This The Gifted review contains spoilers.
The Gifted Season 2 Episode 10
Last episode, The Gifted made sure we knew that their bad guys have a point, like all good X-Men stories. The show took a couple of weeks off, and rather than spend the follow up waxing philosophical, they decided to go with a good guy/bad guy team up story with some light torture to make sure we all knew who the real villain was.
The good guy/bad guy team up is such a classic X-Men trope. Think about X2 and how amped you go when Magneto was holding the Blackbird up in front of him: the creative team behind The Gifted absolutely had that in mind when they got the gang from season 1 back together to go break John out of the Purifier compound. The thing is, I’m not sure they expected everyone to be overshadowed by Blink.
While the dawning realization of what the show was doing was fun, John’s absence gave Clarice more to do within the Underground. Jamie Chung remains the most consistently engaging actor on the show. This episode gave her multiple opportunities to check in with castmates, and it’s amazing how she has pretty easy chemistry with almost everyone on it. She makes Marcos not mopey, Lauren not brooding, Lorna not angry. She’s a perfect foil, and this week’s episode was that much better off for focusing on her.
Oddly enough, the other character who flourished with the narrowing of our omnidirectional conflict was Jace, a man who had previously had no point on the show other than to be a walking country music song. His spiral into the Purifiers over the course of this season has been depressing and a little bit real, like This Is Us for racists. The show has heaped tragedy on him, and Coby Bell hasn’t really done much with it besides strain his neck muscles and shout a little. But here, for a minute, we saw a turn towards him being the brains of the Purifiers, using his law enforcement experience to start picking away at the greater mystery of the show from the inside. The good cop routine he used on John to question him was terrifying in its coldness and skill. My only problem with it is that it telegraphed its entire progression from the beginning: John would reluctantly tell Jace that Lorna and Andy left the Underground, and Jace would start to buy it, and then he’d see Lorna and Andy working with the Underground to break John out and lose his shit. I wrote that as a note at 40 minutes in, and every word of it came true.
This is not to complain. The most indellible image from the show so far is Jace casually blasting away at John’s chest with a shotgun. The effects in that scene were probably simple to put together, but marvelously effective – it was gross and nasty and depressing and timed perfectly.
It doesn’t feel like the big picture plot moved all that much this week. We got temporary reunions between Lorna and Marcos and Andy and Lauren, but they felt like placeholders rather than progress. We did get John back from the Purifiers and a fully broken Jace, but that’s about it. Otherwise we got to watch Marcos and Lauren casually kick a ton of ass while Andy, Lauren and Clarice badass-walked through the compound. It was pretty good!
LOOSE GENETIC MATERIAL
– I cannot believe the show opened with three mutants playing pool and had no one shout “hey no powers!” This is perhaps the most time honored trope of all X-Men comics. It happens in softball, baseball, basketball, swimming (I think). Of course it would happen when Lorna, Marcos and John were all playing pool together.
– Still on that scene, while much of Season 1 was effective because of how well it made you feel how shitty it would be to be a mutant, this scene felt like a perfect encapsulation of what it would be like. I mean, I use my phone to cheat at pub trivia. I would ABSOLUTELY use my mutant powers to cheat at pool.
– It’s a bit much to see Andy complain about racist demagogues on television news channels from his show on the Fox Broadcasting Network, but what do I know.
– Lorna’s “Keeps my hair out of my eyes” excuse for her tiara I think is the first canon explanation for that style of headgear, so your sister the Scarlet Witch thanks you from her upcoming Disney Streaming show, I bet.
– Next week: Dark Phoenix Lauren!