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Billions schemes its way back to square one in a no-holds-barred finale Billions schemes its way back to square one in a no-holds-barred finale

“Can people change” is a bit of an overwrought theme for TV these days, the motivating engine of a thousand antihero shows that almost always answer either “no, but it’s complicated” or “yes, but it’s complicated.” But it’s been the overarching question of this season of Billions, and it’s worked — because the show…

A really, truly epic hourlong Steven Universe nearly spells the end of everything A really, truly epic hourlong Steven Universe nearly spells the end of everything

The project of “Change Your Mind”—fully theorizing the Gem empire as a business run by an abusive family, with similarities to the various families Steven has encountered on Earth (the Crystal Gems, the Maheswarans, the DeMayos, the Deweys, the Onion family, etc.), all done while extending that comparison through…

Steven Universe takes a fruitful, funny trip back to Earth Steven Universe takes a fruitful, funny trip back to Earth

Well, if you were hoping for some plot movement this week you might have to wait. “Escapism” is less transitional than it is tangential, in the sense that the story is largely a self-contained caper in which Steven psychically visits Earth to ask Bismuth for help. Not that this is a bad thing—after a few episodes of…

Steven throws a party on a transitional Steven Universe Steven throws a party on a transitional Steven Universe

“Together Alone” opens with a beautiful shot of the open vista of Homeworld, taken up by the four parts of what is, essentially, the Gem Voltron: White’s head and torso, Yellow’s and Blue’s arms, and Pink’s legs. The image echoed in a later shot of the same space just before Steven’s ball, albeit this time without the…

A reflective, funny episode of Steven Universe finds Steven going through the motions for his mom A reflective, funny episode of Steven Universe finds Steven going through the motions for his mom

During Steven’s last visit to Homeworld, he was a prisoner on trial for murder. Now, he’s basically Gem royalty, and bound up in all of the obligations that new status entails. “Familiar” digs into the details of what the Diamonds actually do all day, and what it means that the Diamond ranks now include Steven. It’s a…

Runaways ends its second season with all-out war and some new villains Runaways ends its second season with all-out war and some new villains

Putting “Last Rites” as early in the season as it is was a big gamble. The episode took a lot of long-standing components of Runaways out of the equation: the dig site, the threat of a world-ending (or at least California-ending) earthquake, Julian McMahon. And since then, the season has floundered a bit, trying to…

The penultimate Runaways kicks everything into high gear with a rescue mission The penultimate Runaways kicks everything into high gear with a rescue mission

For the bulk of the season, I’ve been talking a lot about how Runaways missions need to include all of the kids—otherwise, they become heavily reliant on one person (usually Nico) in a way that sidelines everyone else. Consider “Earth Angel” the exception that proves the rule.

The kids throw a party on a fun, sad Runaways The kids throw a party on a fun, sad Runaways

“Last Waltz” starts the process of setting up for the season’s endgame, which looks like it will shift Runaways’ focus a bit. Until now, the action of the season has largely been driven by Nico, Alex, and Karolina. “Last Waltz,” refreshingly, centers Gert, Molly, and most of all Chase, who returns to his parents at…

Runaways swings and misses with a big standoff Runaways swings and misses with a big standoff

There’s some good stuff in “Hostile Takeover,” sort of. Gregg Sulkin has a lot of fun as Chase plays negotiator and delivers an inspirational sports speech to a sleeping Gert, evoking Riverdale’s recent attempt to have Archie give a similar speech. (I don’t know how it took me this long to realize it, but Chase is …

Loyalties constantly shift on a muddled Runaways Loyalties constantly shift on a muddled Runaways

With Jonah gone (for now), there’s a lot of open narrative space on Runaways. What are the kids doing, with their parents’ boss dead? What are the parents doing? What does the next phase of the show look like? The answer, it turns out, is that Pride’s stable of corrupt cops has become a minor antagonist—a decision…

The kids check in while Jonah checks out on a setup-heavy Runaways The kids check in while Jonah checks out on a setup-heavy Runaways

“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…

Jonah steals the spotlight on an action-packed Runaways Jonah steals the spotlight on an action-packed Runaways

Who would have guessed that the biggest accomplishment of the second season of Runaways would be humanizing its villain? “Last Rites” is a big episode, and easily could have been the season finale. The kids confront their parents again, Jonah attempts to launch the ship, and there’s a bunch of exciting action—but the…

Everyone comes clean in a tense, suspiciously uneventful Runaways Everyone comes clean in a tense, suspiciously uneventful Runaways

This feels like where we should be closer to the end of the season, right? Jonah is basically on full tilt, sick and desperate to the point of trying to kidnap Geoffrey Wilder as a sacrifice. Chase and Gert’s relationship is on the rocks. And Karolina has come clean about her meetings with Jonah. Like Darius’ murder,…

The kids stage an intervention and two dads fight on an exciting Runaways The kids stage an intervention and two dads fight on an exciting Runaways

So it looks like Topher is going to be mostly confined a two-parter, at least for now. By the end of “Rock Bottom,” he’s been left in the hospital—somehow barely alive, like so many other Runaways characters. Unlike, say, Victor, I’m not sure I feel compelled to see him back on the show.

Karolina hangs out with her dad and everyone else gets suspicious on a decent Runaways Karolina hangs out with her dad and everyone else gets suspicious on a decent Runaways

Finally, some fresh blood... sort of. A lot of the running time of “Old School” is devoted to Topher. What’s his deal? Where’s he from? Why do his eyes glow like Molly’s? And should the other Runaways trust him? If you’ve read the Runaways comic, you know that the answer to this last question is “probably not,” but…

Runaways makes its bones in a fast-paced episode Runaways makes its bones in a fast-paced episode

We’re only three episodes into the season, and one of the big plots has already been resolved, sort of. By the end of “Double Zeros,” Darius has tried to give Alex some sage life advice about dominoes while teaching him more about where his family came from, traded him for the deed to the construction site (thereby…

Love is in the air as Runaways tones it down a notch Love is in the air as Runaways tones it down a notch

“Radio On” is definitely a slower episode, starting to move pieces carefully into place so that they can inevitably be wrecked by the more dramatic episodes of the season. There’s a lot of necessary-ish plot development—the power comes back on at the mansion, Alex tells everyone he’s been working for Darius, Janet…

Look, Runaways season two really does hit the ground running, okay? Look, Runaways season two really does hit the ground running, okay?

Who knew it would take literal teenagers to make a Marvel show have even the slightest sense of play? There are moments in some of the recently-departed Netflix series that stick out, whether because they’re effective fights, condensed character moments, or Vincent D’Onofrio wearing cool suits—but Runaways is easily…

Steven Universe sprints toward a confrontation with White Diamond Steven Universe sprints toward a confrontation with White Diamond

If you thought “Reunited” moved quickly, buckle up your space seatbelts—it seems like Steven Universe is going to keep up the fast pace, sending Steven, the Crystal Gems, and the Diamonds (!) back to Homeworld, with a new antagonist. “Legs From Here To Homeworld” has a lot of material to get through to make it to its…

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