REVIEW: RUNAWAYS – SEASON 3

Gregg Sulkin, Ariela Barer, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta, and Rhenzy Feliz in Runaways (2017)

Main Cast

Rhenzy Feliz (Teem Wolf)
Lyrica Okano (Pimp)
Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac)
Ariela Barer (New Girl)
Gregg Sulkin (Affluenza)
Allegra Acosta (100 Things to Do Before High School)
Angel Parker (The Strain)
Ryan Sands (Red Sky)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Ever Carradine (Major Crimes)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Brittany Ishibashi (TMNT: Out of The Shadows)
James Yaegashi (Man on a Ledge)

Rite of Thunder (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Clarissa Thibeaux (Flight 666)
Elizabeth Hurley (Bedazzled
Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13)
Cody Mayo (Major Crimes)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Anjali Bhimani (Confessions of a Shopaholic)
John Ales (Spy Hard)
Minae Noji (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Olivia Holt (Cloak & Dagger)
Aubrey Joseph (Cloak & Dagger)
Ozioma Akagha (Teen Titans Go!)
Carmen Serano (Breaking Bad)
Nicole Wolf (La La Land)
Amanda Suk (Kiss Kiss)
Emily Alabi (Teen Wolf)

Merry Meet Again (2019)Marvel’s Runaways wraps up its run with a third and final season that wisely bounces between two separate adventures (three, if you include the finale). Format-wise, Runways isn’t able to fully spread its wings as a binge. Hulu dosed out its first season on a weekly basis and that worked a lot better given the huge cast and the rotating door of soapy twists and turns, from enormous extraterrestrial reveals to teenage love triangles. Season 2 faltered by keeping our heroes in the same Gibborim rut and by releasing the entire season at once, which caused the story, between the teens and the parents, to easily became a blur of bickering and backstabbing. It became harder to care about who didn’t like who from episode to episode.Left-Hand Path (2019)Season 3 is here, all at once, and so there’s still a haze involved for those who choose to absorb the entire story in one weekend. But, as mentioned, by actually moving our Runaways away from the alien incursion plot and into a new magic-based adventure involving Elizabeth Hurley’s Mogan le Fay, the Darkhold, Dark Dimension, and guest stars Cloak and Dagger, the show is able to make our hero squad feel more like a team who could tackle other dangers in the world other than the crimes caused by their own parents.Devil's Torture Chamber (2019)Of course, the alien arc is still a big part of the series at the start of Season 3. Last year’s cliffhanger involved a bunch of body-snatching and a mystery involving Jonah’s son – the evilest alien of them all, apparently – being secretly hidden in one of the teens. So the weakest parts this final run are at the start, where we’re still waist deep in the story that we’ve been dealing with for two seasons. Smartly, this third season blasts through its respective “big bads” in about four episodes, and the Morgan le Fay plot kicks up in the midst of the Gibborim grind.The Broken Circle (2019)Not to go into the finale too much, and risk spoiling something critical, but it’s a really fun, emotional episode that ultimately makes you mourn for the series. It gives us a quirky, quick glimpse of what this show could have been if it had continued on. It’s a hell of a time to show us, or tease us with, the full potential of the series, but in the very least we get to go out on a high note. It mostly resolves everything. Like, it’s a solid 85% series-capper. As a safety, it plants a few seeds for things that’ll never pan out now, but they’re still fun Easter eggs for those who know the Runaways comic.Keisuke Hoashi, Gregg Sulkin, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta, and Rhenzy Feliz in Cheat the Gallows (2019)It’s also probably a good time, given that it’s the last time, to talk about the Alex in the room. Famously, the first Runaways comic story, which is the basis for this show, ended with an expertly executed twist involving Alex Wilder. However, since the entire Gibborim arc was going to play out differently here than in the comics, and even get extended beyond its shelf life for TV show reasons, that twist couldn’t happen. But this final season still really leans into the idea that Alex, despite being the one who brought everyone back together for sentimental reasons, is the outcast of the group, with behavior that often saddles up to sociopathic. I won’t say much more than that. One of the stronger elements of Season 3 involves Alex moving out of being a misunderstood character to being one of dark determination.
Marvels-Runaways-Season-3-_-NYCC-2019-Trailer-0-7-screenshot-600x332The inclusion of Morgan le Fay as the team’s final foil works well, even though a lot of the story involves possession, which is basically the same thing as body-snatching. So some of the story repeats similar beats to the alien arc we’d just left behind, with some characters being forced to do unspeakable things to those they love because they’re not in control, and then feeling like they have to atone for those actions afterwards. Morgan’s plot is textbook “sorceress trying to conquer the world” stuff, but the devil is in the design here, not the details. She represents the first big threat to the group post-Jonah and a true test to see if they, and even the parents who’ve wound up surviving this long (yes, the herd gets nicely thinned a bit), can truly team up and triumph.runaways-cloak-and-dagger-1Also, it allows for Cloak and Dagger to teleport in and help out the team during a crucial trip to a hellscape dimension. And having those two enter the story allows the show to loosen its belt a touch and breathe, as new characters are able to witness the craziness that surrounds our heroes and comically comment on it. It works thematically too, since both sides of this coin are trying to figure out who they want to be as vagabond vigilantes.runaways-season-3-morgan-le-fayYes, throughout these 10 episodes, whether or not everyone involved knew this was the final run, there’s a satisfying sense of moving on. It would feel natural either way, perhaps, since these teens are now at a point in their lives where they have to think about re-entering society and crafting their own futures. They need to figure out who they want to be after this crucible, and who they might want to be with. The Morgan plot directly affects the Nico and Karolina relationship, much like the Jonah story did. Meanwhile, Chase and Gert do a bit of a “will they reconcile?” dance in their own right. Some of it feels like “spinning wheels” soapiness but a lot of it lands well, as this is most certainly a team that needs to decide if they’ll still be together after the dust settles.
runaways-morgan-le-fay-powerThe best part of Runways’ third and final season is its finale, which feels like faint praise – but never discount the value of going out on a high note. The rest of the season leading up to the final hurrah is a mixed bag, though still an earnest improvement over Season 2. Once we’re able to leave the full PRIDE/alien arc behind, which thankfully takes less than half the season, the series begins to blossom under the drama of a new danger. It’s too bad this didn’t happen earlier.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 2

