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Run: Season 1, Episode 2 (Kiss) - Review

Run, Episode 2

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE sexual chemistry between Run‘s two protagonists Ruby and Billy (Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson) continued to sparkle in the second episode of this new favourite series, thereby accelerating the playful nature of proceedings while also heightening the mystery surrounding the two characters.

But there was also a turning of the tables this time around. Where Ruby appeared to be the character with the most to lose in the opener, Billy now seemed more vulnerable. Trying to work out which of the two is more decent than the other is going to be one of the show’s main joys.

At the end of the opening episode, Billy discovered that Ruby was married with two kids. This revelation continued to play on his mind as the two headed for a night of reckless passion. Hence, while they fumbled about the tight train bedroom, bumping into the furniture and hurting each other in the process, the further revelation of a C-section scar on Ruby’s stomach was enough for Billy to call the whole sexual hook-up off… his sense of guilt obviously getting the better of him.

But for the aroused Ruby, the rejection was too much. She wanted to get laid. And in one of the episode’s most playfully enjoyable turns, Ruby vowed to bed the next person who left the toilet near their ‘bedroom’.

At first, Billy is confident Ruby won’t go through with it, particularly as the chances of that person being someone she fancied appearing slim. But when a good looking man emerges, Ruby snatches the opportunity to get one back on Billy and follows him to the bar area to seduce him.

Now, it’s Billy’s turn to be hurt. And now we can see the true extent of Billy’s feelings for Ruby. He wants her but is too guilty to allow her to risk it all for him.

Ruby, on the other hand, is woefully bad at the art of seduction. But the object of her desire does agree to follow her back to her room and the two indulge in some seriously sexy talk. It’s yet another playful scene, which Wever plays brilliantly – her sense of anticipation ever increasing, as she decides on whether to act on the talk. In the final analysis, she’s unable to respond in kind and the two agree to go their separate ways, confident that they have spent long enough together to make Billy think they’ve done the deed.

Thereafter, Billy and Ruby are reunited in the bar area of the train and decide to play a drinking game, unwittingly enlisting the help of Ruby’s sexy guy. The game is also fun. But it also reveals just how close these two were when they were young. It heightens that natural chemistry that now exists between them.

So, why did they never act on it back then? And why has it taken them so long to ‘run’?

There’s a darker side to proceedings, though. A flashback sequence at the top of the episode sees Billy taking a call from someone he no longer wants to see. While a phone call he receives while waiting for Ruby to finish her sex also raises his frustration levels. He’s a man with something to hide. And he’s running away from something or someone, or both.

Ruby, meanwhile, can’t have things her own way either. Her decision to walk out on her family has repercussions. But it may not be the selfish act it first appears. When she talks to her husband mid-episode, the realisation that she might be away for more than a couple of nights puts him out because it may mean he’ll have to miss his tennis at the weekend.

In just one small exchange, we can already sense the dynamic that existed between Ruby and her husband. She was taken for granted, lowering her esteem. It informs her reaction to being let down by Billy. She wants to be desired again.

By the episode’s end, however, the shoe is back on her husband’s foot. For while she has decided to flee the train and return home, disembarking the train in Chicago, she’s alarmed to find that all of her credit and debit cards have been cancelled. It’s a sobering end to a playful episode, especially once she has phoned home and heard the answering machine message her husband has newly recorded, revealing the extent of his hurt at her ‘betrayal’.

Run works as well as it does because we already care about the two main characters and enjoy being in their company, even if the suspicion remains that they are acting out of selfishness. It elicits that sense of escape we all feel sometimes, as well as – perhaps – the school or college sweethearts that got away.

Gleeson and Wever remain brilliant with each other and spot on at suggesting the darker, more self-centred sides of their make-up. But they’re also clearly damaged too. And the script is already doing a top job of teasing the answers to our questions. The longer we spent in their company, the more we want to know about them.

With the series promising to expand beyond the remit of the train, with people in pursuit of them, Run looks set to be one of the year’s great new shows.