The first episode of Runaways was in my view, a real success. Now that the show is off and running, does the second episode keep the momentum going? In short, yes. “Rewind” is a risky episode but thanks to streaming, its placement makes a ton of sense and gives the parents the spotlight. Let’s jump into this but be warned, there are spoilers throughout.
1. A Different Perspective
Despite “Reunion” ending with the kids finding out all about their parents, “Rewind” does literally that and rewinds back to the start of the first episode. However, this time, we’re going to see the day leading up to the Pride meeting from the perspective of the parents. I will mention bits from the comic over and over in these reviews but for these first two episodes, I couldn’t be happier with the time that’s taken to flesh out these characters. The Pride itself are good villains but they aren’t nearly as developed as the kids. “Rewind” taking a break and taking us backwards to see this day through the parents’ eyes is something that probably only works for television which continues to make me excited about this adaptation in a way that the other Marvel shows haven’t. There is no pacing issue here as this episode provides a lot of context that will enrich the bigger plot.
2. Your Parents Are People
One of the biggest lessons we get as we grow up is that we realize our parents are people too. They have their own baggage, their own trauma and their own relationship drama. All of that gets a spotlight as we see each of the parents deal with various things. The Minorus are dealing with the loss of their daughter, the Yorkes don’t want to be a part of the Pride anymore, the Wilders are struggling to reconcile their pasts with their bright futures, the Steins are basically a PSA for domestic violence (I will fight Victor myself) and the Deans are crumbling as a husband struggles under his wife’s fame. None of this stuff is apparent to their children but I really like that it isn’t just yet. These things will come to light soon enough for them but for us, the viewer, what it does is really important. We aren’t forced to feel sympathy for the parents. In fact, when you see how they behave with Destiny and the sacrifice they use her for, you see just how deep their badness goes. What this does is make them people we are invested in. We want to see what happens to them and we are shown that they are complicated. Again, complicated does not absolve them but instead of being villains that fit into a neat little box, there’s something extra to them.
3. The New Gibborim
One of the most interesting things that has developed in Runaways is the change in the Gibborim. I think it’s too early to say that we won’t see their usual form but I would wager that we won’t give how much time has been given to shaping the Church of Gibborim. The Church of Gibborim is led by Leslie Dean, Karolina’s mother. The church is a front for the Pride to find sacrifices and that’s exactly what happened with Destiny. Inside of Leslie’s secret meditation room is a very wrinkled and scaly humanoid that seems to be on its last breath. Leslie, unlike the other members of the Pride, is much more comfortable doing what needs to be done. Despite her tear, she’s very much capable of doing whatever is necessary to get what she wants. The church being a front sort of makes this whole thing feel more dangerous. There is a legitimate organization at the core of what these kids will eventually have to deal with. It’s an organization with press contacts, fame and money. In the comic, they still had a lot to overcome but this makes things feel even more dangerous for them. It won’t be just their parents that the can’t trust but possibly friends and strangers who have devotion to this church. I mean, look at Scientology. Do some research on that and you’ll see just how damaging that organization is to people. I’m really excited to see how this develops.Continued below
4. A Possible Ally?
As the episodes goes on, we find out that Frank Dean is in fact an actor. This is something brought over from the comics. Frank though is not doing well anymore as an actor and his agent terminates their relationship. As it turns out, the church is entirely Leslie’s thing. Frank doesn’t know about The Pride or anything else in regards to the highest level of the church. Their relationship is frayed and it’s made very clear that they aren’t on the same page. Frank is suspicious of Leslie after he tries to persuade her to let him go “ultra” and take on a bigger role in the church. He tries to get into her private meditation room and fails. I find this really interesting because like the kids, he’s on the outside. He doesn’t know what his wife is up to and leads me to think that the kids may have an ally in him when things really get rolling. I’m just hypothesizing but what if he’s not an alien like Leslie and Karolina? What if he’s not Karolina’s father and was simply a trophy husband who gave Leslie the pop culture recognition that the church needed? If Frank finds out what she’s up to, what’s stopping him from joining up with the kids? This would be a big departure from the comics but that might be for the best.
5. Act Normal
We then arrive to the fallout of what the kids saw and ultimately, they need to act normal. They don’t go on the run immediately because TWIST ENDING, the machine the parents throw Destiny into, doesn’t work and she’s alive. The kids however, don’t know this. They think their parents killed her and that was their intention. Runaways has gone off script and is doing its own thing and I’m very excited by this. Adaptations are boring when they just follow everything that’s on the page. What’s most important is keeping the core of what the series is and for Runaways that centers around the betrayal these kids feel from their parents. It’s their loneliness that bonds them. It’s growing up and realizing the world isn’t as they believed it was and the desire to stop the evil their parents do that bonds them. How they get there and how they bond is all up to these show writers to decide. They’re trying to keep us on our toes and with these twists, they accomplish just that.