This episode review of The Gifted contains spoilers.
The Gifted Episode 8
We’ve spent 7 hours waiting for the payoff to the conscious choice of The Giftedto use the Strucker name, and we got it in this episode. It certainly felt like a cool enough payoff to be worth it, though I’m having a hard time separating my feelings on its impact on the narrative from my personal background with the eurotrash comics Struckers, and the revelation that they were basically the same.
The show has been feeding us little nibbles of a greater story for its entire run now. “threat of eXtinction” isn’t particularly revelatory – there’s no “OH CRAP” moment that shows where in the X-Men cinematic universe’s timeline it fits, or a discovery about what happened to the X-Men and the Brotherhood. But where it succeeds is in giving long-time X-Men fans a concrete tie to the comics (or several – check the Phoenix Eggs below), and in giving us a deeper understanding of Reed and his family.
To summarize: Reed’s grandparents are Andreas and Andrea von Strucker. His dad, Otto, is also a mutant, who went to work for Sentinel Services years ago to figure out a cure for the x gene. He thought he found one, and administered it to Reed before his powers manifested. It seemed to work, even though it made Reed really sick and led to his dad’s estrangement from the family. But it didn’t: Lauren and Andy manifested the exact same powers as Andreas and Andrea, and according to Reed’s dad, that’s really, really bad.
The show seems to be setting up a pivot point for the kids. Otto’s point seemed to be that the powers were part of what made the Fenris twins so evil – we see newspaper clippings referring to their global crime wave in the old man’s antique shop. But we’ve seen Lauren and Andy growing in their powers, and developing a solid, positive relationship. Even in this episode, where they don’t have a ton to do on camera, what little we see is them helping.
Back at HQ, the Resistance has captured a hound with super-speed, and found a telepath from another Resistance cell. To try and get answers about Sentinel Services and Trask Industries, they restrain her, dope her up, and ask the telepath to read her mind. That’s not all they do – Polaris holds knives on her, Eclipse yells at her about torture, and she gets pissy with him for going to work for the cartel last week, but this subplot is so insignificant I don’t even think the show cared to put a ton of effort into it. But Lauren and Andy work together again here to restrain the Hound, and do it in a way that’s humane and non-destructive.
What I think we’ll see moving forward is some tension around Lauren and Andy being overpowered, and more trepidation about how powerful they both are, before they eventually prove that they’re heroes because of the values instilled in them by their parents. That said, I’m usually wrong about my predictions for these shows, and even if I weren’t, it’s the how that marks the difference between a good plot and a good show. The Giftedhas been doing a great job of nailing the how so far.
– Speaking of “the how” this show has been NAILING the X-Men mutant power team up action. The scene where Thunderbird, Blink and Eclipse capture the Hound feels so X-Men-ey (X-Mannish? No, that’s probably only for Nate Grey. X-Men-ey is fine) that I was waiting for them to pull out a baseball at the end.
– Why is Andreas listening to German opera, talking to his sister in German, and writing a postcard in English?
– This episode actually screws up the X-movie timeline even worse. We see press clippings from the 1950s about mutant terrorists, but I got the sense from X-Men: First Classthat they were still unacknowledged in the mid ’60s. I don’t mind this, btw. I’m all for wonky X-Men hypertime stuff, so I’m happy to keep playing this game.
– The Strucker Family personal timeline also feels weird, but I think it works. Fenris was active in London in 1952 and it didn’t seem like they had a kid yet, so even making a generous assumption, Reed’s dad would have been born in 1953. That puts him at 64 today. That…just barely works (assume Reed was born in 1977 and Lauren was born in 2000). BUT! I’m fairly certain this show happens somewhere on the Logantimeline, so I bet this is about 5-10 years in the future.
– It’s pretty heavily implied that Reed’s grandparents were both Fenris twins. Not unexpected, but still gross as shit.
– Maybe it’s just the time we live in and the fact that literally everything is doing some variation on Trump criticism, but did the Fenris twins look a little bit like Fredo Trump and Girl Fredo Trump to you?
– So we find out that Reed was a mutant before he got the serum, and his father was a mutant, and his kids have the same powers as their great grandparents. That is actually more common than I first thought – in the comics, it is apparently a fairly regular occurrence for the kids to have some variation on their parents’ powers. See: Polaris, Cable, Daken, Nocturne, Siryn, Multiple Man’s kid with Siryn. Wait don’t actually see that last one.
– I thought it was pretty cool that we got a blonde telepath named Esme and the mutant drug Kick in the same epsiode. Both came from Grant Morrison’s run on the book: Esme is one of the Stepford Cuckoos: five telepathic clones of Emma Frost who could merge together to form a telepathic hive mind. Kick was a drug that amped mutants’ powers and was extremely addictive. Esme was the first to break away from the Cuckoo group, using Kick to take them over and then joining Xorn/Magneto’s new Brotherhood. Magneto killed her right before the end of that run.
– Next week: MORE FENRIS!