Hulu's 'Runaways' Finally Ran Away! But Don't Worry, They'll Be Back
Well gang, it only took ten episodes but the kids finally did it. They ran the fuck away. And that wasn’t even the season cliffhanger! The first season finale answered some questions and raise some new ones — which is good news, considering the series has been picked up for a second season. So where do things stand for our young heroes and their evilish parents? And more importantly: where do they go from here?
Come right this way — but be warned. Ahead there be spoilers from the finale, and from the comics.
From the very start there were some key changes that set the television adaptation apart from the Marvel comics source material, and those have rippled throughout the season. The chief difference was the decision to focus on the intentions and actions of the parents, balancing that with the adventure of the teens. The comics treated the Pride like super villains, though it did offer up a twist in their motivations: revealing that their group was given power by the mysterious Gibborim as part of a deal. In exchange for harnessing energy through human sacrifice, six of them would gain eternal life. The others would perish along with the rest of humanity.
Oh yeah, the Gibborim were out to kill all of the humanity. So, uh, let’s stick a pin in that.
The couples that formed the Pride were more or less contentedly evil. They accepted the deal because it guaranteed them 25 years of power and influence, plus a 50% shot at paradise. But when the Stein’s revealed they were pregnant, all the members reconsidered their goals. What if they ALL decided to have children — just one child each — and then agreed to give their kids the six “eternal life” rewards? Sure, the Pride would die, but at least their legacy would live on. The Gibborim were going to destroy humanity anyway. This way the parents could guarantee their children would have a future, and they could live nice cozy lives in the meantime.
And so, in a weird way, everything they did was for their kids (until their kids showed up to fight them — then all bets were off).
The show took that seed of complexity and made it blossom further. Sure, the Pride in Hulu’s Runaways also start out as people who don robes and perform human sacrifices, but they also very clearly love their children — and the kicker is, they seem to think what they’re doing is for some greater good. It’s still not entirely clear how they all were convinced to work with Jonah, but the deals they struck seemingly granted them the opportunity to prosper, and maybe use their power to do charitable works. The Church of Gibborim really does help people! And sure, that “school” they’re building on the Wilders’ inherited strip mall property is a total scam — but the site actually houses some sort of powerful energy source that will make a real difference in the world, right?
Nope. Or at least, not exactly. Apparently whatever is down at the bottom of that hole — the real reason Jonah gathered the Pride in the first place — is alive.
So that was one revelation from finale. During the confrontation at the dig site, the Pride finally witnessed their kids in action, from Gert’s dino connection to Molly’s super-strength. But the biggest shock came from Karolina, who faced down Jonah alone in order to buy enough time for her friends to escape — and it turns out Jonah sparkles just as much as she does. Now everybody is in the know about Jonah being Karolina’s real father. This, naturally, drove a wedge between Leslie Dean and the rest of the Pride, who realized she’d been far closer to their mysterious benefactor than anyone else. But after seeing Jonah attack the kids when they threatened his dig, even Leslie knew it was time to take him down.
Other revelations include the fact that Leslie, not Tina, was behind the deaths of Molly’s parents. Nobody seems to know where Molly’s powers come from — but we do, because we saw it in a previous episode. Her powers come from those creepy moving rocks found at the site, which her parents were investigating when they died. Which means that Molly is neither a Mutant (as she was in the comics) nor, presumably, an Inhuman (which is the main Marvel group who gets their powers from mysterious rocks). Are her powers tied to Jonah’s too? Are those rocks the Gibborim? What the fuck is even going on?
As far as who killed Amy, Nico’s sister: the warning text Nico found on her phone came from Leslie — and it was Jonah who was coming for her. It looks like he staged Amy’s death to look like suicide.
In the end, the Wilders tell the cops that the teens have kidnapped Molly and may be implicated in the death of Destiny Gonzalez (the original sacrificial lamb), in the hopes of bringing the kids back home safely. Jonah is still waiting for Victor to wake up (BECAUSE SPIKE IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT YOU GUYS), but he’s starting to get a little crusty again. Alex has forged his own secret alliance with his father’s old criminal buddy Darius. The kids still don’t trust their parents, and discovering that they’re now wanted by the cops isn’t going to change their minds — but we know the Pride is now actually on their side.
All in all, it was a strong finale, even if it did end with a more of a whimper than a roar. So with our Runaways officially in the wind, is there anything we can glean from the comics to indicate what might be in store for them during Season 2? Well, the budding romance between Gert and Chase is real — but the love connection between Nico and Karolina is all-new. In the comics, Karolina had a crush on Nico, and did eventually try to kiss her, but it didn’t go anywhere. Well, to be more accurate: before Nico could figure out her own feelings, Karolina’s secret, shapeshifting Skrull fiancé arrived from space and took her to her home planet in the hopes that their marriage could end the hostilities between their two races. Because Karolina is an alien from the planet Majesdane.
“Alien” could explain Jonah, the powers he and Karolina share, and how he became the inspiration for the Church of Gibborim. But is he the ultimate big bad, or is he another middleman between the Pride and another, greater threat (presumably whatever is in that hole)? And as far as any secret space betrothals go, Marvel apparently shares the rights to the Skrulls with Fox, so if that Disney acquisition goes through then the chances that a Skrull could pop up on Runaways would increase.
The big question left up in the air has to do with Alex Wilder. And this is the biggest spoiler from the comics so don’t read further if you don’t want to know…
Alex was a mole working on the side of the Pride. He had discovered their secret rituals, and also learned that two couples (Molly’s parents and Karolina’s parents) had formed an alliance and were going to betray the others. In order to save his own parents, Alex actually manipulated the other Runaways into discovering the Pride for themselves, and thus engineered the entire conflict. But that twist only works if a) the Pride are truly evil, and b) Alex’s family is at stake. At the moment it doesn’t seem like there is any in-fighting left within the Pride, since they share a common enemy now. And since we know the Pride are more or less on the side of their kids, there wouldn’t be a reason plot-wise to insert a secret mole. The show has given us reason to question how trustworthy Alex is (he knew Tina’s passcode, and he struck with Darius), but we’ll have to see if he has a secret or if the show is just baiting the comic fans.
Key characters also die in the comics, but since they later are resurrected, I’m not even going to get into it. Comics, amirite?
But in more positive news, if the show continues to pull from the comics then we might be meeting some exciting new characters! The kids encounter a devious vampire named Topher. Future-Gert sends them after Ultron’s son, a kid named Victor who ends up joining the group (because kids with evil parents need to stick together). And that’s not including all the times the Runaways have run-ins with Cloak & Dagger, Captain America, the X-Men, the Punisher, and other luminaries from the Marvel universe. So perhaps some live-action crossover fun could be worked out!
Probably not. But a girl can dream.
The first season laid a lot of groundwork, and I’m happy it will be returning so we can see what it’s all building to. The cast has been superb, and though I still can’t believe it took ten episodes for the kids to finally leave home, I have to say that the show is better for the attention paid to developing their parents. As for what I hope to see next season, I think I can boil it down to two main points:
- I want more of Gert/everyone interacting with Old Lace, who is the real MVP of this series. Even if I did get some mysterious dust in my eye during that goodbye scene… and the dumpster scene… and hell, even the shopping cart scene. That fucking dinosaur makes me all dusty.
- I want Molly to start punching superheroes. Like, seriously.