The first episode of the Runaways opens cold with a shot of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth being read by a kid on a bus next to his dad at night, probably foreshadowing where the final confrontation between the good and bad guys will take place. The bus is heading to LA, and we see a girl who is on her own. A kid on a bus at night is the modern equivalent of a sack tied to a stick and sticking out a thumb as someone wanders down a road, it screams of a runaway.
After getting to LA, Destiny seems disappointed there isn’t someone there to pick her up, and she begins wandering around. She finds herself in a laundromat and asks a woman if she knows of a place she can spend the night, the woman implies no and ignores her.
Outside she is followed and grabbed by two men; she is almost hit by a van. The two men pull her away but are then tased as Destiny follows to a trailer that says The Church of Gibborim on the side, she resists the idea because it seems like a cult, but one of the women that tased the men tell her they don’t like to use that word and promise her a hot meal, shower and a place to sleep.
We see that the bus is filled with kids like her, seemingly alone and runaways themselves. Even though it’s only been on screen for about a minute the van and church already scream of Scientology, probably because of the LA setting.
The opening credits then begin, and it is filled with quick cuts of new LA with a vintage Hollywood filter over it. It looks like a Lana Del Ray music video or album cover. We have flashes of security cameras and landmarks throughout Los Angeles. We see the LA observatory in one of the cuts; an area frequently used in the comics by the Runaways, we’ll see if this is just a nod or foreshadowing. We also get graffiti and other hints at each kid’s power. We see a dragon pool float, reminiscent of Gert’s pet dinosaur, Old Lace. We see a shadow on a wall of staff with a circle on the end of it, probably similar to Nico’s Staff of the One.
There is a mural spray painted on a building of a girl with fluorescent wings and glow, much like Karolina in the comics. A quick shot of an oil field and a fence with a sign that says Geoffrey Wilder Construction, Inc. showing what Alex’s father does for a living. Another piece of graffiti is a woman covering her eyes and holding up a robotic hand; this could be pointing towards Alex and the gloves he steals from his father. A halfpipe has a piece of graffiti that is a DNA double helix, calling to mind mutants, and Molly. There is also a piece of graffiti of a girl with glowing eyes, probably another reference to Molly. We see the church of Gibborim symbol on a car sticker where an Uber of Lyft company logo would be implying that the church is quite large and powerful. Also many shots of a pool I wonder if that has anything to do with Amy’s death which the show uses as a major plot point but isn’t in the comics at all.
In a large LA mansion, we see Alex playing a PlayStation 4, his dad comes into his room and mentions he hasn’t seen him play this particular game in a while and Alex says he used to play it with ‘her.’ His dad offers to play with him, but Alex declines. We then see a shot of the game where a user named SuperAmy164 hasn’t logged on in 2 years. Already Alex’s dad is a much more understanding figure than his comic book portrayal.
With Alex’s parents worried about him they encourage him to make friends again because it has been two years already, you usually would get the feeling was some breakup but the way the family talks about it Amy feels much more like a ghost from the past than an ex-girlfriend. Alex says he likes being by himself and college is coming up, and he’ll make friends there. Which bumps the age of the characters on the show about three years from the comic books.
Alex’s mother mentions that they are having a fundraiser meeting that night and the parents exchange ominous glances that tell us it’s probably not just a charity event. This proceeds Alex’s father telling him that it is his old friends are probably hiding their true feelings as well, setting up a theme of masks and double lives.
Next, we see Nico in her room. The room is dressed in old trinkets and drawings, and we recognize Nico in all black putting on eye makeup. In what feels like a genuine and organic teenage move she poses with it and does a stance which causes to her flip herself off in the mirror. She finds that her tights are ripped, so she goes to another bedroom to get more.
Her mother is immediately alerted by a security system saying that Amy’s door has been opened. Amy’s room is filled with trophy’s and the kind of décor that screams good grades and makes mom proud. In a very Stand by Me moment he mother confronts her about entering the room, and Nico accidentally breaks a tennis trophy or Amy’s. Her mother lashes out at her while her father tries to console Nico who walks past him.
Next, we see a bedroom with calculus books and lacrosse trophies in the same shot. A motherboard and baseball trophy in another. All of this underscores the duality of Chase’s character. Both jock and a science genius which he has inherited through his parents. He is seen working out when his mother gets him for breakfast.
Chase asks her if “he” is downstairs and she says that he is. We see through the house framed magazine covers that portray Chase’s father as a clear Elon Musk rip off. Chase tells his dad he is disappointed that he missed his game the night before and his father mentions that he is disappointed that Chase is getting a C in Spanish and that if Chase feared him the grade would be higher. Chase continues to eat his breakfast like he has heard such insane things from his father before.
Next up we are in a church of Gibborim where Karolina’s mother is giving a sermon. We are shown that member of the church has unique bracelets, including Karolina, this takes the place of the medical ID tag that she wears in the comics. After the sermon Karolina’s parents are greeting people on their way out of church when her father mentions a meeting with his agents and leaves, implying that like in the comic he is an actor.
Karolina asks for her mother to sign a permission slip to go to a museum in San Francisco, but her mom says that she can’t because Vanity Fair is sending a photographer for the piece on the church and Karolina is the face of the millennials and has to participate.
Gert and Molly are shown in the back seat of their parent’s car. Molly is younger than the rest, but she is not 11 like in the comics she is also adopted by Gert’s parents. Their parents are very open and hippy like having a frank conversation about Molly’s first period and Gert’s medicine possibly making her constipated.
