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Run (Domhnall Gleeson/Merritt Wever) - First episode review

Run

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HIGH hopes abound for Run, the new HBO comedy from Fleabag collaborator Vicky Jones (which has also been executive produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge). On the strength of the brilliantly addictive first episode, those hopes aren’t misplaced.

As quick-witted as it is both mysterious and fleet-footed, Run takes a simple premise but throws so much into the mix that descriptions alluding to the Hitchcockian-style nature of proceedings aren’t misplaced.

Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson play Ruby and Billy, two college sweethearts who, 17 years ago, made a pact that if either one of them texts ‘RUN’ and they reply in kind, they will drop everything, meet up at New York’s Grand Central Station and take a train together across the US.

The pilot begins with a frustrated Ruby sitting in a car park receiving such a text and deciding to respond, prompting a mad-cap race to hook up.

For Ruby, the decision seems bigger. Little is known about Billy, save for the fact he is some kind of celebrity who has written self-help books that Ruby can’t stand. Ruby, on the other hand, has a husband, who frequently texts her throughout the episode, in an increasingly desperate attempt to find out where she has gone.

By episode’s end, the suspicion that Ruby has, indeed, given up more is born out by the discovery – on her phone – of a picture of her husband and two children. Billy, meanwhile, has a secret reason for having texted Ruby in the first place.

It’s this mystery element of the series [and first episode] that adds a darker, Hitchcock element to proceedings. For while there’s undoubtedly a lightness and buzz surrounding the pair’s relationship, you have the nagging sense this isn’t a series that’s merely content to explore the idea of escape and true romance. Rather, there’s something more bittersweet lurking beneath. There will be consequences.

Right now, however, there’s a great deal of joy to be had in getting to know Ruby and Billy. The chemistry between Wever and Gleeson is palpable. They already feel like life-long friends with something more besides. There is an unrequited desire.

Wever’s Ruby superbly combines that feeling of excited abandonment, relief and adventure with a fear that she may have behaved rashly in the moment. She feels the most everyman of the characters.

But Gleeson combines his trademark charisma (from films such as About Time and Ex_Machina) with something darker, and possibly more self-serving. He also possesses a quiet sense of desperation, which becomes fully realised in the moment he fears Ruby has abandoned him on the train. There is a lot more driving him.

But will their decision to run end in joy or sorrow? The odds, at this stage, already seem stacked against them. Run, like its name suggests, has hit the ground running and already looks set to become a real TV treat.

Run airs on Sky Comedy on Wednesday nights from 9pm.

Watch the what comes next teaser trailer