“Marvel’s Runaways” Episode 108 Recap: Off-The-Rails

On the surface, “Tsunami” has one of the most straightforward plots of any episode of Runaways so far: The members of Pride descend upon the Stein household to try to save Victor from dying before Jonah finds out about any of their mess. Yet any dramatic potential of the episode is completely squandered by a pervasive stilted feeling to the episode that constricts its characters and pushes Runaways from camp to foolishness. It’d be easy to just blame the script, written by Rodney Barnes and Michael Vukadinovich, but Millicent Shelton’s direction doesn’t do the episode any favors either, and that’s surprising, because she has directed some of my favorite episodes of television! But “Tsunami” is directed without emotion, and when the characters do burst with feelings, it comes off as forced and hollow, sucking away the urgency and resulting in a lot of unintentional comedy. The characters are usually where Runaways does its best work, but there’s just something off in this episode.

And since “Tsunami” feels like a distinct episode from the rest of the series (in a bad way), I have decided to break form a bit for this recap to do character power rankings. Using an extremely scientific method, characters have been assigned a number 1-100 based on their overall contributions to “Tsunami.” 0 means they’re basically useless and 100 means they’re slaying. I figured this would also be very fitting because of the Survivor-style vote among the members Pride to decide who should die so that Victor may live.


Frank Dean – 0

Poor Frank comes in at the bottom of the power rankings after his one shot to accomplish something (using the magic mittens on Victor) fails. Look, it’s not entirely his fault that he’s useless, but I was kind of with Robert when he suggested that Frank get in the box (and died when Leslie said “not the worst idea” so sincerely). Frank has yet to proven useful in any capacity, and I laughed out loud when Karolina said that he can maybe help the teens fight Pride. Stick to acting, Frank!

Victor Stein – 0

Another zero! Victor is an abusive megalomaniac and tbh should just die (for now, his body is being preserved in one of those magic pods he himself built). Would anyone really miss Victor? I feel bad for Chase, but his desperation to cling to the chance of reconciliation with his father has more to do with him wanting to believe that his own dad did not actually want to kill him and was just suffering from side effects of some sort, and that seems to be the psychological result of years and years of abuse and manipulation. Bye, Victor!

Jonah – 19

Jonah is evil, but the show kind of needs Jonah in order to complicate the motivations of the other parents. Jonah’s obvious exhaustion with the messy drama of the members of Pride is kind of relatable. I do wish we knew a bit more about his origins and master plan in order to give his villainy higher stakes.

Robert Minoru – 26

On paper, Robert attempting to sacrifice himself so that Janet doesn’t have to get in the box is an honorable gesture, but he looked so damn goofy doing it (in his boxer briefs and the Fistigon!) that it ended up being one of those unintentionally hilarious moments. Also, way to just abandon Nico like that, Robert! Janet hardly deserves to die, but his supposedly heroic act is kind of dumb and doesn’t really solve anyone’s problems. At least Tina zapped him out of it with her wand, destroying the box (which…she probably should have just done in the first place).

Alex Wilder – 31

Alex finally tells Nico that he has been lying to her about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s suicide, and he is a little insensitive about it and also doesn’t give the best reason for not telling her sooner. Alex knew that Amy had found incriminating info about her mom and her tech company and that she was in danger. One thing that’s a little frustrating about the flashbacks in the episode is that they start out as being told by Alex but then we see things that he couldn’t have known about (like Amy receiving an ominous text message and trying to run). That’s just a narrative pet peeve of mine and is the fault of the writers not the character. But Alex is a little frustrating in this episode! He drops a bomb on Nico and yet doesn’t really have all that useful of information, just a vague sense that Amy was onto the same things that they are. Also, I know it’s really Chase’s fault, but HE SHOULD HAVE BACKED UP WHAT WAS ON THAT LAPTOP.

Dale Yorkes – 40

He gets points for wanting to protect his daughters above all else, but he loses points for waving a gun around without knowing how it works or what the fuck he’s doing. He also loses points for abandoning Molly.

Stacey Yorkes – 43

She gets points for being able to perform surgery on the fly with household items, but she loses points for abandoning Molly. Dale and Stacey are both consistently great comedic relief on the show. “Shitballs, it’s Jonah!”