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nelson Franklin (Captain Marvel)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Josh Gad (Murder on The Orient Express)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Bill Burr (Zombeavers)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Satya Bhabha (Sense8)
Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Merritt Wever (Signs)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Ariela Barer (Runaways)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.Zooey Deschanel and David Walton in New Girl (2011)As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe.Zooey Deschanel, Maria Thayer, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.Zooey Deschanel, David Walton, Olivia Munn, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.

REVIEW: RUNAWAYS – SEASON 2

Runaways (2017)

Main Cast

Rhenzy Feliz (Teem Wolf)
Lyrica Okano (Pimp)
Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac)
Ariela Barer (New Girl)
Gregg Sulkin (Affluenza)
Allegra Acosta (100 Things to Do Before High School)
Angel Parker (The Strain)
Ryan Sands (Red Sky)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Kip Pardue (Thirteen)
Ever Carradine (Major Crimes)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Brittany Ishibashi (TMNT: Out of The Shadows)
James Yaegashi (Man on a Ledge)
Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)

Gregg Sulkin, Ariela Barer, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta, and Rhenzy Feliz in Runaways (2017)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeVaughn Nixon (Terminator 2)
Ozioma Akagha (Burying the Ex)
Ajiona Alexus (13 Reasons Why)
Marlene Forte (Real Women Have Curves)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Ryan Dorsey (Bosch)
Lisa Linke (Successful People)
Jan Luis Castellanos (Depression and Insanity)
Danielle Campbell (The Originals)
Heather Olt (Justified)
Patricia Lentz (The Bling Ring)
Mia Topalian (All My Children)
Kathleen Quinlan (Breakdown)
Sharon Ferguson (Buffy: TVS)
Clarissa Thibeaux (Flight 666)

