If there is one obvious, yet important observation to be made about the second season of Marvel’s teen superhero drama Runaways, it’s this: These teens are finally on the run.
After the first season offered a foundation-building prologue, the second season lives up to the show’s title.
On the Run
Comic book fans who were hoping for a truer adaptation of the series will be happy with some of the developments of Season 2, but that doesn’t mean everything you loved about Season 1 is gone.
No longer set in the mansions of Brentwood and now much grittier, the show still makes the most of its Los Angeles filming location. The new set of the Runaways’ headquarters “the Hostel” earns the set designers a special kudos. It’s the perfect cool yet creepy location to see the drama unfold.
While there is plenty of teen drama, with a hip soundtrack to underscore it all, the stakes are much higher as they must work together to save California from destruction.
The kids may be on the run, but Pride and their parents are far from out of the picture. Watching the characters adapt to life on their own, while realizing how hard it is to avoid seeking out help from their parents, is one of the more interesting aspects of the season and drives a lot of the conflict.
Fighting For (and With) Your Family
And with the need for parents comes team drama. While each Runaway seeks out their own truth, often turning to their parents or others outside of the group, the lies keep the team on edge.
Even with Nico (Lyrica Okano) stepping up early trying to lead them and taking a more tactical approach, the season continuously raises questions about what it means to be a family and whether this group really is one. Each character struggles with putting the team’s needs ahead of their own.
This leads characters who might otherwise be sidelined to the forefront, especially Alex Wilder with a great performance by actor Rhenzy Feliz. Despite lacking powers, Alex plays a key role this season and provides the storyline most grounded in reality as he confronts his privilege and deals with the repercussions of his parents’ choices.
The same is true for orphaned Molly (Allegra Acosta), who struggles to find her place throughout the season, and feels even more disconnected from the group once she meets the mysterious Topher (Jan Luis Castellanos).
While the show doesn’t quite reach Marvel peer Cloak & Dagger’s success in handling real-world issues, it doesn’t shy away from some of the realities of being a homeless teenager either. Every character has a turn in facing what it means for them, most painfully for Gert (Ariela Barer) who struggles throughout the first half of season when she loses access to her anxiety medicine.
On top of all this, things are further complicated by the romantic relationships on the team (Gert and Chase, Nico and Karolina). The stress of cohabitating alongside making life or death decisions doesn’t exactly make young love easy.
A Few Nagging Problems
Every hero needs their big bad, right? Well, for the Runaways and the Pride that’s, unfortunately, Jonah (Julian McMahon). While Runaways Season 2 largely works, it suffers from the same problem as many Marvel shows which is the lack of a compelling villain. Although his relationship with Karolina proves interesting and gives Virginia Gardner plenty of great scenes this season as she struggles with her identity, he always feels more like a plot device than a
Centering the plot on the conflict around Jonah also creates a pacing issue, with this season expanded to 13 episodes. If you felt Season 1 was stretched too thin, you won’t find an improvement with this season.
While there is no single episode that’s skippable, there are a few subplots that might not hold your attention, including storylines featuring new character Topher and a corrupt police officer known as “AWOL.”
Certain parents are absent from the plot almost completely in the second half as the show refocuses its attention, which can feel jarring. There are some significant tonal and plot shifts after episode 6 through the finale that divide the two connected arcs.
The show will be released so you can binge watch, but the pacing feels like a show made for week-to-week viewing.
Fans of Season 1 will love seeing how these characters and their relationships grow and change in Season 2. Each Runaway gets their time to shine this season, with especially notable performances from Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, and Virginia Gardner. The second season also incorporates more from the comics which will be a win for comic readers (and source of some great surprises for everyone else).
If you weren’t sold on Season 1, some of the tangential storylines in Season 2 won’t help that case. But if you’re willing to invest the time, the season pays off and will leave you counting down the days until Season 3.
The full second season of Runaways premieres on Hulu on December 21.