Did we yell it loud enough? CAITLIN AND POLARIS! (Can we have an episode where the cliche of ‘oh, the lift broke’ and they’re stuck together for twenty-four hours happens?)
Again, Coby Bell is vying for Emma Dumont’s title. (And Amy Acker's). We don’t wanna root for you, Jace Turner.
Dr. Campbell’s sinister reintroduction is perfectly slow and creeping. Garrett Dillahunt is perfect as the handsome, sharp-suited doctor masquerading a world of cruelty.
Reed doubting Andy and Caitlin doubting Lauren, only for both to reconcile with their kids’ (frankly rockin’) abilities at the end. Parallels. Sigh.
Emma Dumont is a genuine revelation. That’s it. We’ll write our essay on ‘why’ later.
Still remaining unconvincing: Clarice, Dreamer and Thunderbird--when he’s in this storyline. Dreamer’s moral ambiguity is interesting but why, oh why does Clarice’s story have to literally revolve around this ridiculous plot for so long? Why? It’s Jamie Chung! C’mon!
Reed. His character outside of his usefulness (which is still in doubt!) is a bit...bland. Probably like the soup he tried to make.
Flashbacks give us great context, yes, but The Gifted doesn’t need them. Nothing in them has elevated the flashback beyond plot-points. Ditch them.
For The Gifted, is there a sense of normalcy in their crafted ‘new normal’? For an unborn child? A regular family thrown into mayhem?
Following Turner’s (Coby Bell) tragedy, it’s ‘screw with me and I’ll shoot your face’ time as he calls Dr. Campbell for aid. Meanwhile, The Gifted offers another flashback that essentially sets up the episode. Thunderbird’s (Blair Redford) assaulted during a fundraiser merely for his X-Mutation, asking an important question. Can mutants find normalcy? Is it plausible for Caitlin (Amy Acker) to want that for Andy (Percy Hynes White) and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind)?
To investigate how the Sentinels turned Pulse (Zach Roerig), Eclipse (Sean Teale), Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Andy team up to break into their headquarters in Louisiana. Concurrently, Polaris (Emma Dumont) becomes the de-facto headteacher for the coolest mutant school.
However, the stakes are never forgotten. As Andy accurately puts it during their boys’ mission:
Andy: “The kids are just as screwed as the adults. It’s time for us to fight.”
That conflict transpires when Caitlin yanks Lauren out of getting screwdrivers pelted at her. And Reed nearly ruins his father-son time by completely misunderstanding Andy. Luckily, he’s paired with Eclipse, and upon exchanging advice on kids and mutants, it’s the trio’s understanding that allows them to successfully steal the relevant files.
But Sage (Hayley Lovitt) discovers the Sentinels have been tipped-off. Graduating from Polargwarts are Wes and Lauren, who assist her in an impressive sequence that leads the Sentinels away from the truck stowing the three fugitives.
It can’t be easy letting your children become adults. But that’s the Struckers’ new normal. For Clarice (Jamie Chung), she can’t forgive Thunderbird or Dreamer (Elena Satine). Her new normal is worryingly dank. However, as trust mounts within the headquarters, what was Reed’s hesitation during the break-in? Carmen’s (Michelle Veintimilla) inevitable price? And how badly will things get now Dr. Campbell’s in–as if they weren’t horrific enough?
Do the end justify the means? Headmaster Polaris seems to think so–as does Dreamer. But are they right? And can they even be wrong anyway?
Satine’s Dreamer is the perfect descriptor. She’s literally dreamy. But her conversation with the morally straight Thunderbird is ultimately questionable. During the time of war, she completely excuses her actions against Blink. Though she may have shown remorse, she doesn’t exactly reek of sorrow. Whereas Thunderbird clearly does. He’s a war veteran. Of anyone, he knows war politics inside-out. Utilitarianism won’t win your last stand but neither will complete totalitarianism, either. Yet in war, can you compromise?
