Caitlin and Polaris’ spectacularly different ways of teaching. Why are these kids hesitant about going to school? “What did you do in fifth period?” “I got rocks thrown at me. You?” “I...touched a pea plant.”
Jamie Chung when she’s annoyed; Jamie Chung spilling soup; Jamie Chung bringing tears to everyone’s eyes as she revisits her old foster home. Jamie. Chung.
Sean Teale and Michelle Veintimilla’s awkward, weirdly sexy, manipulative chemistry.
Lauren, you go, girl!
Do you want to take a shot every time someone comes out with a junk cliché piece of dialogue? Has anyone’s liver failed yet? And it's two shots for Carmen’s lines because, frankly...
REED. How are you so incapable of being with your kids and subtlety (see: ‘Wes’). And how does nobody, despite him proving his loyalty, still doubt him? He prosecuted hundreds!
Coby Bell is still winning in his performances, but Jace Turner is a bit confusing. One episode he’s aggressively declaring mass hunts and then he’s Dr. Campbell’s puppy?
It’s nice to see that Dumont/Teale spark even from day one. But the flashbacks, again, prove nothing except a plot-device of an opener. We didn’t need it to balance out Eclipse’s frantic episode--the pace was already slowed by other, deliberate plot-lines.
Not unlike most shows, the unifying theme on this week’s The Gifted is love–pure, growing or sheer twisted.
Tina Turner once famously asked: “What’s love got to do? Got to do with it?”
That hairdo is actually the work of Wes’ (Danny Ramirez) image manipulation. Unfortunately, we–and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) discover on The Gifted that Wes isn’t the perfect mirage he paints himself as. As Lauren finds out, via Reed’s (Stephen Moyer) admirable quality of truly fudging up, Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Dreamer (Elena Satine) team up to discover and witness the consequences of Eclipse’s (Sean Teale) deal with Carmen (Michelle Veintimilla).
Entertainingly, whilst most mutants are off getting beaten up, Caitlin (Amy Acker) understandably tries to inject some normalcy. Via pea-plants. And nudging Andy (Percy Hynes White) and Lauren to do their homework. Meanwhile, Polaris’ idea of school is hurling bricks at blind-folded kids, which Andy seems to find much cooler.
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But the world is not filled with light. Eclipse’s vanishes as he momentarily relishes his thirst for danger, his unwittingly wicked grin splitting his face. All the while, Dr. Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) steers Turner (Coby Bell) over the line into downright unlawful. Campbell has the lady from the Department of Justice killed. We’re definitely in extreme (eXtreme?) times.
Campbell: “That reinforces my conviction. We should take a more direct approach.”
Turner: “…More direct?”
Lastly, it’s Jamie Chung’s long-awaited time to shine. Blink’s solo mission is revealed when we discover she was trying to relocate her old place of safety. Accompanied by a guilty Thunderbird (Blair Redford), they find out it was her old mutant foster home. Discovering her old foster parents had been killed by the Sentinels, this is the last straw. Blink and you…won’t miss it. No, Blink is in this fight now. This time: it’s personal.
And…Exhale deeply. Phwoar. Okay, who wants to go first?
Jamie Chung’s gifted Blink finally gets some meaty screen-time and proves that she’s the genuine deal.
Jamie Chung’s powers were put on show. After so many episodes pining over Thunderbird it became near-painful to see the melodrama. And even better, this was Blink’s own B-plot. Thunderbird’s presence never pushed her into finally plunging herself into this war. It was 100% Blink. Jamie Chung’s ability to crush your heart as she realised she’d lost, essentially, her past, is heartbreaking. Considering she’s been brain-melted enough, it’s torture to watch. It also boosts Redford’s performance, and he proves himself worthy company for Blink’s mission.
Excellently, she also straight-up calls Thunderbird out for his self-pity party:
Blink: “Well then. I appreciate your little quest for redemption, but obviously this is useless.”
It’s like watching a flower blossom. We’re coming out of the baby phase and into some kickass “I won’t take no rubbish from you” phase.
For the sake of trying not to induce headaches, we’ll ignore the obvious set-up at the end for a Dreamer/Blink/Thunderbird love-triangle. The thing is: Thunderbird has much more to offer as a leader and scarred war veteran, hated despite his patriotism, than this. Both Redford and Chung prove in this episode they are good together. But they’re better because of their cohesion and chemistry. And that does not mean being stuck in some dull love-triangle.
There’s nothing against finding love in this dark world, but Blink and Thunderbird have proven they’re worth more than the same purple swirly ‘memory’. Also, Dreamer shows she’s infinitely more interesting accompanying Polaris in a badass off-the-books mission. So for the love of the X-gene, keep allowing Jamie Chung to necrotise our sobbing hearts weekly with her earnest performances and emotion-jammed eyes.
Reed and Caitlin are possibly the two most mismatched people….Ever.
This is the most disturbing conclusion we’ll ever pitch to you in a review. Thus far. (We make no guarantees on this kind of thing). But as the weeks go by, Reed and Caitlin–despite Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer’s wonderful acting prowesses–just don’t seem right.
The problem is Reed Strucker. For someone so influential and amazing at his job, his instincts have either magically disappeared with the metal screw Polaris yanked out, or Eclipse accidentally fried his brain last week. His utter inability to be with his kids the same way Caitlin connects with them is understandable. However, it’s so horribly exaggerated it’s ridiculous. If not for Caitlin, he would’ve barged in and interrogated Wes like the legal prosecutor he is. And yes, that is probably the point of that story, but it’s so clumsily done it’s eyeroll worthy.
