Marvel’s Runaways – “Kingdom”

This is the fifth episode of Runaways. For the previous episode, click here.

Alex
Source: Marvel Television/Hulu (Press Release). Marvel’s Runaways. Lyrica Okano as Nico Minoru, Allegra Acosta as Molly Hernandez, Rhenzy Feliz as Alex Wilder.

Our episode begins in common Runaways fashion; a flashback. In this particular one 18 years ago, Geoffrey Wilder is getting a visit in prison, where he is serving time until his court date for a gang-related murder. He enters the room to find a man in a suit; we will come to know him as Jonah. He wants to make a sort of deal, but Geoffrey refuses to talk without his lawyer present. Right on his cue, his lawyer bursts in annoyed – Catherine Henderson, soon-to-be Geoffrey’s wife. Jonas is more than happy to discuss the deal in her presence and continues, clarifying; he doesn’t want to offer Geoffrey a plea deal or anything of the sort. This has nothing to do with his arrest. He wants to buy an old run-down mall property in North Central Compton that was left to Geoffrey in his uncle’s will, and for mysterious reasons is willing to pay $5 million for the pile of junk. Geoffrey offers him his own services as a business partner, but Jonah isn’t willing to work with a long-term prisoner. Catherine promises that Geoffrey will be out in a month.

Geoffrey returns to the common area and meets with his fellow Crip, old friend and future rival Darius. He promises to take care of Darius’ grandma, wife and kids for life if Darius promises to take the fall for him; to plead that he shot Osiris instead of Geoffrey. Darius is more than hesitant, but Geoffrey explains that he has a deal on the outside that will change their lives. If Darius pleads innocent and is out in a few months, he will be back to the same old grind. If he pleads guilty and is out in years, Geoffrey will have his life made and ready for him at the top. Darius reluctantly agrees.

In the present, we cut to who kidnapped Geoffrey’s son Alex Wilder, and would you believe it? It’s Darius and his partner-in-crime Andre. Alex asks where they are going, and Darius responds that he is about to find out who his father really is. He makes Alex give him his phone (which Alex reluctantly does after considering pulling Geoffrey’s gun on him). He takes Alex to his grandma’s house and explains: He and Geoffrey were the closest of friends, and his grandma took care of Geoffrey. Darius took a fall to get Geoffrey out of jail on the promise that he would help, and he didn’t. Alex says he is nothing like his father. Darius notices 6 missed calls from Nico on Alex’s phone.

At Timely Coffee, Nico Minoru is trying to figure out how to find Alex. Her friend Karolina Dean, however, is having a bit of a panic attack as it settles in that their parents are really murderers. Nico comforts her. There’s a bit of dare-I-say romantic tension on Karolina’s part, but Gertrude Yorkes and her adopted sister Molly Hernandez roll up and interrupt the moment. Nico decides to use the Staff of One to find Alex, and it casts a beam of light. Gert warns caution about following the light, saying they could be going up against Gibborim enforcers, corrupt LAPD officers or just run-of-the-mill kidnappers. Nico tells them she will protect them with her staff, and Molly again tries to remind them that she has super-strength but Gert ignores her. They leave to save Alex as Chase Stein ignores calls from Gert.

Chase, meanwhile is bonding with his dad Victor in possibly the first time ever, as they work on Chase’s Fistigons. Victor is impressed; how does Chase know all this engineering stuff if he is doing so poorly at school? Chase admits that school bores him; he likes to apply it practically. Chase accidentally knocks over something and hastens to pick it up, afraid that his dad will yell or hit him. Victor apologizes for being so hard on Chase – he says he just wants him to be better than he is. Chase reminds he of a younger version of himself; nothing but ideas and imagination and his own two hands. After the Fistigons, they agree to work on one of Victor’s old projects he never quite perfected.

