The Gifted recap: Magneto and insulin
After a break last week, the two main topics of tonight’s episode are Magneto and insulin, so how could I not love it?
The Magneto segment comes from Lorna, who finally gets a whole episode to wrestle with her father’s legacy. Up until now, it’s been heavily implied that, just as in the X-Men comics, Polaris is secretly the daughter of Magneto. That name is still not used, but this episode all but confirms it. He’s mentioned as the infamous leader of the Brotherhood who often appeared on the news, and his signature red-purple helmet is a recurring symbol.
Most episodes this season have opened with a flashback that gives context to specific characters’ actions. This one, by contrast, is littered with flashbacks from across Lorna’s life. Some of them show her and Marcos in bed in happier days, discussing their absent fathers. Others actually show us teen punk Lorna, wrestling with that absence in real time. We see how conflicted her emotions are about her dad. On her 13th birthday, she trudges toward her house only to find a small gift from him, containing the metal disc shaped like his famous helmet that we’ve seen her toy with in the present day. It even comes with a note addressed to Lorna, “my North Star.” At first, we see happiness spread across Lorna’s face but soon enough she rips the note into pieces — though she keeps the disc. Most people have a hard enough time figuring out how to feel about their parents when said parents aren’t absent and genocidal terrorists. Clearly, Lorna has complex emotions about it.
These emotions are relevant to the present day because Lorna has to make a big decision about what to do with baby Dawn. The Inner Circle is reeling in the wake of Rebecca’s massacre at Creed Financial. When Lorna angrily snipes at her in the getaway car, Rebecca becomes convinced that the Inner Circle only ever wanted her as a weapon. So she uses her powers to shift herself out of the car, giving Andy a goodbye kiss on the way out. Even with her gone, though, things are heating up. Angry humans have broken out into vengeful riots that have resulted in several deaths. Esme tells Lorna that in order to ensure Dawn’s safety, they’ll need to send her to a private school in Switzerland.
Lorna takes Dawn to Marcos’ apartment so he can say goodbye to his daughter. Once again Marcos is indignant about being separated from her, and once again there’s not much he can do about it. He tells Lorna that Dawn deserves to grow up with her family and not live without her parents like they both did. But now that she’s in a similar situation as her father, Lorna starts to see his reasoning behind hiding her in a small town while he went off to fight for his pro-mutant vision of the world. In fact, she ultimately makes exactly the same choice as he did. She takes Marcos’ advice to a point and decides not to ship Dawn off to Switzerland. Instead, Lorna gives Dawn to the woman who raised her, in the very same small town where she grew up. Hopefully, Dawn gets to grow up with a little more love in her life.
NEXT: What is “Regimen”?
The Mutant Underground are still as scattered and disorganized as ever, but at least they finally seem to have a solution to Reed’s erratic powers. They go to find a doctor who worked with Reed’s father, Dr. Madeline Risman. She recognizes Reed immediately, and at first, seems like the solution to the Strucker family’s prayers. She showcases her patients and the various ways in which she’s helping them control their powers. Not all mutants, after all, are lucky enough to have super-strength or sun powers. A lot of them can’t control their “gifts” at all, such as the woman whose body absorbs energy and releases it erratically. Throughout most of their history, the Marvel mutants’ plight has often been compared to those of ethnic and racial minorities, but Dr. Risman has a better comparison: Diabetes. She’s given this troubled girl a device that works very similar to an insulin pump, in the way that it helps her reassert control over her body to make up for physical functions that have failed. One of my favorite episodes from last season revolved around the difficulty mutants have getting health care, so I like this positive vision of it actually working. It reminds me of how the X-Men’s worldview differs from the be-all-end-all war perspective of the Brotherhood and Hellfire Club. They want to help people learn to live with each other and themselves. Medical procedures like this are a cool manifestation of that goal.
Alas, it is indeed too good to be true. When Lauren goes in to have her blood drawn so that Dr. Risman can use her Strucker X-gene to help suppress the dangerous side effects of Reed’s powers, the nurse can’t help but excitedly mention that the procedure, if successful, would allow the doctor to permanently suppress anyone’s X-gene! Why would Dr. Risman be interested in such a thing? Well, it turns out her brother helped found the Purifiers! She apparently hates him for it, but her distinction is not “we shouldn’t persecute and kill people who are different from us” but rather “we should erase what makes those people different.” It’s not hard to envision such a procedure being forcefully implemented against their will, so her medical advances would probably only end up arming her fascist brother.
After making her getaway, Rebecca is tracked down by John and Blink, who want to know what the Inner Circle was doing at Creed. She tells them that they were looking for information on something called “Regimen,” but she doesn’t know any more than that. Shortly after she leaves them behind, Rebecca is caught by the invisible bartender who works for Reeva now.
Finally, Lorna completes her apotheosis into Magneto’s daughter. She takes his disc and stretches it, changes it, until it becomes a green helm that can encircle her head. She really looks like Polaris now, ready to take up her father’s mantle.