We see somewhat of an Anubis-like scale in Eclipse. Sean Teale’s leader is the perfect man without the semblance of irritation or ridiculousness. He’s risky; he gambles; he makes mistakes. In dealing with Carmen, he may potentially be risking it all. But as a leader? Do his faults take away his effectiveness?
RELATED l The Gifted [1×05] Roundtable
Polaris: “You guys don’t understand. You’re gonna need to depend on each other–just to survive! You wanna make it out there? You gotta work hard!”
In Polaris, however, we see our marching general who’ll train and kick anybody’s asses from aged half a month to ninety-six. The Gifted truly does ‘gift’ us a clash of beliefs by pitching Caitlin and Polaris against each other so early on, over Lauren’s ability to fight. Both have stupendously valid points and both are not all-seeing, either. Polaris doesn’t know what it’s like to be a mother yet. Caitlin doesn’t know anything of this war. Not like Polaris does. And as for the torture Polaris went through? Caitlin knows nothing. Dumont conveys brilliantly how it still scars–and always will.
Dumont and Acker have struck up copious amounts of chemistry in very short scenes. And it’d be a waste not to have them clatter again–such power versus such valid normalcy. Let them have at it!
Coby Bell has transformed a potential two-dimensional villain into one of the best characters of The Gifted.
You know you’ve written a good villain, Matt Nix–so take a bow. And you, Mr. Bell. Don’t hide behind the curtain. You broke our hearts at the end of episode five; you are continuing to make us scream internally because frankly, we don’t want to root for you!
No! We do not want to root for a Sentinel leader, anti-mutant propaganda-machine who allies with one of the biggest villains of the X-Men universe. And no, we don’t want to think about Coby Bell’s face crumpling as he broke down after losing his daughter…twice.
But…we’re human. Okay? If there was an X-Mutation that allowed television fans to not think avidly about their favourite shows and sob into a pillow over them, we’d all be drinking from the fountain. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
What The Gifted shows us is that even these henchmen are human. And whilst tragedy occurs, it’s not an excuse to side with hatred. Definitely not. But thinking back to the Nuremberg trials, and how many SS soldiers only did as they were ‘told’, it’s a problem that crops up time and time again. Furthermore, it isn’t just a stretch to try and connect every moral issue in The Gifted to history and human nature. But apart from the X-Mutation, these guys are just that: human.
The entire quarrel has been against that. So truly, kudos to Nix and Bell. Moreover, kudos to engaging us into even thinking this way. If you had a mass-murderer and a 7/15 accomplice but one prison slot, which would you choose? Which would Jace Turner choose? And is it a hard choice?
If you’re thinking, then The Gifted has won.
We always thought the Struckers were strongest together on The Gifted, but splitting them at the heart of war was a strong move.
Unexpectedly, the Struckers were the providers of some perhaps unintentional family drama in this relatively dark episode. Yes, it was triumphant watching the boys succeed and yes, it was triumphant watching the Polaris/Wes/Lauren team-up. But all the bickering beforehand was even better. Admittedly, Reed and Andy’s was a little more somber than Caitlin frantically trying to prevent Polaris whacking Lauren in the face with, say, a hammer.
In this fight we’ve wanted the entire family reunion to stay that way. So pulling them apart so quickly was always risky. And it worked. It allowed for Andy to bond with and prove himself to Eclipse. Meanwhile, Lauren got to see ‘Florence’ (oh, Wes) for the first time. It pushed chess pieces around and checkmated us by luring us in with a familial promise and delivering in smidgens. Some of the best stuff came from Amy Acker and Emma Dumont. Could you imagine if Polaris and Caitlin had to babysit the same kid for, say, two seconds?
It proves that beyond the Struckers’ appeal, each Strucker works and has chemistry with the other cast members. That’s vital considering this is a huge ensemble piece. What we thought would be Strucker-centric has blossomed into integration. It’s a warming allegory for what we hope The Gifted’s mutants can achieve one day: integration into society. That’s what this episode’s been fighting for and so far, they’re losing.
