Runaways – Season 1 Overall Review

Runaways S1

Based on marketing and my vague knowledge of the original comic, I wasn’t sure I’d like Runaways that much, but I was happy to be wrong! The teen drama is actually toned down quite a bit, and more emphasis is put on the parents and their plight than the comics (again, from what I hear). All that and the lead characters themselves are all really well acted and realised! Who would have guessed? Let’s take a closer look at the debut season overall then, shall we?

Official Synopsis:

Six teenagers from different backgrounds unite against a common enemy — their criminal parents,collectively known as the Pride.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Runaways S1 1

The runaways themselves! … Although they don’t actually runaway until the finale, but there you go…

Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz) – Alex is a whiz with computers and plays a lot of computer games, but somewhere in the back of his head, he misses his old friends…

Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) – Nico lost her older sister a few years ago, and since then has withdrawn into herself, becoming a bit of a goth. It will take a lot to get her to come back out of her shell…

Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner) – Karolina gets a lot of stick at school as her mother runs the Church of Gibborim, a cult-like group where several teenages have gone missing from…

Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin) – At first glance Chase looks like your typical “jock” stereotype, but he is actually quite intelligent, and is beginning to care less and less about keeping up the image as he reconnects with old friends…

Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer) – Gert is a social outcast as well as a social activist. Her lack of popularity at school doesn’t bother her, though reconnecting with her old friends will shake certain parts of her personality up, and gain her a very odd new friend…

Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) – Molly lost her parents at a young age and was adopted into the Yorkes family. She sees Gert as her older sister, but much to her distress, Gert treats her very much like her baby sister…

Jonah (Julian McMahon) – Jonah is… not from around here, and in the past gathered “The Pride” to help him with a task of a secret nature, and that was before he started needing human sacrifices to sustain him…

Leslie and Frank Dean (Annie Wersching and Kip Pardue) – Leslie is the head of the Church of Gibborim, and has had the most… hands on experience with The Pride. Frank on the other hand is the only parent of the children not involved with the whole human sacrifice thing, at least, not yet…

Janet and Victor Stein (Ever Carradine and James Marsters) – Janet is very much the scared housewife to Victor’s rather unpleasant, demanding husband (and abusive father..) They joined The Pride, with Frank handling the technology used to make the sacrifices.

Tina and Robert Minoru (Brittany Ishibashi and James Yaegashi) – Tina and Robert’s relationship began to break down when they lost their oldest daughter Amy, with their unfortunate job as part of Pride being one of the few times they actually get out of the house together.

Catherine and Geoffrey Wilder (Angel Parker and Ryan Sands) – The parents of Alex and members of Pride. Geoffrey was formally a street thug, using guns and intimidation to get what he wanted. He has left that life behind to better provide for his son, but the life as a member of Pride may be more dangerous than his old one…

Stacey and Dale Yorkes (Brigid Brannagh and Kevin Weisman) – Both Stacey and Dale are bioengineers who have managed to re-create dinosaurs in their basement. They’re reluctant members of Pride, distrusting them all after  the mysterious deaths of Molly’s parents…

and more!

The Good: 

Runaways S1 4

Jonah (in the suit) and most of the parents… looking away… ah well.

First off I have to mention the lead characters,  the titular Runaways. It would be really easy for this to just descend into teen angst / high school drama, but thankfully it avoids that pitfall. Each character is wonderfully flawed in their own ways, but come together and jell really well, with the story of having been friends as kids but split apart after Nico’s sister’s death being a nice introduction to the gang. When they come back together they find out their parents are doing some weird cult sacrifice in robes, which then reunites them as they try and get to the bottom of this weird conspiracy. It would be easy to type-cast their roles, and sure Alex is very much your classic nerdy computer type, and Chase does fall into some of the pitfalls of high school jock-ism, but by the end you get a proper sense that they’re all a closely knit group of friends, and in some cases more! (More on that later…)

On the other hand you have the parents, who in the comics were just regular villains in robes, but here for the most part they’re all just as interesting as their children. Alex’s parents and their dynamic of former street thug and tough business woman, Chase and his abusive father and scared mother, and Gert, whose parents are both bioengineers and are really fun to watch. The mystery with Nico’s parents and how there is more to her sister’s death that they’re letting on is all good, and mystery surrounding the magic staff Tina wields is kept nice and obscure. No need to explain every little thing.

Then we get to Jonah, who is the reason all the parents got together in the first place. He claims to have found a reusable energy source that can save human kind, but they have to sacrifice people in order to bring him back to full strength… he’s an alien, by the way. Forgot to mention that bit. Of course we find out in the finale that it’s all been a lie and what was deep underground is something alive, and the fact the kids have been framed for murder at the end won’t sit well with a group of adults who have already decided enough is enough with Jonah.

The showdown between Chase and his father was great TV, with you not being sure how far Victor will go, eventually using his son’s own weapons (the horribly named “Fistigons”) against him before being shot by his own wife. Seeing all the other parents scramble to deal with the after effect was fun.

It was a slow build, but I enjoyed seeing everyone slowly come together and get close, slowly unveil their powers or tech. Karolina and his weird light powers are well realised on screen, and Gert’s pet dinosaur is surprisingly well done as well, especially close ups where they use an animatronic puppet instead of CGI like they do for the full body shots. Molly’s struggle with both super-strength and the fact that her parents, as it turned out, were killed by The Pride (or more specifically Leslie Dean) were all good. She’s the youngest of the group but had plenty of good scenes.

Side plots, like what happened to Molly’s parents and who killed Nico’s sister Amy were all good as well, and moved the story on from just “what are our parents up to”. There were a few good scenes scattered throughout (with the scene at the end of Episode 9, where the runaways reveal their powers and confront their parents, much to the latter’s surprise, was particularly great) the series was about establishing both our leads and their parents as fully developed characters, and in that sense they achieved this admirably.

The Bad:

Runaways S1 2

Robert on the left actually was having an affair with Janet Stein. Forgot about that bit, it’s dropped quite quickly…

So by the end of Episode 10 we had a Karolina / Chase relationship, an Alex / Nico relationship, then we ended with Chase and Gert together and Karolina and Nico as an item… that’s in just ten episodes! Is it possible for a group of teens to not be all romantically involved with each other and just be, you know, friends? I’m fine with one or two here and there, but the fact that this group all had so many feelings going on way and another in such a short time was a bit… too much. Or maybe I just don’t know teen drama, and that this is a normal thing? Either way, it seemed a little obnoxious.

Even though it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I feared it might, we did get a few high school clichés appearing, like jock bullying, the school dance and a club of “outcasts”. Like I said it wasn’t any where near as bad as I though it might be, but I thought I’d mention it.

Overall Thoughts:

Runaways S1 3

The Runaways show their true powers… well, those that have powers…

I was surprised by Runaways. When I first saw the promo art and did a bit of research into the original comic, I thought this was going to be teen drama first, everything else second, but instead the lead cast are complex and believable (in an unbelievable situation) and their parents and their troubles are just as, if not more, interesting. It made for a really fun series to follow, and I’m looking forward to a second season next year. After Inhumans I was worried about non-Netflix MCU shows beyond the often good but still inconsistent Agents of SHIELD, but this proves that it’s very rare to get something not watchable from the large shared universe.

4 Star Watch

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