Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Runaways. Read at your own risk.
Marvel’s Runaways ventured beyond the comics in a big way on Tuesday.
In a storyline that the 2003 comics only scratched at the surface, Runaways revealed that Karolina (Virginia Gardner) has feelings for Nico (Lyrica Okano). While hinted at as early as the Hulu series’ pilot, the truth really came to a head this week while the duo got ready for the Pride gala together. After an entire montage of furtive glances and the occasional lingering touch, Karolina was ready to admit her feelings for Nico, but was unfortunately interrupted. However, EW can confirm that the show will be exploring this potential relationship in coming episodes.
“It was a story that we always were going to tell,” executive producer Josh Schwartz tells EW. “It was obviously hugely important to the comic, hugely important to the actors playing those parts. It was something that they really wanted to make sure we were exploring as well. We wanted to get there from a place of real emotion.”
Suffice it to say, the journey to actually seeing this potential romance is going to be extremely complicated. “First, Karolina is going to have to deal with Chase’s [Gregg Sulkin] very real affections for her and how she doesn’t reciprocate,” Schwartz says. “This is all tied into Karolina’s larger journey of coming to grips with identity, which is going to increasingly drive more story as we come down the line. Realizing that everything in her life has been a lie, and everything she’s ever done has been to make her perfect mother happy, and live up to the tenants of the church that she belongs to, realizing now that her mother isn’t at all who she believed her to be, and that the church — this beautiful thing in quotes that she bought into — is actually hiding terrible secrets is going to make her feel emboldened to start becoming herself even more.”
Though Karolina is only just exploring her sexuality now, Schwartz notes that her attraction to Nico isn’t something new. “She has feelings that she doesn’t know how to express yet,” Schwartz says. “She’s always felt this way about Nico, even before she would put a label on if she was gay or not. She just felt this way about Nico and so that’s a story that we really wanted to explore.”
As of the end of Tuesday’s hour, however, Karolina has found herself entangled with Chase after sharing a kiss with him on the roof, one she didn’t seem to enjoy. It all started after Gert (Ariela Barer) encouraged Karolina to express her feelings for Nico. Karolina subsequently doubled down on flirting with Chase — probably not only to make Gert jealous, but also as a gut reaction to being confronted with her feelings for Nico. “It’s something that she’s still coming to grips with herself,” Schwartz concurs. “She’s just ready to try to articulate those feelings to Nico for the first time, so to have Gert call her out on it immediately makes her defensive and put up her armor, so to speak. She’s not ready to admit it yet out loud to somebody else.”
Also complicating matters is the fact that Nico is currently involved with Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), though that duo will have problems of their own very soon. “There’s actually going to be things happening on the other side with Nico’s relationship with Alex that will challenge their [dynamic], so the Karolina aspect of it is an extra complication to that,” EP Stephanie Savage says. Could that have to do with how Alex inexplicably knew Tina’s (Brittany Ishibashi) security password? “Perhaps it might,” Savage teases. “Alex has been keeping some secrets from Nico.” Adds Schwartz: “Secrets that we started seeding in the first episode, like when Nico looked at Alex and said, ‘Why didn’t you go to Amy’s funeral?'”
A new episode of Marvel’s Runaways will be released Tuesdays on Hulu.