Gregg Sulkin and Ariela Barer in Runaways (2017)Whereas Marvel’s Runaways with its freshman run zeroed in on the kids’ discovery of their parents’ treachery and PRIDE’s subsequent suspicion that their human-sacrificing, hole-drilling jig was up, there’s a lot more afoot in Season 2 — and that’s a good thing.Runaways (2017)Picking up not long after the events of the finale — which turned Nico, Chase et al into bona fide runaways — Season 2  quickly finds the kids discovering and making camp at the comic books’ infamous “hostel,” which here has been conceived as a grand manse that long ago was swallowed by the ground near the Griffith Observatory.  There, they juggle ordinary realities (e.g. generating cash flow, powering the place) with both blossoming relationships  and the decidedly otherworldly matters in which they are enmeshed.While the teens puzzle over what exactly their ‘rents are hiding deep down at the excavation site where they recently squared off, Karolina (played by Virginia Gardner) is determined to divine the nature of her particular powers. Perhaps to obfuscate his relative powerlessness within the gang, Alex (Rhenzy Feliz) splits off for a bit into his own story, picking up some cash by doing odd jobs for Darius — though I have to say, this B-story serves Geoffrey Wilder’s frenemy (DeVaughn Nixon) quite well. Though full of badass bravado on the streets, Darius also is desperate to do right by his baby mama (though have no fear, he remains open to any dirty and or double dealings).Back at the hostel, Gert and Chase (Ariela Barer and Gregg Sulkin), as well as Nico (Lyrica Okano) and Karolina, immediately embrace the freedom they and their romances now enjoy — though conflicts in ideologies, the occasional bombshell, and maybe even a most unexpected interloper will test the two twosomes. The group en masse meanwhile will fall on different sides when a new runaway, Topher (Jan Luis Castellanos), wriggles his way into the mix.James Marsters, Gregg Sulkin, and Ariela Barer in Runaways (2017)As for PRIDE, there is a whole lotta infighting going on these days in the immediate wake of what I will call “Truth Day,” when certain dark secrets came to light. While Jonah (Julian McMahon) forges ahead with agendas both all-powerful and personal, the adults who unarguably got short shrift during Season 1 are brought to the fore this time around. Namely, Janet Stein (Ever Carradine) is handed an opportunity to truly prove her value to PRIDE (and perhaps to her family as well); the Yorkses (Kevin Weisman and Brigid Brannagh) progress beyond merely supplying comedic relief; and at least two of the dads are full of surprises in the episodes to come.Gregg Sulkin, Ariela Barer, Lyrica Okano, Allegra Acosta, and Rhenzy Feliz in Runaways (2017)Of course, some come to a Marvel series for the superheroism of it all, for the whiz-bang powers and effects. Having now seen most of two seasons, I have made peace with the fact that Karolina’s “glowy” appearance, which here is employed often, is supposed to look precisely as it does — “illustrated” versus photo-real. The Wican staff wielded by both Nico and her mother Tina (Brittany Ishibashi) is used for a variety of cool effects, including the freezing of a swimming pool while someone is inside it (!). Old Lace has a recurring presence, whether nuzzling up to someone in the hostel or blindsiding a bothersome skater boi. A tussle between Molly and a second super-strong character is intensely realized, with hurled Dumpsters and such. But alas, Chase’s “fisticons” continue to be much of a non-starter.Gregg Sulkin, Ariela Barer, Virginia Gardner, and Allegra Acosta in Runaways (2017)Season 2  takes the best of bits of Season 1 and amps it up 10 fold to become a great Season and must watch for Marvel fans.

