Review: The Gifted 1.10 “eXploited”

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Holy cow! After the cliffhanger of episode 9, the latest episode of The Gifted has officially gone off the rails! From the addictive mutant abilities of Lauren and Andy Strucker to the capture of almost half of the mutant underground, the winter finale of The Gifted is shaping up to be insane! This’ll be the last episode until the show returns January 1rst, and the cast has already wrapped it’s first season with an eye (hopefully) towards it’s second. As we head into the winter break, let’s take a look at some highlights of the first 10 episodes of Fox’s hottest new Marvel show!

PolarEclipse: Sean Teale’s Marcos Diaz and Emma Dumont’s Lorna Dane became Eclaris, or PolarEclipse, a fan favorite ship with a multitude of followers. Sporting natural chemistry, the two were two sides of the same coin with Lorna being the more intense of the two. Preparing to start a family can be tough, and it’s taking a toll on the men and women of the Underground and the growing Diaz family. Just what lies in store for Marcos and Lorna, for Polaris and Eclipse remain to be seen after Eclipse sold his soul back to a drug cartel to save Polaris and Polaris seems unusually affected by their coming baby.

Blair Redford’s Thunderbird: After discovering that Blair Redford’s John Prouidstar was chosen by the X-men themselves to lead the mutant underground, Redford has delivered on star potential and his leadership role. The former mutant marine has dealt with incredible side plots (who’s still crying for Gus?), all while trying to shepherd Eclipse and Polaris and keep the group together. There (hopefully) will be romance on the horizon too with Jamie Chung’s Blink, also known as Clarice. Jamie Chung has been a stand-out in her own right and the two together have chemistry on par with PolarEclipse. Hopefully, ThunderBlink, or BlinkBird, whichever you prefer, will take flight for shippers. In the meantime, they need plenty of screen time together as the series winds down. all of which looks likely as Thunderbird struggles to keep the team together and protect mutants – no matter what.

The Special Effects: For a show that’s down to earth and gritty, The Gifted like it’s cousin-show Agents of SHIELD hasn’t shied away from the special effects, it’s just used in a more realistic setting. The team behind the show cares about making things feel real and it’s deeply appreciated. From that to the fact that the mutants actually look unique and occasionally unusual (THANK YOU.) The Gifted has delivered some very impressive visuals. As we delve into the final episodes of season 1 and look to season 2, hopefully, things get bigger and worse, but stay grounded and realistic.

The writing is sharp and timely: Every episode leaves me impressed as to just how the show treats day to day issues and because it focuses on the Struckers, an ordinary family who are prejudiced against mutants, it offers lessons for me in allyship – how to be a better ally while still being supportive. It goes beyond that however to every character’s interaction being laced with truth relevant not just to the X-Men universe but ours as well. The writers are truly on point and deliver diverse content from multiple sources.

Everybody has delivered an absolutely stellar first 10 episodes that might be different from traditional superhero fare, but important and timely programming. Now. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the affair and break down that absolutely insane finale!

Radcliffe Is Coming For Blood

We spend a lot of time with Radcliffe and his minions experimenting on the Strucker kids. Dreamer and Blink are ancillary to the core focus of his obsession, Andy and Lauren and their mythical ability. They’re powerful, like, melt adamantium levels of power (or at least blow a hole in the wall where the adamantium exists.) While Radcliffe hinted that the Strucker children might have helped him provide a permanent solution to the mutant problem (something about siblings sharing abilities. Is he planning to fuse mutants into a solid mass?) it costs them Elle Satine’s Dreamer. From Lorelai on Agents of SHIELD to Sonia on The Gifted she’s a force to be reckoned with and it’s hard not to wish her well. She got a very proper send-off from Jamie Chung’s Blink and Chung delivered the stand out performance of the episode. While their relationship was fraught with emotion, she kept her strong, and ultimately was responsible for her finding a family.

Radcliffe holding the Mutant Underground’s family members is a major motivator for Thunderbird and the rest of the team to collect and hit Sentinel Services hard. Lorna and Marcos debate the merits of this, sounding very much like Xavier and Magneto while doing so. It was a nice callback to the series and the characters that fans fell in love with, intentional or otherwise. Ultimately everybody ends up colliding at Trask industries however for a reason and that reason is…

Say It Ain’t So Esme?…actually. It’s very much SO.

Esme the telepath is far more powerful then anyone could have seen. Far from simply being an empath, she’s capable of controlling people’s emotions, giving them dreams, and all of that skill has made her a master manipulator who won’t be kept from her family. After convincing the Struckers to go to Turner (an admitted poor plot point, why would you go to the man who couldn’t care less about your children because he’s still grieving from the loss of his own?) it’s easy to forgive since Skyler Samuels is very engaging as Esme, and her sisters, who make an appearance later in the episode.

Just who Esme works for (or what) remains to be seen and should be speculated on. She’s clearly not working for the mutant underground, contributing to them witnessing a display of incredible force. The other two options are the brotherhood and the hellfire club, and I’m leaning towards the hellfire club. While the brotherhood might know just what the X-men’s underground have been up to, ultimately their goals are the same. The protection of all mutants. The Hellfire club, previously mentioned earlier this season, would know about the Struckers, would know their skills, would know just what they’re capable of and could be a far more effective force for launching an assault against human beings. It could go either way though, and with this ending it looks like it might be the focus for the last 3 episodes…and season 2.

That. Ending. Tho.

If anyone is just as confused as we are by that ending – another cliffhanger, we’re very much in agreement. After agreeing to release the mutants held in the hound program, Esme reunites with her sisters for a bit of bloodshed. After years of seeing Charles Xavier preach “peace for humanity” and having never seen Emma Frost on screen, we really get to see what a telepath unleashed looks like in the X-Men universe, and it’s not pretty. The “Stepford Cuckoos” are the sort-of child of Emma Frost in the comics and while there are supposed to be 5, these three did their villainous mother very proud. After convincing the Struckers to enlist the help of Jace Turner and convincing the mutant underground to witness their jail break, the cuckoos decimated Sentinel Services leaving Turner barely alive and taking the mutants on the truck with them – for an unknown purpose.

Apart from actually having the cuckoos, what was the most engaging was seeing a telepath being evil. After Logan, we saw Xavier inhibited but he still clung to his principles of not doing harm to human beings. Esme has no allusions to that effect and whatever will happen to her and her sisters in the remaining 3 episodes, they’re out for blood and the Strucker kids might need to show off their abilities.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Standout performance award goes to Jamie Chung who doesn’t deserve to cry.
  •  I truly do dread what Polaris is going to do when she finds out her best friend is dead.
  • The fact that Caitlin Strucker admits to being so ambivalent to the suffering of others but also admits her father gave her a gun at four is a very strong statement about gun control and power in American society.
  • Andy and Lauren’s powers reminded me of Karolina Dean’s on Runaways, but with a lot more explosions. Also adamantium? Adamantium is like Vibranium. Nothing can hurt it which is what makes scenes like Wolverine getting back up so powerful, or Black Panther scratching Cap’s vibranium shield with his claws.
  • Hellfire club or the brotherhood? Truly something that needs to be debated!

The Gifted is on a break until January 1rst. Sound off and share your thoughts about this season finale in the comments below!

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