I didn’t think Run could get any better after last week’s phenomenal first episode, but the show really hits its stride this week. The chemistry between Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson continues to be strong, and we get even more insight into their feelings for each other with the addition of an interesting guest star. After last weeks reveal that Ruby left a family behind when she ran, both she and Billy will have to deal with the fallout while trying to act on their passion for each other. Read on to learn what happened in “Kiss” …
We open with a flashback of Billy in a dark hotel room. He’s depressed and desperate, sitting alone. He texts Ruby “RUN” and waits for her response. As he’s waiting, he’s startled by the sound of his phone ringing. It’s Fiona, and though we can’t hear her end of the conversation, it’s clear she’s worried about him. He says he’s “not apologizing” (but for what?) and tries to convince her not to come and see him with “the others.” Just then, Ruby texts him back, and he gains a whole new energy. He reverses course, telling Fiona to come as he throws items into a bag. He bolts from the hotel room before Fiona can get there, leaving her in the lurch.
In the present, Billy and Ruby are in her roomette. Ruby asks if they need to do any “sexy talk,” but Billy responds that he’s never been good at that. She adorably tries to initiate sex by leaving her shirt slightly unbuttoned and leaning in for a kiss. But Billy is still working through what he saw on Ruby’s phone, and she senses his hesitation. She asks if she’s changed and if that bothers him, and he responds yes. She thinks he’s referring to her body, and she tries to explain that she was “working on it” and that aging is natural. Scrambling for something to say to mask her insecurity, she says, “you’ve taken from life and so in return, you have to give of your flesh … or something” as Billy realizes his mistake. Ruby starts to suggest that she get plastic surgery, but Billy stops her.
He leans in close and says, “If you could find a plastic surgeon that would change any of this, I’d say that he was evil.” Ruby responds and asks why the evil doctor is a male, and Billy responds that he figured it would make up for the sexist power imbalance in medicine, reminding her that she always disliked injustice. Turned on, Ruby whispers, “yeah, I hate injustice” as they kiss. This exchange perfectly reveals the priorities of each character, setting up Ruby’s insecurity about her body while showing that Billy couldn’t care less about her body, but is more uncomfortable knowing that Ruby left behind a whole life to be with him.
What follows is an amazing slapstick routine as Ruby and Billy attempt to have sex in the tiny roomette while hitting literally every surface in the room. Billy yells, “this is a Swiss Army knife of a room” just before he slams his head on the bunk that falls from the ceiling. Wever and Gleeson sell the physical comedy here, and it’s brilliant. As Ruby climbs into the bunk to get ready to have sex, Billy pauses, contemplating what to do and whether to tell her what he knows. But he follows her into the bunk, intending to have sex. Before they can get started, Ruby’s phone buzzes: it’s Laurence. This kills Billy’s mood (though, interestingly, not Ruby’s), and they have a tense, passive-aggressive discussion where Billy tries not to reveal what he knows, and Ruby tries to hide the hurt she feels at this rejection (and possibly her guilt). She gets up in a huff and leaves to answer the now-repeated calls from Laurence. When she does, Billy looks in her wallet and takes one of her credit cards. (Why?)
On the phone with Laurence, Ruby tries to talk him down by lying and saying she’s at a yoga retreat. It’s clear he’s quickly losing patience with managing his children’s lives, getting the days of their activities wrong and hilariously asking, “where is the school?” Ruby says she just needed a break and will be back in a week, which disturbs Laurence even more when he realizes this could interfere with his Saturday tennis plans. But he agrees to let Ruby have this break, which she is relieved to hear. It seems that while Laurence might be boring and clueless, he’s not an actively bad person. But before Ruby can hang up, the announcement on the train clearly says they are arriving in Cleveland, far away from where Ruby is supposed to be. It’s unclear if Laurence heard this or not, but if he did it, could spell trouble for Ruby.
Ruby returns to the roomette to find Billy has gotten dressed and is clearly not interested in resuming where they left off. Stung, she claims she’ll have sex with whoever walks out of the bathroom next. This gets a big laugh out of Billy, and the two wait outside to see who will walk out. This introduction of a potential third person sparks something between them, and as they wait they banter about who this person could be. Ruby also implies that she is bisexual when she notes if it was a woman, it “wouldn’t be my first time.” The door opens to reveal an attractive man, and Billy’s face falls as Ruby lights up. Billy tries to dissuade Ruby from following through on her promise by delivering the line of the episode:
Billy: He’s at best a New York “7”.
