Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Runaways: A Retrospective

It’s been just about a month since Runaways season three aired on Hulu. With all of Marvel’s television shows moving to Disney+, this show, like the Netflix series, finally got its cancellation. Now, I don’t know where it was in production when everything started getting asked, but this season did seem to have a better resolution than previous seasons. But I’ll get to that in a moment. So since I will be discussing Runaways today, obviously be prepared for spoilers through season three.

Season 1: Kids vs. Parents
Season one followed a fairly simple premise: the six kids chanced upon the information and the secret that their parents were part of an evil organization. I’ve never read the comics, but from what I understand, the writers for the Hulu series text some artistic liberty with the source material. Instead of being straight up evil, the parents became more complex and gray as the series went on. I’m not sure what the writers would have decided to do if it hadn’t been picked up for season two, but season one definitely laid the groundwork for the series. It included origin story on all of our hero Runaways, backstory on some of the parents, and mystery to lead into season two. Because of how it was set up, with suspense dodging their parents every episode, and stuff like that, season one was easily my favorite. It was the only season to include a single story arc. And they executed it well.

Season 2, Part 1: Runaways vs Parents again
Season two was the longest of the three seasons, by three episodes. And it was the slowest season of the three. So it’s a good thing it was divided into two story arcs. The first one, involves a lot of similar conflicts to season one. Except that now, the kids had finally run away. Hence the name Runaways. The kids explored their powers and worked on how to thwart their parents. But as the arc went on, even the parents began to be skeptical of their associate Jonah. And eventually the arc culminated in a fight between Jonah and the kids and their parents.

Season 2, Part 2: Runaways vs. Aliens
From early on in season two, we knew that Jonah was an alien. And as a result, that meant that Karolina was part alien. So with his ship destroyed at the end of the first arc, Jonah and his family took new hosts. A lot of the major excitement of this arc was still the parents versus the kids. But on the side, we had three of the parents blacking out and soon discovering that they’ve become host to Jonas family. We also got introduced to a new alien, Xavin, a shape shifter who believed she was Karolina‘s soulmate. The end of season two left us with the second cliffhanger season finale, so thank goodness we got a season three. The Runaways and the parents were all split up. And some of them were in life or death situations.

Season 3, Part 1: Runaways vs. Aliens again
The first arc of season three didn’t last very long. With everyone split up at the end of season two, the first order of business was to get the gang back together. At the same time, they discovered Jonah’s family inhabiting four bodies, not just the three that we had seen in season two. So as the fourth host was revealed, things quickly turned to final battle. A little bit anti-climactic, but I found it fulfilling all the same.

Season 3, Part 2: Runaways vs. Morgan
She was teased throughout the first arc of season three, but we didn’t get to actually see Morgan Le Fay in the flesh until the second arc of season three. This was the story arc that paid service to Marvel fans. It dropped Easter eggs from other Marvel series and tied it into the greater Marvel cinematic universe. Now, the finale left timeline issues involving Thanos’s snap, but so did Agents of SHIELD. So I’m willing to let that go even if I don’t like it. I feel like each of the Runaways got a fair shot at the spotlight during this arc. Even most of the parents did. It’s hard with a cast so big to give everyone decent screen time. But they did a good job.

As for MCU Connections, we got special guest appearances of Cloak and Dagger. That one was special, because it had been explicitly linked to the larger universe during its series before cancellation. In addition, seeing those two work together with the Runaways was amazing. It made me feel validated for re-watching their show again before Runaways season three came out. In addition to that, we also got appearances of the Dark Dimension from Doctor Strange, though it looked different this time, and the Darkhold from Agents of SHIELD. As much as I loved Runaways during seasons one and two, the big thing that was missing was the universe building. So this really made me happy.

In regards to how the series ended, I felt like it got a sufficient finale. However, it felt rushed. The last episode is a standalone story that was a bit convoluted. If Disney+ decides to do a season for later on, great. They can pick up some of these loose threads. But I’d honestly rather have the Runaways just appear in other series. They had their trilogy of seasons. They had a good run. They kicked butt. And now I think it should be done.

In the end, Runaways was what it promised: a teenage drama with superpowers. We definitely have the teenage angst and drama, but we also had the superheroics. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the distinct character development, despite having so many characters. I don’t know if we will ever see our Runaways again in the MCU, but I think it would be a waste just to let them sit and be forgotten. I would especially love to see Nico or Molly appear in some version of the Young Avengers or something. Can’t tell you how happy that would make me.

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