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Marvel’s Runaways 1.9 Review – ‘Doomsday’

January 2, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Runaways - Doomsday
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Marvel’s Runaways 1.9 Review – ‘Doomsday’  

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

There’s only one episode of Marvel’s Runaways left, and before that happens we had to get the kids and their parents to a breaking point. The series has been building the pressure between the Runaways and the Pride for the whole season, but it’s been on a fairly slow burn punctuated by several ups and downs. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have been interested in portraying a more nuanced parent-child dynamic than the original comic did. And for the most part, that’s worked. Sure, there have been some missteps along the way — largely in terms of Pride/Runaway balance — but the result has been a far more interesting show than it otherwise would have been.

Eventually though, you had to get to this point. You literally can’t have a Runaways show without the parents and kids having a major face-off, and “Doomsday” delivered on that front. The gloves are off (or on, in the Fistigons’ case) and we get set up for a major battle in the season finale. While some were probably disappointed that it’s taken this long for the Runaways to run away, in retrospect it looks like the best choice. “Doomsday” pays off a ton of plot threads that have built until now. And the way that it comes to a head makes for a hell of a moment.

Runaways Pride Hardhats

But before we get to that point, we have revelations to discuss. Jonah and the Pride’s plan for the school is finally revealed, and it involves something buried in the earth. The problem, as the Hernandezes learned before their death, is that it could trigger a fault line and sink California into the ocean. This is the weakest of the show’s big reveals for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s an obvious choice. Of course there’s something buried in the ground. It’s the same plotline that didn’t really work in The Defenders, after all. It works a little better here, in part because it fits into Jonah’s story arc pretty well. Still, it’s hard not to think back to how that otherwise-good show missed the mark here. There’s reason to be concerned that lightning will strike twice in a negative way.

The other thing that makes this reveal frustrating is that once again, a superhero show is trying to end the world. Not to be overly comparison-minded here, but Suicide Squad is another example of a project where a world-ending situation wasn’t necessary. These aren’t the heavy hitters of the MCU. Sometimes, it’s okay to not put the entire world at stake. Is the plot true to the comic? Sure, albeit in a different fashion. But Runaways has shown a willingness to diverge from the source when it needed to. I can’t help thinking that this would have been a nice way to dial down the stakes just a bit. Dealing with evil parents is enough of an apocalyptic situation. We don’t need the western seaboard potentially torn apart to drive the point home.

Runaways Team School

I complained a lot there, I know. But despite the word count, it’s a fairly small ding against the episode as a whole. I’m willing to go with it because it allows the team to reunite. The Runaways are nearly broken up after Chase’s destruction of the evidence at the end of last week’s episode. The fallout makes sense, but the kids still need to be a team. Molly brings them together with her videotape, and we get our second big revelation via flashback: Tina was not the murderer of the Hernandezes. That was Leslie, although Tina was in the know. This may seem like a bait and switch, but it works out well. Any sympathy we may have had for the two is now gone; they murdered Gene and Alice and tried to kill Molly. They would have too, if not for that space rock.

The rock — which plays into what’s below the school construction — is likely to be a contentious point among Runaways fans. Molly’s powers are the source of some kind of space thing. Obviously, this scene was filmed before Disney acquired 20th Century Fox. And even if it hadn’t been, there isn’t going to be crossover until the deal is complete. Making Molly a mutate instead of an Inhuman or the like is an interesting choice. It’s also one I’m on board with for now. Inhuman was the obvious choice, but going a different route opens up some interesting story possibilities going forward. I won’t deny being curious to see where Schwartz and Savage are going with this.

Runaways Chase Gert

This leads us to Runaways’ teen drama elements, which I know haven’t been everyone’s favorite part. I feel they’ve resonated well though, and the payoff of Gert/Chase and Karolina’s sexuality are nice moments. Using the dance as a cover to get out is a natural plot choice, despite the contrivance of a dance taking place on the same day as the drilling beginning. This lets Schwartz and Savage have their John Hughes moment. And full credit to Ariela Barer and Gregg Sulkin for making this work. Let’s be honest; there’s some pretty goofy dialogue in there. But it’s purposely goofy in order to play to that Sixteen Candles motif. And the actors deliver the lines far more believably than they deserved.

Meanwhile, Karolina and Nico’s moment played out in a rather unexpected manner. I fully expected Karolina to go for it, but in an interesting twist, Nico seems to be into it for the moment at least. I don’t believe that this will be a changing of Nico’s sexuality here. A part of me suspects that Nico is, in that moment, realizing that Karolina needs to do this and just goes with it for now. Alex and Nico still appear to be endgame (or as endgame as it can be), but the fact that she doesn’t reject Karolina will result in some fun drama. These moments, while they’re definitely Gossip Girl-y, help humanize the kids and add some development to bring them more on par with their parents.

Runaways Team

In the end, it all comes down to the tease of a climactic face-off. The kids wreck the drilling equipment, and Molly pushes a truck into the giant-sized hole before Nico begins to close the hole up. But the parents, thanks to Jonah being warned by the power-hungry Frank, show up and Tina snatches the staff away. This is a big moment for the show and provides several big lines of dialogue. Most notably is the declaration from Gert that, whatever their blood relations, the Runaways are family. Director Jeremy Webb plays this as both an epic and personal moment for all the characters, with the kids faced off with their individual parents.

Runaways has been preparing for this moment all season, and it almost seems distressing to know that the season ends next week. But there’s been plenty of good stuff to come along the way, and I’m excited to see how the finale plays out. Many shows have a difficult time finding themselves in their first season, but Runaways knows exactly what it is. That’s been its strength, and I have hopes that it will end the first season on a high note.

Runaways Pride

Some Final Thoughts:

• “We’ll take five tickets, you hateful bitch!” Gert has her annoying moments to be sure, but all in all she is pretty stellar.

• Apparently Darius is still trying to get involved in this whole thing. So that’s a thing that…yeah, I can’t find it in me to care at all.

• Janet, Dale, and Stacey are undoubtedly the most sympathetic members of Pride, so I’m expecting at least one of them to die in the finale. I kind of hope I’m wrong, but I suspect I won’t be.

• I loved the scene in which calling themselves the Runaways is discussed. It was a clever way to bring the name into the show, and then dismiss the idea in the comic book’s trademark satirical style.

• I get that you don’t want the security guard to see Old Lace, but how do bring a dinosaur along for backup and not find a way to sneak it in?

9
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Marvel's Runaways brings its plot points to a head in "Doomsday," setting up a potential epic season finale. Romances bloom and plots are revealed, but the best work is done in setting up the major smackdown that is about to happen next week. I, for one, looking forward to it.
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