RUNAWAYS Episode 9 "Doomsday"
Acting
Plot
Visual Effects
Summary
RUNAWAYS Episode 9 feels like the perfect RUNAWAYS episode. As the penultimate episode in the series, character romances hit the screen alongside some of the best visual effects in the series and some amazing cast performances.
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The Hulu original series RUNAWAYS has taken some liberties with the source material. The greatest difference between the two is in the pacing. In the comics, the young heroes escape only hours after seeing their parents’ sacrificial rituals. Six issues later, they earn the RUNAWAYS title. The Hulu series has taken things more slowly. This slowed pacing has allowed the cast to explore a deeper side to the characters. It has left some fans, though, with sour tastes in their mouths. Just WHEN exactly are these kids going to run away? Thankfully, RUNAWAYS Episode 9 “Doomsday” shows faithful viewers a brief glimpse of the kids getting ready to fight back against their parents.

In the opening, viewers learn about the deaths of Gene and Alice Hernandez, members of the Pride murdered for betraying the group. Ten years ago, geologists Gene and Alice had found a secret deep beneath LA. Jonah, their Pride leader, had ordered the group to begin digging a hole to free a specific stone “power source.” Unearthing this stone would come at a cost: a massive earthquake that could very well sink the entire west coast. In their attempts to record their findings and escape, a grenade skitters across the floor and explodes. The only survivor of this blast is Molly Hernandez, whose connection to the mysterious stones awakened her superpowers.

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In the present, Molly runs away from her cousin’s home in Mexico to find her friends divided. After Chase destroyed the only proof against their parents, the team’s trust has broken. They gain new resolve when they watch the video left behind by Molly’s parents. After learning about Jonah’s plan to retrieve the stone, the team makes a plan to destroy the mining site. Using a school formal as a cover, the teens rush to the site and begin their spree of destruction. This is halted, though, when their parents arrive to stop their fun.

Dancing, Destroying Fools

RUNAWAYS Episode 9
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

To sum it up briefly, RUNAWAYS Episode 9 is the best episode in the series so far. While I have said this before, I feel that this episode contains everything I love about the comics and the show. The superhero soap opera aesthetic shines, showing these teen heroes struggling to balance their personal and “professional” lives. RUNAWAYS Episode 9 is also the first time since episode 5 where the whole team has had the chance to show off their powers. The episode is incredibly flashy, but it also manages to do the drama right.

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Plot-wise, I appreciated that most of this episode focused solely on the teens. I have loved this series from the start, but my one issue to date has been the overshadowing effects of the adult actors. Every single cast member does such a great job, but the adults rule the screen. I have wanted to see more and more of the drama behind the Pride. But the kids have kind of been sidelined. This plot puts them on center stage. It forces viewers to take notice of them. The appeal of the comics came from the lead heroes. They were real teens facing real drama while fighting supervillains. This episode reflects that aesthetic.

Who are the Hernandez’s?

runaways episode 9
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

RUNAWAYS Episode 9 felt so satisfying in a lot of ways. The greatest satisfaction, though, came from the answers it gave. Fans have been pining for intel on the death of Molly’s parents. Which we finally get it here. A massive shout out to the writers of this episode. These revelations can be so disappointing. Here, though, the deaths of Gene and Alice are intense. Vladimir Caamano and Carmen Serano have the vital fear and determination in this death scene. Also, a special shout-out needs to go to Evelyn Angelos, the girl who plays young Molly Hernandez. She doesn’t have a lot of lines, but she still adds a lot to the realism of the scene (until she gets superpowers, of course).

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I also have to mention the general importance of this flashback to the plot. I’ve had issues with RUNAWAYS’ flashbacks before since some don’t have true tie-ins to the plot. RUNAWAYS Episode 9 could not exist without this plot element. It doesn’t feel extraneous. The weight of the revelations within the flashback provide so much to the plot. We learn about Jonah’s endgame as well as the consequences of his choices. This gives the final two episodes of the season a much-needed direction, and it acts to characterize Jonah in some small way.

