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: CLOAK & DAGGER – SEASON 2

Cloak & Dagger (2018)

 

Starring

Olivia Holt (Status Update)
Aubrey Joseph (Run All Night)
Gloria Reuben (Shaft)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
J. D. Evermore (Maggie0
Emma Lahana (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)

RECURRING /NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Miles Mussenden (I, Tonya)
Noëlle Renée Bercy (Blood Brother)
Dilshad Vadsaria (30 Minutes or Less)
Brooklyn McLinn (Parenthood)
Jaime Zevallos (Summer of Sam)
Ally Maki (Wrecked)
Cecilia Leal (The Purge TV)
Angela Davis (Venom)
Lane Miller (Underground)
Andrea Frankle (The Reaping)
Carl Lundstedt (Joker)

Noëlle Renée Bercy and Aubrey Joseph in Cloak & Dagger (2018)So, be honest: who saw that coming? Nobody, right? In this age of dissecting every frame of a TV show, and superhero TV shows in particular, it seems like it’s impossible to keep a secret as big as the one the Cloak & Dagger Season 2 premiere was hiding. But they pulled it off, and in the jaw-dropping final moments of the second episode broadcast tonight, they changed the whole direction for the show going forward.Season 1 ended with a few big events… While the so-called “divine pairing” of Tandy (Olivia Holt) and Ty (Aubrey Joseph) saved New Orleans, and possibly the world from a pseudo-zombie apocalypse, Detective Brigid O’Reilly (Emma Lahana) died in the process. Unbeknownst to anyone else, she fell into a river infused with the same weird energy that gave Tandy and Ty their powers (light daggers and teleportation, respectively) and crawled out in the season’s post-credits scene, eyes glowing green.MayhemCloakDagger-625x352When we pick up, Brigid is losing time and can’t aim her gun at work. For fans of the comics, we know what’s up: she’s turned into the antihero vigilante known as Mayhem. Hence the green nails, weird lapses in judgement, and pissy demeanor. After a few gang leaders get murdered at a club (Ty and Tandy think it’s their fault, but it’s not), Brigid, barely able to hold it together, gets drunk and goes to vomit in a puddle. A second Brigid pops out in the reflection and says, “my turn.”jiiujijkjmikokl;To the viewer, it’s pretty clear we have a classic Jekyll and Hyde situation, with two personalities jockeying for control of Brigid’s body. Oh boy, are we viewers dumb and wrong. Or rather, the writers of Cloak & Dagger know these tropes, know that we savvy TV viewers are expecting these tropes, and because of that we play right into their hands.

Brigid/Mayhem, now fully in charge, tracks down the one dude who escaped the club massacre, and bumps into Tandy, who is trying to track down the same guy — but for different reasons. She thinks this guy tried to kidnap her friend (women of color are disappearing from impoverished New Orleans neighborhoods) is at an otherwise empty parking lot, so they team up. Meanwhile, Ty heads to Brigid’s apartment to apologize for messing up her sting operation…. and finds Brigid tied up on the floor. There have been plenty of time jumps in the episode so far, going back and forth through this very bad night with ease, so it doesn’t track immediately what’s going on… Until Ty and Tandy talk to Brigid, and realize if she’s standing next to them, who was attacking a runaway mobster in a truck?Into frame steps a second Brigid, who quips, “Cat’s out of the bag,” and we’re left to pick our jaws up off the floor. When you go back through everything that’s happened in these first two episodes, it’s pretty plain that there are two Brigids. Not only are they acting differently, but even with the time jumps it would have been impossible for her to kill the mobsters in the club and then walk into the club herself later on — it’s a classic locked door mystery. There’s also the puddle to think about, which seemed like “our” Brigid was imagining things at the time, but now turns out to be an actual reflection.
It also makes sense that if the power that split between Ty and Tandy infused Brigid, it would split her, as well. Perhaps into an “infernal pairing,” instead of a divine one? And if Mayhem (the bad Brigid) has powers of some sort, what are they? And is “Good Brigid” just the cast-off, or does she have power, tooRegardless of how this plays out, it points to the expert way showrunner Joe Pokaski and company structure this show, diving deeply into the characters but never forgetting they’re a shock a minute superhero show at the same time. And with this two part premiere, Cloak & Dagger once again cements itself as the best Marvel show on TV.Season 2 like the first season may be a slow burn, but when it gets in gear it is one the most awesome shows from the marvel stable