This Marvel’s Runaways review contains spoilers.
Marvel’s Runaways Season 1, Episode 5
“Why would our parents do all these horrible things?” Molly asks big sister Gert as they chill in their dinosaur’s room. “I guess because they’re horrible people,” Gert tells her, in one of the best scenes of this week’s episode of Marvel’s Runaways, and an example of why this show is worth watching: it’s not afraid to call the bad guys what they are. There are no anti-hero redemption arcs here.
It’s actually pretty refreshingly subversive for these kids to declare their parents horrible people so readily and without qualification. Alex, Nico, Karolina, Gert, Molly, and Chase might not know what to do with their newfound knowledge — which, fair enough — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t seriously judging their parents right now. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to try to take action against them to protect those who don’t have supervillain parents to keep them safe.
This leads to Runaways’ first real superhero team-up moment, which makes up for its lacks of kineticism with the exhilarating rawness of the moment. When Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gert, and Molly race to save Alex from the clutches of Darius, they have basically no plan. Not only that—they either have never used their powers, or have only used them once or twice, in far lower-stake situations. If Nico’s Staff hadn’t worked, these kids would be dead right now, and that’s scary.
The team-up also works well because it centers motivation before power. Sure, it’s foolhardy that these kids run head-first into danger (without even properly checkin their blindspots, no less!), but it’s also admirable that their motivation to help is there before their powers are—a nice reverse from what is usually the progression in on-screen superhero stories.
It’s telling that, even after they’ve saved their own, Alex, they ultimately decide to try to save Andre, too. This isn’t just about saving your loved ones; it’s about saving those who don’t have the same privileges as you—when it comes to superpowers, but also when it comes to real-life privilege, too. As we learned from the flashbacks to Geoffrey and Darius’ time in jail, Alex could have easily been born into a life with far less economic privilege, if not for the intervention of the mysterious Jonah and the sacrifice of Darius. Alex sees that, too.
While the kidnapping of Alex is specifically related to Geoffrey’s choices, it’s still a result of Pride, in some way. Without the opportunity for power that Jonah offered Geoffrey, Geoffrey never would have turned on Darius, leading Alex to this specific danger, leading Alex to shoot Andre himself in order to keep his father safe. It may not all be teen sacrifices that the Runaways are trying to stop, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t all lead back to Pride in some way.
At this point, the only teen character who is hesitant to see his parent for what he is is Chase, whose father, Victor, is only just starting to pay attention to him after years of abuse and neglect. The taste of affection has Chase wondering if their relationship could be different and, perhaps, if his father might not be the villain all signs seem to point to. It’s an especially tragic storyline because, unlike someone like Gert or even Karolina, Chase has more personal reasons for believing his parent is probably not a good person—even before he saw him sacrificing teenagers.
Of course, as we learn in a big reveal scene, Victor’s change-of-heart and behavior when it comes to his son has to do with the terminal tumor currently growing in his brain. This makes Victor even more unpredictable. To what lengths will he go to a) save himself and/or b) ensure his legacy? Here, we see Victor desperately working to develop a machine that can see into the future. It’s a hokey plot device that doesn’t quite gel with the grounded tone this show is going for, but the image of a crumbling Los Angeles that Victor and Chase manage not to see is pretty darn eerie, nonetheless. The stakes on this show just went way up.
Why didn’t Geoffrey just help Nana B. out? It doesn’t seem like he’s hurting for the cash, and helping Darius and his family seems like a much easier route than screwing over his childhood best friend, who also happens to be handy with a gun. It’s not enough to paint these parents as bad people; we need to understand why they do the things they do. Bad people have internal logic, too.
Alex not being surprised at all by Darius’ revelations that his father is a bad person was a pretty great moment.
Will there be any long-lasting effects to Alex shooting Andre? Superhero shows, and TV shows in general, often gloss over the trauma of inflicting violence on others, but Runaways seems like the kind of show that might lean into the effects of something horrifying like this.
Too bad Old Lace couldn’t come to the superhero team-up. Oh, well. Next time.
Karolina and Nico totally have a romantic moment (at least it’s a romantic moment for Karolina), but Nico kisses Alex. Does Nico have feelings for Karolina, too? Does she have feelings for Alex? I like how slow-burn these romances are. I also feel for Karolina, who destroys her room in an uncharacteristic, but no doubt necessary moment of fury.
While Leslie is making out with Jonah, her husband Frank is failing his church level-up ceremony. Was this always Leslie’s plan or did she intend to sacrifice Frank before Pride secured Andre as a sacrifice instead? Whatever the answers to these question, one thing is sure: Frank is hilariously out-of-the-loop about what’s actually going on in this show. Poor guy.
Nico’s mom is nice to her for the first time in the history of the show. Is she onto these kids or what? Run, Nico. Run.
It seems like Jonah is Karolina’s biological father, which would explain why she should glow. When he comes out of his cocoon or whatever, he tells Leslie that he wants to see her, which presumably means Karolina. Does this mean he’s been gestating for the last 15 years? Or was he off doing something else between the time he visited Geoffrey in jail and now?