This The Gifted review contains spoilers…
The Gifted Season 2, Episode 3
The Gifted gave us one of its best episodes ever tonight, with an hour that explored the choices we make about intimacy and vulnerability in our relationships.
Like the previous episode, “CoMplications” began with a flashback teaser, giving us more backstory and context for one of our main characters. This week, it was Marcos’ turn. We learn about his relationship with his father, who he went to visit while he was dying from cancer. At the time, Marcos was still working for the drug cartel, a choice his father obviously did not approve of.
For Marcos, it was his father who forced his hand. There is a lot of resentment here. Marcos blames his father for his fate. The man made both Marcos’ mother, who was a Mutant, and Marcos choose to either hide their Mutantism or leave. For Marcos’ mother, hiding that vital part of her identity drove her to an early grave. For Marcos, it drove him to a life of crime.
This is all context for Marcos’ current guilt surrounding his relationship with his newborn daughter who, at the beginning of the episode, he had still yet to meet. That all changes in the course of the hour, as the Frost sisters come to collect Marcos, per Reeva’s order, in an attempt to save Dawn’s new life.
The maybe-Mutant baby is suffering from a severe case of jaundice, one that can only be cured by Marcos’ powers. It is all a narrative chance for Lorna to see Marcos again, and for Marcos to meet his daughter. Guys, Sean Teale kills it in this episode, but especially in this scene: packing both the wonder of seeing his daughter for the first time and the agony of knowing that it is most likely temporary all into one expression. It’s a thing of terrible beauty.
When it becomes clear that Marcos is being asked to leave, he desperately throws out possible solutions: Lorna should come with him. He can stay with Lorna. She shoots them all down, and he chokes on his guilt; he thinks he is a terrible father, but he literally has been given no choice. Lorna has taken the opportunity away from him. (Note: Dawn could go with Marcos… without Lorna. No one mentions this option.)
Lorna is obviously torn apart by the interaction, and she reaffirms that she loves Marcos, but that she needs to help create a better world for Dawn. It’s not enough for Marcos, who fights his way through the Frost sisters’ influence to try to get Lorna back. But Marcos can’t get past Reeva. She’s too strong, and Andy stands and watches as Reeva takes Marcos down, but ultimately lets live. Would Andy have let Reeva kill Marcos? Probably. He’s a scared, confused teenage boy.
While Marcos spends his time with the Hellfire Club, John and Clarice ironically go in search of information about the location of the Hellfire Club. They follow the lead Evangeline gave them last episode, looking for Erg, who lives in the sewers. More specifically, he lives as part of the Morlocks, a community composed of Mutants who either cannot live amongst humans because of their visible mutations or who choose not to. Erg targets Clarice, specifically, appealing to her own struggles as a Mutant with a visible mutation. He gives her information about the Inner Circle in exchange for some vague agreement to be the Morlocks’ spy.
Tellingly, Clarice doesn’t confess this part of the agreement to John (though perhaps she would have, had an injured Marcos not stumbled back into their apartment at this point?). As mentioned in the intro, this was an episode about emotional vulnerabilities, and the choices we all make in whether to share them with our loved ones or not. Over the course of the episode, Clarice was encouraging John to let her in, which he finally did in the episode’s third act, telling her what Evangeline told him: Andy and Lorna are lost to the Hellfire Club, and they will most likely have to kill them. John admits to Clarice that he doesn’t know if he will be able to, if it comes to that.
Elsewhere in the episode, Reed tries to patch things up with Lauren following their fight in the previous episode. While out on a supply run, they start chatting, but are interrupted by a flare up of Reed’s uncontrollable powers. His hands melt through their car’s steering wheel, causing an accident. While the two are on the run, barely avoiding a very determined investigatory Jace Turner, Lauren yells at her father for keeping this secret.
In the best scene of the entire episode (OK, it’s tied with Marcos holding his daughter for the first time), Lauren gives Reed an example of why keeping secrets like this from one another is a stupid idea, once again proving that she is the adult in this family: Before Reed found out about Lauren and Andy’s powers, he came to pick Lauren up at a party. Some Mutant had smashed the windows. What Lauren never told her father was that that Mutant was her. When a boy started “crowding her,” she used her powers to stay safe. When her dad picked her up, she was so scared, but the first thing he told her is that it was his job to protect her from Mutants, to prosecute them for their crimes.
Perhaps, if Lauren had told her dad about her powers then, things would have ended up differently, Lauren muses. Perhaps, Andy would still be with them. It’s not only a powerful story, rhetorically, but it is also further proof how emotionally intelligent and good at processing her feelings Lauren truly is. She is seriously the most well-balanced, competent member of this hot mess of a family. When she is angry, she shows it. She knows her anger is valid. She knows that, if she doesn’t express it, it will come out some other way.
The story works, too! When they return to the clinic, Reed immediately tells Caitlin about his burgeoning powers. Frustratingly, her initial response is to get mad that Reed didn’t tell her sooner (I know you’re going through a lot, Cate, but let’s try to positively reinforce his sharing, eh?), but then she embraces her terrified husband who has been so alone in his fear these last six months. Lauren watches from the hallway, probably thinking about her brother who also needs a hug and to learn how to healthily express his feelings.
Speaking of hot messes, poor, foolish Jace Turner continues to go all Spooky Mulder, pursuing his hunches about the Mutants on his own, since he no longer has Sentinel Services to back him up. His wife is, understandably, avoiding his phone calls, but that doesn’t seem to phase Jace in the slightest. He stays on the trail, actually getting some temporary access from a D.C. cop and almost catching up to Reed and Lauren. Ultimately, however, he ends the episode where he started: with a bunch of good leads, solid case files, and absolutely zero institutional backing. Sorry, dude. Maybe it’s time to find a new hobby… and a therapist. (Everyone on this show should find a therapist.)
Marcos claims that the Frosts are inside of Lorna’s head, and I am really unclear if that is true. There have been no visual or narrative clues, other then Marcos’ assertion, that this is true, and I kind of hope it isn’t. I’ve said before that X-Men is at its best when it takes both sides of the Mutant division seriously.
The rattle Marcos made for Dawn is hella cute.
As much as I am on Marcos’ side here, I also don’t think using force to storm back into Lorna and Dawn was the best chance. Like, what was his plan here? Was he going to try to force Lorna to come with him? Because I doubt that would have gone over well or been very successful.