I just saw Runaways Episode 1 and I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS OKAY?
Now first off I will be honest that I am not a fair judge of this show, I couldn’t be. Runaways was my first proper comic book it was the comic that got me into comics and it’s one of those things that I acknowledge is wedged in a special place in my nerd heart that makes me that special kind of nerd crazy. So while I will try to be subjective there are limits, I’m not reliable there is probably always going to be a part of me that will not be won over because it’s not the comics and that’s okay However I will reference the comics fifty million times this is me warning you right now but if you don’t have Hulu and want to pour over every detail of this show I am here.
We start off with a literal ‘runaway’ , a lone girl on the bus to LA. If you guessed this girl is probably screwed you are right. After being approached by a couple of guys she’s ‘saved ‘ by a church group who promise to take give her a bed and food. Unfortunately for her she can’t speak Spanish so she can’t understand that the guys are telling her she’d be safer with them. I’m not sure whether these men were supposed to be very helpful creeps or nice men that just don’t know you shouldn’t chase around a women while giving her life advice. The van labeled Church of the Gibborim drives off (we’ll talk more about this later).
I would like to give huge credit to the credits (this was not intended as a joke) as the shots of various Runaways things around LA (AAAIIIEEE GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY) got me hugely pumped for the show in a way I didn’t thing was possible (again not the series fault that was my own nerd problem).
Firstly we meet Alex Wilder and tragically there is no Chris Evans as Captain America in a video game cameo – Alex is just introduced playing a regular old video game. Alex’s dad tries to talk to him about playing alone and Alex responds he used to have ‘her’ to play – and dear reader I have read all the Runaways books and I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. We see on the screen that who ever ‘her’ was had the name ‘Super Amy’ and hasn’t logged in for two years. At breakfast Alex rejects his parents suggestions that he make more friends, his parents tell him the standard everyone feels lonely speech but Alex isn’t buying it. Also Alex’s t-shirt to be spot on. His parents discuss the fact that their having their ‘Pride’ charity meeting tonight and that the kids don’t hang out anymore.
We then meet Nico Minoru whose putting on various goth style bits and pieces like make up and clothing, she rips her tights she goes to get some from another room. However her mother is watching on a camera? Mrs Minoru goes to stop Nico who says that her sister won’t need them anymore, and then she accidently breaks a statue and her mum is pissed – it’s clear she and Nico aren’t on good terms. Also Nico has a sister now which has potentially interesting implications and also that sister’s name? Amy.
We then cut to Chase Stein shirtless and honestly this Chase is about as ripped as comic book Chase dreams he was. This is like the guy that comic book Chase would cast to play himself in a TV show. He heads downstairs for breakfast with his dad who is played by HOLY CRAP ITS SPIKE FROM BUFFY. The house is sarcastically covered in magazines devoted to his dad’s genius and –wait, wait, wait- hold the phone. I’m fairly certain that the Steins are a scientist couple? They better not have downgraded Mrs Stein to a lady that makes pancakes. Chase’s dad mention Chase got a C in Spanish and gets real scary. We’ll see whether he’s supposed to be as straight up abusive as in the comics and whether this plot is going to get darker (in the comic books Chase is introduced being punched by his father for the crime of getting a C).
Speaking of changes, we see Karolina Dean in a church group lead by her mother. In the comics her parents were just actors but now her mother seems to head up a scientology parody style religion – want to guess what the church is? That’s right it’s the The Book of Gibborim – which was the van the girl got put in. Karolina is clearly feeling the pressure to be the ‘millennial face’ of the religion and is frustrated her mother won’t let her make her own decisions.
And then finally we see Gertrude Yorkes and Molly formerly Haynes now Hernandez we don’t get to see Molly’s parents because Gert’s mother and father are dropping them off at school. Gert’s parents are straddling the line between delightfully quirky and extremely creepy, when Molly has cramps one of Gert’s mother’s solutions is to give herself an orgasm which –Jesus – I know Molly’s not eleven in this adaption but come on!
Gert’s trying to start an anti-patriarchy club and it is indeed delightful to see OG Gert’s righteousness combined with 2017’s politics. However one character choice I do not like was that Gert tries to hand Chase a flyer and he ignores her and she looks dejected and stuff which genuinely made me yell NO at my screen (look I said Runaways sends me to the crazy fan place). GERTRUDE YORKES CARES FOR THE OPINION OF NO MAN.
