RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1 "Gimme Shelter"
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Summary
Season two turns the RUNAWAYS show upside down -- in a good way. From adding darker elements to creating closer comic book parallels, this episode doesn't shy away from change. In a world where comic book TV shows can quickly become stagnant, this change, so far, is a good thing.
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It’s season two, and finally, after a season of intense familial drama, the kids have actually run away. RUNAWAYS is back for a second season, with episodes premiering December 21st on Hulu. RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1, “Gimme Shelter,” sees a subtle shift to a stronger focus on the comics source material as the kids begin to learn the ins and outs of street life. Fans have been wondering when (or if) these characters would ever earn the “Runaways” title Brian K. Vaughan famously gave them in his 2003 comic.

Some were a little disappointed by the slow pacing of the series, but I thought it was a smart way to ramp up excitement while also giving the parents the screen-time they deserve. Still, I was among those cheering when I saw the first few scenes in “Gimme Shelter,” where the kids are running through L.A. literally looking for shelter. The moment, while not a perfect parallel, is only one of many scenes that help form a strong connection between the comic and the show.

Beyond the Picket Fence

Most of the first season of RUNAWAYS takes place in Brentwood — a rich suburb of Los Angeles. The kids’ houses are luxurious, their high school looks like a resort, and everything they 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 hills.

Pictured Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin) from left, Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta), Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner) and Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano)(Photo: Greg Lewis/Hulu)

However, with this episode, things edge closer to reality. The team learns what a soup kitchen is (and how life-saving it can be). Alex begins using his father’s ex-best-friend to help him out financially. This “deal,” which the rest of the team is unaware of, seems a little suspicious, but in this episode, it checks out. Alex helps Darius out around his house and gets a little cash which he then uses to keep the other Runaways reasonably comfortable. Although they end up sleeping in an L.A. homeless camp, the tents and supplies Alex buys do help them a lot. Quicker than they thought possible, the kids begin to understand just how unbelievable their previous lifestyle was. Now, away from their parents’ disposable incomes, tents are a big deal.

Death in the Family

RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1 isn’t necessarily depressing, but it also isn’t especially uplifting. Since the kids saw their parents sacrificing an innocent girl, they’ve been in a lot of danger. That’s very clear. Still, this episode shows just how bad their situation has gotten. They’re homeless, terrified, and grieving. Nico’s mother, Tina, kills Molly’s last living relative, Graciela, because she talked about the Pride on live TV. The kids find Graciela’s lifeless body sometime later. Molly has only a few minutes to say her goodbyes.

runaways season 2 episode 1
Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Gert Yorkes (Arela Barer), Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Chase Stein (Greg Sulkin) shown. (Photo by: Greg Lewis / Hulu)

Graciela’s death isn’t the first death in RUNAWAYS, yet, for some reason, it feels like it. Viewers never had the opportunity to form close bonds with the people the Pride sacrificed. The murders were gruesome, of course, but they were fairly distant. Graciela’s death is not distant. Tina murders Graciela in cold blood, revealing just how cruel and sadistic the staff-wielding mother can be. While viewers didn’t know Graciela throughout the entirety of season one, she did play a significant role as Molly’s caretaker and emotional anchor. Out of everyone on this show, she was honestly one of the sanest characters.

Her death signifies an end to any and all games. In season one, there was a lot more dialogue than action. It seems like Graciela’s death is a turning point for the show, easing the series into a more dark and action-centered plot. Whether or not that’s a good thing is yet to be determined.

Pride in a Corner

The uneasy partnership Jonah shared with the Pride breaks at the end of season one. In RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1, Pride attempts to create a secret alliance, away from Jonah’s prying eyes. Hidden in one of their innocuous charity offices, the kids’ parents reveal a covert mission room. Apparently, they set it up years ago as a wise precaution against Jonah. Their plan is simple: find their kids and keep Jonah out of it.

Of course, not every member of Pride is present at the secret meeting. Victor Stein nearly died in season one and in RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1 he’s in recovery. Jonah keeps Victor’s mind trapped in a positive memory while allowing his body to physically heal.

runaways season 2 episode 1
Jonah (Julian McMahon), Victor Stein (James Marsters) shown. (Photo by: Paul Sarkis / Hulu)

During the first season, the Pride and Jonah were the enemies. Similarly, in the comics, the kids’ parents are the undisputed villains. No matter how you looked at it, they were evil. In RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1, the Pride still does some questionable things. The difference is that the lines between good and evil weaken considerably.

The Pride positioning themselves against Jonah is a forceful reminder of just how devoted they are to their kids. Are they idiotic, greedy, and sometimes way too violent? Obviously. Are they bad people? Some of them, yes. Tina and Catherine strike me as the most overtly “evil.” But, their evil finds a counterbalance in characters like Robert, Dale, and Stacey. Even Victor, an angry, abusive father, shows a different side of himself in RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1. Perhaps there is hope for them after all.

Final Thoughts on RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1

The first episode of a season is supposed to make a bang and RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1 certainly does just that. From the past season to this season, so many things change, from the setting and the characters’ lifestyles to the series’ signature villains. This means that for viewers who didn’t necessarily care for every aspect of season one, season two might be a better fit.

For fans of the comics, season two is a must-watch. The end of RUNAWAYS season 2 episode 1 sees one of the most overt references to the comics the show has featured thus far: the hostel. Although we don’t get to see too much of it in this episode, I’m assuming it’ll become a regular part of the setting, since it’s so important in the comics. For a show like RUNAWAYS, a move away from the comics (in order to modernize the story) is to be expected. But, as someone who loves the original iterations of these characters, I’m hoping to see a few more comic-to-screen moments throughout the rest of the season.

You can find our other RUNAWAYS reviews here!

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  1. […] The Kids are (Finally) on the Run in RUNAWAYS Season 2 Episode 1 […]

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