Perhaps the prime example is Caitlin. Just look at her. This is a human who doesn’t get it. Despite it being for her children, she tries. And she’s achieving. If Caitlin can do it, why can’t the world–in time? The Gifted is fighting a losing war so far. But in Caitlin Strucker, they’re showing that it’s far from over.
FINAL VERDICT: The Gifted is steering us away into its own dimension of morality and war–and whilst the fast pace caught our eye, the slow build-up is strengthening its candidacy for the best new Superhero show of the year.
The Gifted has finally confirmed it. We’re in the midst of a war.
It’s eery how un-war like it seems. When you think war and television, surely your minds immediately switch to Band of Brothers or maybe even Birdsong. Given this is on such a bigger, extreme level–to the point where a kid can wave his hands and produce a mirage of Rome, you’d think this war would be on super-powered tanks and Eclipse-splosions everywhere.
The fact that it isn’t is why The Gifted triumphs. Some of its characterisation is infuriatingly lacking, yes. And honestly, though we don’t want to cut any of the ensemble, it is because of its size. Jamie Chung’s Clarice should’ve developed sooner–rather than doling us five painful episodes of the same droll nightmare and pining. Even in the talented Moyer’s Reed, there’s just no substance to him apart from his usefulness as an inside-man.
Nix, as ever, achieves television near-perfection pace-wise, given the parallel strands of plot. You can feel the cohesion of the mutants, even when their storylines are so apart. It’s probably one of the bigger appeals of Sage’s excellently designed control centre. Craig Siebels’ direction, particularly of the Polaris/Lauren/Wes success is on-par with magical. With every wave of Wes’ hand it’s like a dream leaping out of the screen at you.
The Gifted is laden with tough, heavy questions of our very nature. It’s why the story is so grounding and so relatable. But in remembering that it can possess some quality in its sheer, dreamy magic too, that’s the necessary balance between light and dark we need on television.
We’re on the siXth episode and seriously running out of words we can shove a capital ‘X’ in:
- Just to throw it out there: did Reed ever get that screw in his leg, you know, shoved back in? Because again, I emphasise, I have metal screws in my body from a car accident and if Polaris, as much as I would happily let her if she just so much as looked at me, ripped a screw out, I would be in hospital sobbing into my soggy cornflakes for a year in pain.
- Can we please have more scenes between Dumont and Acker? The complete polarisation (heh) there is endless opportunity for hilarity. Could you imagine if Polaris attempted to try and talk to Caitlin about kids like Reed and Eclipse did?
- “Do you think there’s a mutant that, like, hypnotises you so you just birth the kid out and maybe black out the nine months of back-ache and bladder issues?”
- Have we agreed Dumont and Acker just own the show or…?
- Hey, listen, I take back what I said about Andy Strucker. I like this kid. And I love him together with Lauren the most.
- I’m not feeling the new-boy Wes. Though I’m not suspicious, either. Just not feelin’.
- I don’t want to rave about Caitlin again (but I will) but she wants to run a damn school in the headquarters. My heart belongs to Caitlin Strucker.
- And on the same topic, I’m not raving about Polaris again (but I am and I’m not sorry) but even if my powers sucked, I’d attend her military camp and let her hurl saw-blades at my face. If I had a power, I mean.
Catch ‘The Gifted’ on FOX, Monday 13th November, 9/8c
The Gifted has said it: we’re in the midst of a war. And bluntly, who else do you want to lead it aside from Field General Polaris? After last week’s dip in pace, this week’s The Gifted balances the weighing scales a little. With two key action plots dipped heavy in emotion and character development, we’re seeing vast improvement in our key characters but some still fall short. However, we’re still very early in the season and this has been a truly impressive joyride thus far. Continue to follow us for our weekly roundtables, reviews and livetweets.
‘The Gifted’ Review [1×06]: “got your siX”