Runaways S2: Good, but not great (spoilers included)

The second streaming season of Hulu’s RUNAWAYS was a mixed bag; mostly very good, but after the death of Jonah, it ran out of steam until picking up at the end.

The first season established the premise: the six LA adults running the Pride charitable foundation are actually murdering runaway teens to sustain the life force of Jonah, their mysterious ET leader (comatose at the time). When the kids find this out and try to do something about it, the parents frame them as the killers so that the Pride’s corrupt cops can collect them and keep them silent. The kids become runaways themselves accompanied by Gert’s genetically engineered dinosaur pet, Old Lace (Jo Chen captures them on a comics cover).

In the comics the Pride represented all the MU’s strands of supervillain: mutant, time-traveler, mad scientist, ET, sorcerer and human crook. The TV series simplifies everyone down to either human villain or super-scientist, which worked fine (though I do love the Arrowverse for embracing the full range of comics’ insanity), but it does foreshadow why I had a problem with the season. In the comics the Pride are servants of the Gibborim, dark gods plotting to wipe the Earth clean of life. Originally six of the Pride were to be chosen as the immortal founders of a new race of humanity to serve the Gibborim; after they had kids, they decided the children would get the immortality. “Every teenager thinks their parents are evil — but these kids are right,” as the tagline went.

A subplot where the kids take in another teen, Topher, is a good example of the comics’ advantage. There it turns out he’s a centuries old vampire, preying on the kids’ willingness to believe the worst of his supposed parents. The Topher arc in S2 reveals he’s a troubled kid mutated by the same power source as Molly, the youngest Runaway. It’s effective enough, but nowhere near as good.

In S2 we learn the Gibborim are Jonah’s family (and himself), trapped in a buried spaceship. Getting it out will destroy much of California, but now the kids and the Pride are on the same side, uniting to stop him. After that, unfortunately, we have three or four boring episodes where the kids’ taken on the Pride’s crooked cops; we’re assured they’re tough, dangerous dirty cops, but it’s still dull (chopping the episodes might have been better). There’s also a subplot about Leslie’s father taking control of the Church of the Gibborim that doesn’t really pay off but does fill time. Alex getting a girlfriend was a better subplot but ultimately it didn’t go anywhere either.

At the finish, though, things pick up. Three of the Pride have been possessed by the Gibborim (one of the kids, too, but we don’t know which), who lead the other parents in an attack on the kids (playing considerably harder than the human parents wanted). Xavin, an ET shapeshifter who believes Carolina of the Runaways is their soulmate, has joined forces with the kids. Multiple characters are in various perils. It’s a good-enough cliffhanger to make me look forward to S3.

And the cast, as always, was excellent, despite the stories’ occasional flaws.

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