Marvel’s Runaways Season Two Review

by Eric Onkenhout

Without a place to call home and on the run from evil, the Runaways stick together despite internal strife in season two of Marvel’s Runaways.

This article contains plot points for Marvel’s Runaways Season Two.

Season two of Marvel’s Runaways begins where season one left off—the teens have been framed by Pride in the murder of Destiny Gonzalez. They are on the run from crooked cops and their parents. While trying to figure out what they should do next, they also have to deal with each other and the dangers that lay ahead.

Marvel’s Runaways Strikes Back

Marvel’s Runaways season two got off to a solid start, and it looked like it was going to exceed all expectations, that is until they decided to kill off their number one antagonist, Jonah. Yes, they brought Jonah back towards the end of the season, but it was not Jonah, it was his “energy” with a different human host. In between Jonah’s death and his questionable reemergence, the middle part of season two floundered directionless without a clear enemy for the Runaways to direct their angst. Instead, it filled the gap with part-time bad guys like AWOL, the Gibborim cult, and once again Pride.
There were other issues as well — namely, the character of Alex, who for a leader, is pretty darn selfish and secretive. And Xavin, who was brought in near the end of the season with little to nothing to do, and a story that did not make a ton of sense. But not all was lost. Ariela Barer (Gert) and Lyrica Okano (Niko) were the shows All-Stars. The two of them alone give the pros for watching season two of Runaways a slight edge, assuming the writing for season three will clean up any lingering loose ends. The fighting sequences and the action overall was impressive and not burdened by budgeted special effects. On the contrary, for what Runaways is, it held its own in that respect. Runaways isn’t the best Marvel television series, but it is far from the worst.

Marvel’s Runaways Season Two Episode Guide

“Gimme Shelter” S02E01

Marvel's Runaways

In an emotionally charged scene, the Runaways find Graciela lying dead on the floor of her home. This scene has some of the best acting in the series. Molly kneeling by her deceased relative is heartbreaking. Also, Gert’s hyperventilating, most likely brought on by her anxiety is a beautiful, relatable touch. When Nico takes the money out of Graciela’s purse, she exclaims, “This is our reality now.” Nico is quickly becoming more of a leader than Alex.
The Runaways at least seem a little more supportive of each other so far when Nico assures Molly that Graciela will get a funeral. At a homeless camp, Nico conducts a Wiccan funeral for Graciela. And there’s a funny moment between Chase and Gert about her meds. The chemistry between the actors and the characters has grown exponentially. By the end of the episode, Jonah has recruited Victor to help build a new box and meets Karolina in secret to answer some of her questions. Pride now has another goal, and that is to take out Jonah with Tina and Geoffrey at the lead.

“Radio On” S02E02

Marvel's Runaways

For the main villain, Jonah doesn’t quite have that world dominating vibe. He has his goals and will do what is necessary to accomplish them by manipulation. He uses people to get what he needs to leave Earth. Some character building was on the menu in “Radio On” which focuses more on the three developing relationships, and not so much on the action. There is a very touching moment between Chase and Gert, and how not having her meds with her is making everything more difficult. It’s an openly candid scene about a topic usually told from only one point-of-view.
Alex’s relationship with Darius has turned into one of father/son. It gives Alex a foundation; a story that gives his character a direction unlike the rest of the group who don’t have adults in their lives. Janet, too, is becoming more prominent and confident in her role. No longer burdened by Victor’s domineering, Janet is back using her brain like she hasn’t done since college.

“Double Zeros” S02E03

Marvel's Runaways

Nico takes control of the Runaways by encouraging the group to practice their powers. Much like her daughter, Tina also takes control of Pride. It’s a good look for her. The father/son-type relationship between Alex and Darius continues. A cool nod to Runaways’ artist, Adrian Alphona by naming Chase’s lacrosse coach, Coach Alphona. The group is going through some problems, individually and as a group. Gert is suffering from stopping her medication too quickly, while Molly is great at giving relationship advice. Darius builds Alex’s trust in him and then turns him over to Geoffrey, reinforcing Alex’s mistrust in adults. It’s unfortunate Darius got taken out because he was one of the more interesting characters in the show. It’s clear now Catherine is the real gangster in the Wilder family, as she kills Darius in cold blood and makes it look like a drug deal gone bad. After Molly’s second battle she is followed home by a new character named Topher.