Ruby: Well, he’s an Amtrak “10”.
Ruby leaves Billy and follows the mystery man to the bar, and the message is clear: game on.
However, a slight wrench is thrown into Ruby’s plans when Ruby realizes she has essentially lost the ability to flirt effectively. She approaches the man and opens with “So … I couldn’t help but notice that you really took your time in that bathroom.” It’s awful and she knows it’s awful, but determined to see this through she pushes on. Merritt Wever is very funny throughout this exchange as she tries to make her move on this stranger. Surprisingly, this guy is into it and introduces himself as Derek. When Ruby lies and says her name is “Dolores,” he smirks and says “sure.” It turns out he’s a bore, into wellness and actually trying to talk about almond butter. Billy sits at the bar to see this play out and can barely hide his amusement. Ruby manages to get Derek to come back to her roomette after some confusion (Derek is too dense to realize she wants to have sex with him), and Billy is left alone.
In the roomette, Derek says he realizes that Ruby was just trying to make Billy jealous and that he’s down to help, not even needing to actually have sex (he calls this “doing the fandango”). Ruby seems both disappointed and relieved at this. Meanwhile, Billy waits outside, frustrated by the situation. He Googles Ruby and Laurence, seeing their normal, bland life in Facebook posts. Domhnall Gleeson does a great job of showing Billy’s guilt and frustration as he scans through the photos, seeing the life Ruby left behind for him. After shutting the laptop, he heads to the bar. As he’s drinking, Fiona texts him. He yells an expletive as the concerned bartender moves away. Fiona then calls, and he swears again immediately before picking up the phone. He ends things with Fiona, saying that he “can keep running away” and that “it’s over.”
Derek and Ruby think that enough time has gone by and get up to leave. But before they do, Derek coyly asks if she wants to know what he would have done with her had they decided to have sex, ostensibly so she can convincingly fake it with Billy. Ruby asks him to tell her, seeking the intimacy she was denied earlier with Billy. Derek launches into a flattering and sexy monologue that turns Ruby on. He asks her to reciprocate, which she claims she can’t do because she is bad at foreplay. Derek leaves Ruby breathless and sitting on her bunk.
Derek returns to the bar, followed by Ruby. Ruby tells Billy that nothing happened and says she did it because Billy had hurt her pride earlier. She warns him not to do that, and Billy seems to accept this. She then teases Billy by telling him about what Derek said to her as he left, and a bewildered Billy responds with “he did the sexy talk?!” Billy decides to have fun and invites Derek over to drink with them. The three play a drinking game until dawn arrives and the train is in Chicago. They talk about college, and Billy blunders yet again by saying that Ruby “isn’t nineteen anymore.” He means it in the context of her emotional maturity, but again Ruby takes it as him criticizing her body and her life. She storms back to the roomette, with Billy frantically apologizing to get her to stay. Suddenly confident, she tells him she thought this adventure would make her feel good, but it just makes her sad. She leaves, breezily saying “thank god we didn’t do anything we can’t take back.” Billy is devastated.
But all of Ruby’s newfound confidence vanishes when she heads to the station. As she tries to use her debit card, it is declined. When she called Laurence for help, he’s changed his voicemail message:
Hi there, you’ve reached the Richardsons. Leave a message for Laurence, Hunter, or Scooter at the beep. If you’re looking for Ruby, she ran out on her family yesterday. We don’t know where she is, why she left, or when she’s coming back. Have a great day!
Ruby is left standing alone in shock as “Just Ask” by Lake Street Dive plays. It looks like contrary to her belief, there are some things you just can’t take back.
“Kiss” was a great exploration of Billy and Ruby’s inner lives and desires, with the spotlight squarely on Ruby’s insecurities and fears about the direction of her life. This sore spot of Ruby’s is interesting and shows the tension between the life she has and the life she wants. It’s as if she knows she can’t go back and erase the last fifteen years and hates being reminded of it. It was also interesting how we saw Billy in a more vulnerable state. It’s as if he regrets dragging Ruby out of her comfortable (albeit boring) life, but what is Billy running from? Why did Billy text Ruby? And what will the fallout be from Laurence cutting Ruby off? All questions that will have to wait until next week.
Run airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET with episodes also available on HBO Go and HBO Now. Watch the preview for episode 3 below!