Photo: Michael Desmond (Hulu)

“Past Life” starts with the most important piece of information we could possibly learn: How the alien we now know as Jonah acquired the body of Julian McMahon. For about 20 years, the being had been in the body of an older man, positioning himself in the 1930s as a Dust Bowl preacher straight out of Carnivàle. In 1957, he’s dying in a pulpy lab—and a young Australian doctor named Jonah shows up to treat him. The older version of our villain apologizes for the presumably painful process of having his mind replace the doctor’s—it should go down smoother, but “Technology just isn’t there yet.”

This line is pretty funny, and in keeping with the hammier spirit of the episode. In 1979, Jonah shows up in a powder blue shirt with a ridiculous lapel, visiting Leslie’s father to inspire a new religion. McMahon gets to mug like a used car salesman as Jonah turns on his light—just before meeting a young Leslie.

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Back in the present, Pride is similarly easily bamboozled. The parents decide to split up and take responsibility for their own children, even though their children are all together and working as a makeshift superhero team, which is insane and stupid. At least most of the other parents take a back seat this episode, with the exception of the Wilders, who are embroiled in the reignited Darius subplot, and the Deans, who are embroiled in Frank being an idiot.

Catherine orders a hit of sorts on Livvie, who has gone to the DA’s office to try to clear Darius of Destiny’s murder—without asking her husband. The aborted hit goes down at the hospital, when Tamar is bringing her baby home and Alex has showed up to convince them to trust him. Geoffrey, meanwhile, is still mad at this wife, and takes the time to visit Tamar to assure her that he wants to make good on his deal with Darius. She tells him she’s going to start her own crime empire. At the very least, I hope she’s more savvy than Livvie, who outs a dude named AWOL as the one who shot at them—without realizing he’s a dirty cop. (Also, I get that she wants to clear Darius’ name, but this feels like it would make more sense if he weren’t dead.)

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Meanwhile, over at the church, Frank continues to be an absolute moron, and has completely melted down in the wake of murdering Destiny Gonzalez’s brother. Though he asks Leslie for help, it seems like Frank is in the lurch here—theoretically the dissolution of Pride means the dissolution of the tools the members have used to cover up their other crimes. Leslie eventually calls Flores to clean up after her husband as one last job, and, in a setup straight out of a ’70s paranoia conspiracy thriller (or Veronica Mars), Frank takes photographs of the meeting in order to frame his wife for murder and take over the church. It’s clear that his motivation is maintaining his tenuous hold on people who respect him (his audience, as he accidentally calls them), but he’s just too pathetic to pay attention to for extended periods of time.

Thankfully, the kids get to do some fun stuff this episode: a heist on the swanky hotel where Darius died. Alex brings Livvie in to the plan and breaks into the penthouse to access the hotel’s footage, which is another good opportunity for the Runaways to confront the lives they’ve left behind—and the lives they could probably get back now, if they so chose. (Chase, especially, points out that they might be able to go home, though Alex rightly notes that their parents are all murderers.) The best part of the episode is a very funny scene where Chase and Gert have to somehow plausibly pretend to be newlyweds while fighting about Gert’s secret college plans in front of a hotel employee.

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Gert, of course, wants to go to Smith, and didn’t tell anyone. Whether or not this is plausible (Gert would be an excellent Smith student), I appreciate it as a source of humor—and a way to get Chase and Gert to productively fight, because Gregg Sulkin and Ariela Barer have fun chemistry specifically when they’re at odds. Alex reconnects with Livvie while this is happening, and discovers that his mother was the one who killed Darius, just before Nico and Molly arrive to tell everyone that they need to run from the hotel staff. Though there’s a brief Breakfast Club moment of everyone running through the hallways, Molly ends up heroically staying behind to delay the men chasing them while the others are once again on the run. And though she expects to just be lectured by hotel security, she’s met by Flores, an angry man with no reason to want to return her to anyone safely. Time for another rescue mission!


Stray observations

  • “Past Life” is written by Kendall Rogers and directed by Anna Mastro.
  • Dale says “l’chaim” as Pride toasts to the end of their organization. Are the Yorkes Jewish, or is he just doing an affected bit?
  • Molly asks to come on a walk with Nico. Nico: “Can you be like, 60% less chipper?” Molly: “No.”
  • Runaways Dad Of The Day: Geoffrey. There’s very little dad material in this episode, unfortunately, so I had to choose between Geoffrey and Victor—and Geoffrey, at least, is trying to make amends with the people he’s wronged. Kind of. I guess.

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