These are SPOILERS for this week’s episode. You’ve been warned.
We are officially halfway through the 10-episode first season Hulu’s new Marvel joint, Runaways and… nobody has actually run away yet. Still, episode 5 did manage to move things along in a couple of important ways. Namely, we finally know who’s been on the receiving end of the Pride’s murder mojo all this time:
IT’S DOCTOR DOOM!
(I completely forgot Andre Braugher was in that movie…)
That’s right, the pale flaky weird dude that Karolina’s mom has been cuddling up to inside her church is actually Julian McMahon! All this time he’s been absorbing the energy of whatever teenager the Pride has murdered in a ritualistic sacrifice each year, and without it? Well, you saw what he looked like for the first four episodes. Gross, chalky, and crusty.
But he’s not just any ol’ energy vampire, he’s also Karolina’s real dad! AWKWARD! I wonder if she’ll need to absorb energy too someday. Anyway, this would have been a neat reveal on it’s own, but it seems like Ol’ Crusty may have something to do with how the Pride was formed in the first place. See, before the reveal that McMahon is The High And Crusty Gibborim One, he’s actually shown in a flashback making a deal with Alex Wilder’s father, who is in jail for murder. Turns out Alex’s dad had inherited a strip mall in a bad part of town, and Not-So-Crusty wanted to buy it from him for WAY more money than it should have been worth (also, who just “inherits” a fucking strip mall?). Daddy counters by offering to be a partner in whatever Crusty’s cooking up, and it’s a great idea - if his lawyer (Alex’s not-yet-mom!) can get him out of jail in the next month.
This is why Daddy got his friend to take the fall on that murder charge, so he could get out early and make a shit ton of money and supposedly take care of everyone’s families for life. Only somehow that didn’t happen, and his friend has been blackmailing him and then, when that didn’t work, he kidnapped Alex. Which is also how the second coolest part of the episode comes to pass.
So, ok, our Runaways aren’t really runaways yet. But after four episodes of them slowly uncovering the truth about their families and themselves, they finally started acting like a team — a team of, dare I say, SUPERHEROES? Nico uses her pilfered Staff to track down Alex, and then the rest of the gang joins forces to save him from the kidnappers (one of whom Alex actually shot). It’s not the most action-packed sequence, but it’s still nice to see them start sharing their abilities with each other and figuring out how to use them for good. The only thing missing? Gert’s special dinosaur friend, who wasn’t there to join the fight.
It’s OK though, she shows up later for cuddles. I shit you not. This show has dino-snuggles.
As for the not-crusty parents, the show seems determined to avoid treating the Pride members as full-on villains. The kids have to come to terms with the facts that their parents are definitely murderers, but meanwhile their individual relationships with their folks continue to grow. Alex may be starting to call his dad out on his lies, but Chase is finally bonding with his father over their love of inventions. And Nico? She got to hold onto that Staff a little longer, with her mom’s permission.
As much as I want to see these kids go hide out in a bunker somewhere, I can’t fault the show for taking it’s time to build these complicated, nuanced relationships. Most teenagers have to grapple with the fact that their parents are merely human. These kids have to deal with a murderous parental cabal filled with people who do, in their own ways, love them.