Tuesday, November 21, 2017

REVIEW: 'Runaways' - More Is Revealed About What is Going on With the Parents in 'Rewind'

Hulu's Runaways - Episode 1.02 "Rewind"

A retelling of the premiere, as seen from the parents' perspective. Everyone's on edge, but after tonight, should all go as planned, they won't have to worry about their obligations again.

"Rewind" operates as a second pilot for Runaways in so many ways. "Reunion" told this opening story from the kids' perspective while "Rewind" tells the same story from the parents' perspective. The show definitely could have continued telling this story solely from the kids' point-of-view. It would be enticing to have just as much information as they do about what's actually going on with their parents and the various powers that they are discovering about themselves. It would be a strong coming-of-age story that way. They have no easy answers for what's going on and the people who could inform them about it are the people with villainous intentions. The show definitely told stories about the parents in the premiere as well. There were scenes with them that hinted at nefarious actions long before that final moment of realization with the kids. The show could have been perfectly fine just at hinting at the true powers and purpose of the Pride. There's a sense of mystery as to what could possibly have banded these ten adults together. They are very different people who don't seem like they get along at all. But the show doesn't do that. It takes the time to show things from the parents' perspective in order to provide a better sense of dimension to what they are currently doing. Yes, they are all devious and evil because they all have to agree with the final act of slaughtering Destiny. But it's fascinating to explore how this action and this group means different things to all of them. Those differences were important for the kids even as they learned they needed to rely on each other. And now, those differences are important for the parents as they are bonded together because of whatever nefarious plans they have been working on for a long time.

It would be easy to assume that Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder are the leaders of the Pride because they are the ones constantly hosting the "charity" events at their home and have the secret lair below their house. Alex appears to be the leader of the teens because he's the one who wanted the group to reunite after two years apart. He's the one coming up with the solution to make it appear to their parents that they didn't see anything suspicious and sinister. It's because of his quick thinking that they are able to quickly return to the lives they've been living but with the knowledge that their parents aren't completely what they seem. There would be a nice symmetry to Alex being the lead character of the teens while his parents are the leaders of the Pride. And yes, the narrative certainly does enjoy that angle. Geoffrey and Catherine only want to be focusing on getting the house ready for the ceremony they have planned for later. And yet, Geoffrey is incapable of doing so because his latest real estate project is being exploited by a local gang. That comes with the reveal that Geoffrey grew up on the streets and spent time in prison. Despite all of that, he has seemingly made a successful life for himself. That's all being threatened because his former associate is being greedy about the prospective changes to this neighborhood. It's a threat that proves that Geoffrey can still be terrifying in his own way. He has no problem threatening to kill the woman who raised him if it means getting rid of Julius. But it's also clear that Julius won't be going away anytime soon nor will the importance of this project that Pride is funding.

But it's also fascinating to see how much of the relationships between the parents and the teenagers are true. Geoffrey and Catherine genuinely do care about Alex. They don't want Amy's death to be the thing that defines his life. They don't want him to endlessly suffer because of that tragedy. Meanwhile, it doesn't seem like Tina has learned anything following the death of her daughter. She has closed off Amy's room as basically a shrine to her. She doesn't want anyone going in. She already seemed controlling in the opening moments of the premiere with her having an alarm that goes off when someone enters Amy's room. But now, she wants to take that a step further in creating a magical barrier that can't be broken. She just has that staff casually hanging in the living room of this house. It appears to be nothing more than a decorative piece. At least that's the way Nico has always seen it. Instead, it's this piece of technology that can create these barriers. It's the thing that allowed the teens to go undetected when they discovered the secret bunker in the house. It's the thing that Nico immediately becomes curious about upon returning home. To her, it would be easy to accept that her parents are just villains. The rest of the teens are trying to come up with rational explanations for whatever they just saw their parents doing. Meanwhile, Nico has been pushing away from her parents for awhile. Robert has warned Tina that they risk losing Nico just like they did Amy. All of this shows why Nico is the most afraid to play along with the fantasy in the end. She didn't know her parents before all of this. And now, she's even more afraid and distrustful of them.

