Runaways season 2 spoiler review

Out of all of Marvel’s properties, Runaways had arguably the hardest page-to-screen adaptation. There’s a lot of wacky shit going on in the comics, and all of that wouldn’t transition to screen well – especially in a live-action version. But for Season 2 of the Marvel drama, the series retools and grounds many of these elements, and the result is some of the company’s best television work.

Finally embodying its title, our teens Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) have actually run away. One of the most frustrating aspects of the first season was that it took them entirely too long to actually become the Runaways, which didn’t happen until the very last moments of the season. The teens are now on the run from their parents, The Pride – Leslie Dean (Annie Wersching), Catherine Wilder (Angel Parker), Geoffrey Wilder (Ryan Sands) Janet Stein (Ever Carradine), Victor Stein (James Marsters), Dale Yorkes (Kevin Weisman), Stacey Yorkes (Brigid Brannagh), Robert Minoru (James Yaegashi), and Tina Minoru (Brittany Ishibashi) – because the adults have framed them for murder. The framing is just an attempt to lure the kids back, as they want to protect them from the wrath of Jonah – at any cost.

(Spoilers ahead.)

Soon enough, the kids learn of Jonah (Julian McMahon)’s sinister plans for Earth at the dig site, and they end up inadvertently teaming up with their parents to stop him. But after this is over with (or when they think it is over), there is no love lost between the two factions, in which the parents get super ruthless in their attempts to retrieve their children. Led by the influence of outside forces as a result of what they thought ended at the dig site, neither the Runaways nor The Pride could have anticipated what happens at the end of the Season 2, setting up a lot of things to happen for Season 3.

Here’s a spoiler-heavy rundown of what really makes Season 2 pop, what could have made a great season even better, and what’s on tap for Season 3.

Topher Runaways

Enter Topher

It was widely expected that the series would begin to integrate other characters that are integral to the Runaways comic books into the live-action series. The first of Season 2’s two new canon characters arrives earlier than expected in the season, as Topher (Jan Luis Castellanos) drops by the hostel in Episode 3 after spotting Molly during one of her late-night vigilante runs. While a lot of Topher’s storyline is retconned for the series, much of it remains the same. He’s another teen who infiltrates the group. Instead of being a nearly 100-year-old vampire as in the comics, he is a mutant (although the Hulu series does not directly refer to him as such) with superhuman strength like Molly. Because of their similar abilities and the fact that he is a runaway like them, Molly takes a liking to Topher and wants him to join the team. For a moment, she even believes he could be her long-lost brother.

Meanwhile, the others don’t trust him – aside from Karolina, who also wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. Over the course of the next two episodes, we quickly learn Topher’s motivation and his backstory. He was in the lab working as a janitor during the explosion that killed Molly’s parents. Molly’s powers manifested themselves inside of her due to the rocks her parents found from Jonah’s dig site. Topher, on the other hand, took rocks from the lab after the explosion and has been on the hunt for more ever since, finding some in dumpsters. A substance from the rocks is how he gets his powers. Treating the substances like a drug, when he sees Molly, he presumably believes he’ll be able to find more rocks. He does, and heads to the dig site to retrieve them. For Topher, the rocks have allowed him to stay younger; he lies to the Runways, telling them his parents abandoned him when he really left home after his powers, along with his anger, put his father in a wheelchair. Both of these elements reflect Topher’s comic origin, but add a twist. Thinking he may expose them, the Runaways track Topher to his house, where he is begging his family to return home. They learn all about his true story, and in a fit of rage, he throws a dumpster, which Chase deflects with the fistigons. The dumpster then nearly hits their car, which Gert is setting in, but in a final heroic act, Topher lets the dumpster land on him and dies.

In Runaways comic fandom, Topher isn’t considered a major part of the story and isn’t as liked a character compared to another interloper, the cyborg Victor Mancha. However, I think a major opportunity was squandered here by not expanding Topher’s storyline and the amount of episodes he was in, even if that is mostly due to the fact of how great newcomer Jan Luis Castellanos is on-screen, instead of the fact that the character is interesting enough to deserve that expansion. Still, the potential was there for greater things.

Enter Xavin

Xavin is probably the top comic book character fans wanted to appear in the Runaways television series. This is why, after seeing trailers, fans jumped to conclusions that 13 Reasons Why star Ajiona Alexus, who portrays Alex’s love interest Livvie, would be Xavin, given her prominent inclusion on the promotional material. But audiences were in for a shocker.

During the search for Karolina, Xavin travels through a couple of different bodies before landing in that of a young black woman, portrayed with a quiet ease by Clarissa Thibeaux. Like Topher, many of Xavin’s comic book origins remain the same, but other aspects are altered. In the comics, Xavin is a shape-shifting Skrull (a race that will be super important in March’s Captain Marvel), but for the television series, Xavian is Xartan (a race that has connections to the upcoming Chloe Zhao-directed movie The Eternals). In the comics, Karolina is essentially given away by her parents in an arranged marriage to stop a war between Karolina’s alien race and the Skrulls. In a similar fashion in the series adaptation, Xavin is a stowaway and believes they are a part of a prophecy to marry Karolina and that this would unite their worlds. When Jonah finds them on the ship, it seems like he went along with the prophecy for some time because Xavin’s skills were needed to get them to Earth and above the surface. But after Jonah and his family are free, there is no need for Xavin. Thibeaux is great in the series, and this portrayal of Xavin is extremely fun. In Season 3, there’s a ton of potential for Xavin as a non-binary superhero.

Multiple Moles

In the comic books, there is one main mole: Alex Wilder. In the pages of Marvel Comics, Alex learned about the Pride’s plans early on and decided to protect his family by saving them in both groups’ plans. For the series, it would be very, very predictable for Alex to be the mole given the comic book history and the fact that there was a very big hole early in the first season that could have provided a super logical reason for why Alex is the traitor. So in Season 2, there isn’t just one traitor, none of them are truly betraying the group, and a lot of them don’t really know how they are negatively impacting the group. The most notable of the moles in the first half of the season is Karolina, who has been meeting with Jonah in an effort to learn more about herself and her abilities. However, as she leaks information to Jonah, he uses this to hold over Leslie’s head.

For the second half of the season, we have Chase, who willingly chooses to go home and leave the group. This is mostly due to his father seemingly returning to his old form and the yearning to have his father and family back. But when he decides to go home, it’s actually a trap by the Pride to slowly get all of the children back. Aside from those major two, there are a few minor moles, too, with Gert posing as Chase in a hospital to get Janet on the scene and Alex, via his relationship with Livvie, getting into some interactions with his own parents.

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