“Old School” S02E04

Marvel's Runaways

Four episodes into the second season and the plot lines are becoming increasingly more complex. Jonah needs Karolina to survive, and the kids return to their old high school in need of a computer with Topher’s help. An earthquake hits when Dale and Stacey experiment with some oozy clear gel. “You better believe I’m gonna find out.” Lyrica delivers this line towards Topher with the perfect amount of venom. Nico feels nothing but contempt for Topher, and she’s not hiding it. So far, Topher is a bit of a bore. He fronts as a street-smart homeless kid who knows a thing or two about the world the Runaways couldn’t—if this seemed like it was going to be his central angle, it would be an exciting way to incorporate a new character. Instead, he becomes an “untrustworthy junkie,” which is a much less compelling character type with more predictable outcomes. By far the most effective thing about Topher is what the Runaways think about him, which comes across as a philosophical argument about what the team’s values are. In the wake of Darius’ murder, Geoffrey is, understandably, furious with his wife. Catherine’s line on this is tough: She claims that Geoffrey’s “commitment to Darius was a fantasy, an illusion about what his life was when he was younger.”

“Rock Bottom” S02E05

Marvel's Runaways

Molly, “I can show you better than tell.” This line of dialogue has come up a few times in the series. Coincidence? It’s almost as if the writers are reminding themselves that this is a television series and the idea is to keep the plot moving along. In novels and other forms of print, it’s a rule to show than tell, which is a given in a visual format. So why say it? Just do it. Jonah reveals to Karolina that they are aliens from a destroyed planet, and the remnants are beneath the surface of Earth. Jonah is trying to manipulate Karolina, and the same goes for Topher. A new character doesn’t just show up, wanting to help with nothing in return but shelter. He knows they’re wanted; he’s come in contact with the same rocks that give Molly her power. It’s a little disappointing that the pretty blonde is continuously dressed in short shorts and low-cut loose fitting tops–especially since Karolina is supposed to be 17 years old at most. It turns out Topher worked at the lab with Molly’s parents when the lab exploded. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that’s what’s happening to Topher. The stones are corrupting Topher. James Yaegashi finally gets to prove his worth by kicking Jonah to the floor and making the seemingly omnipotent alien appear weak for the first time—until two members of the church find him in Jonah’s office and whack him over the head.

“Bury Another” S02E06

Marvel's Runaways

The rapid speed at which this season of Runaways is burning through the plot is one of the best things about season two. Jonah is frustrated and wants to leave Earth, which is honestly one of the more relatable things anyone has said this season. She pretends to be Chase to get her medication, which doesn’t quite make sense but does lead to ongoing tiffs between Chase and Gert throughout the rest of the episode. By the end of “Bury Another,” Geoffrey is held captive in a straitjacket by an angry, determined Alex who appears ready to put his dad away for good. Nico is now the one keeping secrets from Karolina. Lyrica Okano once again, shows flashes of brilliance, as Nico slowly accepts the news that Jonah is the one who killed her sister, her face moves in quick jolts like a robot processing new information. Karolina is relieved of the burdened of guilt, but for Nico, staring numbly over her girlfriend’s shoulder, the pain is just beginning.

“Last Rites” S02E07

Marvel's Runaways

A very Star Wars-y episode. “The Death Star is buried underground?” The evilest man in the show is Karolina’s father. With Geoffrey’s help, the kids at this point feel like Marvel superheroes, maybe not on the level of a Thor or even a Daredevil, which makes sense because they are teens. Anything too powerful wouldn’t be believable. A laugh out loud moment exchange between Chase and Nico when Karolina floats them down to the bottom of the dog sight. “This is like riding in an elevator without the elevator.” “Breathtaking insight.” And a gem of a line from Molly, “I think we should’ve factored into our plan that we’re underneath the Earth and our phones cost $8.99.”’ The events of “Last Rites” are, largely centered on Jonah’s relationship with the Dean women. The episode opens with a flashback to Leslie’s father’s death, grounding her commitment to Jonah, and making her betrayal that much more difficult. It all goes wrong when, not only is Chase unable to free the rest of Karolina’s “family” with the Fistigons, her father gets murdered—by her girlfriend. Nico dips the staff into the Yorkes’ weapon and stabs Jonah in the back, seemingly killing him. Edited with a shot of Nico finding her deceased sister, the end of the episode is so confident and on-point in maintaining and building tension.

