This article will be discussing the fourth episode of Marvel’s newest hit, Runaways. Check out the article about the previous episode here – or check out my review of the newest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. here.
(Sorry if it feels like you are passing our reviews in this show; your faithful writer is located in the cold, Hulu-less country of Canada and gets his episodes a week behind.)
The fourth episode starts again with another horrible, depressing flashback, to what should have been Nico Minoru’s first clue that her parents Robert and Tina were evil: their reaction to the death of her sister Amy. After their Wizard smart home Wizey fails to wake Amy up for school, a younger Nico finds her sister cold and overdosed on prescription pills in a possible suicide. She screams for help and her parents rush in, but Tina refuses to let Nico call 911 and knocks her out with the Staff of One for attempting to do so. Nico wakes up later locked in her room, and sees her mom making a deal with a paid-off cop Flores on Wizey’s video feed of Tina’s office.
In present day, Nico is reading through bittersweet memories in Amy’s diary when she gets a group call from her friends: Alex Wilder, Chase Stein, Gert Yorkes (and her adopted sister Molly Hernandez) and Karolina Dean. They also rush to tell her that Destiny Gonzales’ body was found washed up on shore, and use it to come to different conclusions, fighting. Chase points out Alex’s dad was once in prison for murder and Nico reveals that Amy’s diary proved she was happy and wouldn’t kill herself, but Karolina refuses to believe that her mom would do this and Gert says she didn’t find anything in her or Chase’s parents’ labs (conveniently leaving out that she let a genetically engineered deinonychus escape).
The gang hang up, and as Chase returns to tinkering on his gauntlets “The Fistigons”, Alex sneaks into his dad’s office to try and attempt to spy on their secret ‘murder library’ again. He turns the stack of coasters, but they fall in his hands; they are just actual coasters. He searches the office for another key to the secret entrance, and finds a stapler stuck to the inside of his dad’s desk drawer. He is unable to use it as a switch, but uses it as a handle to lift up the drawer and reveal a secret compartment with stacks of cash and a pistol. He takes the gun – better hold on to it, just in case.
Meanwhile, at the Yorkes’ residence, Dale and Stacey are freaking out. They need to find their pet dinosaur, and fast. Gert and Molly enter the kitchen and ask who their parents are looking for, and they lie and say it’s a valuable hedgehog and make an excuse to scamper off. Molly – who still doesn’t know what “the monster” is or that Gert let it loose – still concludes that Dale and Stacey are the worst liars ever. Outside, the couple get a text saying they need to meet up for urgent PRIDE business. They decide not to go – their future is more important.
Chase’s dad Victor Stein drives to the impromptu PRIDE meeting in his van. The bloodied girl tied up in his back screams for help, so he turns up the radio. He meets up with Geoffrey Wilder and Robert Minoru, the first who could make it on short notice, and shows them the girl tied up in his van: no one. He swears he hit her on the head with a tire iron while she was eating fries and tied her up.
Victor Stein, you are losing your mind.
In the meeting with some of the rest of PRIDE (Victor & Janet Stein, Tina & Robert Minoru, Geoffrey & Catherine Wilder), Victor takes full(ish) responsibility for his actions, blaming it on a side effect from malaria medicine from his trip to South Africa. Janet sticks up for him and lies that she made the decision to use the box even though it wasn’t ready. Leslie Dean enters and tells the villains that “he” is sicker than he has ever been, and they need another sacrifice. Noticing Dale and Stacey aren’t there, Tina agrees to make sure that they obey the rules of the organization going forward. Victor volunteers to find a new sacrifice, and Tina forces Robert to go with.
At school, Nico meets with Alex. She tells him that is positive Amy didn’t kill herself, and is going to turn their parents in after school. Alex says that their story sounds ridiculous, and that their parents would just lie for each other. All this would accomplish is that they would know who turned them in. Nico is disappointed that Alex won’t help, and says that she doesn’t care if the police believe her, because she is still telling them everything she knows.