Tina Minoru – 47

Calling Jonah?! What are you doing, girl?! Tina is evil in a way I really appreciate. And I’ll get to this in a bit, but her almost-fight with Leslie is one of the best parts of the episode.

Catherine Wilder – 49

I mostly just really liked her delivery of “Janet, get in the box” after Jonah says that all of their kids will die if someone doesn’t sacrifice themselves for Victor. Also, she stands up to Tina when she makes a mean dig at Janet, and I appreciate anyone gutsy enough to push back on Tina.

Geoffrey Wilder – 54

While Geoffrey and Catherine don’t have a ton to do in this episode, they do seem thoroughly over the rest of Pride’s bullshit. And they’re appropriately skeptical of Jonah.

Molly Hernandez – 56

It is not Molly’s fault that she is written so poorly in this episode. She basically just talks her way through plot developments, narrating her discovery of a message and key left behind by her parents. Hopefully she’ll join the others again soon, because I really like Molly a lot and am bitter that she’s just used entirely as a plot device in this episode.

Chase Stein – 58

I do really feel for Chase throughout this episode, especially when it’s so clear that he wasn’t putting up a front for his mom by saying that he wants things to be better with his dad. But 1. He doesn’t need to be so angsty about Karolina not wanting to come over alone. Your kiss made her uncomfortable, dude. And 2. WHY DID HE DESTROY THE ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE THEY HAD ON THEIR PARENTS? I mean, I know why. He wants his abusive father to live. But the way he violently lashes out has me feeling very uneasy.

Gert Yorkes – 60

She gets points for being a good caretaker to her dinosaur, but she loses points for still being so pushy with Karolina when it comes to her crush on Nico. The teens are caught up in quite the love quadrangle: Gert likes Chase who likes Karolina who likes Nico who’s with Alex. But by constantly bringing up Karolina’s crush on Nico, I think she’s actually making it harder for Karolina to come out! Not cool, Gert! Your dinosaur that listens to everything you say, however, is very cool.

Nico Minoru – 67

Props to Nico for calling Alex out for keeping secrets from her about her sister and then blaming it on her lipstick? Props to Nico for constantly having to listen to people make judgements or assumptions based on the way she dresses.

Karolina Dean – 75

Does she do much in this episode? No. Am I biased because she’s gay? Yes. #GayKarolinaWatch2017 is still in effect, which means we actually aren’t getting the queer Karolina content until 2018…

Leslie Dean – 82

In an episode where everyone seems to have forgotten how to act, at least Annie Wersching is still bringing it. She, along with Gregg Sulkin actually, gives one of the best performances of the episode. But the real reason why Leslie is ranked so highly is because of that almost-fight moment with Tina, which oozes with sexual tension. Did Leslie Dean take an earring out in anticipation of beating up Tina?! DID I HALLUCINATE THAT?! Also, when it’s all over, they literally just apologize and make up like girlfriends. Sorry, but if they never kiss, I’m suing.

Janet Stein – 89

Janet reading the entirety of Pride for filth by saying that they all took Jonah’s gifts in exchange for money and fame while all she got was Victor Stein is the most applause-worthy moment of the episode. By turning their heads from Victor’s abuse for all these years, Pride failed Janet and Chase and enabled their abuser. She finally gets to throw that in their faces.

Amy Minoru – 97

Hacking your own mom to expose her dark secrets is punk as fuck.

Gert’s dinosaur – 100

Welcome to the resistance.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

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10 Comments

  1. Nico earlier thought that Her mom might be having an affair with Chase’s mom, so combined with this episode, I’m thinking that Nico may know something about her mom.

  2. this episode was the most frustrating for me because of how neutral the writers seemed to be about the entirety of pride deciding that janet should die to rescue her abuser, or that she’d done something wrong by saving her son from his father’s violence! and then liam would be all alone with his abusive father forever, which is but, ugh

    • The parents all suck, really. But the writers should have made it more clear how specific the suckiness of asking Janet to do that was!

  3. I understand Chase is warped by abuse etc. but his constant and casual dismissal of his mother (WHO JUST SAVED HIS LIFE!!!! WOULD A THANK YOU BE TOO MUCH WTF!) is hard to watch.

    Anyway my main peeve with this episode is that most of its time is spent insisting ‘Someone must get in the box to save Victor!’ and then casually saying ‘oh, that wasn’t actually necessary at all’ when the box was destroyed. What a waste of time.

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