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Runaways - Reunion, Rewind & Destiny - Advance Preview

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After the mess that Gossip Girl turned into, I swore I would never watch another show Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage were involved with. They were added to the blacklist & when Runaways was first announced, I had absolutely no intention in watching it. But I’m glad that I have, because this is a show filled with potential.

Important thing to note before I continue: On said first viewing of the show, I went in completely blind. Watching the pilot, I was more than a little bit confused by everything that was going on. I didn’t understand anything about the Church, the parents and most importantly the Runaways. So I strongly advise if you do wish to watch the show, you do so with some prior knowledge of the comics. This isn’t like The CW’s Arrow-verse where the comics are simply inspiration. Elements of the story have changed but these first 3 episodes, especially the pilot, follow Runaways comics quite closely. Re-watching the pilot and the following episodes having read the comics, things make a lot more sense.

Those that have seen the promos and read the comic will know the basic plot but a small refresher; Alex seeks to reunite the gang on the anniversary of Nico’s sister, Amy’s, death. She’s an addition to the show, and a ghost that hangs over the Runaways and her families head.

I was questioning whether this was a good or bad thing at first, and I’m warming up to it. In the first episode Lyrica Okana, who plays Nico, gets some great emotional material to work with. The third episode provides us with some family scenes, and an insight into Robert & Tina’s marriage. I was hoping further episodes would detail exactly how her demise occurred, and most importantly, it’s connected to the Pride because otherwise it’s a complete waste. The opening episodes don’t exactly answer that, but there’s ground laid.

Any pilot is always a really difficult episode. It has to introduce the characters and the story, giving enough to make us come back for more, but not too much that we guess everything that’s going to happen, or overload us with so much information we give up after 15 minutes. Runaways gets this balance just right. I don’t agree with all the changes made, but I’ve rewatched the first episode around 5 times now, and I’m never bored. Yes it is a little slow at the beginning, but nothing ever feels like filler; the smallest scene is leading somewhere and that ending! It leaves you full of anticipation for episode two ‘Rewind’.

Unfortunately, that anticipation is not rewarded in any shape. I don’t know who thought an episode from the parent’s point of view, especially so early in the show, was a good idea. It’s very much not. Even more so because the main focus of the episode is on Geoffrey Wilder trying to solve a business issue. It’s a plot you’ve seen shows do a billion times before, and you can guess how it’s going to be resolved from the first minute. The screen time given to the rest of the parents doesn’t go anywhere either, and it only really kicks up a notch halfway through when it catches up to the first episode.

The third episode, much like ‘Reunion’, is brilliant. It opens on a flashback which leads to a conversation between two of the parents, and somewhat answers one of the questions that I had. The rest of the episode is the Runaways trying to work out what exactly they saw. They’re hunting for information, some on their own, others together, and it gives us more fantastic interactions. The parents side of things is also quite interesting. Two of them are somewhat on the Runaways trail. This results in a bit of dialogue that goes some way to explaining the situation with Kurt Dean. There’s a bit of a twist involving two of the parents I really didn’t see coming. James Marsters as Victor Stein gets a bit more screen time, and he’s very much struggling with himself. The ending explains why. The episode has a lot of twists and turns (not to mention an on point wardrobe) and very much moves the story forward. It also leaves me baffled as to why this wasn’t the second episode.

Character wise, for a show like this to work, the core actors need to have chemistry with each other. We need to feel that history and emotion between them. Thankfully Runaways absolutely nails this. Gert & Chase’s interactions are absolutely delightful, especially in the third episode. Alex & Nico also get a bit of time together in the third episode which results in quite the humorous scene. There’s also a scene in the first episode between two Runaways that absolutely warms my heart. Molly might be the youngest of the Runaways, but in the third episode she more than holds her own.

Unfortunately, she also has the littlest screen time out of the Runaways in the first 3 episodes and it’s a little hard to connect with her as a result. She has been the character most changed from the comics, and at first I really wasn’t happy with one of the changes made. However, the third episode goes some way in solving that. It doesn’t provide us with all the answers, but it gives us some breadcrumbs that I am more than happy to gobble up.

Another change I have issues with is Frank Dean. Comic fans will know he’s an actor along with Karolina’s mother, and part of the Pride. On the show he’s still an actor, but Leslie isn’t. Instead she’s head of the Church and part of the Pride, whilst Frank isn’t. At first I was deeply unhappy with this, but the third episode provides an explanation of sorts.

My standout character from the first three episodes has to be Karolina, played by Virgina Gardner. Karolina is very much an unwanted spokesperson of the Church, desperately wanting to live her life for herself instead of being dictated by her mother. This brings us some serious conflict between the two of them in the opening episode. When we catch up with Karolina at the end of episode two, she’s very much torn over what the Runaways witnessed in the basement. She spends most of episode three seeking out proof that her mother isn’t evil, questioning Chase on what happened at the party, and also questioning herself. It’s the type of material that requires a strong actress, and Virginia nails it. Note of warning towards the end of the first episode, there is a scene involving Karolina which could be triggering to watch. Thankfully the show doesn’t go all the way with someone intervening.

The pilot is the second best one I’ve watched this year, and whilst the second episode is a let-down, the third episode brings it back up and that ending! A live-action version of Runaways has been stuck in developmental hell for so long, and the TV show is definitely worth the wait. It’s very different to the other comic book shows available but in a good way.

You can watch the first three episodes of Runaways on 21st November.

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