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Run's season finale proves it should've been a movie

  • "As a champion of the art of television, I very rarely say that a TV show should have been a movie, but more and more this feels true," says Allison Keene of the HBO series' first season. "It’s the opposite of watching a film or reading a book and thinking, 'oh I wish I could spend more time in this world and with these characters!' Instead, it’s knowing you’re taking in a lot of filler, spending time with characters who don’t really have enough going on to warrant it, and seeing a story that could have been a more focused, potent, and affecting meditation blown out into something it was never meant to be. This latter scenario is how I ended up feeling about halfway through Vicky Jones’ series Run on HBO. The premise was intoxicating: what if you dropped everything and ran off to spend a week on a train with an old flame, in order to decide if you should stay together by the end of it? All based on a plan the two of you hatched in college? What if instead of romantic it was actually awkward and fraught with lies? What if it was somehow still sexy though, because the two people in question are played by Domhnall Gleeson and Merritt Wever? In approximately 90 mins, which is as long as any movie should ever be (with only the rarest of exceptions), we could have spent time with these two as they wrestled with living in the past, present, and future together while being smushed in close train quarters. Those first episodes of Run were genuinely excellent, focused on a cramped space and an almost suffocating atmosphere of possibility tinged with regret. She has a family, he’s a fraud. And yet, the two have an undeniable chemistry of people who understand one another and forgive each other’s foibles because they know who they are."


    • Where did Run fall apart?: "While I’ll always feel that the start of Run was fairly strong, especially the first two episodes, in some senses it was doomed to messiness from the very start — you just couldn’t see it yet," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "It’s a show that refused to be its whole self from the jump. The sudden episode-three turn into thriller storytelling was always part of Run’s premise, always the direction Run’s runaway train was headed. But where capers like Game Night or dark comedies like Barry do a lot of signaling work from the beginning to make sure the eventual “high-stakes escapade” twist won’t feel out of place, Run’s twist felt disconnected and forced. The show relied on the strength of Billy and Ruby’s relationship to pull all its tonal strings together."
    • Run's finale was devastating in several ways: "I refuse to believe that the entire show was only building to these last minutes of the season," says Lea Palmieri, "but I couldn’t help but feel that way while watching it."
    • Run creator Vicky Jones breaks down the finale
    • Jones on Run Season 2: "We can’t just sit still in the story"

    TOPICS: Run, HBO, Vicky Jones