This The Gifted review contains spoilers.
The Gifted Season 2, Episode 5
The Gifted delivers one of its strongest episode yet by concentrating on the aftermath of the Mutant psychiatric facility breakout, following the Mutant Underground, the Inner Circle, and Jace and the Purifiers in the wake of this one event. It makes for a cohesive episode, one that takes on topics like the dynamics of a fascist hate group and institutional prejudice with unexpected nuance.
The previous episode ended with the Inner Circle successfully driving a high-value Mutant away from the facility. Her name is Rebecca, she is a teenaged Mutant who can turn things inside out. Rebecca is obviously affected by her time confined, isolated, and experimented on, and, at first, is unwilling to engage with her rescuers. The Frost sisters see her as a weapon, as something that can be used to further the Inner Circle’s cause. Andy sees her as a peer, ally, and potential girlfriend. Lorna sees her as a young woman who has been forever changed by her trauma.
All of these perspectives are true in some way, but, while the Frosts and Andy seem ready to send Rebecca out on a mission, Lorna knows that Rebecca is not ready—and if that out-of-control glint of delighted fury in Rebecca’s eye when she turned that police car inside out was anything to go by, she isn’t. At least not if the Inner Circle plans on controlling Rebecca. Because that’s the thing with weapons: once you release them, there’s only so much you can do to control the destruction.
Personally, if I were Rebecca, I would feel similarly after having my autonomy taken away for so long. I would want to see the world burn.
Andy’s interest in Rebecca is complicated, but it is no doubt driven, in part, by his guilt over hurting Lauren. The further he pushes his biological family away, the more desperate Andy is to find a family at the Hellfire Club. When he gives the pitch to Rebecca, you can tell it isn’t just a pitch to Andy: it’s something he has to believe in.
Andy’s desperate belief here has some things in common with Jace Turner’s belief in the anti-Mutant cause. In this episode’s prologue flashback, we see Jace as a new police officer. When his senior partner profiles and then beats up a Mutant simply for existing, Jace protests at first. This is where Jace’s anti-Mutantism started. It was prior to losing his daughter. It was institutional; it became normalized and Jace took the easy way out. He began to believe that Mutants deserved the prejudice and punishment because the alternative was believing that the organization he was a part of, and the person he had become, was the problem.
It’s a tragic flashback, and it’s a hopeful one, too, perhaps. The way Jace stared into the window of the police car as he slapped the cuffs on an innocent Mutant implied he was ashamed of himself. If that person is still inside of Jace, there may be hope for him yet. In the mean time, fuck this guy. Try harder, Jace Turner. Read the room: Your wife left you because she sees that this is not justice; this is prejudice-driven vengeance. Right now, you’re part of a fascist hate group. It’s past time to take a long, hard look at your choices. It’s time to stare at your reflection in another window and, this time, to do something about the person you see staring back.
While the Inner Circle is dealing with Rebecca as the aftermath of the Mutant facility takeout, the Mutant Underground is working to heal and house the rest of the Mutants that were rescued from the facility. If you need any clarification on the difference between the Inner Circle and the Mutant Underground (which, frankly, sometimes I do), then pay attention to how they deal with this Mutant breakout. The Inner Circle takes the Mutant who is valuable to them; the Mutant Underground tries to help every vulnerable Mutant.
It’s easy to see why the Inner Circle takes a more precise approach. Trying to address the needs of many Mutant refugees is not easy. While Caitlin and co. try desperately to heal the injured Mutants, Blink and Marcos take the others to the Morlocks in the hopes that they will be able to stay there, at least for a while. Blink gets Erg to agree, on one condition: the Mutants without visual markers of their Mutantism, get the “M” brand on their face.
Marcos in particular is horrified. He’s connected with one of the Mutants, a woman who can make orbs of light, and he doesn’t want to see her mutilated. It’s a valid critique. Maybe give these terrified people a chance to catch their breath before asking them to make a choice about their future that means permanent mutilation of their face. But the Mutants agree. They’re willing to undergo the brutal initiation in exchange for a safe place to rest their head, maybe even a community to call home.
Back at the clinic, the Mutant Underground’s job is made more difficult by the Purifiers, who now have the expertise and experience of Jace Turner at their disposal. When they break into the clinic at gunpoint—which is especially scary, given how frequent these kinds of gun-wielding displays of hate have become in the real world—Caitlin and John are forced to watch one of their Mutant patients die as they hide. Caitlin knows it’s happening, as does the acid-blood Mutant, but John does not. In fact, Caitlin lies to him to keep him from taking on the Purifiers single-handedly.
This isn’t about one Mutant, Caitlin tells him. It’s about the larger cause. If the Purifiers realize what the clinic truly is, and that John, Caitlin, and the rest are still alive, then they won’t be able to help the countless Mutants who rely on the clinic and the Mutant Underground in general in the same way. It’s a tough decision, and one that proves just how determined Caitlin can be when she needs to be. Frankly, she is a pretty badass leader when she wants to be.
But how will Caitlin’s lie to John affect their relationship and the organization moving forward? The Mutant Underground is built on a framework of trust. If John can’t trust Caitlin to tell him the truth or to let him make his own decisions, then the very foundation of this organization is compromised.
The Inner Circle is working on a big mission involving a vault. That’s what they need Rebecca for. Couldn’t they have just had Andy blow the thing apart or something? Maybe there’s fragile cargo inside of the vault they’re looking to bust into? Maybe it’s even a person?
Lauren mostly spends the episode on the couch, recovering from her concussion and the knowledge that her brother is the one who hurt her. Boy does this girl deserve a tropical vacation.