Gert finds Chase and thanks him for not spilling her secret about her parent’s lab – she doesn’t want her parents in trouble for genetically engineering a dinosaur, which must be illegal. Chase points out murder is also illegal. Suddenly, Brandon and Lucas – Chase’s lacrosse teammates and Karolina’s would-be rapists – accost Chase and demand an apology for the ass-kicking he administered that weekend. Chase refuses, saying instead that they should apologize to Karolina. They too refuse, saying their injuries were apology enough. This isn’t good enough for Chase, and he kicks their ass again, when the coach and Karolina rush in the break the fight up. The coach carries the boys to his office, while a classmate Eiffel accuses Karolina of this all being her fault. If she didn’t get drunk and hook up with Lucas and Brandon, Chase wouldn’t have beaten them up and they wouldn’t be losing their lacrosse championship. She calls her a lightweight and a slut. Karolina protests that this didn’t happen. Gert tells her that it sounds like she was drugged, but Karolina insists that she would know and is hurt that Chase didn’t tell her – even if Gert insists he was probably trying to protect her.
At the Church of Gibborim, Karolina’s mom Leslie is back with the aforementioned “he” who is not getting better, the dusty, decrepit, flaky old thing with a breathing mask that was possibly once her dad. She is praying, and it tells her to stop. She asks what she can do to help, and it says to warm it. She takes off all her clothes and climbs in bed with the messed-up crusty half-mummified corpse of what appears to be her father and begins cuddling it. It starts to glow beneath the blankets.
I have been at The Game of Nerds for two and a half years and have never used this word in a review but wha-ha-hat the fuck?
What just happened? Why was that the creepiest, most unsettling thing that has happened in 17 movies and 208 episodes of 16 seasons of 10 shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Outside the meditation room where this skulduggery is taking place, Leslie’s husband Frank sits waiting for her. As Leslie exits, Frank demands to know what she is spending so much time doing in there, and accuses her of having an affair. (Maybe?) She says that his worldview is limited, and lies that she has been praying over him for the last few days. She has come to the decision that she is ready for him to ascend to the highest level of their church: She wants him to go Ultra tonight. Frank thanks her, but Leslie tells him he did this all by himself.
Robert Minoru and Victor Stein may be looking for a sacrifice, but it looks like Leslie Dean has already found one.
After school, Karolina keeps hearing rumors about how church girls are the nastiest and texts Chase that they need to talk. Chase, however, is on the bus to a lacrosse match. His coach gives an “inspirational” speech about how whatever caused the fight between the three isn’t worth risking the championship. She instead goes to find Gert, who is surprised to see that people want to meet for her “Smash the Patriarchy” school club. They even modified “I’m With Her” shirts to read “I’m With Gert”, but smashing the patriarchy is the last thing on Gert’s mind right now and she leaves with Karolina in a bid to prove their parents innocent. Alex watches Nico leave to go to the cops, and Gert and Karolina – dubbing themselves “Team There’s Got to Be Another Explanation” – ask if he wants to join. Karolina explains that she thinks what they saw was a secret Gibborim ceremony for going Ultra, and their parents’ big secret are just that they’ve converted to her religion. Alex is glad that the two have each other, but doesn’t know what to believe and passes.
Now, a break for the buddy cop antics of Robert and Victor.
The duo drive through the slums, looking for their next sacrifice. They settle on an old, passed out homeless man. Robert starts loading him into the van, but Victor insists they need to knock him out with a tire iron first to ensure he doesn’t wake up. As they argue over this, the man wakes up and attacks Robert. Victor tries to direct Robert to slice the man’s Achilles tendon, which confuses everyone involved, and then the cops show up. The men decide to call their LAPD contact Flores and promise not to tell their wives.
At the Church of Gibborim, Gert and Karolina look for clues. Gert reads from the church’s good book, and admits that it is actually beautiful. She apologizes for calling the church a creepy pseudo-science cult. They find Leslie’s laptop and try to open the folder marked “Ultra”, but it is encrypted. Gert copies it onto an R2-D2 flash drive Alex had given her, meaning to bring it to Alex to hack. Chase shows up and asks to speak to Karolina alone, so Gert, trying to be understanding, leaves to bring the drive to Alex.
At the police station, Nico is having a hard time approaching the desk. Alex shows up and Nico asks if he is trying to talk her out of it. He admits that that would be impossible and is here to offer her some support. They hold hands and approach the desk, and say they would like to report two murders. They wait in the waiting room, when suddenly Robert Minoru and Victor Stein are brought in by Detective Flores. The teens quickly leave. In Alex’s car, Nico explains that Flores – the detective in charge of Destiny’s case – was who her parents called when Amy went missing. Alex admits he believes their parents are evil and have the police in their pocket, and shows Nico the gun he stole from his dad’s desk. He says they need to always be prepared.
