The Gifted Review 1.12 and 1.13, eXtraction & X-Roads

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It’s the season finale and we’re already crying since season 2 is a distant speck on the horizon. Thank goodness it’s coming through because with an ending like that I’m going to be waiting with baited breath for solving some of those dilemmas and issues! There are some new ships, there are some new characters and we finally got to see Shatter use his powers. It was worth the week wait and thank goodness we can all wait together. From Thunderblink rising to many major X-Men Easter Eggs, The Gifted is an incredible journey dropping multiple easter eggs and wherever it sits on the X-Men timeline it’s been a heck of a first season.

It’s been more than a great ride and a compelling story, however, the biggest strength of The Gifted has been the timely application of real issues into genre stories. From the division between Andy and Lauren to the divisions sown in the team as they’re caught between warring factions, The Gifted takes traditional comic book fare and discusses marginalized communities, allyship, and much more.  Let’s break it down guys and cover just what might be coming down the line when season 2 rolls around for The Gifted. Mutants Unite!

 

 

HUMANITY FIRST AND THE PURIFIERS

The name of the game this finale for both episodes is driving home political commentary in the world of the X-men that sounds familiar to our own. Campbell’s behavior is introduced as well as his motivations. So far he seems to see mutants as a disease but there has to be more of that – we’re given some of his backstories and we see he had a sick brother but the why and how that would make him hate mutants alludes me. He teams up with a senator from Georgia with presidential ambitions who wants to make America great again – by making it mutant free. Ultimately stopping Campbell becomes the reason the Struckers and the Mutant underground team up with the Frosts, luring them into the clutches of the Hellfire club that might have some answers about Lorna’s history as well as the resources the group is looking for.

It doesn’t go well. Campbell is too slippery to be caught so easy and in a cowardly move shields himself behind children scarring them for life. The name of the game is manipulation for the hate-filled messages of Humanity First- a pro-human being rights group, and the purifiers, something vaguely mentioned by Lorna. In the comics, the Purifiers have a leader in William Stryker, a character who has appeared in the X-men films with Wolverine. Believing that “God Loves, Man Kills” Stryker corrupts any Christian message by believing that god has called him to kill mutants. With his purifiers searching for the first mutant baby born since M-Day, Polaris’s child is likely to become a key figure in season 2.

 

DIVISIONS AND THE HELLFIRE CLUB

“Running in and attacking people won’t stop them from hating us.” Eclipse and Polaris continue to be on the rocky ground with Lorna. Their story is the reverse of the Struckers, while their family might be coming apart theirs is coming together at the beginning of the episode – the story of a marginalized group coming together. Partially Xavier and Magneto (literally in Polaris’s case), Eclaris and the Struckers came together and apart in the span of an episode.

Lorna’s decision to team up with the Frost sisters and follow her familial roots  As for the Struckers, their family is coming apart with Andy Strucker going down a far darker path than the rest of his family.

The dichotomy between the two sides of the struggle of the oppressed, trying to understand and work with those who are different is playing out on multiple levels but nowhere more than between the Struckers and Eclaris, Polar Eclipse. With so many people trying to use them for their own means it’s very easy for people to pick a side, standing with Andy and Lorna or with Lauren and Marcos. As Andy says “I’ll fight my fight and you fight yours” during the final battle with Sentinel Services.

The overwhelming theme is reshaping what the mutant underground looks like. While the Underground frantically tries to hold onto the lessons of the X-Men they’re pushed to fight back, and the hellfire club might be the new melding of The Brotherhood and the X-Men that this post X-Men world might be what they need to survive, but at what cost?

Ultimately the first season of The Gifted ended with everybody siding with the Magneto side of things.  It remains to be seen just where that will take the entire group in season 2.

 

WHERE WILL SEASON 2 GO?

The season ended with a few easter eggs and some name drops but also with a major division between all of the characters who came together in season one, along with the lines that every person is familiar with, Xavier versus Magneto. In some ways, the X-men ushered in the modern era of superhero films by beating out Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man by just two years. Fox’s The Gifted is a timely program that has brought fans of the series back to the literal beginning of the superhero film franchise. More accessible then Blade with it’s R rating, it was a story of Magneto and Xavier and The Gifted takes fans back to the beginning of their story with new players filling in the roles. Emma Dumont’s Lorna Dane is now playing the role of Magneto, arguably filling the vacant seat “left” by her father, and Sean J Teale’s Marcos Diaz has taken on the unofficial mantle of Xavier. Subverting the tropes in much-needed ways and adding diversity to the program is arguably the whole point of the X-Men themselves-something The Gifted writers manage to do.

With the final shots of the series ending with everyone taking sides between the hellfire club and the mutant underground, the mention of some new villains (When you google the name Madeline Riseman you learn that she’s not in the X-men but Matthew Riseman, a religious zealot who leads a group of evangelicals who believe all mutants are demons is.) you can get a clear picture that this division couldn’t come at a worse time for mutant kind while their enemies, human beings, remain very much united in their hatred for them that the hellfire club’s actions have made worse.

Season 2 should dive deeper into both the history of the Hellfire club (why would it need a TV show when this is so much better?) and hopefully provide some healing for the rifts that the anti-mutant hatred has sown. It won’t be easy but the show is evolving into a realistic gritty take on a world where people have abilities and it’ll be one heck of a ride.

Are you team Hellfire club or team underground? Sound off and share your thoughts with us and stay tuned to The Marvel Report for any and all mutant news!

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • It was…extremely gratifying but also very intriguing to have so many people discuss Lorna’s bipolar disorder. As a person with the diagnosis, I’m both gratified by having a character with good intentions play through this but also wary.
  • Jamie Chung and Emma Dumont literally battled it out for the MVP of the week – so I’m hoping they’d be willing to share the trophy.
  • Everything about Campbell’s discussion can be easily applied to rhetoric currently being seen on major news networks. People should take note of the consequences of those actions.
  • The return to the two sides of the conflict felt familiar, but in the face of such a massive threat like all of humanity hopefully it doesn’t last long.
  • Fingers crossed that the mutant underground can start to show off some of it’s background players, and the Hellfire club can do the same. Let’s see some of Sage and Shatter’s backstories and introduce some new players too!
  • There’s one easter egg I hope the writers confirm – were the Von Struckers trying to build Genosha?

 

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