This The Gifted review contains spoilers.
The Gifted Season 2 Episode 8
The Gifted is a really strong X-Men show, and like all X-media, sometimes it gets a little high on its own supply. The show is at its most effective when it’s mixing surprisingly good action with soapy melodrama that tackle issues that have clear real-world parallels. The show runs into problems when, rather than starting with a situation and working forward from how the characters would react, they start with a theme and work backwards to the characters. That ultimately is where “the dreaM” falls apart this week: they really want you to know Polaris and “her father” are the same, but to make that connection explicit, they have her do stuff that I don’t think is justified by her character arc so far.
To this point, Lorna’s been all about protecting Dawn. She’s been extremely helicopter mom about the baby, but this episode requires her to just up and let go, and I’m not buying it. The stubborn, headstrong woman who bailed on the Resistance to build a better future for her baby and nearly killed a couple of allies for humming the same song as the kid probably wouldn’t up and send her to newborn boarding school in the Alps at the first sign of civil unrest. She is only slightly more likely to decide she can’t raise the baby, and also that her partner and the baby’s father is also not able to raise Dawn. This feels like shuffling for the sake of shuffling, and not because it’s fitting the characters.
I will admit that I’m having a tough time separating my feelings about the necessity of the plot development from my feelings about the actual plot development itself. I’m not sure how much of this is me really questioning the necessity of sidelining Dawn and how much of it is me just not liking seeing Marcos and Lorna separated from their child.
Part of my doubt stems from how good so much of the episode was. They really bludgeon us over the head with the Dawn plot line to show us how much like Magneto Polaris supposedly is, but they are vastly more subtle in how they have her deal with Esme. Lorna is using her baby to straight up eat Esme’s brain. She is manipulating the living hell out of this poor unscrupulous telepath and it is a classic Magneto power move. It’s a nice inversion of the comic relationship, too, where Esme used to get all hopped up on Kick and trick Magneto into destroying Manhattan.
The backup stories here aren’t really anything special. We get a little more progress on Thunderbird and Blink’s slow motion relationship collapse – John is still trying to fix everything, while Clarice has given up on hope and is fighting a move into the sewers with the Morlocks.
Meanwhile, Clan Strucker storyline goes off to find Reed’s Dad’s former assistant so he can get help suppressing his out of control mutant power, and they find her running a genetics department at the Opposite State University, the only college where civil unrest and massive genetic discrimination actually calms things down. Everything about this college setting felt so sinister – the fact that everyone’s just chilling playing frisbee while the world catches fire from the Inner Circle attack on Creed Financial; the shirt the med tech is wearing (“Never Trust an Atom, They Make Up Everything” was chosen expressly because of the Children of the Atom, I promise you); the happy mutants hanging around the lab. So whe the big reveal came through, that Dr. Riesman’s brother founded the Purifiers but she hates him but she also is going to use Strucker blood to make a Mutant Cure, it felt like a letdown.
Lorna wraps the episode by dropping the baby off at her foster mom’s place and then turning Magneto’s disc into a helmet for her, making absolutely sure we all knew what they were trying to say. Usually The Gifted and the X-Men in general don’t actually run into any problems with their lack of subtlety, but there was enough wrong elsewhere in this week’s episode that it really hurt.
LOOSE GENETIC MATERIAL
– Apparently Rebecca’s attack inside Creed Financial killed 37 people, and if you’re the same flavor of nerd as me, your response to Marcos saying “37” was to shout “IN A ROW?” at the tv.
– This is super nitpicky, but they don’t do anything to thin Marcos’ beard in the flashbacks.
– “Creed Financial” is a nice touch. It’s probably a reference to Graydon Creed, the founder of the Friends of Humanity, a Purifiers-like group from early 90s X-Men books. He’s also the son of Mystique and Sabertooth.
– Anybody know what the school in Switzerland was that Lorna was talking about? I think it might have been a reference to the Hellfire Academy from Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men run, but I could be wrong.
– Esme imprinted on Dawn and oh god what if The Gifted is secretly Reverse Twilight? I will mail the writers one American dollar if they can see their way to naming a season 3 episode 50 Shades of Nate Grey.
– Hey how come they can’t say Magneto on this show? It’s always “your father” or “Him [Lucille Bluth Trying to Wink dot gif].” But they put his logo like, right there on the button.