Runaways Season 2 Finally Delivers on the Show’s Premise
The series is an entertaining if overstuffed teen drama.
The first season of Hulu’s teen superhero series Runaways was engaging, yet it struggled with delivering on the central premise of the show. Despite being titled Runaways, the teens spent the entire first season hemming and hawing over actually running away from their murderous parents before finally pulling the trigger in the season finale.
Season two picks up right where the finale left off, with our titular teens on the run and wanted by the police after their parents frame them for Destiny’s murder. Making the affluent Brentwood gang homeless gives the series immediate stakes, as each Runaway must struggle with their new reality (and their privilege). Some fare worse than others, like Gert, who struggles without her anti-anxiety medication. Ariela Barer does fine work here, portraying Gert’s fragility and anxiety without descending into caricature.
The Runaways eventually find a subterranean mansion in Griffith Park, dubbed The Hostel, where they quickly try to establish a routine and a sense of normalcy. Alex gets a job working for Darius, his father’s former partner, while the rest of the gang work on harnessing their powers and training to fight as a unit. In addition, the two central romances continue to deepen as Nico and Karolina grow closer and Gert and Chase establish a tentative relationship. Runaways is at its strongest when it deals with the abrupt coming-of-age of its central characters, which is helped by strong cast chemistry.
Runaways juggles a large cast with six teens and eleven parents, a balancing act that doesn’t always work so well. Some subplots are compelling, like Karolina covertly exploring her relationship with Jonah and growing into her powers. Others struggle, like new runaway Topher (Jan Luis Castellanos) who shares the same superpowers as Molly (as well as a soapy backstory). Speaking of Molly, the writers still don’t seem to know quite what to do with the character, who is visibly the same age as the other teens yet written like an 11-year old (which is her age in the comics).
In addition, the series seems to pivot from teens vs. parents to parents and teens vs. Jonah, with less satisfying results. It’s a struggle to believe that the Pride is just now asking questions about Jonah and his dig site despite loyally murdering innocent people for him for years. Even Leslie Dean, who had a baby with Jonah, is just now wondering what his whole deal is. Runaways works best when it focuses on the teens fighting their supervillain parents.
Despite this, Runaways continues to do a satisfying job of balancing a superhero show with adolescent drama, giving us an optimistic alternative to the doom and gloom that defines Netflix’s Marvel series. It also serves as a powerful metaphor for today’s more socially conscious and politically active teens, who are fighting to undo the damage done by their parents.
Runaways season 2 drops on Hulu on December 21st.
(image: Greg Lewis/Hulu)
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