Review: The Gifted 1.07 eXtreme measures

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The seventh episode of The Gifted starts kicking things into high gear, wrapping up some earlier story arcs and introducing a few new ones. The Gifted has kept up a relentless pace this entire season. There are only 4 more episodes to go and this episode brought us more backstory from different members of the mutant underground and continued to tell the story of the Struckers and their allies. One thing I absolutely adore is the pacing of the show. It’s kept up a relentless movie-like pace that makes the story all the more fascinating.

The illusion was broken slightly in this episode with a pop-song and a montage but the pop-song and the montage were a small price to pay for the characters, the story, the themes that were dealt with (redemption, fatherhood, being a decent person and recovering from your past) were almost cathartic. Everybody delivered A+ performances and even the more minor players made themselves known. It’s hard to pick a few favorites to cover but settle in “children of the atom” so that we can share with you just what extreme measures both the mutant underground and sentinel services have gone to in order to get things done.

The Struckers Deal With Some Trust Issues

The family at the heart of the story, the Struckers, ended up dealing with something small that takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a mutant. Lauren, after becoming enamored with Wes, the mysterious boy she trained with, was starting to become romantically involved. While her parents disapproved initially, their disapproval became more pronounced when Reed discovered that Wes was a target of the mysterious “government program” that became the real topic of debate within the story. Wes apparently had a massive criminal record that made him distrust him. He shared this distrust with Lauren who promptly had an argument with Wes that broke part their budding love triangle.

It was nice to see the focus put on Lauren who has been the more composed of the Strucker children, but Reed’s judgment felt incredibly out of place. In a society where mutants are living in abandoned buildings and starving, how could one person begrudge another everything that they had to do to survive? Still, he realized that his judgment was harsh, a relic of his time as a prosecutor, and he talked to Wes not as a criminal but as a kid who needed guidance to become a better man. Wes ultimately confessed the wrongs that he did and Sage agreed to keep him within the underground so that he could find some degree of stability and safety. He ended up leaving however for a distant station, hopefully, to return. Danny Ramirez’s Wes had great chemistry with Natalie Alyn Lynd and given the Von Strucker’s family history, giving Lauren relationship would be a great development for her character.

I continue to be deeply impressed with the character of Reed Strucker. He’s Coby Bell’s Jace Turner’s foil but he also does something that you don’t see very often on television. He’s a gentle compassionate man who isn’t a physical fighter. We need more characters like Reed and Caitlin who don’t have abilities but who are still decent human beings. Every week I end up learning a lot from the 2 of them both about real-world issues and about family. In a world where Reed Strucker could have easily become a tragic doomed Walter white esque shill for Turner, he takes the moral high road. Indeed, he’s gentle about it making him a stand-out character.

#PolarEclipse Rises and Falls, #ThunderBlink Rises

In episode 4 Eclipse returned to his own dark roots, mirroring Wes’s history, in order to save Polaris from captivity. Carmen, the ruthless crime lord, agreed to help him but only if he returned to work for her. This episode brought that back to the chagrin of every single person who loved the chemistry between the show’s Sean Teale and Emma Dumont by having Carmen work with Eclipse to bring down a Russian drug lab. His motives are clear, he truly wants to help Lorna and he wants this to be over with as quickly as possible but Carmen insists that something within him will awaken when he gets out there and actually starts doing the work he did before joining the Mutant Underground.  Eclipse like Wes faced a choice and he made the right one, but in helping Polaris and Reed get out of Sentinel Service’s clutches his past has come back to haunt him and Polaris isn’t in a forgiving mood. It’s nice to see women who don’t instantly jump back into a man’s arms after he does something legitimately wrong, although again the show continues to ask the audience “was it wrong?” There are no wholly right answers here.

Except perhaps in the case of Thunderbird and blink, popularly called Thunderblink. Blink abandoned the mutant underground, trying to find a degree of peace and safety. Concerned when he hears that Sentinel Services are picking up mutants in the area, Thunderbird goes after her. The two reconcile and replace Dreamer’s fake memory with a real one of him comforting her after her search leads her to the foster home where her foster parents were killed trying to defend other non-human looking mutant children. It’s heartbreaking and a very real reminder of the cost of the fight that the underground faces, as well as the danger they might potentially be swept into which leads to the final part of the show…

Sentinel Services and Jace Turner Release the Hounds

There’s no other way to go about it then a Simpsons joke. After many episodes lurking in the shadows where what remained of Turner’s moral compass refused to let him leave, we are finally introduced to Rodrick Campbell a man with little respect for mutants and someone who is willing to win the fight against the so-called “terrorists” at any cost. The show directly alludes to them not being terrorists by introducing a department of justice attorney who meets a rather…grisly end at the hand of Campbell and his “hounds”, mutants who have some sort of brainwashing and conditioning. They’re not dog-like creatures and there are no leashes, they’re simply a non-government sanctioned project run by Trask Industries.

Yes, that Trask Industries. Fans of the X-Men might recall the last time we saw Trask Industries in X-Men: Days of Future Past widely regarded as the divergent point for the broader X-Men universe. Just what Trask industries is up to remains a mystery but Reed finds the name to be the most disheartening thing he’s heard since joining the underground since his father worked for Trask Industries for 35 years. With the elder Von Struckers slated to be introduced in episode 8, it looks as if things weren’t changed by Wolverine, at least, not entirely. Time will tell how that turns out for all concerned.

Apart from the shattering of ships and the perils of young love, this episode was best served by it’s slow pacing in regards to Reed’s final revelation about his family history. Trask is a huge bombshell for any X-Men fan who remembers Peter Dinkledge’s brilliant performance in the movie.  Just what will come of it and the Struckers remains a mystery, but it’s one that looks to be solved quickly thanks to The Gifted and their incredible writers. The same can’t be said for Polaris, Eclipse and Wes and Lauren, but at the core of The Gifted is it’s most fundamental message. No matter who or what we are, or how we are different, we are all human and we all feel very deeply and that deserves to be respected.

Final Thoughts

  • Wes has awesome powers, a cool (if somewhat repetitive backstory) but most importantly great chemistry with Natalie Alyn Lynd’s Lauren Strucker. Having him return is a must.
  • Andy didn’t do much this episode and I was okay with that. He borders uncomfortably into the lone wolf territory. Thank goodness for Reed and his strong family support.
  • I guess, given that Peter Dinkledge sort of haunted this episode with the mention of Trask Industries, that I now know how Tyrion Lannister felt during the bridge of boats. All my ships are sinking into the water.
  • Some of the hounds actually look cool. Here’s hoping they can break their programming so we can learn more about them.
  • Why isn’t Carmen a mutant? That would have been better then having her employ mutants and directly demonstrate mutant bias.

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