Andy and Lauren holding hands at the end? Chills. Pure chills.
The choreography of the fight scene between the mutants and Chloe Tan. Not only was it engaging, skillful and fun, it allowed us to witness the ever-growing synergy of the mutant underground de-facto leaders via their powers.
Caitlin working with Eclipse and Polaris and the kids is a dream come true. Not even Dreamer can induce this sort of happiness.
Raymond J. Barry and Stephen Moyer’s talk was numbingly gripping in intensity.
The Gifted aren’t afraid of casualties. Pulse’s death was tragic. But The Gifted know what stakes these mutants are running at.
Once this episode is over, can Stephen Moyer just be given a smile or something in his script directions?
Every week, this’ll be here. The flashback offers us a clue but is nothing except a fancy opening sequence. The entire episode explained the flashback...Without any need of the flashback. It’s literally explained via Otto’s dialogue. Come ON.
The only thing The Gifted is shoving to the threat of eXtinction this week is the over-simmering pot of horrible backstories in a parenthood-centred episode.
Is everyone settled in? Shaky sighs out of the way?
Granted, The Gifted is not the most subtle in terms of finding a theme and exploring it. This week, it came to a spearhead with two very different duos. Firstly, we had Reed’s (Stephen Moyer) visit to his father, Otto (Raymond J. Barry). Secondly, we had parental woes and distrust mounting between Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Eclipse (Sean Teale).
As Thunderbird (Blair Redford) accompanies Reed to visit Otto, it ends in tragedy for both of them. Upon discovering Reed was actually born a mutant and given the X-gene suppressant, Thunderbird also encounters Pulse again. Reed’s description of Andy and Lauren leads Otto to leak a major plot-point:
Otto: “Apart, [Andreas and Andrea] had the same abilities as your children. Together, though, they were known as Fenris. The wolf. And they were more powerful than you can imagine.”
A raid led by the insidious Dr. Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) ends up with two major casualties. Otto Strucker and Pulse.
RELATED l The Gifted Roundtable [1×07]
In Reed’s absence, Caitlin single-handedly does a better job of parenthood (sorry, Reed). Her trust in Andy (Percy Hynes White) and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) has shot up exponentially. No longer are they just kids. And Caitlin has to embrace that. Caitlin, Eclipse, Polaris, Andy and Lauren work to interrogate Chloe (Michelle Kim) on details of how the Sentinels turned her against her own.
Lastly, we cannot forget about Dreamer (Elena Satine). With Blink (Jamie Chung) back and ready to kick some ass, their mutual respect for each other wins over the snooze-inducing love triangle. Instead, we witness Dreamer use her powers for good by installing fond memories in Norah (Liza Fagin). It’s a silent but mutual understanding. Whatever Dreamer did to Blink is not forgiven. But does Blink understand now? Now that it’s needed the most?
It’s a chaotic episode to break down. There may have been four or even five plot-threads to extensively explore. But let’s have a crack.
Genuine backstory is gifted to us as the curtain’s partially whipped off and backstage, awaiting us, is a truck-load of daddy issues.
We will explore the Strucker storyline later. But this episode was laden with a bunch of familial issues. Firstly, we saw the consequences of the emotional fallout between Eclipse and Polaris last episode. In true Polaris fashion, she broods by hurling daggers up and down with her powers. But we get the sense that Eclipse’s cartel connections (and Carmel connections) are the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen Polaris mercilessly torture Turner. Here, it’s what we worried for all along. That look of a thirst quenched by setting all those drugs alight from Eclipse. It’s blood-hungry, and it’s dangerous. And it’s not father-material.
It’s not entirely convincing, the way Polaris and Eclipse work through it, because we don’t really see it. Sure, we get it in minimal amounts. But honestly? If Caitlin hadn’t yelled an exasperated “STOP!” over their bickering, maybe they wouldn’t have even created space for each other to talk. So what is it? Is it a healthy relationship after all?
Blink: “We’re special. There’s a lotta folks in here. They just walk around. Can’t even tell they’re mutants. But I got my eyes. My ears. You have your skin. And Zingo here… [ruffles dog] is covered in fur!”
Surprisingly left-field and way too soon after Blink’s tragic finding last week, Blink encounters Norah. Norah was a mutant left with only tragic memories after her foster home–the same one as Blink’s–was raided. The same raid Thunderbird had sensed. The surprising motherly nature Blink adopts is a reminder that the strongest may be the most compassionate. We’ve seen it in Thunderbird. But Blink’s ability is near-unrivalled. Yet her loss and sacrifice is also near-unrivalled, too.
The notions of a mayhaps Manchurian Candidate and the endangerment this provides the mutants’ refugee programme hits prime social commentary territory.
The disturbing way Dr. Campbell achieves compliance from his mutant subjects is literally MK Ultra. And that’s disturbing. To accomplish the much-hypothesised Manchurian candidate crisis following JFK’s death–is a scary one. You can literally inject someone with a drug and they are completely yours. Think of Harry Potter and Imperius. Theoretically, Campbell can make his subjects do anything. So it’s no wonder Pulse turned on Thunderbird.
However, it presents another horrible, topical question:
Sage: “If Sentinel Services is planting these…things…out there, we may need to stop taking in refugees.”
Thunderbird: “You don’t turn your back on desperate people because one of them might be dangerous.”
Hitting too close to home? Yes, it is. And it’s purposeful. It hurts to think of it. But science-fiction has never been far from a portal from reality. We’ve breezed over segregation. Now, even Sage is considering some of these refugees dangerous. It’s a massive generalisation based on a single violent prisoner–a terrorist, if you will. It only shows that even the best of us can be lured into thinking in this polarising, scared way.