REVIEW: RUNAWAYS – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Rhenzy Feliz (Teen Wolf)
Lyrica Okano (Pimp)
Virginia Gardner (Project Almanac)
Ariela Barer (New Girl)
Gregg Sulkin (Affluenza)
Allegra Acosta (Just Add Magic)
Angel Parker (Trial and Error)
Ryan Sands (Shadowboxer)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Kip Pardue (Driven)
Ever Carradine (Once and Again)
James Marsters (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Brittany Ishibashi (TMNT: Out of The Shadows)
James Yaegashi (Man on A Ledge)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)
Nicole Wolf (La la Land)
Devan Long (S.W.A.T.)
Danielle Campbell (The Originals)
DeVaughn Nixon (Terminator 2)
Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate ABout You)
Stan Lee (Avengers)
Amanda Suk (Pretty Dudes)
Alex Fernandez (Without a Trace)

This show is one of the best instalments of Marvel yet. Agents of Shield is still the best Marvel has done, including the movies, and this is actually not far away from that high level of greatness.Having now seen the entire season it comes across as a very compelling and original storyline together with very good actors make this show a must see in today’s landscape. There is so much crap on TV and it is good to see something this fun and engaging. The parents are super creepy. Normal, but rich, well behaved parents engaging in ritual sacrifice and although a couple of them have reservations, they do murder folk and then hey go home and put on dinner… Almost a scary story kind of a vibe.The Season finale Hostile wrapped up Runaways’ first season (and yes, there will be a second) with a game-changing move that fully melded our heroes with the title of the series. Fortunately, this finale had the good sense to not have anyone say “You know what? Runaways actually is a good name for us after all.” Or something to that effect. Maybe it’s still coming. Who knows? I’m just saying that I appreciated it being left unsaid for now.Hostile was an exciting episode-on-the-move, as our teens went underground,hiding out from their evil parents with no real plan for retaliation or reconciliation. Unbeknownst to most them though (save for Alex, who overheard his parents’ intentions), Pride, after the showdown with their own kids at the construction site, are finally all on the same page. Except this time they’re forming a united front against Jonah. Even Leslie came around this week, after admitting not only her hand in Molly’s parents’ death but also her part in Amy’s “suicide” – her saving grace being that she didn’t actually pull the trigger and also tried to warn Amy about Jonah.With Pride now all realizing that they’ve been duped and that Jonah’s been behind the actual murder of one of their children, where does Runaways go? Jonah is a formidable force, who seems to have his own Gibborim army of stooges at his disposal (including Frank and a boxed-up Victor), but is he a big enough foe, is he enough narrative-wise, to take on both the teens and the parents? Sure, it’ll probably take both factions to take him down but it’s going be a while before the kids and grown-ups see eye to eye. Is that what Season 2 will focus on? Obviously, I’d like the teens to remain on the run for a while. Not just so they can live up to the show’s namesake but also so they can exist outside of their comfort zones for a stretch. The time away from their mansions and malaise seems to be doing wonders for them. Now actually facing the prospect of leaving their lives behind for wherever the first bus will take them, the grim cloud that’s loomed over all their heads, because of Pride and how that deal affected their parents for almost two decades, has lifted a bit. Nico and Karolina are free to explore whatever it is they’d like their relationship to become. Chase and Gert can clarify their coupling and not hide behind insecurities and social status stigma. With nothing to lose, and no immediate recourse, the show just might be able to become their show again. Because – let’s face it – Runaways has mostly been a showcase for Pride for a while now. There’s more of them and they hold all the secrets.Questions still linger though. Odds and ends to carry us into a second season. What’s living down in that pit? Some separate entity or is it Jonah’s true form? There must be a reason he withers and wilts out in the world so quickly (it’s happening again). Also, who was Jonah texting? The editing would have us believe it was Frank, but that’s not big reveal. I feels like there’s some slight of hand going on. Finally here, who framed the kids for Destiny’s murder? Was it Jonah? Was that the phone call Geoffrey made right at the end? He said he wanted to keep his kids safe, so was having them rounded up by the cops and brought home the best way to do that possibly?Runaways ended its first season with a busy, bustling episode that helped free the teens from the shackles of their parents. With a second season coming it will be interesting where the series will go and I’m sure it will just as awesome as the first season.