Tuesday, December 5, 2017

REVIEW: 'Runaways' - The Teens Use Their Powers In Order to Rescue Alex in 'Kingdom'

Hulu's Runaways - Episode 1.05 "Kingdom"

After their not-so-fearless leader is taken, the kids spring into action. Alex discovers long-buried secrets about his dad, as the kids uncover new truths about themselves.

Alex being kidnapped was a shocking moment at the end of the previous episode. It was a tease that the kids perhaps weren't doing as good of a job hiding their suspicions of their parents as they were led to believe. It seemingly came out of nowhere. The audience is so completely in tune with what the kids know along with some cryptic details about their parents. There was no indication that any of the parents had realized that the kids saw something in the secret basement. That felt like a plot point that would really need to be pointed out. It's going to be this huge reaction that forces the main story into even more conflict. So, it's not surprising in the slightest that there is another explanation for Alex's kidnapping. He is instead taken by Julius who is trying to extort more money out of Geoffrey. Julius was established as a threat early this season. He was an additional complication that the Pride would need to deal with. Geoffrey is the one carrying that burden because Julius is a figure from his past. That past is further illuminated in the opening sequence of this episode. That also proves that this is the reason why Alex was kidnapped and not because the Pride has figured out what's actually going on with their kids. It's a nice way to continue escalating the tension and conflict in the main narrative while still allowing some semblance of maintaining the status quo with the relationships between the kids and the parents. Sure, it's a little ridiculous to see just how far the story is willing to go in order to explain how Alex and Geoffrey are still living in the same house by the end of the episode. But this episode does a nice job in bringing the kids together in a stronger way. That unity is really fun and infectious to watch.

The kids have been learning more and more about themselves and their parents. Things were peculiar and strange long before they witnessed their parents kill Destiny. That was the huge event that brought them all together. But they've still splintered off into different groups. Some have refused to believe that their parents are part of a cult of killers. They don't believe it's physically possible for their parents to be horrible people capable of such an act. But now, the evidence is mounting against the parents. Alex and Nico found information from Leslie's computer that reveals at least fifteen teens who have gone missing from the Church of Gibborim. That was enough to get Karolina to believe that it's possible for her mother to be a monster. But now, Chase is the one having doubts about his father because they actually bond for a little bit while they build new pieces of technology. There is a nice give and take to the relationship between child and parent in this show. Every teen has a different relationship with their parents. None of them are healthy. They couldn't be with the parents all being confirmed as killers. They perform yet another cryptic ceremony for their cause by the end of this hour. It shows that they all stand united despite the mounting pressures from elsewhere in this world. It's still a bit too mysterious to be all that effective. But it's again all a part of the show being told largely from the teens' perspectives. They are still just learning so much about themselves and the nefarious worlds their parents live in.

This episode also introduces a key new player in Julian McMahon's Jonah. Of course, he isn't really named in this episode. I'm just getting Jonah from the press release about McMahon's involvement in the show. But it's a pivotal character who seems to be the focal point for everything that the Pride is doing. He's introduced 18 years ago when Geoffrey is in jail. He's just a mysterious businessman who approaches Geoffrey about buying one of his properties for $5 million. It's a ridiculous deal that would be able to tip off anyone that there is value here somehow. It's the action that is actually able to unite Geoffrey and Catherine together. Before this moment, there were just an inmate and his lawyer. Sure, there is a flirtation between them. But it's also abundantly clear that this business deal is what ultimately bonds them together. Catherine is willing to manipulate the law to the benefit of herself and her client. She's perfectly fine with getting Julius to confess to a crime he didn't commit in order to free Geoffrey. She sees the value and intrigue of this business deal. She sees it as an opportunity to move up in life. It's a huge opportunity for Geoffrey and Catherine. It proves that they really do belong together - even though the events in the present reveal that Geoffrey is keeping secrets from Catherine. But it's still Geoffrey who is able to successfully get the teenager in the chamber to transfer his life energy to Jonah. Jonah is revealed to be the disfigured man that Leslie has been obsessing over. He's the mysterious figure at the center of this story. Everything that has been done is in service to him. He brought the Pride together. Everyone has their own importance. Geoffrey's business relations are what brought value to him and Catherine.

