A truly ambitious attempt to bring the mutants on-screen, and it definitely worked. Allowing more screen-time to truly develop these characters and back-stories makes The Gifted 100% more personable.
Sean Teale's Eclipse is a fantastic leader of the MU, and his chemistry with Dumont just clicks. There's no incessant neediness or douchiness -- they really do get each other.
The kids were kinda alright, weren't they?! Kudos, Hynes-White and Lind!
Blink had an incredibly strong five-to-six episodes. Jamie Chung's excellent.
It really isn't the acting--Skyler Samuels does well as the creepy trio of talking blondes, but it's...difficult to gauge. Is it supposed to be scary? It's not. Are they meant to be sneaky? Well, no, they stick out like a sore thumb.
Here's an idea: have Reed mysteriously absent for an episode and see if anyone notices. Caitlin is kinda the boss.
There's a lot of love here for Blink and Thunderbird (ahh, the inevitability!) but it did feel rushed when they kissed. It sort of happened and the reaction? "...Oh. Okay then."
Skyler Samuels' role has been dragged on for a while now. Yes, yes, let's keep the air of mystery...But don't keep it for too long that i
The Gifted didn’t just treat us to a first season: they trashed our televisions with an almost monster.
Let’s not beat around the bush. When The Gifted was first announced, the cynicism went through the roof. Why bother dragging out the X-Men universe? At some point, won’t Hugh Jackman’s 100% muscle (he calls them ‘arms’) be redundant? To make things worse, it seemed that the centre of the attention was on the very human Strucker family. Reed (Stephen Moyer) is a high-flying civil servant, whereas his wife Caitlin (Amy Acker) is blissfully unaware of the perils of his job. Their two kids, Andy (Percy Hynes-White) and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) are where the slowness of the build-up ends.
To summarise: Andy and Lauren find out they have some pretty cool powers. Synergistic, in fact. Apart, they’d still tear your face off. But together, they are something else entirely. And it’s this turning point that sets off a whole motion of ‘oops’. As Reed, who has been a mutant prosecutor for years (oh, the irony) realises it’ll be his kids they’re targeting, he encourages Caitlin to flee with the Mutant Underground.
Why are these mutants wanted? Ask Dr. Campbell (Garrett Dillahunt) and Jace Turner (Coby Bell). In a very haunting finale, you wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking you’d been transported back in time, when the ‘lessers’ were being punished. Though there are several references to the X-Men, The Gifted stands impressively alone. And probably for the better. What may have been a put-off–the familial side to the story–is actually one of The Gifted’s USPs. It allows us to instantly bond with these characters–be they MU or Jace Turner.
In a world of mutants and ‘abnormalities’ to be ‘eradicted’, it is ultimately the strong humanity at the core of The Gifted that makes it so heartwarmingly crucial. You’d think, as such an outlandish series, political commentary is not on the agenda. Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Matt Nix are here to tell you: you’re wrong.
The first hurdle is the familial aspect–and The Gifted bounded over the obstacle without breaking a sweat.
Maybe it’s because they are the twenty-first century Strucker twins. Or maybe Hynes White and Alyn Lind just have impeccable chemistry. What is incredibly nice about having this family dynamic here is just watching the difference in interactions between Lauren and Caitlin, and also Andy and Caitlin. Understandably, there was a lot of distrust at the beginning. One episode, Reed even has to force himself to work with Andy to make up for time lost. Caitlin, on the other hand, seems to be the port of call when it comes to her kids. Perhaps it is her caring nature. She seems somewhat skilled as a nurse. Whereas Reed seems to have this image of taking care of his family in a very traditional way, Caitlin is smart enough to know that ‘kids will be kids’.
It’s evident every time the MU set off on a mission, eagerly volunteered by Andy in particular. The two approaches are vastly different. Caitlin’s concern is about Andy and Lauren’s well-being; Reed simply states that they are not old enough to be in this fight.
However, the dynamic between all Struckers is surprisingly engrossing. The best by far is the bond between Andy and Lauren. Upon learning of the ‘original’ von Strucker twins, it would be a huge stretch to say Andy and Lauren would turn out like them. But the more they’re cooped up inside the HQ, the more restless Andy seems to be getting. By the time the finale rolls around, he genuinely doesn’t seem like the real Andy–just a lot darker. Is that a major plot point for the next season? We’re sure Hynes White has the acting chops. How will it affect Caitlin and Reed? And more importantly, Lauren?
