This RUN review contains spoilers.
Run Season 1 Episode 6
After “Tell,” the penultimate episode of HBO’s Run, it has become abundantly clear that Vicky Jones’ concept for a series would have worked much better as a feature. Part of Run’s slight descent in recent weeks can be attributed to the episodes’ lack of a compelling throughline. Instead of telling smaller narratives, most episodes feel like a 22-minute slice of a film. When the series has tried to end on shocking cliffhangers, like Ruby realizing that she had left her phone and knowing that she has to go back to the scene of the crime to retrieve it, the following episode tidies the problem up in a matter of seconds.
Really, having Ruby lose her phone and go back to retrieve it offers absolutely nothing for the story. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Laurel could have given Billy and Ruby a ride into town and the pair could have decided to go for a drink and the exact same sequence of events could have been achieved without trying to half-ass a suspenseful endpoint for “Jump.” Ruby and Billy’s mission to retrieve the phone does end up leading to the episode’s best scene, but we could have gotten to that conversation without a lazy plot contrivance.
That scene is a doozy though, and another indicator that Run does have a lot of potential. While melting down and arguing over whether to phone the police, Billy finally criticizes Ruby for leaving her family. It causes Ruby to lash out violently, then ultimately, she speaks powerfully about how mothers sacrifice their lives for their families, essentially handing their life off to other people. It feels real, emotional, and it proves that this story should stayed small, locked in on these two lovers reuniting and realizing all that they’ve lost over the years. A Hitchcockian-thriller sounds like a fun direction for this show in theory, but I think this was always meant to work better as a Before Sunset type drama.
While Ruby and Billy are having a heart to heart in the forest, we’re introduced to the police at the scene of the crime. Both appear to be in over their head, and Deputy Cloud (Tamara Podemski) is sent to question Laurel, who discovered the body. Instantly, Cloud and Laurel’s interview turns into a meet cute. Laurel asks Cloud to accompany her to a nearby bar and to continue their conversation there. Podemski and PWB are great scene partners, but it feels weird to be introducing a new romantic plot like this in the second to last episode. I’d rather be focused on Ruby and Billy then taking this detour.
Also, Cloud may be a green detective, but they paint her as being totally incompetent just so they can get Laurel and Cloud at the same bar as Ruby and Billy. Yes, Billy and Ruby come into the bar for a drink. Ruby tries to convince Billy that they should continue their journey, and despite everything that Billy said on their way to the bar about telling the truth, he relents. As they walk out the door, Laurel notices the coat that she lent Billy sitting on the bar stool. However, knowing this show, the next episode will begin with Laurel saying, “I have a jacket just like this,” and not mentioning anything to the Deputy Cloud.
Run has flashes of greatness when it centers in on Ruby and Billy’s dynamic, but little else is working as it should. With just one episode left, I think it’s clear that Run’s concept would have worked wonders as a feature rather than a series. The bigger the series has tried to swing, the harder it is has missed. At least we can always revisit that wonderful, sexual tension-filled pilot and imagine what would have happened had we stayed on the train.