Saturday, December 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Runaways' - The Runaways Have a Climatic Battle with the Aliens as They Try to Leave in 'Rite of Thunder'

Hulu's Runaways - Episode 3.04 "Rite of Thunder"

As Leslie gives birth and Xavin fulfills her prophecy, the kids go head to head in a final battle against the aliens.

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. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Hulu's Runaways.

"Rite of Thunder" was written by Russ Cochrane and directed by Jeremy Webb

The alien threat has been apparent since the very start of the series. Jonah was presented immediately as the true villain orchestrating all of the devious actions Pride was ultimately responsible for. This hour presents a climatic battle between the Runaways and the aliens. It certainly feels like it comes to a major conclusion. Of course, the second season also featured a battle with Jonah halfway through that felt like the end of this particular storyline. So, the audience should probably take things with a grain of salt when this hour concludes with the Runaways being victorious in battle. It may be easy to operate with that assumption because Nico can confidently say that they weren't killed. They have simply gone away. That's certainly ominous for people who don't know what she has been going through this season. However, that remains shrouded in secrecy as well. In fact, it seems like Elizabeth Hurley has been asked to do the same thing over and over again in these first four episodes. She mysteriously appears to Nico and then makes some cryptic comments that tease some future importance. And yes, the show actively makes the viewer aware that she is not of this world and is very much intrigued by Nico. Even though this one threat may be eliminated, there is this new one entirely that is just starting to rise up. The relationship between Nico and Karolina is the strongest in the entire show. As such, it's fitting and incredibly compelling that they are the ones whose existential crises with their respective powers is what gives the narrative its overall focus for the entire series. Nico has felt out of control. She was willing to destroy the Staff for good. In the moment when it seems like her friends will die, she calls upon those powers once more. She can pull the Staff out from within her. That's a terrifying and crazy image. It shows that she wields so much power that she doesn't entirely understand. But again, it's all grounded in the relationship she has with Karolina. They have so much love for each other. And yet, the family bonds amongst the Runaways are extremely vital as well. They are all stunned to learn that Alex is the fourth alien. In fact, he is more cruel than the rest of his family. That's startling. At times, it's unclear if Leslie truly is in labor or if she's simply faking it in order to disrupt Alex's plans because she figures he is the alien trying to deliver her to his father. She can't allow this child to be taken by Jonah. She realizes that there is a greater purpose for her now. Leslie does ultimately give birth. She has to make a huge sacrifice in handing her away to Xavin so that they can travel through the portal together in order to potentially save their alien race. That's what the prophecy has always foretold. Xavin was emotional upon realizing that it may all be pointless to pine after Karolina. She remains loyal and determined to succeed. She does in the end. She protects this child and carries her off to fulfill her own destiny. That is a succinct ending here even though it comes with the tease that they will probably all meet again. That's the way this show largely tells its stories. It juggles a lot of plot and characters. They weave in and out of the story depending on their importance. Tamar killed Catherine. That was her getting vengeance for Darius' death. And now, she is tortured by Alex in order to deliver Leslie's baby. That dynamic is heightened because of the clear emotions involved. However, this is no longer Alex making these actions. Instead, it's the alien who has taken over. The Runaways can debate how long the alien has been in control. Right now though, it's clearly a threat. One that may want to stay on Earth and in this body. He doesn't share that desire with anyone from his royal family. He doesn't succeed in that pursuit. But he can certainly manipulate emotions to get what he wants even if he might be bluffing. Nico doesn't know what would happen if she shot Alex. The alien may jump to a new body. Her friend could die. Instead, it's more efficient that Chase creates weapons that can make these aliens vulnerable. In the process, he expresses his love for Gert even though she can't reciprocate them. All of this is building to an uncertain confrontation. But it too creates the assumption that more characters have been removed from the picture. That is an overall theme for the season even though it seems fairly obvious that there is much more that could possibly be going on here. The show shouldn't withhold that for too much longer though.