Runaways: Reunion

party

What if they gave a party and no one wanted to come?

I’m fairly well-read in most superhero comic books. I don’t manage to read everything, because I don’t have that kind of time or money. Marvel’s Runaways is one of the properties I know next to nothing about, so I was intrigued when I heard it was getting made in to a live action series on Hulu. I’m running behind on catching up on shows, but I finally got to see the pilot, Reunion, when they aired it on Freeform after the season finale of Cloak & Dagger.

While a lot of the Marvel Universe events and stories take place in New York City, the Runaways are in Los Angeles. They start the series with characters struggling to deal with something from their past, so we’re left to get to know the cast and figure out what happened as we go. High school can be rough enough on just about everyone, and these kids have more than the usual amount of chaos going on.

The show opens with a young kid getting to town and not being able to reach whoever they’re trying to call. It’s a bad set up that never goes well for the young woman involved. The expected starts to happen as two Latino thugs start hassling Stephanie, as we hear her called when she calls home and then hangs up. She gets rescued by some people in a van, but the comments the thugs make afterward make us wonder if the girl is better off.

Six months later, a kid called Alex is gaming while his parents call him to breakfast. Today is the anniversary of something bad, and the tenor of the comments make it sound like someone died. The kid, Alex, is apparently withdrawn and doesn’t have friends, which his parents are worried about. There are a lot of references to a group of friends he used to have, and hints that things fell apart, presumably when whoever “she” is died.

Next up is a very Goth looking girl, Nico evidently, who is having her own problems with her parents. It seems the “she” was her sister, and her parents are keeping her room as a shrine, down to having security devices on the room door. There’s a confrontation between Nico and her mom that shows how high emotions are running. Chase is a jock who is having some trouble with his grades. After we see him with his father, it sounds like grades are the least of his problems. Karolina belongs to some kind of church that her mother runs, and she’s one of the spokesmodels for it whether she wants to be or not. Two more girls, Gert and Molly, arrive at school, in this case the Atlas Academy. The parents are very embarrassing hippie types, and Molly calls them by name, not mom or dad, so there’s some kind unusual aspect to that relationship.

The kids cross paths in different ways at school while Alex tries to set up a party with his former friends. His parents, the Wilders, oddly go from “You should try harder to make friends” to “Oh? Tonight?” before finally agreeing. They have some kind of gathering for a “Pride Foundation” that night and are clearly very tense about it. There’s a telling moment when Alex asks for pizza and soda for seven, and then looks saddened and downsizes it to six. The various parents are making strange comments about their gathering tonight. It really doesn’t sound like a charity meeting to me.

Gert tries to get people interested in her club to attack the patriarchy, which goes over about as well as you’d expect in the face of teenage apathy. Alex talks with Chase about the gathering that night, which is interesting on a few levels. Chase is far from a dumb jock, as he’s sketching out some kind of special weapon design. He talks excitedly about it with Alex before apparently realizing what he’s doing and turning on Alex. Various of the other kids hear this and snark at each other. It doesn’t seem that likely they’re going to be hanging out together anytime soon.

Molly goes to tryouts for the dance team and suffers some unexpected complications. Chase tries to talk a teacher into changing the grade that was causing problems with his father, but doesn’t get anywhere. Gert overhears and they set up time to work together on his problematic Spanish. Nico and then Alex spend some time looking at a trophy case, and we learn that whoever it was that died was apparently named Amy. Karonlina and Nico have a scene together in the girls’ room as they both deal with some of their emotional traumas. Nico gets in some cutting and perceptive comments. Molly goes to the nurse after her problems earlier, and we can see she’s not just suffering from some flu or something.

Karonlina gives an interview for her church and comments on her bracelet that her mother gave her and she’s never taken off. She also asks another kid there a really horribly awkward question which tells us a lot about her. Molly goes home and tries to follow up on her strange spell in the nurse’s office, with some mixed results.

Alex finally makes it home and has to share his disappointment in no one coming over not only with his parents, but everyone’s parents, gathered for their strange meeting. There are a lot of tensions in this gathering, and a lot of them don’t particularly seem to like each other. Gert gets ready for her meeting with Chase, which turns out very much like a stereotypical high school movie. Karolina ends up at the same party as Chase, and is saved from a traumatic event by him, although we see there’s something special about Karolina, just like Molly. Speaking of, Molly is home alone and gets stuck taking care of the family pets, but gets a really big surprise at a door ominously labelled KEEP OUT. Nico is off on her own trying something different and desperate, but doesn’t get the result she hoped for.

Home alone, Alex is having a pizza/pity party when the others gradually show up after their own disastrous nights. You can tell they used to be close, and there’s a lot of distance now. We learn some of why the others are upset with Alex, dating from the events a year ago. Chase leads the others to Alex’s dad’s study on a quest for alcohol. They don’t find what they were looking for, but get a major surprise when they discover something else. I think it’s safe to say all the kids’ lives just got a lot more complicated than high school drama.

What I liked: It was a big group to start with, but they managed to differentiate among them pretty well. I’m really curious to learn more about Chase, the jock/inventor. Nico was interesting, too. Molly was entertaining, and I’m really hoping they explain her discovery in the pet room.

What I didn’t: Gert was just annoying. I hope she improves soon. I’m not sure I have a good read on Alex yet. A lot of the parents seem like not great people, although Chase’s father is well out ahead in that race.

This has a good bit of potential, and I’m going to follow up on the other episodes. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5 for a start, and see how they follow up on that big surprise at the end of the episode.

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