“Destiny” felt very much like—to use a very specific metaphor—a velociraptor with a nose ring freed from its massive metal cage. After two episodes of deliberate, heavy set-up Marvel’s Runaways finally let loose with some pure comic book kookiness. I mean, we still know next to nothing about Pride. Or why Molly can suddenly bend steel. Or why Karolina lights up like a lava lamp whenever she takes her bracelet off. Or, you know, why there actually is a velociraptor locked up in the Yorkes’ basement and/or the reasons a velociraptor would need a nose ring in the first place. But for now, I’m content in the knowledge that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are doling out the answers at a snail’s pace; at the very least, the restrictive bracelets are off and it’s time for this thing to shine.
What makes this episode so fun is that it essentially takes all that seriousness we learned in the first two chapters and crashes it. These teens now know their lives are not what they seem, these parents have always known their lives are not what they seem, and in “Destiny” we get to watch all involved try desperately to pretend everything is, in fact, as it seems.
The result is several scenes that mine tension from everyday family life. Nico’s parents casually asking her out to a sushi dinner becomes loaded with all the possible lies going unspoken. Alex’s father searching for him throughout their cavernous house becomes a cat-and-mouse chase straight out of a horror movie. Even Catherine Wilder discussing the woes of puberty and being an orphan with Molly is, on some level, an interrogation underscored by the threat of sudden violence.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch, how seamlessly Runaways melds superhero trope with high school soap; it’s not telling a comic book adventure and a high school drama at the same time, it’s using one genre to tell the other. The awkwardness of Gert catching a glimpse of Chase through a set of X-Ray goggles is as sweet as it is a cool bit of sci-fi world-building. Same goes for Nico and Alex’s caught-in-the-dirty-act performance; it’s the type of inexperienced fumbling you’d find in any high school romance but with the added danger of being murdered by your mother’s magical staff.
In-between all this delightfully awkward banter Runaways continues to pile mysteries onto an already flaming pile of question marks. “Destiny” begins with a flashback to the funeral for Molly’s parents, who we learn died in a sudden fire. Of course, when you’re part of a teen-sacrificing secret society dying in a fire is usually just a matter of which of your friends lit the match. Geoffrey Wilder notices a conspicuous burn on Tina Minoru’s hand. “She burned herself on a frying pan,” Robert Minoru assures him.
“Did she?” Geoffrey responds.
Flash-forward to modern day and not much has changed; in-between condemning teenage girls to a horrific white void it seems the Pride mostly spends their time acting passively-aggressive toward each other. Robert is carrying out an affair with Janet Stein, spurning his own wife’s very forward advances to Lyft to his mistress’ side. The Deans are at odds because Leslie won’t take Dean to Ultra, and I’m relatively sure he doesn’t mean the EDM festival. Everyone still hates Stacey’s brie. The Pride is a hot mess, basically, and that sets them apart from your run of the mill rogues.
But, funny enough, the most charming moment of the episode is so quick I missed it the first time around. During the runaways’ ocean-side meeting to deliberate what to do after finding out their parents are murderers, Gertrude still offers to teach Chase Spanish. “I have flashcards,” she says. It’s just such a perfect encapsulation of this show’s charm, of comic books, of life. With the fate of your entire reality hanging in the balance, there’s still always going to be a test to cram for before first bell.
- Another update on the crusty man: It’s becoming more and more likely that this desperately-in-need-of-Cetaphil figure is Karolina’s enigmatic grandfather and founder of the Church of Gibborim. The Pride ceremony also appears to be feeding and/or fueling this guy, somehow.
- I’m cautiously glad that we’re seeing the fallout from the sexual assault scene from the premiere. Leaving that as a quick moment of character building—again, for Chase, not Karolina—would have been an uncomfortable blemish on an otherwise steady show.
- Nico: “Didn’t you realize what happened in there was an act? Alex: “Was it?” That’s one of those wonderful TV lines that would definitely, 100% get you whacked right in the dick in real life.
- The wildcard in the already fucked up deck that is the Pride is clearly Victor Stein. Not only did his device not work properly—Destiny’s body is discovered at the end of this episode—but he’s also hallucinating the victim like he’s Harry Osborn tossing fire pokers at Willem Dafoe’s ghost.
- Every so often, the banter on this show verges dangerously close to “how do you do, fellow kids?” territory. For example: The moment Gert and Chase are like, “Hell yeah, totally, Wired, got to love that millennial website.”