to get things ready for the finale. “Tsunami” feels like the kind of intensity-raising episode that Runaways has been wanting and needing for a few weeks now. It brings its characters to their breaking points, forcing some difficult decisions to be made and revelations to come to light.

That last sentence applies to both the Pride and the Runaways, for the record. Everything falls apart due to Victor’s near-killing of Chase, and Janet’s corresponding shooting of Victor. This sequence didn’t just make a great cliffhanger; it is the incident which brings the Pride to their knees at last. For the preceding six episodes, the Pride has seemed to be a marriage of convenience: five couples bound together by cause, but by little else at this point. With Victor’s life literally at stake here, the group proves just how quickly they can both come together and split apart.

Runaways Pride Chase

As much as I’ve personally been enjoying the expansion (and drama) of the Pride’s character and conflicts in the show, I have to admit I like seeing them work as a unit at last. For something other than a sacrifice, at least. The scenes in which the group tries to save Victor under Jonah’s radar let the show remind us that they are all quite skilled in their own right. Dale and Stacey, for all of their goofy quirkiness, are skilled medical practitioners. Leslie knows how to get people to do her bidding, like Frank. Tina can make the calls no one else can, if she has to. And so on. When they’re at their most desperate, the Pride manages to come back together (albeit with some sniping). They very nearly pull it off, too.

Since close only counts in horseshoes and explosives, Jonah still has to come and save the day. He can save Victor, but at the cost of one of the Pride. He suggests Janet, who is of no further use to him and was the one who shot Victor. The suggestion quickly turns the Pride on one another. This lets the tensions that have been built up over the season come to a boil. There are problems here, to be sure. It makes no sense for Jonah to lay down an ultimatum against their lives and then forget about it when Tina destroys the box. In fact, that’s a line of dialogue so quickly forgotten that it almost seems intentional. It makes me wonder if Jonah wasn’t testing them. Either way, everyone else forgot it quickly and that’s messy at best. At worst, it’s downright sloppy.

Runaways Tina

Still, there are some great moments that come out of this. Notably, Brittany Ishibashi and Ever Carradine get to really shine as Tina and Janet. Throw James Yaegashi as Robert in there too, actually. While Dale is waving a gun that he doesn’t know how to use around and Leslie is considering putting her husband in the box, these three have their own personal drama to play out amidst these high stakes. Carradine has somehow emerged as one of the most interesting and sympathetic characters among the Pride. She’s the least “powerful,” but she’s the most human among them due to her connection to Chase.

Inserting her into the Minoru relationship has made both Tina and Robert more interesting as well. Robert’s decision to sacrifice himself for Janet and Chase not only helps humanize him; it gives him the spine that he’s been sorely lacking. And it forces Tina to make a bold choice, defying Jonah for the sake of her husband. The brief moment that Tina and Robert share in their native tongue after is quiet and well-done, putting the capstone on the scene. It doesn’t let us forget that these people were ready to kill each other moments before — in some ways, the Pride has never been more cutthroat than they are this week — but it’s another nice moment of shading the greys of their moralities a bit.

Runaways Alex Nico

Meanwhile, the kids aren’t all right either. Alex and Nico have a turning point in their relationship when Alex fesses up that he knew Tina’s password because he got it from Amy just before Amy died. Alex knew all sorts of things about Amy’s actions before her death, including that Tina was watching her. This makes Nico feel understandably betrayed. This wasn’t one of the cleanest-executed moments of the series so far, but it is a logical way to explain the password and the conflict between the two feels authentic. Alex’s explanations make sense on their face, assuming they’re legit. Still, it’s understandable why Niko isn’t letting it go any time soon.

Chase is, understandably, all kinds of messed up by his dad being shot. He calls Gert, doesn’t get an answer and then calls Karolina. This not-really-a-love-triangle is playing out beautifully, I don’t mind saying. Gert knows the score with Karolina, but like any teenager she can’t help dealing with insecurities there. And yet, the moment when she looks at her phone and says, “He called me first” is such a nice little bit of acting by Ariela Barer. These aren’t three unrealistic teenagers who alternate between loving and hate each other. They are complex young adults dealing with some serious crap while hormones fly. And ultimately, they’re still there for each other — even if they havbe to bring their psychic dinosaur along.

Runaways Chase

All of this ultimately leads to a fateful encounter in the parking lot of Timely Coffee. Chase can’t handle the possibility that, if they turn the Pride in, his dad might die. So he grabs the laptop and smashes it into pieces. I feel like this is going to be a frustrating moment for fans, and that’s understandable. This was their big MacGuffin, after all, and it makes all the time spent to get it seem wasted. But we knew it was never going to go to the police, right? Without it, we finally have a reason for the kids to just go on the run. Chase’s character logic makes sense, and with this avenue closed to them the group is likely to feel more desparate than ever.

Oh, but wait; we actually do finally have a runaway among the Runaways! Sure, Molly isn’t gone far, and she’s likely to head back to her aunt Graciela’s house now that she has her tape. But the fact that she’s gotten out from under a roof is a big step, and that VHS tape likely has some bad news for Pride. Molly has had her irritating moments, but she’s coming into her own and I’m looking forward to where the show takes her in the final two episodes of the season.

Runaways Molly

Some Final Thoughts:

• You’ll notice this went up later than past reviews did. I’m transitioning to a later time frame so that more people had a chance to see the episode. And also, so I can get some sleep on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

• Old Lace finally gets to get out of the house, and it is glorious. Everything really seems put together for them to almost go on the run at this point. (I’m still not expecting it until the season finale though.)

• I have a strong feeling that Frank is either not long for this world, which will be the final push to get the Runaways running, or will reveal that the kids know everything which will do the same.

• This apparently marks only the second time “Tsunami” has been texted to the group. The last was when the Hernandezes died, so you know that’s saying something.

• Amy’s final text read “He found out, LEAVE THE HOUSE NOW.” So assumedly it wasn’t Tina. Is Robert the real child-killer in Pride? That would seem odd. Jonah and Alex also make intriguing possibilities, for obvious reasons.

• Funniest line reading of the night? Lesie’s “Not the worst idea” in response to Robert saying, “Why don’t we just go get Frank, put him in the box? He’s not even in Pride.” That’s a cold woman right there.

8.5
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Runaways gets its mojo back after a couple more moderate episodes as it heads into the home stretch with "Tsunami." The Pride is forced to make some big decisions and the kids are looking closer to their ultimate goal of going on the lam. Great character work elevates this episode to one of the better ones of the season.
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