Molly Hernandez is based on the comic's Molly Hayes, but the last name isn't the only change. In the new series Molly is an orphan adopted by the Yorkes who received her super-strength ability through mysterious means.
After teasing her parents' death through mysterious circumstances, the show finally revealed what exactly happened to the Hernandez family and how Molly gained her powers in the penultimate episode of the season, called "Doomsday."
In a flashback, the Hernandez parents are revealed to be geologists. They're working frantically in their lab going over readings to do with rocks they discovered at the dig site, the site of the school that Jonah and PRIDE have been preparing all season. A very young Molly is with them, and they tell her they're going to leave and move to a new place that night — obviously attempting to run away themselves.
They get a hold of Dale and Stacey Yorkes through video chat and tell them about the rocks they found, right as Molly herself is playing with one. The rocks are black but shift in form, pulsating with a white light that bursts out at the cracks. Molly has fun playing with the rock, while the Hernandez parents worry about the readings they've found.
Before they can tell Dale and Stacey anything else, they are locked inside their lab with a bomb that explodes, killing everyone expect for Molly, who is shown to have her glowing eyes that ignite whenever her ability kicks in.
So the mystery rocks, which Jonah is likely trying to excavate at the dig site, have special properties that gave Molly her abilities and saved her life. And her parents died when they realized what his plans were.
But Jonah didn't kill the Hernandez parents; Leslie Dean did, and judging by the phone call she made when the deed was done, Tina Minoru was in on it.
In the comic, Molly Hayes is a mutant and her parents were very much alive in the initial series. But Fox has the rights to the X-Men and the term "mutant,"necessitating a story change.
"How Molly got this ability, why she has it, is a mystery that we're going to be pursuing and unpacking in the series," said executive producer Stephanie Savage while speaking with us at New York Comic Con. "So it gave us an opportunity for her to go on a journey that we might not have otherwise had."
"It's not a story about being a mutant. You know, that there's a mutant gene and she happens to have that," added executive producer Josh Schwartz. "It's actually very specifically tied to our story."
Regarding the parents, that was a more practical matter.
"Part of it was we had 17 series regulars to cast, so if a couple parents aren't around when the story starts — and that will be explored and we will get to Molly's parents later on — that made our lives a lot- it was slightly more feasible," Schwartz said. He then joked, "17 series regulars, a breeze compared to 19."
The mystery of Molly might be solved, but now we're left wondering what exactly these magic rocks are and what does Jonah want to do with them?
The season finale of Runaways airs next Tuesday on Hulu.