The kids get out of the car at school. Gert immediately begins handing out flyers for a feminist club she wants to start. All of the kids are here at the same private school and Alex is watching from a balcony as they brush past each other. He then decides to ask his mother if it would be alright for them to come over that night as they used to during their parent’s meetings. She reluctantly says yes.
We then cut to a scene where Karolina’s mom enters a private room, and there is a person with incredibly decrepit skin and a breathing mask on, the mask looks like an alien mask and is very similar to the ones worn by Karolina’s parents in the comic book. I am guessing this is Karolina’s true father. While she is visiting the man on the bed, she mentions that tonight another person will become eternal.
The room she is in looks very similar to the final room that Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey stays in right before he becomes “eternal” as well, most likely this is a coincidence. This scene is interspliced with shots of Alex’s parents walking through a room of mounted and framed red hooded robes as they enter a door on the other side.
Gert’s club meeting is taking place, and it seems all the kids have shown up to check out the first one. No one seems interested in her cause. Alex uses the opportunity to invite Chase who is sketching out what Alex calls “hand blasters” whether this is foreshadowing or just a nod to the comics we will have to wait and see. Alex also invites Karolina and Gert, but they quickly begin arguing, and Chase leaves with two jock guys that Alex says they used to make fun of together. Chase responds with now we make fun of you.
Molly is at the dance team tryouts, but because of painful stomach cramps she can’t complete the audition, she is told to go to the school nurse. While there during a painful cramp her eyes glow and she squeezes a metal bed, leaving it crumpled. The first powers are shown.
Gert catches up with Chase after staring at his butt in the hallway, foreshadowing a future relationship with them, and offers to tutor him in Spanish, he gladly takes her up on it and agrees to meet her at a coffee shop that night. He is then invited to a big party that same night.
A mass text is sent to the school with a picture of Karolina and the hashtag of “brainwashed”. She goes to the bathroom to cry.
Alex finds Nico in front of a school trophy case looking at an award Amy had won. He tells her that he misses the group but most of all he misses her. She dismissively touches her earbud implying that she can’t hear him.
Nico then goes to the bathroom same bathroom that Karolina is in and begins to cry. Karolina comes out when Nico is fixing her makeup and says that he doesn’t have to wear makeup to try and hide. Nico retorts with, you don’t have to hide behind the mask of a smile either. Carrying on the theme of masks and hiding true motives and personalities
Karolina is giving an interview on the school grounds when Destiny, the girl from the cold open (it’s been 2 years), finds her and tells her that she wanted to tell her how much her life has changed because of Karolina’s mother. Karolina wants to hear her story but only to ask how she herself can rebel.
Molly begins to try her newfound power on a van in the family’s garage. She finds that she can’t lift it though. When she isn’t looking the van begins to roll off risers that it is on and she is forced to push it back up, her eyes glow and she manages to push it back up leaving hand indents as she does.
The Pride meeting begins, and we see that unlike the comics these members do not get along with each other from the beginning. Another substantial change is that there are only 5 couples there as Molly is adopted and Karolina’s mother is there alone giving some proof to my thought that the man in bed is her real father.
Chase chooses to go the big party instead of a tutoring session with Gert. Gert is left at the coffee shop alone. Nico is shown on the beach trying to cast a spell that will presumably show her sister Amy. Alex tells his parents it doesn’t look like the other kids are showing up and sends a text to them all of them hanging out together when they were friends. Karolina goes to the party. Gert texts Molly and asks her to feed the pets. Karolina is offered drugs at the party and she takes a pill.
While dancing she takes sees two girls kissing and stares at them, probably foreshadowing her coming out as a lesbian later in the series. She also takes off her bracelet and her arms begin to glow, she quickly passes out though, probably because her powers are solar based, and it is night time. Molly feeds the pets but when she gets close to a large and very unhidden door with warning signs on it she hears a growl which causes her eyes to glow.
When she gets close to the window she looks through and sees a dinosaur, Old Lace (Gert’s telepathically controlled pet). She freaks out and asks Gert to come get her. While she is passed out Karolina is picked up by the two jocks Chase was with earlier, but Chase sees them take her upstairs. While Chase is looking through rooms for the boys and Karolina they begin undressing her. Chase finds them and fights them off. The boys leave, and Chase puts Karolina’s bracelet back on and takes her outside. She says she doesn’t want to go home so they like Gert and Molly show up on Alex’s doorstep shortly before Nico does.
While in the room they used to hang out in the game Twister is pointed out, either foreshadowing or a nod to comic, we’ll see next episode. The group begins to argue and fight as to why the broke up in the first place. Karolina says they were only friends because their parents are friends but Chase blames Alex because Alex didn’t go to Amy’s funeral. Chase decides he wants booze so he heads off towards Alex’s dad’s study, which is where the parents a supposed to be. Turns out they aren’t there so the kids head over to it. On the way, Nico stops Alex and says that she misses him too.
While in the study Alex accidentally triggers a mechanism that opens a door to a secret passage. All the kids go down it and come to a balcony overlooking a room with an altar and the parents in the red robes we saw earlier. The is a force field between them and the parents making it so the parents can’t hear them. Destiny is brought out and presumably stabbed (like in the comics) and then placed into an alien-like container that closes around her. The kids try and block Molly because she is too young to see but Molly reaches up and takes a picture, so she can see what’s happening, and the parents notice the flash.