Darius calls Geoffrey on Alex’s phone and reveals that he kidnapped his son. Geoffrey offers him the $50k that he had requested earlier, but Darius tells him that the price has raised to $1m and hangs up. Catherine tells Geoffrey that the food is almost here, and asks who he was talking to. He lies and says it was a wrong number, but he needs to step out for a bit. He calls Detective Flores and asks for three officers in unmarked cars.

As Karolina barrels down the highway, making Gert sick (though Molly is having the time of her life), Gert tries to call Chase again. Victor has just stepped out to get some coffee, and Chase answers. She explains everything and Chase says he will be there. As Alex and Andre chat a bit, Geoffrey shows up and opens fire. The Crips return fire as Alex hides. Andre is about to shoot Geoffrey, and Alex shoots him with his dad’s gun. His dad takes the gun from him and tries to console his son through his first attempted murder as he works on stopping Andre’s blood flow, but Darius kidnaps Alex – again. Karolina and company pull up and tail Darius.

The Crips stop at a red light, so Nico gets out behind them and tries to use the Staff of One to stop them. It doesn’t work, so Molly stops them proving once and for all that she has super-strength. Darius gets out of the car, ready to shoot, so Karolina takes off her bracelet and distracts him with her lights and colors. (Molly is really excited that Karolina has superpowers too.) Chase suddenly pulls up and runs out, blasting Darius with his newly tweaked Fistigons.

With the exception of a deinonychus, the O.G. gang is all here and ready to go!

Alex runs over to the Runaways’ side, and Nico casts a protection spell just as he opens fire. Darius runs out of bullets, all of them hitting the barrier, and gives up and gets away. Chase’s Fistigons, Karolina’s powers, and Nico’s spells are exhausted – as is Molly, who is now napping – so they decide to let him go. Alex runs off to help his dad and Andre. Geoffrey tells him he has a place off the grid where he can patch him up, but Alex calls him out on lying and betraying Darius. Geoffrey orders him on a bus and not to come back. Alex angrily obeys. Geoffrey calls Catherine and tells her to get PRIDE together; he has a new sacrifice, but he won’t last long.

At the Church of Gibborim, the crusty old flaky thing with the breathing mask in Leslie Dean’s hidden meditation room seems to just be getting worse. Leslie is by it’s bedside, tells it that they are working on a sacrifice, but aren’t having much luck. It tells her that it always loved her.

Cute?

In the coffee shop, the teens all gush over how cool each other is (and Molly lets it slip that Gert has a telepathically linked genetically engineered dinosaur) when Alex comes up and says they need to save Andre – he was one of his kidnappers. He’s just a kid, and he’s afraid that their parents are going to sacrifice him too. The gang doesn’t want to go along with it, but Alex can’t let more kids die.

At the PRIDE meeting, Robert Minoru is trying to the open the casket-thing and Janet Stein goes over to help him. Victor notices the romantic tension between the two, and Robert breaks it by asking his wife Tina where the Staff of One is. She didn’t have time to grab it. Catherine sarcastically apologies to Leslie for not having a “free-run, grain-fed” sacrifice this time as Stacey Yorkes patches Andre’s wounds and Dale Yorkes gives him poison.

The kids arrive at the Wilder’s study and Alex warns them that the coasters don’t work anymore. Molly breaks down the secret door and they make their way to their parent’s secret meeting room, but they aren’t there. Alex is frustrated, and leaves. Nico consoles him and he admits he shot Andre and feels like he killed him – to protect his evil dad, nonetheless. Nico tells him that he didn’t kill Andre and they kiss. Karolina walks in on them and tells them they found a camera. Downstairs, Alex tries tracking the camera feed but only finds that it redirects to Wizard servers – the technology company that Nico’s parents own.

To make sure it works this time, the PRIDE observe the regeneration process themselves, with Andre in one casket-chamber-thing and the dusty old thing in the other. Blinding light is exchanged between the two, and Victor opens Andre’s chamber to reveal that it is empty. Leslie checks on the other chamber, and says it worked. She orders everyone out of the room and starts crying happy tears.

