A parent’s job should be to protect their children, but a supervillain parent’s job, it turns out, is to prevent their children from ever finding out a single thing about their misdeeds.
Obviously, the Pride — er, “PRIDE,” as Hulu’s been styling it in their log lines — has already failed at that particular mission. And so episode 4 dives into the deceit involved in parenthood on a smaller scale, examining the cover-ups even normal, non-supervillain parents make to their offspring. It’s an interesting angle for Runaways to observe at this stage, and it mostly works, by putting the spotlight on Nico.
The hour opens with a flashback to the moment she discovered her sister Amy was dead, with a bottle of pills perched on her nightstand. Younger Nico, free of her dark makeup, tries to call 911, but Tina knocks her out using the Staff of One. When she comes to, Nico uses their smart house to take a peek inside Tina’s office, where she sees her mother covering up her sister’s death with the help of a mysterious man.
Even if Younger Nico had been in denial at the time, she’s now fully convinced of her mother’s evil. In present day, she reads Amy’s diary and tells the rest of the crew over video chat that Amy wasn’t unhappy when she died, and that’s why Tina must have kept her diary hidden. But as much as she believes in their parents being evil, the rest of the sextet aren’t so sure, bickering over whether their parents really did kill Destiny. In the end, Chase leaves them with some advice: It’s time for them to protect themselves, because it’s clear their parents’ aren’t.
They also need to continue investigating. Alex tries to enter the “murder library” again, only to find that the coasters no longer open the secret door. He rifles through Geoffrey’s study instead and locates a gun in one of his dad’s drawers. Alex grabs it, points it at his reflection, and aims.
Yeah, that’s not good. Also not good? Chase’s dad Victor driving a van with the music turned up to mask the screams of a girl he’s clearly — and violently — kidnapped. But when he arrives to deliver their latest sacrifice to Robert and Geoffrey, she’s gone; has he been hallucinating this whole time? Is the genius inventor Victor Stein going insane?
Whatever the case may be, Dale and Stacey Yorkes have had enough of the Pride’s problems, going so far as to ignore Tina’s summons for an emergency meeting. After all, they have a more pressing issue to deal with: Their dinosaur has gone missing from their basement. Gert eavesdrops as her parents discuss the ordeal, but when she and Molly confront them about their bald-faced lies, they leave in a hurry to hunt for their lost predator — only to come up empty handed by the end of the day. Dale remains optimistic they’ll find the dino somehow, but Stacey thinks it’s time to leave. They have enough money, even without the serum they’ve created bringing in a lot more cash.
And they could easily bring the kids at this point. For one thing, Gert fully believes in her parents’ innocence. At school, she tells Chase she doesn’t want to get her parents into trouble, because what they’re doing in the basement must be all kinds of illegal, but it’s all for, you know, science, so it’s okay! And besides, they’ve got other, teenage things to worry about right now: Chase gets into a fistfight with his lacrosse teammates, who want him to apologize for stopping them before they took advantage of Karolina at the party. It’s an absurd request, and good on Chase for punching them again.
Unfortunately, it leaves Karolina in the middle, confused about what happened, given that she has no memory of the incident and Chase has decided to keep the truth from her. And to make it worse, some random girl walks up to Karolina and blames her for causing this rift between the guys on the lacrosse team. Like, now their state lacrosse title is totally in jeopardy! How could you, Karolina!
It’s all much too over-the-top, even though calling Karolina “a lacrosse-ruining slut” may be one of the milder Josh Schwartz-Stephanie Savage insults that have landed on screen. Luckily, the episode wisely pairs Karolina with Gert, who, after seeing this, empathizes with Karolina’s insecurity and isolation. She even abandons her new club and its eager, patriarchy-fighting members to go help out her old friend, heading to Karolina’s
house mansion to help uncover potential clues to what their parents were doing inside the murder library. As Karolina puts it, they’re on Team There’s Gotta Be Another Explanation.
And they might have found it after all. While digging through all the Gibborim archives, Karolina spots her mom’s laptop and finds an encrypted file labeled “Ultra,” as in the ceremony for members to achieve a higher (highest?) level in the church. Gert takes the drive to Alex, who’ll be able to break the encryption, while Karolina stays behind when Chase arrives. He’s just quit lacrosse, and he has some things to say.
Including what happened at the party. He tells her that as much as lacrosse meant to him, he could never be on a team with those guys again. He also hints that she means more to him than she thinks, but Karolina doesn’t reciprocate romantically. Instead, she confides in him about the lights she saw that night, and demonstrates it for him in her room by removing her bracelet. He’s stunned — and then he has a ton of questions.
