This The Gifted episode review contains spoilers.
The Gifted Episoe 11
The end of the season is for superhero TV usually an exciting, entertaining time. The shows have cleared away all the superfluous storylines, and are putting the finishing touches on a climax that has been building for hours. Unless you’re a Marvel Netflix show, where the end of a season is the perfect time for a frustrating space-filler episode that drains all the tension out of an incredible climax (I’m looking at you, Jessica). Or, unfortunately, if you’re The Gifted, where you indulge in your worst tendencies, having your protagonists flail about while they’re manipulated by plot necessity.
The big reveal this week (besides the half-reveal about Polaris – we’ll get to that) is that the Hellfire Club wants to move against the Hound program. As someone who’s been watching this show for 11 hours now, I feel comfortable in saying that’s kind of garbage.
This show’s strength was in the relationships and the struggle of the mutant underground to survive in a world closing in on them. For the first half of the season, we watched characters like Thunderbird and Polaris come to grips with that. It mined some tension out of their conflicting viewpoints, and introduced new characters and typical drama, but when it started, it was The Morlock Show, and that made it stand out. Over the last few episodes, though, it stopped being about how the Resistance reacted and grew, and it started being about how the writers, through Esme Cuckoo, could manipulate everyone to where they needed to be at the end of the season.
This strips our protagonists of any responsibility for the outcome of the show, and far worse, it requires them to periodically act like idiots in order to make the finale work. This week, the Clan Strucker decides to decamp for Mexico because it’s too dangerous to stick around HQ in Atlanta what with a bunch of pissed off Sentinel Services folks and three Cuckoos all hanging around. The Morlocks are busy arguing about whether they should go on offense against Sentinel Services or not. Jace is struggling with trusting Campbell and expanding his use of the Hound program. Meanwhile, Campbell has, from his examination of the Strucker kids last episode, figured out a way to make his Hounds even more powerful. Of these conflicts, maybe one isn’t silly, and one is definitely downright idiotic.
The internal debate about methods is a very X-Men conflict to be having, but it’s one we’ve been dealing with going back to the start of the series, and one that’s been in the foreground since Thunderbird revealed that the X-Men picked people to lead the Resistance. It’s heightened by the massive body count the Cuckoos have racked up in two episodes, but it’s still very thin to base an entire episode on. The Strucker’s cut and run plan is silly, but the show lampshades it well enough. And Campbell’s plan is to have mutants…USE THEIR POWERS TOGETHER dun dun duuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnn.
That’s what studying the Struckers showed him.
We the audience know this is stupid because we have functioning cognition centers in our brains. But we the audience also know this is stupid because teamwork has been the foundation of the show – Clarice sucks on her own, the Struckers are super powerful together, and we’ve had multiple awesome action sequences that involved creative combinations of powers throughout the show. If this was meant to be a revelation, it was extremely bad. If it was meant to highlight the point of the season, it was also extremely bad and ham fisted.
Speaking of giant fists mashing buttons and hoping something good comes out, Jace is a character disaster at this point. I said above that he’s struggling with Campbell. But that’s just what I think the show wants us to believe as they try and have it every way with him. He’s supposed to be the wronged Dad, the villain with a point, but he’s willingly participating in a program that enslaves mutants, but he also tried to help them last time, but then it backfired and he got mad, but then this week he made a couple of comments that showed that he’s not all the way in, but you see where this run on sentence is going. The show is trying to make him everything to everyone, and all they’re doing is larding up a decent villain with a bunch of nonsensical, contradictory positions.
With two episodes to go, I’m worried about what’s next. I’m certain the show will be watchable, because I’m an X-Men fan who bought their comics through the ’90s, so I can tolerate just about anything. But the last few episodes have had a worrying decline, and I’m not sure if there’s time to pull out of it.
– Busy week on the references front! The theater that Blink and her date are walking out of can apparently show Hitman: Agent 47, Maze Runnerand Peanuts, but can’t get the rights to Alien: Covenantand had to settle for Xenomorph. Poor Clarice. She missed out on Michael Fassbender playing with his own flute.
– Those guys in the black hoodies with the white crosses on them are Purifiers. In the comics, they’re Reverend Stryker’s paramilitary group that runs around terrorizing mutants. They first showed up in God Loves, Man Kills, the maybe best X-Men story of all time.
– I don’t know who the guy running the Hellfire Club is, but I am pretty sure the diamond was not a reference to his power, but to the Cuckoos’ true origin. They’re named as Sophie, Esme and Phoebe Frost later in the episode, and Emma Frost’s secondary mutation is to turn her body to “organic diamond.”
– Speaking of the Hellfire Club, a Cuckoo tells Polaris that “Your father was a king in the Hellfire Club.” You know who was a king in the Hellfire Club who’s also Polaris’s dad in the comics? Magneto. Please try and pick up all the pieces of your shattered, fallen monocle when you can.
– The two mutants with complementary powers in the Hound Program can manipulate inertia and gravity. I’m not sure who they are exactly – the inertia manipulator probably isn’t Vice Versa from the New Universe, nor is she Inertia from the Squadron Supreme. Just like the gravity manipulator likely isn’t Gravity or (god help us) Xorn. We’ll probably see soon.
– The pin on the Sentinel Services director’s lapel looks an awful lot like an old SHIELD logo, doesn’t it?-