Poor, poor Molly. Ten years before the events of the series, the Runaways’ youngest member lost her parents in a fire — a fire, it turns out, she was in but survived, thanks to some glowing rocks she was playing with at that very moment. That night, her parents had been reporting a strange discovery to their closest friends, the Yorkes: The “renewable energy source” at the bottom of the tunnel they’re digging for Jonah yields glowing rocks that may have nothing to do with renewable energy.
But just as they plan on taking their findings out of their lab, the door closes, and someone’s left a bomb inside. The lab explodes, and it’s Leslie who walks away, telling Tina she “handled it.” Inside, Molly sits sheltered under a table, her pupils glowing for the first time.
In present day, the kids have gone all the way back to square one, thanks to Chase smashing up Alex’s laptop. (Ugh, Chase!) Nico now needs Amy’s phone to yield answers, but just as she’s about to pick it up, Robert interrupts, telling her Tina’s given him a second chance. …Yay?
Karolina, frustrated with what happened with Chase (ugh, Chase) tells Frank everything. In response, Frank explains that it’s time she and the kids let the adults handle everything. Karolina’s not so sure, but for the time being, he’s the only adult she can talk to.
Over at the Steins’, Janet has been doing damage control, telling the press that Victor will be out of the public eye for a while because he has to recover from his tumor. And when Chase (ugh, Chase) asks about whether Victor will be okay, Janet lies, before telling him not to rock the boat. At the very least, he agrees to be careful, before heading to school and finding himself in a vortex of people telling him they’re sorry about his dad’s condition.
From the other side of the school, Alex, Gert, and Karolina glare at how Chase is being so well-received after what he did to their evidence. It gets worse when Chase walks over to join them, and Nico arrives as well, as none of them want to talk to Chase, and Nico and Alex are still on shaky terms. Gert, though, tells them they can’t disband now; they don’t even have a team name! (“Runaways,” in honor of the kids they’re trying to avenge, is deemed “too dark.”) And more importantly, they can still be together, Gert insists. Besides, Molly’s back.
Yup, Molly’s managed to sneak away from Graciela and head back to Atlas Academy by herself, asking for help with the tape she retrieved. Alex thankfully recognizes that they can watch it using a VCR, and takes the team to an old one in the AV Club’s headquarters. There, they watch as Molly’s parents deliver a message to their daughter: It’s one they filmed in case of their death, telling her about the Pride’s mission to dig up something buried beneath the city, and that they’re not so sure if it’s something they should be pulling out of the ground. In fact, if they disturb it, it’ll cause earthquakes. Molly’s parents apologize for what they’re putting her through, and as Molly watches, she cries.
At that, the team comes up with a plan. They’ll use the dance that night as a cover, getting dolled up and seemingly being at school before sneaking away to see exactly what their parents have been up to at the construction site.
But maybe it’s not their parents they should be worrying about. The Pride, after all, have been running around like chickens with their heads cut off ever since Jonah woke up: Even Tina’s shaken after everything that’s happened, thinking back to how threatened she felt when Jonah once stopped by unexpectedly to advise her with parenting tips. The rest of the members look frightened when Jonah summons them to the construction site, telling them they’re at the edge of history. A large tower has been placed over the middle of it, and as Jonah activates the tower, Leslie looks stunned.
Outside, Darius (remember him?) waits for one of his plants, a security guard, to tell him what’s really going on at the construction site, but as it turns out, Jonah has fired all of the guards. What exactly is going on? (Next: Thanks for nothing, Frank…)
Frank, armed with the knowledge of the kids trying to save the day, takes said knowledge and…goes to Jonah with it. But what does he say?
We’ll find out soon enough. Right after the Yorkes discover that Molly has left Graciela’s, and that Graciela doesn’t trust them, Jonah calls the Pride together for a meeting. Meanwhile, Nico shows Alex what Amy received on her phone before she died. She surmises that someone, perhaps one of the parents, killed her sister — but before they can talk further, Robert barges in, hoping to take a photo of the two of them before the dance.
Eventually, the “Lyft armada,” as Gert puts it, arrives at the dance. (Gert’s brought Old Lace along, just in case.) They all head inside to mingle and put up a front, and Gert makes a beeline for Chase, who greets her warmly. The two of them put all of their feelings on the table: Gert is candid about how invisible she feels around him, while he tells her that he’s always noticed her. (It’s sweet, but…it doesn’t totally track, considering how he began this season by flaking on her. Oh, well! Teens will be teens.) Soon enough, they’re slow-dancing in a room away from the main dance floor, things get hot and heavy, and then we…cut to Karolina and Nico heading inside, looking for them, and then also having a heart-to-heart. Hey, why not? If they fail to stop whatever’s happening at the construction site, the world ends, and no one will get to kiss anyone at all. At least, that’s Karolina’s point of view, as she plants a kiss on Nico. Just then, Chase and Gert stumble back out into the hallway, so both couples spot each other, decide to say nothing, and leave.
The Pride meeting is just as eventful, in a more sinister way. Jonah toys with the parents, asking them if they know where their children are. He then reveals that he’s been disappointed at how all of them have tried to double-cross him — Leslie called Frank first about Victor, Dale stole some of the serum — so he’s happy that he had a source (ugh, Frank) who told him exactly what he needed to know. At that, the parents all scramble home to confirm their kids have conspired against them: Tina finds the Staff gone, the Yorkes discover Old Lace has left her cage, and Geoffrey realizes Alex took a key to the construction site.
So off they head to the same destination as their children — and as Darius, it seems. In a scene that feels like it belongs in an entirely different show, Geoffrey’s mortal enemy explains that he’s intent on finding out what Geoffrey knows, and so he parks himself outside the premises, waiting to see what happens.
And what happens is this: The kids arrive and discover that instead of the Wilders running the joint, it’s now controlled by the Church of Gibborim, as ordered by Jonah. Karolina tells the guard that they’re there for a school project, and the guard calls Frank to confirm her story. Frank does — but of course, he’s no longer on his daughter’s side. Instead, he’s literally sitting right next to Jonah, who praises Frank for his leadership. Wait, so Frank’s suddenly up for throwing his own daughter (even though she’s not) under the bus? Why did he become so heartless? Just so he can have a job?!
Anyway, Darius follows the kids inside, and when they arrive at the dig, they split up into teams. Chase and Gert work on shutting down the drill, but instead, they get sidetracked on shutting, well, themselves down. It’s only been an hour since they had sex at the dance, and now their insecurities have made them question whether it was a one-time thing. Oof. Again, teens will be teens! It’s just a little exhausting.
On the other side of the site, Molly musters all of her strength and pushes a truck down into the hole, trying to make it stop whatever’s going on underneath. Nico then raises her Staff and commands it to fill the hole, but just as the sand starts rising around the team, the Staff leaves her grip. Tina’s called it back — and she’s arrived with all of the rest of their parents. As the episode ends, they stand in formation, ready to battle each other. Molly’s eyes glow, and so do Karolina’s — moves that shock their parents. Leslie, after all, didn’t know this was possible, but she admits that it’s what she was afraid of.
The final showdown will take place in the final episode. But this penultimate one felt all over the place, moving the players to where they needed to be so quickly and so haphazardly, it felt like the show was jumping through as many hoops as possible to make sure the season would reach an ending. Characters turned on each other for no reason other than because they could, and characters got together for no reason other than because they should. Well, at least Old Lace is there, and looking her best and battle-readiest. Here’s hoping the melee delivers.