“Past Life” S02E08

Marvel's Runaways

“Past Life” starts with the most crucial piece of information necessary: How the alien known as Jonah obtained the body of Julian McMahon. For about 20 years, the being took the shape of an older man, a Dust Bowl preacher straight out of the 1930s. In 1957, he was dying in a medical lab. In 1979, Jonah showed up in a powder blue shirt with an awesome lapel, visiting Leslie’s father to motivate a new religion. Catherine orders a hit on Livvie, who has gone to the DA’s office to try to clear Darius of Destiny’s murder. The hit goes down at the hospital when Tamar is bringing her baby home, and Alex has shown up to convince them to trust him. The best part of the episode is an amusing scene where Chase and Gert have to pretend to be newlyweds while fighting about Gert’s secret college plans in front of a hotel employee. Molly ends up staying behind to delay the men chasing them while the others are once again on the run. Also, though she expects just to be lectured by hotel security, she’s met by Flores, an angry man who has nothing nice to say.

“Big Shot” S02E09

Marvel's Runaways

The question leading into “Big Shot” is now with Jonah seemingly out of the picture, and Pride no longer a threat who’s going to fill that gap? Part of the answer is the dirty cops who are now out to get the kids as a favor for Catherine Wilder. There is a degree of humor in Molly’s escape from Flores, which is pleasantly and unexpectedly fast. Before long she’s back with the rest of the team, totally humiliating Flores in a way that feels reminiscent of an ’80s teen movie, which makes perfect sense if the POV of this show is from the teens. Myles Bullock tries his best to make AWOL interesting, but it never quite works. Mostly because this “corrupt cop in LA with serious ego problems” is a tired trope something Brian K Vaughan wanted to avoid in writing Runaways. Alex doesn’t have bad ideas necessarily, but he’s going about them in a way that does not evoke teamwork. Alex is asking everyone to trust him, again and again, yet keeps his team in the dark. Unfortunately, Runaways falters without a legit threat. The Runaways are left to avenge, Darius’s murder, or at least Alex is. The rest of the team are left to wait until Alex is forced to reveal his plan, which is taking down Pride. The team finally confronts Alex after Livvie tells them what he has planned, as expected they’re pissed. For lying to them, for acting selfish, and keeping secrets. Meanwhile, the parents are possessed by some unknown force, Gert, and consequently, Old Lace has fallen deathly ill and appears to be dying.

“Hostile Takeover” S02E10

Marvel's Runaways

Frank is one of those characters that are just there to take up space and lines of dialogue. What is his purpose besides being the flaky father? Even his wife Leslie who was head of Gibborim knows the cult is a scam. Alex again has a plan to get AWOL to give up Livvie, but doesn’t reveal what it is right away or discuss it with his team, “please just trust me.” Chase says it perfectly, Alex leadership has been “unsteady.” Leslie is shutting down Gibborim; AWOL is in negotiations with Alex to get Livvie back. AWOL is another weakness in the latter half of season two. His posturing and over-blown masculinity is nothing but a front to mask his lack of worth.
Meanwhile Gert is still deathly ill. It’s tough to watch Old Lace basically on her deathbed; it’s one of the more touching aspects of what’s happening right now. Tina and Victor are infected with Jonah’s alien friends and act like they just took a hit of ecstasy. Nico is consistently the most reliable member of the Runaways. She holds onto the spell of camouflage despite AWOL’s antagonizing comments. Why doesn’t Molly, with her incredible strength and who is standing right next to the captive AWOL, shut his mouth? Karolina finally comes over and blasts him with her glow, sending him flying across the room. In one of the coolest scenes in the series. Nico kicks some major butt, by pulling a full-on Dracula rising from his coffin, holding her Staff of One and screams, “Get out!” This display of power is not something previously seen in Nico. Around her eyes appeared a cracking dark purple discoloration. It’s the Runaways version of Thor’s lightning. Hopefully, that is the last of AWOL.