There really is no black and white–only a horribly murky grey. Philosophy & Ethics students, get your notepads out.
Upon viewing The Gifted, as a viewer you do one of two things:
- Despite the Sentinel Services (“nooooo, Pulse!”)
- Get a little lost in Eclipse’s big brown eyes.
It’s very easy to start seeing the world Nix has created in black-and-white. Surely, the Sentinels are the bad guys, and welcoming Mutant Underground is a safe haven. Instead of shoving everyone inside the MU and leaving them to their own devices, these mutants–often young kids–are taught to control their powers. Entertainingly, Professor Polaris’ methods of teaching involve hurling huge items at her class members and nodding in approval they avoid it.
Now who’s jealous of school, huh?
And yes, it all sounds incredibly rosy. That is, until we learn more about Jace Turner and his motivations for joining Sentinel Services. After losing his child due to a mutant attack, the hatred brewing in him has been unrivalled. Therefore, by throwing himself into work, he becomes the man he is today. When you write it like that, the situation seems simple. But very rarely, matters of the heart are. Is Turner justified in seeking lifelong vengeance because of this? Because of a group Eclipse hadn’t even lead? Soon, the rhetoric morphs from ‘those mutant terrorists’ to ‘all mutants must be terrorists’. If you think that is a phrase you hear far too much on the streets, despite the fact that this is fiction, you’ll be aware that such thoughts are not far from each other at all.
We’ll have to do a showstopper article for The Gifted next, but it’s not easy when everyone’s performing to the nines…
There is one, major, irritating problem with The Gifted.
Everyone is really damn good.
Honestly, we’re not really known for being lenient towards people. But scrolling through the cast on IMDb has left us spoilt for choice. So, just as a disclaimer, we want to quickly commend some of the cast members for their fantastic work. Sean Teale has been the inspirational, sometimes hot-headed, always caring leader of the MU. His closeness to his right-hand man Thunderbird (Blair Redford) has been grin-inducing. Other stars that have shone include, of course, the Strucker kids, and remarkably, Amy Acker as Caitlin. Surely, this is down to the fact that everyone expected her to waltz into the show twiddling two pistols and shooting everyone a-la Person of Interest. But it’s her sheer badassery that proves Acker can be badass in any way she wants.
Jace Bell is remarkable beyond belief. When you think of the crimes he’s committed, and the shady ‘laws’ he will turn a blind eye to, you do not immediately scream “good man”! However, as much as the flashback of his daughter’s death was needed for some character development, he still returned to his sinister, vengeful side. The complexity at which he plays him is unimaginable. We’d probably go out on a limb to say that The Gifted boasts one of the strongest casts on television at the moment.t
However, the crown jewels undoubtedly go to Emma Dumont as Polaris. But don’t worry–we have a whole page for that…
Final Verdict: The Gifted hit a couple of snags, especially when trying to introduce and give depth to such a broad cast. But now they’ve settled, there isn’t a mutant we wouldn’t wail over should they die. (Cough: Satine).
It’s not an easy task to balance ‘sombre’ and ‘melodramatic’. And actually, there does not really need much of a plot-point to it. One of the most striking images The Gifted gave us was right at the end. The juxtaposition of the funeral ceremonies, led by Jace and Eclipse receptively, was haunting and jarring. On Jace’s side, it was strictly professional despite any hurt the man might have been fighting past. Eclipse and the other mutants were unafraid of letting their emotions take over. It is yet another less-than-subtle message:
“We may be able to shoot laser beams from our palms, but you with all your stiff upper collars and lack of integrity do not possess the same heart we do; do not feel the same loss we do.”
If the series had consisted of simply that, we would already know which side we’re rooting for, and which side we don’t. For such an ambitious production, not a penny has been wasted with its wonderful special effects. One that stands out in particular is Lorna’s, paired with the blase way she toys around with it. Another big pothole to fall down leads to the land of cheesiness, so it is a testament to Nix that they never seem to. By no means was The Gifted perfect, but thank goodness it is returning for a second season, otherwise there’d be many hats eaten.
See you at the end of 2018!
THE GIFTED returns in Autumn 2018
‘The Gifted’: Season One Verdict [Fox]