Runaways, Divided

Runaways Episode 9
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

RUNAWAYS Episode 9 sees our young heroes at odds with one another. Again. Yeah, I know this has been a fairly constant story thread. The team gets together, and then, by some trick of fate or hormones, they fall back into lasting ire. Some might find this frequent back and forth to be tiring. I might be one of them at some point in this series. Yet in this episode, it makes sense on a number of levels. The first is purely for the sake of the plot. Chase, for his dad’s sake, destroyed their only chance at legally stopping the Pride. Their hopes are dashed, and that definitely puts a crimp in their budding friendship.

This division makes sense symbolically as well. Thematically, this team needed to fall apart. After coming together as heroes and the many steps they’ve taken, they needed a reminder that after everything, they still need each other. When Ariela Barer’s Gert openly calls cheerleader Eiffel a “stuck-up bitch,” we know the bonds have reknitted. It is a satisfying moment for the series. This moment helps drive the team’s motivations from that point forward.

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Runaway Romance

RUNAWAYS Episode 9
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Some fans will swoon over the events at the formal dance in RUNAWAYS Episode 9. Some will be unhappy. However, from the moment Stan Lee’s cameo limo driver appeared, I was excited. If you don’t know the RUNAWAYS comics, Gertrude Yorkes and Chase Stein became one of the most iconic couples in comics. In RUNAWAYS Episode 9, they finally get together. Though Gert later plays it off as a blast of hormones, the scene itself is filled with a lot of intense passion.

I did not expect the other pairing. Karolina Dean, in the comics, was my first exposure to a lesbian character. In this season of RUNAWAYS, the inner struggle Virginia Gardner’s Karolina has about her powers and her sexuality has been one of the best character aspects in the series. However, I did not expect Lyrica Okano’s Nico Minoru to come out as well.

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This never happened in the comics, and part of me is let down. Not that Nico came out. I think having the LGBT representation is incredibly important. If I am correct, Nico may even have come out as bi, which I have never seen on TV. I just fear that, if RUNAWAYS is renewed, this means the loss of Xavin, Karolina’s comic romance. Xavin was a personal favorite character, but Nico fills that role here. Still, Okano and Gardener matched the necessary passion and chemistry. Also, the potential in their representation cannot be overlooked.

The End Sequence

RUNAWAYS Episode 9
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

All of this reconnecting leads to the final sequence. The young heroes join up to destroy their parents’ mining site in one of the flashiest displays of powers in the show to date. The visual effects may not have been on par with other MCU titles, but they upped the ante with RUNAWAYS Episode 9. Watching Molly force a cement truck down a mine shaft was the most realistic and, I think, my favorite effect. There is this sense of kineticism that high-end effects would only diminish. Much of this does come from Allegra Acosta’s screaming push, but the practical effects serve a major purpose. The rigging and puppeteering used in these effects give the episode an old-fashioned appeal, making certain effects appear more realistic in the approach.

This can also be said for a number of the other effects. The only two powers that use a full CGI approach are Chase’s Fistigons and Karolina’s light-show. Even these use a minimalist approach, giving them a deeper sense of realism. I am again amazed by the Old Lace puppet. While Gert’s dinosaur doesn’t appear often, the physicality of the puppet provides an even stronger realism to the scene. When Molly kisses Old Lace on the nose and makes contact, it goes a long way to sell the fact that this dinosaur is there.

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Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS Episode 9

RUNAWAYS Episode 9 succeeds for a number of key reasons. By showcasing Gene and Alice Hernandez, the cast is able to expand the lore of the RUNAWAYS universe while also answering long-awaited questions. The focus on the young cast gives us a far-more superheroic and human storytelling standpoint. The thematic value of their division and reconnection only aids the plot. The eventual romance, both expected and unexpected, is hugely satisfying. “Doomsday” perfectly represents what makes RUNAWAYS so great.

One Comment

  1. […] do is edged along by an endless stream of money. In RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1, that all changes. It began to change near the end of the first season when the kids’ were living in the literal Hollywood […]

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