He’s not the only one. Nico has headed to the police station after school to report the murders of Destiny and Amy, despite Alex’s attempts to talk her out of it. He joins her in the end, but after hours of waiting, they fail to get the attention of the detective on Destiny’s case. And then they see something truly disturbing: The detective leading Destiny’s case is the man Nico had seen in Tina’s office after Amy’s death, and right now, he’s leading Victor and Robert out of the station. The question is: What were Victor and Robert doing there? (Next: Hello, Old Lace…)
Back at the Yorkeses’ place, Molly sits in her room drafting an email to Catherine Wilder with questions about her parents. (Queries include: “Were either of them super strong?” and “What happened the night they died?” Not sure if Catherine would want to answer either of those.) She gets distracted by a noise downstairs — a noise, it turns out, caused by the dinosaur, who’s returned home to cause some chaos. Molly uses her super strength to keep the dinosaur from eating her, but at the last minute, Gert dashes in to get things under control. Gert realizes that she really does have a connection to the creature, which listens to what she says — and even Dale and Stacey are stunned by this when they return home and find that their daughters have managed to contain their pet.
Before they can celebrate, however, Tina arrives to confront the Yorkeses about their absence from the emergency meeting, during which Leslie had reported that the Gross Flaky Guy is doing worse, and the rest of the Pride came up with a plan. We’ll get to that — for now, Tina’s delighted to see Dale and Stacey squirming; earlier that day, she had already hired a tattooed man to deliver her information about the Yorkeses in exchange for a wad of cash, and now she gets to reveal what she’s learned and threaten them properly.
Tina tells Dale and Stacey she knows the Hernandezes — Molly’s parents — left them an off-the-grid ranch in the Yucatan, a perfect location to run to if they ever wanted to leave the Pride scot free. Now that Tina knows about it, they can’t. Their dreams are dashed, and even their protection — the dinosaur — can’t save them. “It’s over,” Stacey sobs after Tina leaves. Gert tries to ask about what happened, but it’s the worst moment to do so: Distraught, Dale lashes out at Gert, and Gert retreats. It’s a strong, brief scene that illustrates a typical parent-teen argument, only with much higher, super stakes.
Before all this, though, the other parents carried out some nefarious deeds as well. Victor claims that he’s just been too stressed and that he can fix everything if they give him another shot at using the box. This time, they can’t use another runaway from the church, so he and Robert — awkward — attempt to kidnap a homeless person as their next offering to Leslie’s procedure. They fail brilliantly and wind up caught by the cops, just two dads trying to force a passed-out drunk into the back of a van.
Aaaand that’s how Nico and Alex wind up spotting them at the police station after school. Stunned, they leave hastily and regroup at a cafe, where Alex looks into the drive Gert’s delivered. He manages to get past the encryption and discovers everything they need to implicate their parents, even if it’s clear now that their parents have struck a deal with the police. Inside the Ultra file are dossiers on runaways including Destiny, with at least one a year going back 15 years. All of the people labeled for Leslie are missing now, so it’s easy to see what these files are for: They’re all candidates the Pride has chosen for their sacrifices.
Meanwhile, Leslie checks in again on her Gross Flaky Guy. He pleads for help, and she offers it by stripping naked, crawling into bed next to him, and — eeeeek — glowing under the sheets before leaving to find Frank at her door. He asks her if she’s having an affair, and she dismisses him before switching the subject. She tells him that he’s ready to go Ultra, and tells him that they’ll be expecting him that night.
But if Frank’s now in danger, so is Chase. Victor returns home and catches his son fiddling with his inventions, which he calls fistigons, and tears Chase’s prototype apart. He then forces Chase to sit down and tell him exactly what his idea is, down to the last detail, including how the invention makes him feel. Victor says they can work on it together — a plan that’s sure to fall to pieces as soon as Victor’s temper gets the better of him.
The episode ends with Nico calling Karolina about what she and Alex have discovered in Leslie’s files. Karolina looks shocked as she listens to Nico’s report while watching her parents spin around joyfully beside their pool. Just then, as Nico tells Karolina to join them at the cafe, Nico realizes the car alarm Alex had gone to disable outside is still going off. When she exits the cafe, she sees Alex struggling with unseen captors as they take him into a van and drive off.
So, yet again, Runaways leaves us with a million more questions to be answered: Where’s Alex now? What really happened to Amy? Is Victor okay? (He’s obviously not, but what’s going on?) And finally, is someone going to finally name Old Lace “Old Lace” or do I have to keep referring to her — yes, her, Gert! — as “the dinosaur”? Come on, Runaways — you made Karolina’s light show look just like it did in the comics, afterglow and all. Surely you can throw fans this bone, too.