Alex watches all the runaways on the yard and reaches a decision. He calls his mum and tells her he wants to invite the other kids to their parent’s charity meeting tonight. Alex’s dad expresses concern about having the kids in the house, which makes him more sensible than any of the comic book versions of the parents who not only had their kids in the house but made it mandatory to come to the meeting each year. Alex’s mother replies no kid is interested in what their parents are doing and walks into a room filled with ominous robes (OH MY GOD GUYS IT’S THE PRIDE ROBES). Cut to Karolina’s mother whose in a creepy ass white room and tells a creepy ass scaly guy on life support that another will ascend.
Gert meanwhile is trying to convince homeroom to join her defeating the patriarchy club to no avail; no one wants to sign up. Speaking of pointless endeavors, Alex tries to get Chase to join his hangout interrupting Chase while he’s trying to design his Fistigons – wait is Chase.. smart.. now? Gert and Karolina join the conversation and it turns out the two of them don’t like each other because of Karolina’s religion. Gert tells Alex his plans are in vain to which Alex says he’s not doing it for him but for ‘her’. Meanwhile Molly is trying out for the dance team but gets cramps, poor Molly.
Now we’re on a shot of Chase’s ass, because Gert is staring at Chase’s ass while Chase tries to convince his teacher to up his Spanish grade. The teacher says no but Gert offers to be his tutor. Meanwhile Alex stops Nico to give her a heartfelt speech about wanting to get the gang back together saying he misses her, but Nico pretends to be wearing ear buds. While crying in the bathroom she bumps into Karolina who is also crying, because of a photo mocking her for being brainwashed is being sent round school. They have a nice chat about hiding behind smiles and or make up.
While Molly’s at the nurse’s office we learn why we haven’t seen her parents. Their dead. Eeeeerrrrr okay? She was adopted by Gert’s family and that is …. A change…. I get that they probably killed off Molly’s parents because their main characteristics was we’re mutants and we’re pissed and the xmen still belong to fox but still. There’s also something just not classy about switching a character’s race then killing them off screen. Molly’s cramps lead her to crumple the metal bench in the Nurses’ office and when she gets home she tries lifting a van, although she only succeeds after it nearly rolls over her. Adorably excited, she gets sleepy and passes out at the garage.
Karolina gives a speech about how great her religion is –including the fact she has never taken its signature bracelet off when the girl from the start of the episode runs up to talk about how great the religion is. Karolina however is more interested in learning how to rebel.That evening the parents start their meeting and we get to see a bit of their personalities. Nico’s dad seems to be nice, Chase’s dad cruel and Gert’s parents dorks. I hope the show will expand on some of the hints of characterization we got in the comic book – in particular the Steins and the Deans. Although, as Mrs Dean appears to be running this cult I think we’re definitely getting more of the Deans. Poor Alex gets home alone and faced with eating six people’s worth of Pizza, debates sending a manipulatively cute old photo to the gang. Chase, who decided to ditch the Spanish tutoring Gert offered him, ends up at the same party as Karolina who is trying her best to rebel. When a guy offers her drugs she seemingly accepts and after watching two girls make out she decides to take off her bracelet. Her hands glow with light and she collapses leaving chases stock jock character friends to reveal their not just stock bully characters but stock rapist bully characters. You know what I wanted in my runaways series was added sexual assault. You know what was so great about the comic THERE’S NO ATTEMPTED RAPE OF KAROLINA. So Chase beats the shit out of them and walks Karolina back to her car, when she tells him about the lights he tells her it was the drugs but as they drive away we see she never took the pills. Off on a beach Nico is doing a spell The Craft style and is distraught when she can’t summon her sister.
Meanwhile Gert, who has currently been possessed by the spirit of a character that cares about boys, has been stood up for Spanish tutoring by Chase who really could have just texted that he was sick. She asks Molly to feed the pets – and by pets she apparently meant a lab full of parrots and iguanas. Molly hears slamming from an ominous door (has she only just noticed it’s part of the house or something??). When she approaches the window something lunges at her, why that something would be kept in this particular container where the kids could see it is really confusing me but who cares because FIRST OLD LACE SIGHTING. Freaked out, Molly asks Gert to take her out of the house and that’s how everyone miserably ends up at Alex’s, who yes did send that manipulatively cute picture to them all.
