Marvel's Runaways: Season 3 Review

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), avoiding much, but not all, of the repetitive stodginess of Season 2.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.

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.

Marvel’s Runaways: Season 3 Gallery

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.

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.

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.

The 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.

Also, 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.

Yes, 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.

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