At the Wilder house, Alex searches for reports on Andre’s death and finds nothing. Geoffrey enters and he asks what happened to Andre. Geoffrey says he is fine, and Alex calls him a liar and a bad person. He orders him out and Geoffrey gets mad; this is his house. Alex flinches, and says that he hurt his best friend Darius – who is to say he wouldn’t hurt his son too? Alex leaves instead. Catherine overhears and asks Geoffrey to take care of Darius so he doesn’t hurt their son again.

At the Dean’s, Karolina sees a picture of herself with her parents, happy. She smashes the photo and then trashes her room, letting all her rage out.

At the Hayes’, Gert and Molly sneak into the basement to spend the night with their dinosaur, Old Lace. Molly asks why their parents do terrible things. Gert tells her it’s because they are terrible people.

At the Minoru residence, Nico tries to sneak back the Staff of One to its case when Tina catches her. Nico tries to make an excuse, when Tina tells her it is okay; she was bound it discover its power sooner or later. She tells Nico to keep the staff for now. She trusts Nico, and hopes one day she can regain her daughter’s trust.

At the Stein’s, Chase brings the Fistigons back to the lab and runs into Victor. Chase apologizes for being out so late, but Victor says him and Janet had to step out too. Victor says working on the Fistigons with Chase inspired him to perfect his passion project: a time machine – or more accurately, a machine that can show images of the future. He asks to see Los Angeles of the future, but it doesn’t work. He gets angry and breaks the device, getting a splitting headache. Chase is concerned, and Victor tearfully reveals that the reason he has these anger attacks is because he has brain cancer. He hasn’t told Janet. Chase starts to cry and Victor assures him that he can beat it.

On the floor, the screen of the time machine displays Los Angeles being destroyed by an earthquake.

(Is that a reference to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?)

At a sweat lodge at the Church of Gibborim, Aura and Frances regret to inform Frank Dean that the ceremony failed; he did not reach Ultra. He thinks there must be some mistake. They tell him that Leslie will be disappointed too, but it is sadly out of his grasp. Leslie, however, has more pressing concerns. She meets up with her decrepit old dust-thing in her meditation room, only he isn’t decrepit or old at all anymore. In fact, he isn’t her father either; it’s her lover – Jonah, the mysterious benefactor who bought land from Geoffrey Wilder 18 years ago. He tells her that his only regret as he thought he was dying is that he never met his daughter, Karolina.

Scandalous!


 

This series is really diverting from the comics, and that is something I thought I would absolutely hate. I actually appreciate it. It keeps me on my toes. I thought I knew this story inside out, and the show always manages to shock me. And hey, if I want to read the comics, they will still always be there.

It does feel strange that the kids haven’t run away yet, but the parents are definitely more sympathetic characters – even the previously unredeemable Victor Stein and Tina Minoru. The title Runaways could also apply to the victims of PRIDE, so the premise of the show isn’t completely lost.

Also, again, was that an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reference with an earthquake destroying Los Angeles? Isn’t that exactly what Deke claimed destroyed the world in their current “exploring the future” arc?

Either way, we had a bit of a lull this year with Iron Fist, Defenders and Inhumans not living up to everyone’s expectations – but with the new wave of Punisher, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Runaways, if you aren’t caught up on Marvel TV you are missing out!

Stay tuned!

 

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Author: Jesse "The Clairvoyant" Rolufs

Film star. Chemical engineer. Dancer. Comedian. I am none of these things. What I am, however, is a huge geek hailing from the frigid wastes of western Canada. I couldn’t even tell you when it started - I’m told the first words out of my mouth were “I swing my +2 DEX war axe and attack the dragon.” My name is Jesse (also known as “The Clairvoyant”) and I am a big nerd when it comes to video games, board games, movies, anime, TV, RPGs - and I am possibly the one of the world leading experts on comic books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Joss Whedon. You can find me on twitter as @JesseRolufs. Don’t be afraid to check out my informative Joss Whedon-themed podcast @whedoncast, and my hilarious bargain-bin-movie-bashing podcast @BlindBuy!

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