The Gifted Episode 1 & 2 Review: “eXposed”/”rX”

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Hello to all the merry mutants out there. This week you guys are in for a special treat. Two reviews for the price of one. Not only will you get to see what I thought about this week’s episode of The Gifted but you’ll also get to see what I thought about the show’s pilot. Thanks for joining me for this review double feature of The Gifted. Hope you survive the experience.

The Gifted Episode 1 “eXposed”

I absolutely loved this episode of The Gifted as a series premiere. I don’t know about you guys but I was humming the classic X-Men theme the entire time. The biggest strength of the pilot is how well it managed to establish the world in a short amount of time. It really hit the ground running the pace of the episode never dragged and it never felt difficult to grasp, whether you’re a hardcore X-Men fan or a casual tv viewer you can easily understand the basics. Mutants are people with special abilities that are being forcibly detained by the government. One of the big things I was worried about was how well the powers would be on screen, thankfully the effects looked great.  The show also does a great job of setting itself in a grey area. It does this by introducing the audience to the Strucker family. The father Reed works for the government as a prosecutor who specializes in mutant criminals. Reed clearly believes what he’s doing is right, because of this conviction you really feel for him when their world turns upside down. I connected to the family right away. They honestly felt like a real family. You could clearly feel their connection. Their love for each other was moving it really helped you root for them. Each member of the family had their own personality. No one felt like they were just there to fill a TV cliche.

The argument the kids were having clearly showed how divisive the issue of mutant rights is in this world and where the two kids stand. It made the moment when Andy discovered his powers much more meaningful. It felt like something straight out of the comics.  The fact that his sister was the one to calm him down was also a really nice moment. It’s always great to see a more realistic positive sibling relationship on tv. The fact that Lauren has kept her abilities secret for three years also adds a really interesting layer to her character and I can’t wait to see where she goes from here, especially when it comes to mentoring her brother.

Overall the first episode was great. It reminded me a lot of Heroes season 1 mixed with a very classic X-Men vibe. Mutants are on the run fighting for their lives. Nothing is black and white. One other thing that I really enjoyed is that you could clearly tell that this is an X-Men show without constantly forcing references. Sure both the brotherhood and the x-men were mentioned and the Strucker kids go to Bayville High, the same school the young x-men go to in the animated series X-Men Evolution, but the show didn’t just lean on that. They built compelling characters and a really interesting world.  Tensions were high, the action was great, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The Gifted Episode 2 “rX”

This week on Mutant is the New Black… I mean The Gifted Polaris goes through her first day as a prisoner in Lakewood prison. This episode strongly focuses on how both the system and society as a whole treats mutants in this world. Once again the show does an excellent job at building up the world. From the moment she enters the prison due to her flea collar marking her as a mutant. She is spat at while various mutant racial slurs and insults are thrown at her. One of my favorite scenes of Polaris in the prison was the shower scene before I explain any further get your minds out of the gutter I’m keeping it PG. The reason I enjoyed the scene was that of how subtle it was. As Polaris was showering the dye in her hair started to wash out revealing the natural green hair of her comic counterpart.  I’m a huge Polaris fan from her days with X-Factor so I was excited to see her green hair, but I was even more excited with what it shows. Polaris dying her green hair shows the lengths mutants have to go through to pass for human just so they can blend in. In another scene we see that another inmate has control over the other mutant prisoners, and she tries to intimidate Polaris into working for her. That goes as well for the inmate as you’d probably expect. Unfortunately, this confrontation lands Polaris in solitary. I’m really interested in seeing how this storyline plays out. I believe that Polaris’ actions in this episode will earn her respect among the other mutant prisoners, and maybe light the spark of revolution in them. Like father like daughter am I right? After all, you can’t have part of a Fox show set in prison and not expect a prison break. I have a gut feeling that before this season is over Emma Dumont will make Wentworth Miller proud.

Now let’s talk about the MVP of this week’s episode, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker. The episode opens with a flashback to the Strucker family having a family night at a local bowling alley. There is a young mutant girl with her father at the alley who is constantly getting harassed by other patrons. Eventually, the girl snaps and causes a scene. Both Reed and Caitlin admit that what those people did was wrong but Caitlin just tells the kids to leave it be and let Reed handle this, Flash forward to present day Blink has exhausted her powers and is in severe need of medical attention. Using her skills as a nurse Caitlin has an idea that may help Blink but she and Marcus will need to break into a hospital to do it. I really liked that early on in the episode they establish a role for Caitlin. No one in the mutant underground has any medical training or knowledge so she is the best they have. This saves her from just playing the role of the concerned mother the whole season, which in my opinion is a nice step up. It also shows you don’t have to be a mutant to help in this fight for survival. Much like the storyline with Polaris Caitlin’s story in this episode reflects on how the system and society as a whole treats mutants. I really have to give it to Amy Acker’s performance here guys. I loved how she showed Caitlin’s eyes being opened. Once again this wasn’t shown with some huge over dramatic scene of discrimination it was shown through subtle scenes like showing how overcrowded and understaffed the mutant hospital was

. My favorite scene from this storyline has to be when the doctor sees Caitlin bleeding and he pulls her aside assuming that it was domestic abuse just because her alleged boyfriend is a mutant. The look of shock and disgust on Amy Acker’s face said it all. Caitlin Strucker is officially “woke” and I couldn’t be happier about it. She truly is the MVP of this episode. Seeing how much her character has grown from the flashback in the beginning of the episode all the way up to her saving Blink’s life at the end of the episode was amazing. I found myself cheering her own the whole time she was saving Blink. Caitlin isn’t the only one who gets some development this episode. We also learn more about Marcos aka Eclipse. It turns out that Marcos was abandoned by his family when his powers first appeared at age 13, but he was saved by Lorna which explains why he is so driven to get her back. I feel like Marcos was the perfect person to guide Caitlin into the world of mutants so to speak. He’s been through enough to show her the real dark and ugly side of things, and she helped to remind him that not all humans are out to get mutants. They made a really good team. I think the exchanges they had in this episode will serve both their characters well going forward.

Finally, let’s talk about Reed’s story. I have to say I’m really impressed with his character so far. The dude hasn’t thrown a single punch and yet he has still proven that he’s a BAMF. I think he and Matt Murdock could be good friends. I’ve mentioned several times that one of the big themes of this episode is the system. Reed’s back and forth with the sentinel services agent embodies the system vs the system. Reed has been in the agent’s shoes, so he knows just how to play the game after a few attempts Reed is not phased until the agent gives Reed a very enticing ultimatum. He can guarantee his family’s safety if he gives up. the mutant underground. If you think that cliffhanger was a lot to handle we also got a huge piece of lore for this world. Apparently, something happened involving mutants on July 15th that cost several people their lives, including the agent’s young daughter. What is the mysterious July 15th incident? Is this the reason that the X-Men and the Brotherhood are no longer active in this world? I would love to hear your theories in the comments. Overall I enjoyed this episode even more than the pilot. The world building continues to be fascinating and I am loving all the character development. Next week it looks like Blink will be getting some focus and a little training. I’m a sucker for superhero training so I can’t wait to see that. Don’t forget to tell me your thoughts about both episodes in the comments, and be sure to come back for my review of episode 3 “eXodus” If you’ve made it this far into the review of The Gifted, then congratulations, you’ve officially survived the experience.

The Gifted Season 1 airs Monday nights at 9/8c on FOX.

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