Then there’s this odd distrust or secrecy that often haunts Reed even though his entire family are being housed and hidden by a mutant underground system. Yet for how badly Reed sticks out, none of the mutants bar one episode show any signs of bitterness. Sure, he proved his loyalty–that one time. But how is that worth a lifetime of prosecuting all those with the X-gene?
It completely dampens his contrast to Caitlin. If it had been more delicately done, Reed wouldn’t just be the title of ‘famed prosecutor’ but he’d be one. Instead, he’s often more like a child who needs guidance. Be it in regards to Andy (from Eclipse) or Lauren (from Caitlin). And the number of times Caitlin seems to have to push him that way? It’s almost like Caitlin has three kids, not two.
It was a long-awaited, impending darkness we saw in Eclipse as he nobly keeps his deal with the dangerous Carmen.
Probably the best part of the episode was the segment Eclipse set the Russian drug supply on fire. Michelle Veintimilla’s alluring mob-boss is by far the best asset added to the show. Remarkably, she has to actually do Eclipse a favour in order to gain one for herself. But we’re sure if she sashayed into our lives and asked us to blow up some trucks, we’d grab the opportunity.
Veintimilla and Teale’s toxic, twisted, enticing chemistry is just exquisite to watch. And it’s entirely believable, too. We thought Eclipse–like Thunderbird–were the real, pure good guys on the show. They are. But seeing Teale’s twisted grin as he turns Batman for a moment and watches the world burn is some brilliant acting. Teale’s earnesty is always believable and we know it’s Eclipse’s core. Yet inside every heart there’s a latent virus, and Carmen activated it.
What’ll be interesting is how this affects not just Eclipse and Polaris’ relationship, but also Polaris herself. Will she go rogue? Can we beg Matt Nix for a Carmen/Polaris showdown? Is everyone on their knees yet?
Polaris: “Let’s go.”
Dreamer: “Wait, don’t you want to talk–?”
Polaris: “No. He can save himself.”
Alas, the only letdown was the dialogue. We’ll let it go, because Veintimilla actually managed to deliver her lines so convincingly it warped around us uncomfortably like a snake. However, The Gifted got lucky in scoring Veintimilla. Otherwise, it’s just any other piece of dialogue from a clichéd The Godfather rip-off. And for goodness’ sake, the peck on the cheek as everything explodes behind them, with all the victors standing coolly in front of it?
“I…was beginning you weren’t going to come…” Oh come on, The Gifted. Really?
FINAL VERDICT: The Gifted is slowly cranking up the stakes as war rears its ugly head, but it’s not devoid of clunky dialogue and some character stagnation in a large ensemble.
This was always going to be an inevitable conclusion because of the size of the ensemble. It’s a lose-lose situation. You cannot develop every character brilliantly, and that’s what Nix has tried to do. However, if you narrow it down to your core cast with extensions of them, then you may succeed. So far, it’s obvious that’s what was attempted, but everything still feels very fractured.
Furthermore, Michael Horowitz’s script was probably the weakest of all seven episodes. Plot-wise, Horowitz delivered. But if we’re going to discuss the dialogue, we’re afraid we’ll explode in anger and we’ll leave that kind of stuff to Andy. The clunky dialogue and overused villain/hero lines are so ridiculously slotted in that for a show that’s reimagined the X-Men universe, it’s crazy how the dialogue is still so bad.
However, there’s always light. In this case, it was, appropriately, Sean Teale’s Eclipse and Michelle Veintimilla’s scrumptiously confident siren. The chemistry Teale has with both Veintimilla and Dumont is exceptional. And Eclipse’s momentarily lapse into criminal excitement could be worrying news if he’s a father-to-be.
Needless to say, the most impressive thing about The Gifted remains both the acting and the production value. The special effects are movie-worthy, so let’s give it up for the combusting trio of Adam Coggin, Dadrian Flavors and Brian Lis!
If by some eXtreme measure you’re still reading, here’s some questions about pea plants:
- Caitlin going ahead to create the school (with the two extremely bored kids) was hilarious. She has the best intentions but it’s refreshing to see Acker play the naive but ultimately life-saving (on multiple occasions) non-mutant…in a festering ground full of ’em.
- Could you imagine if Root from Person of Interest saw her clone in Caitlin? Oh my God.
- Wes just wasn’t a goodie-two-shoes and we figured this out since he couldn’t tell Florence from Rome. C’mon, Wes. What if you tried to manipulate an image of a rabbit to distract a rabbit-lover and waved up a giant three-headed dog ala Harry Potter instead?
- Dr. Campbell’s increasingly unethical quest is enthralling.
- Jamie Chung! JAMIE CHUNG!
- Thunderbird: “I think something bad happened here.” Blink: RUNS STRAIGHT FOR IT
- Michelle Veintimilla is an absolute gem. Her and Chung co-lift the trophy for this episode.
- Bearing in mind Veintimilla is plagued with lines like “We made a deal…or did you forget?” and has no cigar or thin moustache to back her up.
Catch ‘The Gifted’ on FOX, Monday 20th November, 9/8c
Everyone crosses moral lines this episode as the impending war Turner brings, puppeteered by Campbell, looms ever closer to exploding. Despite its dark undertones (and they’re so dark not even Eclipse can shine us out of this) The Gifted continues to balance comedy, light and darkness admirably. Not many shows can do that at all. There’s still a long way to go before we crown it with A-grades, but The Gifted is addictive, sexy, thoughtful and most of all: hella fun. Continue to follow us for our weekly roundtables, reviews and livetweets!
‘The Gifted’ Review [1×07]: “eXtreme measures”