Sunday, December 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'Runaways' - The Runaways and Pride Plot Their Final Attacks on Jonah and His Spaceship in 'Last Rites'

Hulu's Runaways - Episode 2.07 "Last Rites"

It's time for the Runaways to stop Jonah, once and for all. But while the kids scramble to stall out Jonah's plan, the parents unexpectedly arrive. Will Pride fight against their own kids or join their ranks against the powerful, and vengeful, Jonah?

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Hulu's Runaways.

"Last Rites" was written by Quinton Peeples and directed by James Madigan

The main premise of Runaways has always insisted that it's a battle between the teens and their parents. However, the show has made everyone a much more complicated figure that can't be broken down into such arbitrary distinctions. The addition of Jonah presented a clear villain to the story. The Runaways and Pride were united in needing to deal with that. That was their most pressing concern. As such, it could overshadow the drama between teenagers and parents. However, Jonah's presence still offered that as well with him being revealed as Karolina's father. That made her have complicated feelings towards him. She knew that she couldn't trust him. And yet, she also knew that he was the only person who could provide her with answers about what she is. She yearned for that connection and has learned so much. She knows that they need to rescue the people trapped in the spaceship underneath the surface. This all becomes a rescue mission for the Runaways. Yes, they are trying to defeat Jonah and save the world in the process. But they wish to do so without any further loss of life. That distinguishes them between their parents. The adults don't care who they have to hurt in order to protect themselves and their children. They have no problem targeting the ship as soon as it rises to the surface and the tremors begin once more. They realize that Jonah lied to them about the devastating consequences of this action. That propels him into being the villain who must be defeated in this specific episode. That's exactly what happens too. It's a surprising move that removes the easy stakes of the story for the entire show. Everything that has happened so far has been in service of this mystery. Jonah brought Pride together. They did heinous acts that turned their children away from them in service of Jonah. They did so out of fear for their children's lives. And yet, Jonah's death doesn't suddenly heal those old wounds. The Runaways simply can't go back to living with their parents now. The narrative has felt the importance of showing that the members of Pride are just as cruel and destructive on their own. Tina, Catherine and Victor are monsters who have hurt and killed. Dale and Stacey have developed biological weapons that can erase memories and kill this alien species. That's a weapon that can be used against Karolina. Some of the parents still seem innocent in all of this. And yet, none of them can easily be forgiven because they ultimately stood by and allowed so many devastating things to happen. Sure, it's awkward when the show tries to include Frank in all of this by making him culpable in the accidental death of Destiny's brother. That's a forced plot point to carry the show into the future. But right now, it's mostly just important to see that Pride is solely motivated by their self-interests. They may have defeated this alien threat. They may now have the tools to actually advance the agenda they have always projected to the rest of the world. But they are still monsters who condoned some horrible actions. Victor wants to believe that Chase and Janet will easily forgive him. But it can never be that easy.

It's also insanely complicated for the Runaways to justify their actions as well. They know that their parents are demented because they found a way to be okay with everything that they did with Jonah. Even when it wasn't in service of him, they still were okay with murder. As such, Nico and Alex continue to make the right decisions in knowing that none of the kids can go back to the lives that they've known before. However, so much of this particular story centers around Nico and Karolina regarding what they are willing to do to put in an end to this conflict. Everyone knows that Jonah will likely want to take Karolina with him on the spaceship. She is still surprised when that offer comes though. She wanted to rescue her relatives while still living happily with her friends. She wanted these experiences on Earth because that's the only world she has ever known. Nico was happy to help her achieve that goal too. She understood that sacrifices needed to be made. They were both able to fight confidently once the confrontation began between the Runaways, Pride and Jonah. The Staff continues to help Nico out of many dire and dangerous situations. It no longer works for Tina either. That proves just how special and unique it is for Nico now. It gives her the power to actually defeat Jonah. She stabs him with the serum that Dale and Stacey made. As such, this entire species is eliminated except for Karolina. To her though, it plays as a massive betrayal. Her girlfriend has just killed her father. Karolina knows that Jonah was a dangerous man who would have become even more of a lunatic after this devastating loss. He has tormented everyone in order to get his way. He's more than fine with lying and manipulating to get what he wants. Sure, he may have been overly trusting of Karolina. But he wanted to protect their bond. Karolina felt that connection as well. And now, it has been severed. It's because Nico needed to get revenge for her sister's death. The show really didn't need to overly articulate that point by intercutting that moment of decisive action with her memories of losing Amy. That undercut the importance of that moment a little bit. But it also proves that power has corroded Nico too. That was the fear when she was given the Staff by her parents earlier this year. It's the fear that Molly articulated when she said Nico sounded just like Tina. Nico fears it herself. She wants to make the best decisions that take into account for everyone on the team. She has love for her new makeshift family. She has found deep, personal love with Karolina. And yet, she risks permanently destroying that in this moment by just instinctively acting. She does so just like the members of Pride to protect their loved ones. But will she be able to rationalize that enough moving forward? That is the key question as a new era of uncertainty hits the Runaway hostel.