All of this is important information to have. As the teens point out, there needs to be a reason for why their parents are doing these villainous acts. It can't simply be because they are murderers. This is a story that includes so many magical abilities. There needs to be more of an explanation for everything that is being done. And now, answers are coming in the form of Jonah. He's a presence who could unify so much in this grand mystery in the narrative. But it's also just as unifying and empowering to see all of the teenagers reveal themselves and the special powers that they have to each other. There's urgency in their actions as well. They can't just sit around and debate the morality of their actions or make sense of what their parents are doing. Now is a time for action. They can't just hold onto these secrets. They need to rely on each other fully. And so, it's just thrilling to watch as they all use their powers in order to take down Julius and his crew. Of course, the confrontation to free Alex really starts with Geoffrey. He's the one who comes armed for a fight. It's a moment that builds up to Alex having to shoot a kid named Andre who has a gun pointed at Geoffrey. That's a pivotal moment. But it doesn't free Alex. The teens are responsible for that. They are able to track him because of Nico's staff. They are able to stop the vehicle because of Molly's super strength. They are able to defeat these armed gangsters with Karalina's lights and Chase's new hand blasters. It's a thrilling sequence to watch. Sure, it also highlights how none of them are great at fighting. They all just stand in a line as perfect targets. But they also have the abilities to survive.

It's then thrilling to watch the teens just geek out about what each other can do. They can finally be open and honest about these abilities they've been discovering over the last few days. Molly has said that she's super strong. But now, the other teens know exactly what she's talking about. Plus, this sequence doesn't even reveal everything that is going on in this world. It doesn't include Gert and her pet dinosaur at all. That's a reveal that is still blurted out to the rest of the group. It's just as cool and weird as everything else happening in this world. It empowers the teens in a way that emboldens them as well. They feel powerful and united because everyone seems to have a unique skill that they can bring to the table that can protect each other when the time comes for it. Of course, Alex does seem like the odd man out because he has no magical abilities that will have purpose when it comes to a big fight. Instead, he's revealed to be the most technologically savvy one of the group. He's the one who is full of remorse because of this whole situation. He shot Andre and knows that his father is taking him to be killed. That's so destructive to Alex because he believes to be partly responsible for that. Those feelings then foster more intimacy between him and Nico. That was the direction the story was heading in. But it's complicated by the feeling of grief Alex is experiencing now as well. He can barely stand to be around his father now. He can pass all of that off as the gruesome new details he hears about from Julius. That's what Geoffrey believes even though he's incredibly angry at Alex for believing Julius. There is more to this story. Julius is still out there and will cause more complications. The Pride is successful in being able to revive Jonah. But now, the relationship between Alex and Geoffrey is being destroyed and that's going to push the teens away even more moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kingdom" was written by Rodney Barnes & Michael Vukadinovich and directed by Jeffrey W. Byrd.
  • Chase and Victor are allowed to have this moment of bonding. And yet, all it takes is one wrong move for Chase to be fearing his father all over again. This is still fundamentally an abusive relationship. But it's still a complex one. Chase still hugs his father after he reveals his brain tumor diagnosis to him. Victor has been struggling for this entire season so far. His ability to be a functioning part of the Pride has been compromised. But he is still able to operate the chamber that can revive Jonah again.
  • Victor also believes that he has created a time travel device. He shares it with Chase. He notes that he can't send objects to the past or future. All he can do is manipulate light so that they can get a glimpse of the world. It seemingly doesn't work which causes a violent outburst from Victor. But the audience does see a vision in the screen that depicts a crumbling Los Angeles. That's an ominous note.
  • It was already clear that Leslie had more affection and love for the disfigured body than she did for Frank. But now, it's even confirmed that Jonah is actually Karolina's father. He talks about wanting to meet her. He's so excited to do so while Leslie is very concerned. Meanwhile, Frank is in the middle of the desert having failed his promotion in the church. It then becomes apparent that it was just meant to distract him for a little while.
  • Tina catches Nico trying to return the magical staff back to its regular place in the house. Sure, it's very convenient that no one in this family would notice that it's gone missing when someone took it somewhere else. But this is a pivotal moment as well. Tina is surprisingly open about what this staff can do. She's willing to share it with Nico. But that's a decision that could be compromised very quickly.
  • Does Geoffrey know that the gun Alex uses in order to shoot Andre is the same one from his desk? He takes the gun away from Alex after that moment happens. But it's never really commented on in the story. It's never a mystery for Geoffrey as to where Alex got this gun. He may just believe Alex stole it from someone on Julius' crew because his son can adapt to a changing situation. But he'll have to learn that his gun was missing sooner or later.