The Gifted Review: Episode 2.04: “outMatched”

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The second season of The Gifted isn’t pulling any punches. From its opening introduction dealing with Amy Acker’s Caitlin Strucker having to make a very painful decision regarding Andy’s life as an unborn child, to Coby Bell’s storyline as he falls deeper and deeper into the purifiers.

It’s an unusual choice to have Jace Turner represent mutant hatred. The decision to explore hate groups and what it means is a bold move for traditional light superhero fare. The Gifted is proving itself to be the true heir to the X-Men’s legacy of representing the underrepresented on both sides of the aisle.

The Struckers pull themselves together (Reed pulls himself apart)

Reed’s abilities begin to play more of a role in the family. The real life allegories between Reed and coming to terms with something that’s a part of him are very obvious. In addition to him coming to terms with that (or at least trying to) the family also has to contend with Caitlin’s desire to get her son back. The opening scene of the episode, pointing out that Andy was a baby suffering from liver issues. Caitlin has become a terrifying force of nature willing to use every skill she has to protect her family. She may not have powers, but she has some terrifying skills.

Apart from how tough it will be for people with addiction issues to watch the episode, it’s a very scary moment. Their hacker connects them to the Inner Circle’s plans which brings them to Linwood mental Hospital. The show continues to handle mental health well, discussing the place in very reasonable terms while tying it back into Lorna’s past and her history with bipolar disorder.

Caitlin’s desire to save Andy pulls her down a very dark road where she nearly kills the junkie Rafe and feeds his habit. They manage to get them into the system but it costs them their hacker because of Caitlin’s actions.

Striking back at The Inner Circle

Eclipse, Blink, and Thunderbird move to Linwood to strike back at the Inner Circle who are breaking into the hospital to rescue a patient. Whoever it is, they’re worth a lot to Reeva and the Inner Circle. The “jailbreak” introduces a number of new mutants as the patients (addressing the negative issues with the mental health community).

Their actions begin a potential mutant revolution. The doctors at the hospital appear on TV and reveal that they’ve participated in the torture of innocent mutants. The Inner Circle strikes back with a social media campaign (#MutantUprising), their actions clearly successful. Andy seals the deal by taking out Lauren who believed, much like Xavier, that there could be a peaceful end to their conflict. It appears as if the bubble that the Struckers had around kept their son safe has finally been popped. From Caitlin’s actions to Andy swearing allegiance to Reeva and her plans, everything has changed.

For better or for worse, the battle lines between Lorna and Marcos, as well as Andy and the rest of his family have been drawn for good or for ill.

(Fans however who might be distraught by this turn of events can take comfort in Emma Dumont rocking a seriously cool new look for anyone interested in cosplaying her. It doesn’t hold a candle to the show kicking everything into X-Men level territory, but we need to take our pleasures where we can find them.)

The Purifiers Cometh

It is…profoundly difficult to make a character who is a part of a hate group sympathetic. Jace Turner’s visit with a police officer who’s a part of the purifiers  To The Gifted’s credit, Jace is profoundly uncomfortable with the situation. He responds with “Secret Society and Outfits isn’t really my jam.” Jace’s eventual joining of the purifiers comes hot on the heels of the #MutantUprising, motivated by his desire to finally close the case after losing his wife. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Mutant Observations:

 

  • The show dealing with mental health makes me feel seen. As a person with Polaris’s diagnosis, I love how the show isn’t backtracking from what she is, that she’s not defined by her illness but by her experiences. It’s rare to see mental health representation like this in genre fiction and I will continue to applaud the showrunners for not pulling any punches.
  • This episode is a TOUGH watch for anyone dealing with addiction and I found myself hoping Caitlin would get some kind of comeuppance, but by the end…
  • Coby Bell needs all the love and support for this arc this season. I hope that folks will look toward reviewers of color for their takes on this idea. It’s essential to hear from them about Jace Turner AND Reeva Payge’s storylines.
  • #MutantUprising – hopefully by the time this review is published – will be trending on Twitter.
  • Lorna’s outfit really is kick-ass and I hope to see fans cosplaying it at conventions.
  • #WhoEscaped also needs to be trending. I bet it’s a name. I hope it’s a name.

Did you scream when you saw that cliffhanger? Did you fall off your chair? Are you ready to meet the purifiers? Sound off and share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Gifted airs Tuesdays at 8/7 central on Fox.

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