Elsewhere, it's important to see that not all of the parents are on the same footing when it comes to the Pride. Leslie seems like one of the most active participants because she's the one finding and nurturing the girls for the ceremony. She's the public face of the Church of Gibborim. She's the one who wields so much power and influence. Her husband, Frank, is just a washed up actor whom she is keeping at a distance. He doesn't know all of the secrets of the church. Nor is he down in the basement with the rest of the parents for the ceremony. He is obviously committed to his marriage and eager to prove his devotion to the church. But Leslie isn't letting him do that. Of course, she's right to be suspicious of his motivations as well. He only seems interested now because his manager has dropped him as a client. He is no longer relevant as an actor. He is no longer getting the work he wants - not even in television. He's trying to find purpose in his life. But all that he is finding is more secrets. He's not in the loop. The program Leslie has created is just not accommodating to him when he tries to learn the secrets by force. That makes him more of a sympathetic character. It also highlights how Leslie may be the most vicious and sinister of the parents. She puts on a smile. But underneath that expression is a ruthless and selfish being full of manipulation and deception. Destiny was willing to run away from the church. She believed she had improved her life enough to go care for her daughter. Even upon learning that, Leslie decides to target this girl for this ceremony that will ultimately kill her. She is just so cold that way. To her, it's just a sacrifice that needs to be made for the good of the cause that only a few select people actually know about.

And yet, things don't go according to plan. The audience still doesn't really know what the point of this sacrifice actually is. It's just understood that it's something the Pride does every once and awhile. They put a 17-year-old girl into this device that is linked up to a body at the Church of Gibborim. They are all planning on this being the last time they have to do it. Some do have pause because some of their children are now of the age where they could be sacrificed. That makes all of this have more real and genuine stakes to it. But for someone like Victor, he is just focused on making sure the technology works. Chase believes his father has finally figured out how to time travel and that's the point of this portal. Chase is ready to leave his family as soon as he graduates. He's done with his father's strict and overbearing rules. And now, it's clear that Victor is just as hard on himself as he is his son. Janet is more warm and loving to Chase. But she gives off the sense of a woman in an abusive relationship who just can't leave as well. Of course, she's an active participant of the Pride as well. She is encouraging Victor to reach out for help once problems arrive with the device. And in the end, he doesn't. He is hopeful that everything will go according to plan. Inevitably, it doesn't. Any time a show highlights the characters just needing to do something one last time it's foreshadowing that things are about to go awry. That's exactly the case here. When Victor is cleaning up, he learns that Destiny is still alive in this device. It's in that moment that reveals just how sinister he may be because he's proclaiming that she's not suppose to be here. The device failed and this seems like a group that demands success all of the time. And so, this will be the start of a precarious future where Victor now has to figure out what to do with this girl and how it will affect Pride business.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Rewind" was written by Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage and directed by Roxann Dawson.
  • There is nothing inherently sinister or devious about Dale and Stacey. Dale even forgets that there is a Pride meeting later that night and wonders if they even have to go. And yet, it's still abundantly clear that they are up to no good because of whatever they have created in the basement. Stacey marvels at the progress they have made as of late.
  • Neither Molly nor Karolina tell anyone else about the powers they exhibited in the premiere. The teens are only able to break out of the secret lair because Molly uses her powers. They don't see that as all that suspicious yet. Meanwhile, Karolina is questioning if her bracelet is repressing herself in some way that she doesn't understand yet.
  • It's also important that Molly isn't telling Gert about the creature she discovered in the basement. Sure, it's weird that the two of them have been tasked with feeding the animals before and have never caught a glimpse of this creature in the special containment room. But it also creates a mystery. Gert believes Molly needs to sleep with her because of the reveal about their parents. But it's that in addition to her new powers and the discovery of the creature in the basement.
  • Janet is carrying on a secret affair with someone else in Pride. That's a tease introduced quickly in her story. Chase notes that it's weird that someone is calling Janet who isn't Victor. However, the show never really reveals who this affair is with. It's understandable why she has pulled away from Victor. But she never really has a moment with someone else - though she and Robert do share a quick glance.
  • Geoffrey understands that he can't simply pay off Julius because then he'll keep coming back for more money. So instead, he arrives with a threat and the promise that he could easily take control of this criminal organization back if he wanted to. And yet, Julius proves that he has some tricks up his sleeve as well. He managed to copy Geoffrey's phone. That's a tease that could build up into something shortly.