Outside the church, Chase tells Karolina that he left the lacrosse team, because he couldn’t be on a team with Brandon and Lucas. She tells him that she needs to know if something else happened at that party. He says that he stopped them before they did anything. She thanks him and asks him to come inside. She tells him that she is going to show him something she can’t explain, but if she passes out she needs him to help her again. He is concerned, but Karolina takes off her bracelet and begins to glow and sparkle, changing colors with rainbow light. They are both amazed and have so many questions that they don’t know how to answer.
In Tina’s office, she talks to a bearded, tattooed man named Kincaid. He has dug up dirt on someone – presumably, Dale and Stacey Yorkes. She thanks him for his service and he thanks her for her money. He says that they don’t seem like bad people, and Tina says they never do. Elsewhere, Dale and Stacey’s search for Old Lace the deinonychus is not going well. Stacey thinks they should just pack up and run away but Dale protests. What if someone finds their dinosaur? What will happen to their daughters? Stacey says that their plan is screwed and they just need to disappear. Dale reluctantly agrees.
At their residence, Molly is typing an email to Catherine Wilder of things she would like to know about her parents. Were they super-strong? Did they do experiments on her? How did they really die? Suddenly she hears a noise and thinks it’s Gert trying to scare her. She goes out into the hall and is attacked by Old Lace. She kicks the dinosaur with her super-strength, and they fight throughout the house before Gert bursts in and orders the dino to stop. She realizes Chase was right – it does actually do what she says. She asks it to sit and begins to pet it. Dale and Stacey come home and see their daughters playing with the deinonychus. Well, guess they found her.
They lock up the dinosaur in the basement, and try to explain everything to their daughters (including their plan to run away to Yucatán) when they get an unexpected visit from Tina Minoru. They ask the daughters to stay and keep Old Lace quiet while they rush upstairs to greet Tina. Tina feigns happiness to see the pair okay, since they didn’t attend the PRIDE meeting. They lie about picking mushrooms in a cave, and Tina pointedly says that she thought they might have run away to the Hernandez’s ranch in Yucatán. She reveals she knows everything, not-so-subtly threatens them and leaves. Gert tries to ask what is going on and Dale yells at her. She leaves.
At a coffee shop, Alex and Nico wait for the program to decrypt Leslie’s files on Gert’s flash drive. Upon opening the folder, they find nothing about a secret ceremony – just the list of a bunch of names of runaways with the mysterious note “PER LED”. They find Destiny’s folder, but no folder for Amy. They try searching to see if all the kids are dead, but are unable to find records of these people. They are nobodies – that is the point. Nico realizes that “LED” means Leslie Ellerh Dean, and they come to the conclusion that their parents are serial killers and Leslie picks the victims. They resolve to tell Karolina, when the coffee shop owner asks if someone there drives a silver Prius. Everyone puts up their hands – welcome to California. He says the bumper sticker says “My other car is a TARDIS” and Alex leaves to turn off his alarm.
With a lot of free time on his hands, Chase is in his dad’s lab working on his Fistigons. Victor pulls up and Chase tries to hide what he is doing and clear out of the lab, when Victor asks what he is doing. He examines Chase’s prototype and smashes it on the ground, which angers Chase. He makes Chase sit down and asks exactly what he was doing – the prototype was the work of a child, but in Chase’s mind it is perfect. He wants to know Chase’s vision exactly, so they make no mistakes when they build them for real. Chase smiles and tells him they are called Fistigons.
At home, Karolina is reading the Book of Gibborim when she hears her parents get home. They’re laughing and presumably celebrating Frank’s Ultra status. Karolina takes a call from Nico, who tells her what they found: Their parents have been making runaways from the Church of Gibborim disappear for fifteen years, with her mom choosing the victims. Karolina goes numb as her parents wave her over, still celebrating. Nico hears commotion outside the coffee shop (named Timely Coffee after Marvel’s original name Timely Comics) and sees a struggling Alex being hauled away in a black van. She tells Karolina.
Woo, what another tense episode. I wonder how close this will adhere to the comics, because:
-HIGHLIGHT FOR COMIC SPOILERS-
In the first arc, Alex turns out to be evil and working with their parents all along.
The show seems to be possibly taking it in a different direction.
This show is a bit of a slow burn, but I love it. It really fleshes out storylines that never get addressed in the comics. It’s the teen drama the Marvel universe needed.
Until next week!