Marvel’s Runaways – “Metamorphosis”

Runaways is the latest Marvel series, which is a teen drama that focuses on six teenage former friends being reunited when they discover they have blossoming super-powers and super-villain parents in common.

It’s great.

Check out the recap of the previous episode here.


 

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Source: ABC Studios/Hulu. Marvel’s Runaways. Virginia Gardner as Karolina Dean.

As almost every episode has, we start with a flashback. This time it is 15 years ago; years after the mysterious benefactor Jonah made a business deal with convict Geoffrey Wilder and his lawyer/then-girlfriend Catherine Henderson. Now the Wilders are well off. He gives them a huge house in Brentwood, which includes a huge, ancient underground monastery-like area that used to be his home. They are to use it to perform the things they don’t want their neighbors to hear.

Later, they are united with all the other young couples that Jonah has helped become successful through their “deal with the devil”: Alice and Gene Hernandez, Robert and Tina Minoru, Victor and Janet Stein, Dale and Stacey Yorkes, and Jonah’s own partner, Leslie Ellehr (soon-to-be Dean). They are the charity PRIDE: Promoting Resilience, Independence, Dedication & Excellence. Using a young Runaway named Brooks Watten, they perform the first ever PRIDE ceremony and transfer Brooks’ into energy, where he is absorbed by Jonah. Once Leslie and Victor explain what they just did, the other members are horrified; they just killed someone. They can’t call the police, however; Tina has been filming the whole thing and uploading it to a private Wizard server.

Thanks to the beyond questionable morals of three members of the PRIDE, they are all stuck.

In the present, Jonah is dead-set on meeting his daughter with Leslie, Karolina Dean, and is planning on attending the PRIDE charity fundraiser for the school. Leslie protests that this isn’t how they have done things, and talks him out of it. She doesn’t want her husband Frank to find out about them – and his cover story as a mysterious foreign benefactor of the church is thin as it is.

At the Minoru residence, Tina and Robert’s daughter Nico gets a call from the Wilders’ son Alex. He asks if she is still going to the PRIDE charity meeting, because he wants her help breaking into the Wizard database to steal the videos of their parents. She is in, reluctantly. She turns around to find Tina, who offers to help train her to use the Staff of One. She tells Nico to imagine something, and Nico imagines Tina silent. It works – she can’t hear her mom as she tries to explain how the magic works. Her mom gets annoyed, but then sees the humor in the situation as Nico wears off the spell. She re-explains how it works, and tells her it only works through her DNA – her and Nico are closer than they’d care to admit. Tina puts the staff away and tells Nico if she wants to see the staff – or Amy’s diary – she could just ask. Nico admits that her sister’s diary didn’t help her understand why she killed herself. Tina tells her that you can never know what’s in someone’s mind – even someone you love. This hits close to home for Nico.

At the Dean residence, Karolina is looking at the drawings of her grandfather David Ellehr when her “dad” Frank enters. She asks if the “beings of light” David always preached about were just a metaphor, and Frank tells her that it symbolizes the light inside of all of us – but admits he isn’t quite sure what it means anymore. He tells her that he tried the Ultra ceremony to advance in their church and failed, and thinks he needs a break. Karolina asks why he isn’t in PRIDE with the other parents, and Frank says it always seemed like Leslie’s thing – she has a lot of those. But they’ll all have a good time at the fundraiser tonight.

In Victor Stein’s lab, he is fixing up his son Chase’s gauntlets – “the Fistigons” – after a test-run Chase took them on. Chase has to head out to meet up with some friends, and Victor (who has been uncharacteristically nice lately) offers him a ride. Chase refuses, and Victor thinks it’s because it’s uncool to be seen with your dad (even if Gizmodo voted him the coolest man in the world). Chase leaves, and Victor taps into the audio bug he planted in his wife’s car. Depressed, he listens in on her conversation with Robert Minoru about their affair and how she is planning to leave him. Robert notes Victor’s violent history and gives Janet a gun – just in case.

The Runaways (The Still-Haven’t-Ranaways?) discuss the plan at Timely Coffee; they will take a limo together to the fundraiser, paid for by their parents. They all put their hands in the pile and swear to turn their parents in; once the tape is released, there is no going back. Nico and Chase are reluctant to turn in their now-nice parents, but agree to go along anyway.

At Alex’s house, he is getting ready and struggling with a tie. Geoffrey tries to help, but Alex tells him he doesn’t need him. He is still upset about what happened with Andre. He tells him that he doesn’t forgive his dad; he knows too much.

At the Minoru’s, Nico gets to ready to meet up at Karolina’s to get ready. Tina asks if she is going with Alex, and admits that she may have been a bit hasty kicking Alex out after finding them together. After Nico leaves, Tina thinks that this fundraiser could be another shot at rekindling her marriage. Robert, of course, has other plans.

At Karolina’s, Nico and Karolina get ready. It’s a pretty cute, pretty gay scene. Karolina definitely has feelings for Nico, and during a heart-to-heart, she almost admits it – until Gert and Molly show up, on Nico’s invitation.

