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The Biggest and Most Welcome Surprise on Last Night’s Runaways

Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru on Marvel and Hulu's "Runaways" Image credit: Greg Lewis/Hulu

[Note: This article contains spoilers for the Season One finale of Marvel and Hulu’s Runaways: Episode 10, “Hostile.”]

Holy shit. Runaways actually went for it.

Last night, in the season finale, Runaways resolved the Alex-Nico-Karolina love triangle by going with … Nico and Karolina! They put an on-screen queer relationship in their teen show, TMSers, and I don’t know how to contain my shrieking.

As those of you who’ve read the comics will remember, Alex and Nico are actually the canon relationship, though Karolina does try to kiss Nico. Given that comics storyline, I’ll admit that I was eventually expecting them to move forward with Alex-Nico. (Karolina also has an in-canon girlfriend, Julie Power, so I figured she’d eventually get her happy ending, too. And I’m trying not to spoil too much from the comics storyline for the Alex-Nico shippers, in case the show goes the same route, so tag those comments as spoilers.)

We knew throughout the series that Karolina had a bit of a crush on Nico, as Gert repeatedly points it out. But Karolina finally leans in for a kiss back in Episode 9, “Doomsday.” And after Karolina pulls back from the initial kiss, Nico looks hesitantly, curiously up at her and then leans back in for a second, longer kiss. “Woah,” she finally says, stepping back. “Sorry,” Karolina replies, “I’ve just wanted to do that for a really long time, and after tonight, I didn’t know if I’d get the chance.” They’re then interrupted by Gert and Chase, so Nico doesn’t have time to respond.

As a result, I wasn’t totally clear how Nico felt about Karolina. She definitely seemed curious, but she also looked so shocked and had been doing such a back-and-forth with Alex that I didn’t know how the show would move forward. However, in Episode 10, “Hostile,” I definitely started to get some Nico-Karolina vibes when Karolina sent the gang away to face Jonah by herself. Nico’s distraught “I’m not leaving you!” Her “I can’t take this anymore!” The way she insists they rescue Karolina. It all definitely suggested that she was developing intense feelings for Karolina—but her motives could’ve also just been standard Nico heart and badassery.

Then, after the gang has rescued Karolina from The Church of Gibborim where she was being held, Karolina and Nico share a moment by the escape van. Nico admits that some of the group wanted to leave her behind, but Karolina says, “Not you,” with a smile. Looking awkward and anxious, Nico breathes out, “Nope. Not me.” Nico then leans in for a long kiss.

And just in case we weren’t sure, we later see them spooning in the van, Nico’s arm thrown over Karolina.

The plot device of queer characters lusting fruitlessly after straight ones is tired and cliche, and it’s one that does real harm when it’s repeated in every show. While crushing a little on your straight friends can, unfortunately, be a real part of queer teens’ lives, showing it again and again in media that doesn’t also show fulfilling queer relationships sends a clear message: queer people are unlovable and freakish, doomed to be alone.

So it’s really important that Runaways has instead given us a romantic, slow-burning queer relationship between two teens who are figuring out their sexuality out the same way everyone does: awkwardly, slowly, and authentically. I definitely understand if you’re disappointed because you were rooting for the representation of Alex and Nico, as we also rarely get to see interracial black/Asian couples represented on TV, but I can’t help being super excited for Deanoru.

(Featured image: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

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