Marvel’s Runaways Season 1 Episode 1: Reunion Recap

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My review of the first three episodes is HERE.

Episode 1 of Marvel’s Runaways is the first of the three episodes that HULU released together to kick off the series. The three episodes work best if watched together and viewed as an extended pilot. That makes Reunion part one, in which we focus on the titular kids.

The episode opens on a bus bringing a young woman to Los Angeles. A boy is reading a copy of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Things are about to get weird underground.

The woman is a runaway with no place to go. She spends the night wandering around town. At one point she phones home, but doesn’t speak. Her mother calls her Destiny. A baby is crying in the background.

After she hangs up the phone, Destiny is accosted by two men who speak Spanish to her. They’re trying to get her to go with them and pushing her along, but they aren’t touching her sexually. Only one line is translated: We’re trying to save you.

As Destiny fights the men off and runs into the road, in front of a van, the van screeches to a stop. Two middle-aged women jump out and taze the men. They convince Destiny to get in the van with them and go back to their church, where she can spend the night and get a hot meal. Destiny asks if the Church of Gibborim is a cult. The women tell her: We don’t use that word.

After Destiny gets in the van, the men say to each other that she would have been safer with them.

Next we meet Alex and his parents Geoffrey, a real estate developer, and Catherine, an attorney. Alex has been a loner since his best friend Amy died two years ago today. His parents think that it’s time for him to start socializing again.

That night the family is hosting a meeting of their charity fundraising group, PRIDE. When there’s a bit of stress about the work involved, Alex reminds his parents that it’s a charity organization, not the mob. They can leave when ever they want. Well, actually…Surprises ahead on that front.

PRIDE is raising money to build a new school for underprivileged kids, like the kids in Geoffrey’s old neighborhood. Geoffrey is in charge of the development.

We move on to Nico and her parents Tina and Robert. It was their daughter Amy who died 2 years ago, and all are still grieving. Nico dresses like a Goth, and is a practicing Wiccan. This morning she slips into Amy’s preserved bedroom to borrow a pair of tights. Tina gets an immediate alert from the house’s alarm system. She becomes furious with Nico and chases her out of the room. One of Amy’s sports trophies is broken in the process.

Chase is a lacrosse player, and math and engineering whiz who is the child of genius tech inventor Victor Stein and his wife, Janet. Victor is brilliant but cold and short-tempered, to the point of being abusive. It’s as if Spike from Buffy lost his sense of humor and had a kid he didn’t want. Chase struggles to please him. Janet plays middleman.

Karolina is the sweet, obedient, pretty daughter of Frank, a former teen heartthrob, and Leslie, the leader of the Church of Gibborim. Karolina is beginning to question her mother’s authority and to test her limits.

Molly is a little younger than the other kids, and was adopted by Stacy and Dale, both bioengineers, after her parents, who were members of the PRIDE, died in a fire. She’s currently having severe menstrual cramps and dealing with oversharing parents. Stacy suggests Molly give herself an orgasm at school to alleviate cramps.

Gert is Stacy and Dale’s biological daughter. She’s a social justice warrior and feminist. Her parents are hippies who use herbs and other natural remedies, and are a little too open about bodily functions.

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Alex watches everyone arrive at school and sees Nico sitting alone. He decides to invite everyone over after all. When he calls his mother to set it up, he inadvertently says they need pizza and sodas for 7, then sadly corrects himself to 6.

Geoffrey and Catherine argue briefly over whether it’s too dangerous to have the kids in the house during their meeting as they walk down a long corridor and past red robes hung up individually.

Leslie enters a private suite with a palm scanner for a lock. Inside, what appears to be a very old man is laying on a hospital bed with an electronic mask covering his face to provide life support. White layers of skin are flaking and peeling off all over him. Leslie gently tells him that they’re ready. Tonight, another becomes eternal. Everything in the room is white. Very scifi.

During Homeroom, Alex asks Chase to come over during the PRIDE meeting. Chase isn’t interested. He mocks Alex. Gert and Karolina are drawn into the conversation. It descends into insults all around.

When Alex came over to talk, Chase was working on his hand blaster design for bionic prosthetics with his electric sensors.

Molly auditions for a dance team, but her cramps leave her unable to finish. She goes to the nurse’s office to rest. While there, she tells the nurse that her parents died in a fire. The pain and pressure build in her abdomen until she ends up breaking the cot she’s sitting on because she squeezes it so hard. Her eyes also glow. She’s developed super strength. She feels better once her power emerges.

Chase is in trouble with his father because he got a C in Spanish. His teacher won’t give him extra credit, or change the grade. Gert overhears, and offers to tutor him. They agree to meet that evening. Just afterward, Chase’s obnoxious jock friends invite him to a party.

Nico walks through the school alone. She looks at Amy’s trophies. Alex stops her to tell her that he wants her to come over to his house because he misses her. Nico points to the earbuds in her ears and pretends she couldn’t hear him, then walks away.

Karolina discovers that someone has photoshopped one of her selfies and changed it from saying #blessed to #brainwashed. She and Nico both end up crying in the ladies room. They share a moment of realizing that they’re both unhappy and hiding, even when they’re not in the bathroom. Later Karolina talks to Destiny, who’s become a faithful convert to the Church of Gibborim. She asks Destiny what it’s like to rebel.

Molly goes home and tries out her power again. She’s able to move a van by herself, but then she falls asleep on the garage floor.

The parents assemble at the PRIDE meeting. There’s not much true friendship between members. In fact, most of them don’t even like each other. They stand around eating appetizers and quietly insulting each other. Leslie is the sole peacemaker.