“Last Waltz” S02E11

Marvel's Runaways

“Last Waltz” opens up with a continuation of Leslie’s reconditioning. Leslie speaks for anyone with an ounce of common sense, while Frank makes himself look worse every time he appears. He’s cringe-worthy at this point. Gibborim is on the same cult level as the Manson family without the murder. Dale and Stacy inject truth serum into Chase to get him to tell them where Gert has been living. Dale and Stacy come across as a little too silly and weird to be bioengineers, or maybe the word is incompetent. Karolina and Alex arrive to rescue Gert and Chase from Gert’s parents and Tina, but when Dale shoots Old Lace with a tranquilizer, Gert doesn’t react other than she’s not connecting telepathically. This doesn’t make sense either because when Old Lace was sick, Gert also got ill. So why wouldn’t Gert feel that Old Lace got shot? An alien named Xavin in the form of a women approaches Karolina. As an attempt to regain that connection, the team decides to hold a quinceañera for Molly. It’s nice to see the kids doing kids stuff with their friends. Ariela’s speech to Chase about leaving is top notch. After such a great night, Chase decides to split to be with his sick father. Chase’s decision is noble is one sense, but it seems the kids can’t enjoy any happiness without something bringing them down. On the other hand, Chase’s attempt to have a family again is understandable, but how many times has it been said that their team is a family? The music in this scene and the series, in general, is spot on. Appropriate for whatever the setting.

“Earth Angel” S02E12

Marvel's Runaways

The web of Frank’s idiocy continues to become more and more tangled, to the point where he accuses Leslie of convincing him into thinking he wasn’t capable enough to lead the church. There are too many characters in this episode and in the series as a whole that have nothing going on, have no reason to exist, namely Susan, a member of Gibborim. She is there to give Leslie a hard time, and then change her mind at the end without reason. The girls bring Leslie back to the hostel, which is probably not the best decision. It is understandable where Molly, Nico, and Karolina are coming from—Leslie is a pregnant Runaway. Alex disagrees heavily commenting that it’s not a democracy anymore, which is hypocritical on his part, as he decided many things without any input from anyone. Chase is offered to join Pride, which is trying to reform its ways. He appears to accept, if not to get some dirt on them. Oh, and Karolina is married to Xavin.

“Split Up” S02E13

Marvel's Runaways

With Jonah and AWOL seemingly out ofthe picture, the new antagonist is now Gibborim. For better or worse. The season has been treading water since many of the large scale events happened earlier in the season. Characters like Xavin seem to be brought in out of the blue to fill gaps instead of taking what’s there and making it stronger. Xavin offers to escort Karolina, but Karolina turns her down to which Xavin says where does that leave me? Exactly. Why bring in a character that’s not going to do what she was brought in to do? Roughly speaking, it seems like Jonah’s family was exiled from their home planet, only for Xavin to stow away to fulfill the prophecy by marrying Karolina. It doesn’t make much sense. Then again, neither does Xavin’s obsession with Karolina, since her prophecy was never mentioned or why Xavin was following it.
The “war” consists mostly of the kids who are being chased by drones, As much as the drones are supposed to seem like credible threats since they’re resistant to everyone’s powers except Molly’s, this doesn’t make for a great action climax. There is a lot of flip-flopping on whom the runways are supposed to be fighting. Since season one, it went from Pride, Jonah, AWOL, Gibborim, and now Pride again. It’s hard to keep track of who is the real bad guy. Focus, Runaways, focus. Karolina is pursued by Victor, who reveals himself to be possessed by The Magistrate—Jonah. So, at the close of the season, there is a sense of who is a member of the family: Jonah/Victor, Stacey, and Tina. Chase, Karolina, and Janet are all being held in their versions of the pod Victor was in at the beginning of the season. Also, standing against them are Xavin, a way-too-pregnant Leslie, Molly, Alex, and the possibly-possessed Nico.

Marvel’s Runaways Season Two—Verdict

Here’s to hoping that season three, which has already been announced, has fewer kids/parents issues and more kids fighting legit bad guys. The parent’s thing is played out, half the time most of the parents had nothing to do but stand around and squabble. Runaways could benefit from some better writing, direction, and a smaller scale. Marvel’s Runaways has too many characters, and even if this is what writer Brian K Vaughan had initially intended, it’s irrelevant because the series veered so far from the source material, that lowering the number of dramatis personae wouldn’t hurt. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable series despite its many issues, that has even more redeeming qualities.

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