RUNAWAYS Episode 6: "Metamorphosis"
Plot
Acting
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Summary
While certain scripting decisions made the plot feel rushed, RUNAWAYS Episode 6 finds its strength in its unique focus. Previous episodes clung to the superhero universe in which it is set, but "Metamorphosis" finds its footing in teen drama.
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When it comes to young heroes, it is easy to forget about age. Whether or not they wear a mask, these teens are deep in the battle for good right beside their adult counterparts. They stand in the thick of it. Yet they have lives outside their heroics. They go home every night to face the same puberty and drama fueled issues we all faced. For Hulu’s new series, RUNAWAYS, this teenage dream is a huge part of the show’s appeal. For the most part, these young people aren’t heroes. They’re kids who want to do the right thing, but they have no delusions of grandeur. RUNAWAYS Episode 6 gives viewers the perfect example of the teen superhero drama, but does it stir enough interest for future episodes?

In a brief flashback, viewers watch the heroes’ evil parents, the Pride, during their first meeting. After Jonah, the man in charge, explains the parents’ tasks, the group questions their motives. They didn’t sign on to sacrifice kids, but with video evidence as blackmail, the Pride must continue the sacrifices. Back in the present, the Runaways decide to locate the video and use it against their parents. During a Pride gala, the team splits up to locate, download, and escape with the files. This grows tougher by the minute as the teens’ various dramas unfold. As Karolina struggles with her identity, Chase and Nico must battle past their growing bonds with their parents to stop the murders.

Fundraising and Espionage

To give my opinion of RUNAWAYS Episode 6 in one grand sweeping statement is difficult. This confusion comes from the distinctly different atmosphere this episode has compared to the others. While the teens’ espionage acts as the backbone of the episode, the teen drama takes center stage. This is the least “superhero” episode of the entire series. However, it is one of the best at focusing on the characters and the backstory. While the plot falls apart a bit in the execution of the overarching drama, the focus on characters gives RUNAWAYS Episode 6 a deeper edge than I expected.

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Deeper Context

RUNAWAYS Episode 6
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

One of the key elements of RUNAWAYS thus far has been the flashback opening sequences. Every episode hooks into a characters’ past (typically the parents) to give the episode a deeper context. As I mentioned earlier, RUNAWAYS Episode 6 opens on the Pride’s first sacrifice. While the first appearance of Molly Hernandez’s late parents is a wonderful addition, the deeper focus on the concern and uncertainty of the Pride’s members gives this episode a deeper power. Past episodes have focused on this hesitation, but never so fully. It is clear that many of the Pride’s members weren’t told the whole story. Now, with video evidence to possibly damn them, they have no choice but to carry out the sacrifices.

This leads to the introduction of Jonah, played by Julian McMahon. So little is known about Jonah, other than the fact that he seems to be the man behind the mirror. He controls the Pride’s movements. Julian McMahon’s role here is icy. His intentions are unclear right now, but he sits at the center of a number of potent dramas. He also comes off as incredibly manipulative. McMahon gives Jonah a trickster’s tongue, able to twist any moment his way with a single word. While the Pride is a potent villain in itself, giving this group a sole evil lead helps to preserve the great characterization. It shows that the parents aren’t just evil people, but a group manipulated by an outside force greater than themselves.

Growing Bonds

RUNAWAYS Episode 6
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

One of the strongest aspects of RUNAWAYS Episode 6 is the way in which it paints the youths and their parents. From the start, Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) has had a steely relationship with her mother Tina (Brittany Ishibashi). The same can be said for Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin) and his father Victor (James Marsters). In the prior episode, we saw a step forward for each pair. While I hesitated to like this change of pace in Episode 5, RUNAWAYS Episode 6 cements these drastic shifts well. In fact, their portrayal in Episode 6 makes a lot more sense than the previous episode, giving the newfound respect a potent context.

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The immediacy of the changes can be jarring for longtime fans. The moments between parent and child, though, feel real and full of emotion. Chase’s bond with his father stems from a shared love of science. A shared project brought the two together. Meanwhile, Nico’s mother has begun teaching Nico how to harness the Staff of One’s magical powers. While neither gets enough time on screen for me, they create enough emotional upheaval to make future events in the story coherent. When Nico and Chase question whether or not to move forward with the tapes, the hesitation makes sense.

Identity, Identity, Identity

RUNAWAYS Episode 6
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Being a teen kind of sucks. Where adults have figured out their identities, teens are deep into the process. Thus, for a show focused on teens, questions of identity tend to crop up. Both Virginia Gardner (Karolina) and Ariela Barer (Gert) receive a good deal of spotlight. Karolina has only started to grapple with her newfound powers. She feels like a freak from an uber religious family. As her attractions to other female characters become more apparent, she struggles even more. Her battle with her feelings feels wholly realistic. The same goes for Gert, who suffers from a great deal of self-consciousness about her body and looks. Throughout the episode, she voices her discomfort believably despite constant affirmation from the rest of the cast.

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My one issue with the portrayal of these issues comes when they butt heads. Gert and Karolina have fallen for characters that aren’t emotionally available. Despite Gertrude’s voice of support for Karolina’s sexuality, the tension between these two comes to a head. I don’t have a problem with this plot element. In fact, it makes some sense since Karolina wishes to hide this part of herself. The suddenness of the moment is too striking. The acting is superb, but the scripting feels off. These two characters have become close. For this moment to devolve into insults so quickly felt rushed and unsatisfying.

Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS Episode 6

RUNAWAYS Episode 6 is a strange ride. This does not mean it is bad. While it shies away from its superhero roots, the focus on true to life teen drama helps ground the series. Were this a series about adult heroes, I’d find this extra drama silly. However, it works well for this particular series. Some of the scripting felt a bit rushed and, as a result, less potent. This series is still an incredibly fun ride. As a fan of the comics, my mind is continuously blown with each new episode. Seeing the heroes and villains of my high school years come to life feels so fulfilling, and the down to earth focus of the series’ plot gives this story a lot of worth.

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