As Dr. Campbell’s rigorous, strict regimen drives forward, the MU serves as more of a moral basin than a moral compass. Caitlin, Eclipse and Polaris all disagree with how to interrogate Chloe. Polaris represents the utilitarian aspect of war. Eclipse is very deontological. And the kids?
They may be amidst a war, but one battle won is the one with their mother. Caitlin not only entrusts them to restrain Chloe. She also trusts them with her life. And it proves successful. She sedates Chloe, and morals aside, they nab the situation under control.
Mind you, can we agree that Caitlin Strucker has saved not only the episode but the season with her humanity and intellect?
The Struckers are who we came for, and The Gifted are slowly paying this off by providing one heck of a promising history in regards to Andy and Lauren.
Nothing prepared us for the emotional weight of this episode. Particularly with Otto and Reed, expertly dispatched by Raymond J. Barry and Stephen Moyer. Look, we knew the Strucker siblings were more powerful together than apart. Everything about them pointed towards Fenris. The chilling backstory combined with the heavy juxtaposition of Andy and Lauren’s innocence, to their instinctive hand-holding, is shiver-inducing.
Because we are at a point where every time Caitlin or Reed allows Andy or Lauren to use their powers, we heave a sigh of relief. The Gifted cleverly throw in the predictable yet heavy Fenris connection late into the game. We’ve watched Andy and Lauren kick ass together. And frankly, we want that to happen all the time. But seeing the consequences Andreas and Andrea had on the world is terrifying. Now, every time Caitlin relinquishes power over her kids and trusts them to rely on their powers, it scares us a little.
There’s not a shroud of doubt that Andy and Lauren are innately good. And it’s more so the consequential worry we have that frightens us rather than Reed’s horrible backstory. However, The Gifted tease us late in the season and it’s clever. Two people we never doubted were Andy and Lauren.
Now? Polaris and Eclipse have reconciled. Pulse is dead. Thunderbird remains honourable. Blink and Dreamer have reconciled. Truly, it’s Andy and Lauren who are in the lion’s den, most regrettably. And why is this so clever?
Because The Gifted have spent eight episodes building up their easy banter and friendly, loving nature. To watch it go sour would be tragic; to watch them be saved, ultimately, from their ancestors’ fate would be sob-worthy. Either way, it’ll be an emotional juggernaut for the Strucker siblings.
We’re so (not) ready.
FINAL VERDICT: The Gifted has the Sentinel Services threatening family, parenthood, and frankly…your mind. But the faith we have in the MU in overcoming this is now stronger than ever.
There are rarely moments post-episode when such a disgusting, guttural noise of enjoyment is released. This, embarrassingly, happened to your reviewer. So kudos to the gorgeous script and the wonderful direction by Steven DePaul. In possibly one of the strongest episodes so far, Matt Nix and DePaul fused heavyweight emotional wrecking balls and smashed them into our faces. Meanwhile, they kindly mixed in a ton of moral ambiguity and fast-paced, heart-breaking consequences just to add salt to the wound.
What’s the saying? “No pain, no gain”?
It’s completely accurate and utterly appropriate for this stage of the game. The Gifted has shown with Pulse’s horrific death and Chloe Tan’s awful condition that they aren’t afraid of consequences. Pulse was on borrowed time. Unlike many shows that have skipped the death option, The Gifted has never really departed from its connection to humanity. And humans die.
This is the first time we’ve truly been left shaken to the core by The Gifted. Death, sacrifice and the near-pointlessness of morality looms. Truthfully? It’s scary. Painful. And actually, very, very emotional. Perhaps it was not the fastest moving episode in terms of action. But boy, did each minute of the episode punch us in the gut with gusto. And it hurts, in the aftermath. We get the sick feeling that Nix and story writer Carly Soteras intended for that.
We’re going to need a week-long break to recover from that one. We call dibs on Caitlin’s medical expertise.
You made it this far, so we suppose you’re not eXtinct at this point…:
- Jamie Chung is back with the team and badass as always. Her B/C-plot was touchingly played by Chung, where most side-plots as such would’ve run the risk of cheesiness or flatness. Yet Chung’s characterisation of Blink is so good that whatever scene she’s in, she’s addictive.
- Do you know what would be juicy? Caitlin versus Reed on opposite sides of the war. I’m calling it!
- ANDY STRUCKER, YOU LITTLE BADASS!
- I know what happened in episode four with Pulse, but if Andy and Lauren joined forces in a symbiotic way, would they be able to overcome Pulse’s X-gene mutation?
- Can we keep Esme? That’s such a handy tool to have. Unless it gets all romantic in the MU and she’s just getting remnants of rabid teenagers wanting to….Marvin Gaye it on.
- Yo, script-writers! See the conflict between Blink and Dreamer? That’s how you write compromise and disagreement and clash of morals between women. No cat scratches required.
- “Well, that was exciting.” I think that’s more than your two students last week could say of the pea plants, Caitlin. I love this character, man.
Catch ‘The Gifted’ on FOX, Monday 27th November, 9/8c
The past begins to haunt our mutants as some answers remain in the dark, and the answers we do get shine a worrying, dangerous light towards the future. It is an emotionally-packed, mind-popping revelation of an episode (even though we kind of saw it coming). Nothing quite prepares us for the ensemble’s continued, impressive performance every week. Now we know the true potential Andy and Lauren could achieve…Just how high are the stakes in this war? Continue to follow us for our weekly roundtables, reviews and livetweets!
‘The Gifted’ Review [1×08]: “threat of eXtinction”