This The Gifted review contains spoilers.
The Gifted Season 2, Episode 1
The best X-Men stories are the ones that believe both sides of the Mutant struggle have some valid points, that both Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr’s logic makes sense, even if you question the latter’s methods. In the Season 2 premiere of The Gifted, we get a proper introduction to the Hellfire Club, the Mutant organization that believes violence is sometimes necessary on the only path to true mutant-human equality. And it’s a bit, um, ham-fisted.
That introduction sees Reeva and the Frost sisters murdering the rest of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, which, sure gets the viewer’s attention, but doesn’t feel like a particularly good move for any organization. It also immediately sets up Lorna and Andy’s new home as one that can’t be trusted. Rather than doubling down on their decision as a possible right one, or at least one that makes sense given that it is in line with their respective values, the show immediately plants the seed that Lorna and Andy don’t belong here, that they’re not safe. Not truly. It’s an easier story to tell, sure, one that has a built-in happy ending; it’s just not a particularly nuanced one.
That being said, there’s a lot to like about Lorna and Andy’s integration into the Hellfire Club—namely, their relationship with one another. Inside this new organization, they trust each other most. Sweet, innocent Andy even calls them family at one point. And Lorna puts a lot of faith in Andy when she puts him in charge of keeping her baby safe should the worst happen. (It’s the kind of valid expression of fear that undermines why Lorna is even here in the first place, if the decision was so driven by her desire to give her daughter a brighter future.)
While Lorna is being treated like a bomb about to explode (which, frankly, is pretty much how most TV shows treat pregnant woman characters, even when they don’t have super destructive powers), Marcos and Kaitlin are going a bit mad looking for their loved ones. When a Mutant Underground meeting comes to the consensus that they should wait rather than pursue a new, unstable lead in the search for the Hellfire Club’s location, Marcos and Kaitlin go ahead and meet with the lead anyway. The meeting ends with a wounded Kaitlin and information that, while helpful in learning more about the Hellfire Club’s considerable finances, does not heal the broken families that Andy and Lorna have left behind.
The choice does, however, lead to a much-needed confrontation between Kaitlin and Marcos and the rest of the gang, who tell the former two that they can’t keep chasing people who don’t want to be found. Andy and Lorna weren’t taken—they chose to leave, and if there is anything both the Mutant Underground and the Hellfire Club can agree on, it’s that every Mutant should have the freedom to make their own choices about their future. (Though, Andy is 15, which does feel very young to be getting executive decision power about these things, even if Lauren believes otherwise.)
Though Lauren may have tough words for her mother, it’s clear from the nightmare that she has that she misses Andy as much as her mother does. When she sees a dream version of Andy (one that has the new hair and look of Season 2 Andy, implying that she was actually communication with her brother in some way), she runs into his arms. This has always been where the most heartbreaking part of an X-Men story, or any narrative that explores what happens when two people who love each other end up on different sides of a political divide: when love is not enough.
The fourth member of the Strucker family has his own additional problems to deal with—namely, the unaddressed fact that he may be developing the powers his father suppressed in him all those years ago. Reed hears a frequent high-pitched tone throughout the episode, and his arm takes on a supercharged life of its own when Reed first hears that Kaitlin has been shot. Right now, Reed seems to be as in-the-dark about what might be happening to him as the viewer is, but it’s an intriguing plot thread to watch unfold and could mean that the Mutant Underground might have another tool in their shed. With Sentinel Services raiding Mutant safehouses more frequently than ever, the Mutant Underground needs all of the help they can get.
The episode ends with Lorna pushing through the pain and the panic to deliver Dawn, a new hope for the Hellfire Club and for Lorna personally. The fact that Marcos isn’t there, however, is hammered home by just how hard Marcos, the Struckers, John, and Blink are trying to follow the surges of electricity to find Lorna and Andy. This may be a happy day, but it is tainted by some serious sadness (there’s even an angsty ballad, in case you didn’t pick up on that narrative tension). A new day is dawning for Mutant-kind, but will it be worth the cost of broken families? I think I already know The Gifted‘s answer to that question…
I like how much more of a balanced ensemble drama this feels like in the season premiere. Season 1 definitely had a Strucker priority, and was at its best when it embraced its ensemble tendencies.
No Coby Bell here. What is Agent Jace Turner up to?
Clarice and John are an item now. They’re pretty much the only two characters who are not having an emotionally-tortured time in this premiere episode, which is kind of nice to have.
Who took the new mutant’s sister? The Mutant Underground tried to convince her it wasn’t Sentinel Services, but who else could it have been? Will this come up again? Probably.
Dude, this doctor they got for Lorna was straight-up terrible. As soon as things got complicated, he panicked and had zero helpful advice, even though this sort of thing is literally his job.
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not a frickin’ wizard?” Well-delivered line, Jamie Chung.
I cringed a bit at that flash forward to the future the Hellfire Club is trying to create. It was sweet, but just so cheesy and under-budgeted. Also, I don’t think that’s how pregnancy works?