The gang take a limo to the the gala at Wizard (driven by none other than the Stan Lee!) and arrive. They watch their parents hold up the large check and have fun, noting that this will be the last time they have fun in a while. Karolina is ready to do this, but Molly starts to have regrets. How can she ask Catherine about her parents from jail? Elsewhere, Leslie and Frank are chatting and Frank is distant. He is over wanting to be Ultra, and seems fed up with Leslie’s secrets. Suddenly, against Leslie’s wishes, Jonah shows up and introduces himself as an old friend and admirer of Leslie’s. He strongly hints that he is sleeping with her, and then borrows her to have her introduce him to Karolina. Frank has a vision of Leslie and Jonah making love in her private meditation room – but is this just a daydream? Or is it why his mind was erased?

As the gang get ready to expose their parents, Gert pulls aside Karolina and asks if she likes Nico. Karolina denies this and says that Gert just wants Chase for herself – which Gert then denies. To make Gert jealous, Karolina asks Chase for a drink and he rushes to get her one. Both girls point out that the other isn’t being honest about who they truly have feelings for. The gang (sans Molly, Karolina and Chase) meet up to start their plan. Meanwhile, Molly is hiding and texting Catherine for information on her parents. Catherine tells her she is working on it, but desperate for information, Molly spills some of the beans – she tells Catherine that time is running out.

Jonah and Leslie go searching for Karolina, and run into Chase in line at the bar, asking for her. He said he was looking for her and leaves the line. Karolina, however, has swiped some vodka and is tearfully drinking alone on the rooftop. Chase joins her up there and tries to get her to talk, but she says her whole life is a lie; not like Chase’s, he’s just secretly super-smart. She lights up like a glowstick. She sits on the ledge and he tries to make her move away, but she doesn’t. Getting drunk and reckless, she knocks over the bottle of vodka. She goes to grab it and falls off the roof before Chase can save her. However, she doesn’t hit the street below; she is glowing, using her power, and flying. Karolina can fly! She safely lands back on the rooftop and Chase kisses her, saying he should have done that before she almost died. She doesn’t have the heart to tell him she’s gay.

Alex, Nico and Gert go to break into the server room, and have Gert distract the guard with flirting. Luckily, he is reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and the two hit it off talking about the proletariat. Alex and Nico make their way to the room itself and Alex is able to delineate which exact server stores the videos, but the server has no external plug-ins. Nico offers him her mom’s swiped access card and asks if he can access it from her mom’s office. Downstairs, the guard Earl notices something is up and calls his superior, but Gert distracts him by trying to play an antique Star Wars arcade game that is not to be played. Tina’s enforcer Kincaid comes down, but just ends up playing with them. Nico’s keycard doesn’t work, but Alex suspiciously knows Tina’s passcode. They break into the office, and using Nico’s blood like the Staff of One, they start to download the videos.

At the ceremony, members of the PRIDE are giving a speech about their donation when  Victor’s headaches start flaring up and everyone notices his obvious discomfort. Tina hands him the mic to say a few words, and he uses the opportunity to angrily expose Robert and Janet’s affair before collapsing from his brain tumor. They get him to rest, and Chase explains that his dad is dying of brain cancer. Janet is upset that Chase knew and she didn’t, and said that things would have been different if he let her in. He asks her to leave, and Chase orders his mom out. He calls for a doctor, but Leslie has a better idea instead. She gets Jonah in the room, and asks him to cure Victor. Chase doesn’t believe that Jonah can cure brain cancer, but he orders everyone out and injects him with a serum made from his own immune system.

Tina goes to her office to cry, not even upset that people are playing her antique Star Wars game. Gert hastily texts Nico that her mom is on her way, and they hide behind the desk. Nico watches shocked as Tina bawls her eyes out. She wants to go comfort her, but Alex holds her back. She cries too. Downstairs, she is having second thoughts about exposing their parents. It doesn’t make sense that a cold-blooded killer could cry like that. She is also suspicious that Alex knew her mom’s password, but he insists it was a lucky guess. Chase shows up and tells them the big news of the night; Karolina can fly. Also, Nico’s dad and Chase’s mom are sleeping together. Nico is floored.

Outside, a very happy Victor greets his wife. She starts to explain herself, but he sees no need. He has a new lease on life and has never felt better.

Karolina walks past and Jonah introduces himself to her, waiting to speak to her all night. She is unsettled, and he says he is a friend of her mom. She says she knows all her mom’s friends, and he says he is an old one but new in town. Frank walks up to make sure everything is okay, and Jonah says it was nice to meet her and is generally creepy about it. Karolina definitely notices something is up. Jonah and Frank talk about Frank’s failure to go Ultra in the church, but Jonah insists Frank did – he just didn’t know it. Watching from afar, Dale wonders how Frank knows Jonah, since he wiped his memory. Leslie says he doesn’t, and they can’t be talking about anything good.

Gert finds Molly and asks where Chase is, and Molly reveals he was kissing Karolina on the roof. Gert leaves. Molly finds Catherine and demands answers about her parents, but Catherine is much more interested in what Molly meant by “time is running out”. Molly tries to dodge the question, and promises she didn’t see anything. Catherine realizes once and for all that Molly saw Destiny’s sacrifice in the study that night. Stacey picks up Molly to go home just in time, and Catherine tells Geoffrey that Molly saw everything.


 

What an episode! What a Stan Lee cameo! I am glad, because a lot of storylines seem to be moving towards their comic counterpart – something I expressed concern with last week. It’s crazy that I find myself caring about even the parents I disliked the most. Who would have thought the villains of the Runaways would be interesting characters?

See you next week!

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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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