RUNAWAYS Episode 3 "Destiny"
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While certain story elements are unnecessarily repeated, RUNAWAYS Episode 3 fantastically balances the show's large cast with a tense murder mystery narrative. The fast pace and allusions to the comic books make this a must watch for fans.
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Every hero has their origin story. It’s that moment where they must step out of obscurity to save the day. For example, Spider-Man’s moment came when his Uncle Ben dies in an alley. For Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s RUNAWAYS, the young heroes step into the war on crime after discovering their parents are supervillains. The choice seems immediate, with the kids banding together to fight back against their parents’ criminal empire. In RUNAWAYS Episode 3, titled “Destiny,” the team takes a slower approach. Their origin is fraught with uncertainty, and it is a joy to watch.

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After learning about their parents’ villainous actions in episode 2, the Runaways meet to decide their next steps. Alex Wilder convinces the team that they need more information before they can act. They don’t know for certain the true motives behind their parents’ ritual. And when Karolina receives strange texts signalling that Destiny Gonzalez, the sacrifice, may be alive, the team comes up with more questions than answers. Meanwhile, the Pride has grown more paranoid. The Wilders find Molly’s cat pin outside of their lair’s entrance, and the Yorkes plan an escape from their villainous life.

The Raised Stakes

Of the preview episodes, RUNAWAYS Episode 3 has the fastest pace by far. It focuses on the rising tension as the team learns more about their parent’s pursuits. What starts as a murder mystery swiftly evolves into a conspiracy thriller and an X-FILES like science fiction story. Normally these battling genres would be a confusing volly of mixed messages, but RUNAWAYS Episode 3 manages to make it work. “Destiny” feels like Vaughan ripped it straight from his original notes for the comics. It echoes those same youthful investigator (a la SCOOBY DOO) vibes while sticking to the gritty realism that has defined the series so far.

More than that, the plot is simply interesting. It clips along at a break-neck pace, but it forces viewer investment almost immediately. When Catherine Wilder discovers the pin and seeks Molly out for questioning, the tension is almost palpable. While we have clues to Destiny’s whereabouts throughout the episode, the investigation into her murder actually feels compelling. Even the funny moments, which are more pronounced than in previous episodes, have a decidedly tense edge. The one misstep comes from a recurring story element. Twice in this episode, Alex and Nico are subjected to a time trial investigation as their parents come home. Each time, they only have minutes to hide their searches, and while tense the first time, it loses some oomph on the second.

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Full Cast Chemistry

One of my sole complaints in the previous episodes was the telescopic focus. The writers zoomed in on one set of characters, i.e. the Runaways or the Pride, and stuck with them until the credits rolled. Not so in RUNAWAYS Episode 3. Sure, certain characters had less spotlight than others, but given the hour run-time, I think the creators did a fantastic job balancing the character appearances.

The Hernandez-Yorkes Family

Runaways Episode 3
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The first minutes of RUNAWAYS Episode 3 shows viewers a glance of the past. In this flashback, we witness the funeral and reception for Molly Hernandez’s birth parents. While few details arise around their deaths, we do get to see Kevin Weisman and Brigid Brannagh jump to the forefront as Dale and Stacy Yorkes. The previous episodes have seen them as a pair of goofball scientists. However, we see them here with more depth. There is a deeper underlying mystery behind these characters, but truly loving hearts as well. They also take up much of the subplot as they plan and plot a way to escape the Pride’s influence. There is a line where Stacy states that she still has nightmares about what they did to Destiny, showing a wholly different side to the Pride’s members.

Then there is Ariela Barer and Allegra Acosta as Gertrude and Molly, the Runaway members of this family. I previously applauded their acting chops, and my commendations don’t end with RUNAWAYS Episode 3. They do take on a new level of refinement, though. We finally get to see these two characters acting like sisters, the biggest change from the comic canon. The chemistry between these two characters is palpable but not in a way that detracts from the realism. Gert truly cares for Molly, but she also attempts to take the reigns. When Molly tries to explain about her newfound powers or the dinosaur in their basement, Gert lets her scientific mind take over to talk it away as anxiety. It makes a lot of sense for the characters, even if it is a bit heartbreaking for Molly.

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Into the Armory

Runaways Episode 3
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The most important part of this episode is that the team starts to gather their weapons and powers from the comics. While I won’t go into too much detail, seeing Nico, Chase, and Gert all get glimpses of their coming power sets are wholly fulfilling scenes. The actors do a fine job reacting to their new abilities. The teens don’t fear them (Gert excluded); they revel in the power. The team feels like actual teens exploring how far they can go. I especially loved Lyrica Okano’s Nico and Rhenzy Feliz’s Alex Wilder’s look of pure wonderment as Nico wields the Staff of One.

I also have to point out that Old Lace, the team’s pet dinosaur, does make her first appearance in RUNAWAYS Episode 3. While not quite the animation quality of JURASSIC WORLD’s dinosaurs, the creative team did a fantastic job bringing this beloved character to life. They also brought their own twist to her, with feathers stretching along her back. Old Lace races onto the scene in brilliant form, and her shared scene with Gert and Chase is equal parts terrifying and hilarious.

Taking LA

Runaways Episode 3
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

While not focused on in previous episodes, Angel Parker’s Catherine Wilder takes control of RUNAWAYS Episode 3. Ryan Sand’s Geoffrey Wilder got to show off his strength and utter cool factor in episode 2, talking down gangs and detailing why the Pride needs him. His wife’s approach is far more terrifying. Catherine Wilder comes off as completely manipulative, able to put on a face. During early talks with her husband, Catherine is all business, willing to harm a young girl if it keeps their secrets. However, during Molly’s interrogation, Wilder puts on a facade of kindness and understanding. Molly may see through it, but the calm visage of this powerful character fills the screen.

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On the other end of the spectrum, we get to see more of James Marster’s Victor Stein in action. I.e. Stein shows more of his abusive tendencies. After the failure of his transmatter device in the previous episode, Stein is seeing things. He is paranoid, and as such, he is angry. When his wife, played by Ever Carradine, tries to console him, he snaps at her. What makes this scene so terrifying, though, is that Stein never raises a hand to his wife. He never says anything truly negative. He essentially begs for her to be a better person, telling her that she isn’t good or supportive enough. It is a side of abuse that isn’t acknowledged enough on television and, while it is hard to watch, it is brilliant in its execution.

Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS Episode 3 “Destiny”

Of the episodes so far, RUNAWAYS Episode 3 is the best. While the series has been good up to this point, it has had some issues in balancing characters and plot lines. As such, the experience in the first two felt a bit slow. RUNAWAYS Episode 3 fixes all of those issues. It brilliantly balances characterization and narrative, giving viewers a story that is equal parts fast-paced and introspective. With amazing performances from the whole cast and excellent allusions to the original comics, RUNAWAYS is only getting better with time.

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