Aaannddd immediately this get together is a total bust. Everyone is bored; Alex tries to sit in ‘her’ chair. Karolina suggests they just don’t work without Amy. It is interesting to see this shift in the runaways from a group of kids who kind of knew each other because they had to hang out once every year, to a group of friends who have been split by a loss. Chase gets mad at Alex for never going to Amy’s funeral and then they all start snipping their stereotypes at each other – honestly Chase blurting out – “Yeah or Molly! (Pause) – I got nothing against you your really nice” is such a Chase thing to do. They agree to talk things out, although Chase decides he needs alcohol to do so and walks into Alex’s dad’s study, where he offers Gert an apology which she turns down in Spanish. Good – now can their sniping at each other start proper? The kids find their parents missing in the study and after Alex accidentally triggers a switch to a secret tunnel they decide to go exploring. They follow the passage to a balcony, which overlooks a room where their parents are doing weird cult shit in robes. They bring out the girl Karolina met with and strip her, which leads Gert to try and hide Molly’s eyes. The kids watch in horror as the girl is placed in some kind of light beam pod which consumes her – hey kids it could have been worse, in the comic they straight up stabbed her.
The kids barely have time to digest what just happened when Molly trying to get a look at what’s going on takes a picture and the flash goes off alerting the parents to someone’s presence.
Comic Book Spoilers Section:
- The show adds the Church of Gibborim. Comic book readers will know that the Pride’s purpose is to ultimately serve out the Gibborim’s plan – but do we think that the Gibborim will appear? I have my fingers crossed the church has been added so the kids have an easier path to finding out about the Gibborim and not so the show can pay lip service to a storyline it doesn’t have the budget for.
- On the subject of the church of Gibborim –have Karolina’s parents been made super religious and Karolina their poster child- in order to make her coming out plot more timely? There was obviously more stigma in the US about coming out as gay in 2004, I honestly thought that the show might just skip the coming out arc and have her be openly out, but Karolina doesn’t seem to be openly out as a lesbian – in fact the advertisements almost seemed to tease a romance with Chase.
- So the Gibborim are going to have something to do with space right? The fact that Karolina’s grandfather founded their religion makes me thing A) The Deans’ extraterrestrial heritage is wrapped up with the Gibborim or B) They are scrapping the Gibborium and the main threat is the church and Karolina’s family
- Obviously, one of the biggest changes is Amy, Nico’s deceased sister. So this is a pretty big departure – a sibling should have been off the cards if the pride’s plan is the same as the comic books- each set of parents purposefully had one child- so Amy has to be Nico’s twin right? Unless Nico’s parents were needlessly cruel it makes sense this is how they would end up with an extra child, a tragic twist in their plans. Given how much Amy seems to be set up as the perfect child I’m going to guess that Nico was the one who was going to be sacrificed but Amy witnessed the ritual and so the Pride killed her. It would definitely give the show a lot of angst to milk if Nico found out she was her parent’s least favourite child on every level.
- Speaking of Nico she seems to have a terrible relationship with her parents in this version – if her gothic stylings are her attempts to rebel she has unfortunately hilariously failed – given the family business.
- Is Alex still– you know? –This was one of the things that stuck out to me in the pilot – I’m wondering if the addition of Amy and Alex’s mourning of her will be used as an attempt to build some kind of sympathy or redemption arc? Given how much he says ‘her’ and the fact he missed her funeral I’m going to guess Alex will either go full hero in his attempt to avenge Amy or full villain and that he contributed to her death.
- Look I knew the TV show could not preserve the comic book Gert and Chase relationship of they-seem-to hate-each-other-until-they-kiss-and-wow-they-actually-work-well-together (although Veronica Mars pulled this off seamlessly Runaways take notes), but I didn’t expect Gert to have a one sided crush on Chase. It turns out my inner nerd teen that wanted the pretty boy to fall for her loses against my inner nerd teen who wanted accurate character adaptations. Perhaps now Chase has stood her up Gert can go back to hating him and reluctantly falling for him. She was reventilating him! Anyone who says otherwise gets fed to her F-king dinsosaur!