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The Innocents Recap: Born to Run

The Innocents

Keep Calm, Come to No Harm
Season 1 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****

The Innocents

Keep Calm, Come to No Harm
Season 1 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Aimee Spinks / Netflix

Harry has the correct reaction to being headlocked by a burly man who, when he looks at him in the mirror, has the face of his girlfriend: He runs. This shit is weird! The Innocents may be about a genetic mutation that causes Norwegian women to shapeshift, but it still wants to be grounded in reality. If Harry simply accepts that Nordic Beard is his girlfriend now, that believable reality is immediately lost. But he doesn’t accept it. Harry is a teenager who thought he was running away with his soulmate until things went very, very wrong. He’s appropriately scared out of his mind.

But June’s scared, too. Of course she is! Can you even imagine? Here we all thought puberty was bad. She has the near-impossible task of getting Harry to believe this insanity. She, as Steinar, chases after him (what a shot, huh?), and pleads with him to stay. She talks about their letters. She weeps. And it’s enough to at least get Harry back in the motel room to talk things over.

It was easy to fall for June and Harry’s love story in episode one. So young! So pure! So not affected by shapeshifting! Episode two has a harder job: It needs to make us believe in their deep connection. This isn’t just puppy love — this love can withstand anything. Aside from Groundsell and Ascott’s excellent performances, here’s what makes me a true believer: Harry chooses to stay with June. He could flee at any moment; no one would blame him. In fact, the adult in me says, “Run, Harry! Run back to your Sad Mom!” But the romantic in me is so moved by the fact that he doesn’t. That shot of the car in the parking lot with its tail lights on, Harry in the driver’s seat working through everything and realizing that he just cannot go? I weep. Also, I’ll be honest with you (who can you be honest with if not fellow fans of the teen supernatural drama genre?), I’m a sucker for an emotional vending machine scene. I’ve only used vending machines for sustenance, but if TV and movies have taught us anything, vending machines are first and foremost for leaning your forehead against in anguish.

And so Harry chooses June, regardless of her current state, regardless of how permanent this change may be. He brings her an onion and cheese sandwich as she takes refuge in the bathtub and I feel really seen in this moment, you know? Harry tries to focus on the reflection of June as they talk, since that is the girl he knows, but he is definitely still hearing Steinar’s voice — which makes the whole, “Let me turn the shower on and we’ll play in the water” moment super weird. But it is a much-needed minute of levity. Harry wants to know why June went back to Steinar’s body, and when June explains it was for him, because he was so upset and she didn’t want him to leave, he’s moved. Just as he’s finished saying swoony things like, “I’m not going anywhere,” and “I love you, June McDaniel,” June shifts back to her old self. It looks very painful and not fun at all! But still, they have each other again — they hold on tight.

There is one more moment of choice: Now that June’s back to her old self, they could just call it quits on this escape plan. After all, they have no idea what’s going on with June — if it’s something Steinar did to her, if it can happen again — so it might be smart to turn around. They don’t. Harry reminds her that they ran away because they both felt trapped. They wanted to leave so that they were free to be whoever they wanted to be (wish granted, buddy!). Above all, they still believe in each other, right? So they continue on their journey to London, where hope for a better life is still alive and love wins and everything will be okay.

Just kidding — there are so many people after these two and everything will most assuredly not be okay!

As soon as June turns back into herself, the real Steinar wakes up in his underwear in the back of a van owned by his buddy Alf (Trond Fausa) and calls Ben with his good news/bad news situation. No, he hasn’t procured June, but on the bright side, Ben was right — she is a shapeshifter like her mom. Apparently, this is rare and extremely exciting for Ben. After Runa shades the doctor on possibly doing inappropriate things with the other ladies at Sanctum and calling it “testing,” the two celebrate this victory. (“Tests” actually consist of brainwave stuff and slideshows that eventually trigger the women into shifting, but shade on Runa, shade on.) Why do they want June so bad? Why is she so special? Which person at Shapeshifters-R-Us gives Runa her chic haircut? We have no answers yet, but as far as the June situation goes, Steinar promises to make like Olivia Pope and HANDLE IT.

Like Harry, Steinar’s partner Alf is appropriately freaked the hell out by finding his friend naked in the woods with vibrating eyes. He also doesn’t much approve of the whole kidnapping teenagers thing. But he gets over it pretty quickly. Alf is a very thorough shady dude. After a visit to the empty McDaniel farm proves fruitless, Alf suggests they try the redhead whom he caught on camera selling a car to Harry; he probably has some information. It’s a good thing Alf was tailing Harry in addition to June even though Harry and June kept their relationship a complete secret from the world. He’s very good at his job!

The redhead, Dean, does know where Harry and June are headed, information that he shares with Steinar and Alf after being beaten up in front of his baby daughter. Steinar and Alf head to London.

They are not the only ones — parents are in pursuit of June and Harry, too. Okay, well John is in pursuit. Even though Chris now knows that Harry and June have run off together (John finds one of Harry’s love letters and shares the info), she doesn’t seem all that concerned. She’s a detective! Shouldn’t she be tracking his phone or something? She only shows signs of stress after being called on to check out an assault on a certain red-haired fellow. While interviewing Dean, she notices he’s wearing a gold ring that looks eerily familiar. She sees the inscription inside and realizes that her missing son bought a car with her husband’s wedding band from a guy who seems like trouble — that’s not great.

Luckily she has Doug (Jason Done), her old partner, to comfort her. Are these two gonna hook up? Of all the mysteries wrapped into this show, whatever is going on at the Polk house is what interests me the most at the moment. I know we have shapeshifting, but I love a good domestic drama! We learn that Harry’s dad, Lewis (Philip Wright), was a victim in some big case Chris and Doug investigated three years ago but never solved. Everyone, even John McDaniel, seems very affected by it. You guys! Give me the deets on this. Inquiring minds want to know.

While Chris sips on beers and possibly has feelings for her old partner, John and Ryan — he finally goes outside! For June! Ryan’s the best! — road trip to London. Ryan was in the house when Steinar and Alf came by and heard them say June’s name. He was also supposed to get a call from June letting him know she was okay — since he’s worried, he willingly gives up the info he has on June’s whereabouts. Off they go.

Sadly, they’ll be too late. June and Harry take in the view of London from the roof of their less-than-desirable, way-too-crowded apartment that Dean set them up with. After watching the video Elena left for June on Steinar’s phone over and over, Harry suggests that the sedatives, the rules, the fleeing to Scotland, all point to the fact that maybe June’s dad knows more about her mom and her condition than he let on (attaboy, Harry!). Before they can argue about it, June spots Steinar and Alf’s van pulling up the street. They bolt to their car, without any of their belongings, and attempt a getaway. Steinar and Alf follow, but lose them. Just when you think June and Harry might be out of trouble, they crash into a parked car. They’re fine, but they’re on the run again — this time on foot.

Knit Happens

Photo: Netflix

• After shapeshifting for the very first time, who wouldn’t want to throw on a nice white pullover knit? June’s sweater is great for watching confusing videos from your mom that tell you to trust the guy who wanted to stuff you in the back of a van, realizing everything your dad told you about your mom was a lie, and crying into the arms of the boy you love. It’s a very versatile sweater.

The Innocents Recap: Born to Run