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(Damnit) Janet & Victor (Franken)Stein

Alex sits alone in the guest house with his pizza and soda for six. He sends the others a photo of the six of them together from years ago.

Gert waits at the coffee shop for Chase to meet her for their tutoring session.

Chase blows her off without a text and goes to the party. So does Karolina. She’s clearly never been to a big party before and looks around in wonderment. The stereotypical sleezy older drug dealer hands her a pill that will “set her free.” She dances with the crowd.

As she’s dancing, she notices two girls dancing and kissing next to her. She’s turned on and looks down at herself. Then she snaps off her special Church membership bracelet, which she’s never taken off before. Her arms glow and sparkle. The light spreads up her body, then she passes out in the middle of the dance floor.

Gert realizes that she’s going to be home late, since Chase is late, so she asks Molly to feed the family pets. Molly brings birdseed, etc to the collection of birds and lizards in a room in the basement. If you want evidence that her parents are evil, take a look at how those animals are being kept. That’s just about as cruel as it gets.

But then, it seems clear that they’re lab subjects for animal experimentation, not pets. Because at the other end of the room is a scary looking door with a dinosaur behind it. For some reason the dinosaur decides to break out now. I’ve watched this scene 4 or 5 times, and the only reason I can find for the dinosaur to choose that moment is that it could sense Molly’s new power and was spooked.

Molly makes a run for it. She goes one way and the dinosaur goes the other. Molly calls Gert and asks her to get her out of what has become a spooky, scary house. Gert’s used to living with a strange family, so she doesn’t ask too many questions, she just picks up Molly and takes her to Alex’s house.

Chase’s two goons friends find Karolina passed out on the floor and sense an opportunity for rape. And they didn’t even have to roofy her themselves!! They drag her into a bedroom and start to undress her. Chase sees what’s happening and stops them, getting in some good punches in the process. The goons threaten Chase, but they leave. Chase puts Karolina’s bracelet back on her, and she wakes back up.

He takes her out to a waiting Uber and tells her it’s her ride home. She doesn’t want to go home or be alone. They end up going to Alex’s house. Along the way, we see Karolina holding the pill that she was given. The sparkles weren’t a drug-induced hallucination.

Nico goes to the beach to perform a Wiccan ceremony. She calls for Amy’s spirit to come talk to her, but the spell fails. Nico is so upset afterwards that she burns her grimoire. She shows up at Alex’s house just after the other four.

Alex invites everyone in. They sit in the guest house living room and talk about what they used to be to each other, how they fell apart, and who they are now. Chase blames Alex because he skipped Amy’s funeral. They eventually decide that they need to sit and talk all of their issues through, even if it’s painful.

Chase says that he needs alcohol for that, and heads for the main house and Geoffrey’s study. Nico stops Alex and asks him why he didn’t come to the funeral, then thanks him for having everyone over. He doesn’t get a chance to answer her before they’re pulled inside.

Chase finds a decanter of something alcoholic and passes out glasses. He apologizes to Gert. They all start to relax and joke around a little. Alex tries to hand out coasters, but when he turns the stack, it opens up a secret passageway underneath the house.

The kids follow the stairs and tunnels down until they reach a large, elaborate ritual chamber. Everyone’s parents are there, dressed in red robes, standing around a black, oval box. Destiny is brought out, struggling. She’s forced to drink something, then the parents surround her and force her into the box, which is now glowing with light.

The kids stare at the scene below. After a moment, they notice that there’s a force field surrounding the chamber, so that their parents can’t hear them. They watch the ritual, but push Molly to the back to protect her, since she’s the youngest. She doesn’t want to miss anything, so she holds up her phone and snaps a photo. The flash goes off, and is seen by the parents. The kids run away.


 

Keir Dullea is the old man in the bed, right? It’s always Keir Dullea in these situations.

 

Stacy and Dale are such hippies that they have a vintage VW bus. The other parents are disdainful of their home-made brie and jam band bootlegs, as cool piano jazz plays in the background. Stacy and Dale are casually racist, expecting the Asian couple to solve tech problems and attempting to speak Black English to Geoffrey.

At Alex’s house, the kids name each other’s character type. Chase is a dumb jock, Gert is a social justice warrior, Karolina is a church girl, Molly is younger and nice. Nico names herself Not-Amy, especially to her mother. That has been her experience of the world for the last two years.

She feels like no one sees her now that Amy’s gone. To her parents, especially her mother, she’s not Amy, she’s just the child who was left behind. To her former friends, she’s not Amy, she’s just the younger sister they were stuck with after Amy died. To herself, she’s the remaining lonely half of a sisterhood. She’s the one who was forgotten and lost while Amy was memorialized and grieved in perpetuity.

Molly’s powers manifest through menstruation and menstrual cramps- the ultimate girl power. But then she’s worn out and needs a nap, because that’s the price of girl power in the patriarchy. Not only that, she’s chased out of her home by a dinosaur, to remind her and us that she’s not all powerful.

Karolina also faints after removing her bracelet, because, once again, girls who have power can’t handle it on their own. She needs Chase to rescue her from the rapists, and put her bracelet back on her wrist, since her power is so overwhelming it leaves her unprotected.

It’s no wonder that Gert’s trying to form a school club to undermine the patriarchy. It turns out to be a joke, and no one joins, but I can think of several women in the MCU who might be open to the idea.

The options the kids came up with for the purpose of the secret passageway: bomb shelter, wine cellar, secret temple, Narnia. No one said that it could be a mad scientist’s lab or a spy/superhero’s lair! It’s perfect for a Bat Cave or to make a monster in. I’m so disappointed in the imaginations of today’s children. 😜

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