In order to free their friends, the Mutant Underground has to forge a shady new alliance.
This week’s episode of The Gifted was the most action-packed one yet, which meant we traded some of the show’s usual grey morality for some explosive superhero battles. But damn, after four episodes it does feel good for these characters to finally get a big win, even if it probably came with a price.
Like last week, this one started off with a flashback. I wonder if any of these flashbacks will ever cover what happened to the X-Men and the Brotherhood? We’ll likely have to wait longer for that, but in the meantime we get a look at the Mutant Underground’s previous activities. John Proudstar and his friend Pulse are looking through a fence at a so-called “mutant relocation center,” the target of their rescue mission. Pulse wonders why they didn’t send him in first, since his whole power is disrupting things like security systems. He seems to have a point, especially when Marcos comes running back with the news that the breakout has failed and several of their comrades are dead. As the team goes into full-on retreat mode, Pulse lags behind in order to disable the facility’s gun turret — which proves to be a near-fatal mistake, as he’s immediately gunned down by soldiers.
The true significance of this flashback won’t appear until the climax of the episode, but in the meantime it serves as an indicator of how difficult the Mutant Underground’s next mission is going to be. John and Marcos want to lead a mission to rescue Lorna and Reed from Sentinel captivity before they’re transferred to some other godforsaken government facility. That means a full-on assault against Sentinel Services, an even more dangerous prospect than breaking into a facility. Caitlin Strucker has an idea that might lessen the casualties, however: Hit them as they’re transferring Reed and Lorna, rather than when they’re entrenched in an impregnable fortress. To pull that off, though, they’re going to need to know when the transfer is happening. The Underground’s informants aren’t privy to that information, but Marcos has another source of intel — his old drug cartel.
Yes, it turns out Marcos has a pretty shady past! Before he met Lorna, he was involved with Carmen, the heiress of a powerful cartel. Now, he finds himself in the ironic situation of appealing to Carmen for help saving the woman he left her for. He’s lucky that Carmen does have access to the info he needs, but she doesn’t give it up easily. After flirting with him, she reveals her true asking price: that Marcos go back to being on-demand muscle for her, using his sun powers to torture and intimidate her targets. First up is a bound and gagged guy who stole drugs from her. Reluctantly, Marcos uses his powers, threatening to blind the poor sucker for life unless he spills the beans. He does, and Marcos gets his much-needed information, but you can tell the dirty deed leaves a mark on his soul (requiring some quality time with his rosary when he returns to HQ).
Although they’re still scared kids, Andy and Lauren Strucker are quickly proving themselves to be the Mutant Underground’s most powerful new assets. In order to stop the convoy so that Reed and Lorna can be extracted, Lauren comes up with the genius idea of combining their powers. Andy’s telekinesis, after all, is powerful but uncontrollable, fueled as it is by his hormonal rage. But Lauren’s force fields can concentrate its impact, resulting in a precise explosion just strong enough to blow the tires off a truck. That quickly becomes the plan: The Strucker kids, stationed safely at a distance, will stop the truck, at which point John, Marcos, and a few other volunteers will storm the convoy, grab their people, and escape through a Blink portal.
Do you even need me to tell you that things don’t go according to plan?
At first, Andy can’t get his powers to work. Lauren giving him the “bad cop” treatment finally makes him angry enough to trigger his power and blow out the tires, but by that point the truck has moved beyond the designated window. The team on the ground has to improvise, with Trader deciding to use his illusion ability to cloak himself and scout out the truck. Unfortunately, as soon as he gets close, his ability starts glitching, and a soldier spots and shoots him (though not fatally, it appears). Everyone else soon finds that their powers aren’t working either, and that’s where the flashback from the beginning comes into play. The Sentinels didn’t kill Pulse, they captured and brainwashed him! Now he’s on their side, using his ability to disrupt all their powers. John takes this as his responsibility, running up to his old friend and, when persuasion doesn’t work, beating him into unconsciousness.
So everyone gets their powers back, but that’s not a lot of help to Polaris inside her plastic Magneto cell inside the truck. Here’s where things go full X2. Reed insists that she take the metal screw out of his leg, as it’s the only metal around. Impressed by his sacrifice, she does so, and is able to kill their guard and bust them out of plastic confinement.
Marcos, meanwhile, finally gets to use his sun powers on people who deserve it. Concentrating his beams, he’s able to blow up a car, but that’s nothing compared to what Lorna unleashes once she and Reed burst out of the truck. She deflects the Sentinels’ bullets back at them and then rips all their guns away, allowing everyone (even the injured Reed) to escape safely. This seems like the rare instance of the Mutant Underground getting away with an ambiguous victory, but there does seem to be some cost. Jace Turner is so enraged at this embarrassment that he orders his fellow Sentinels to go full nuclear on the Mutant Underground: Root out every safehouse, everyone who’s ever helped them, and get everyone.
We’ll have to wait and see for the full repercussions of this, but in the meantime, back to our new weekly superlatives!
Coolest power use: Once again, it’s another power combo! Andy and Lauren combining their powers to make concentrated blasts of telekinetic force is pretty awesome. Between this and last week’s mini-Northern Lights, The Gifted team is clearly having fun mixing and matching powers the way Wolverine and Colossus used to do with their Fastball Special.
Dumbest Reed move: Appealing to Lorna’s humanity when he had done so much. I’ll say this for Reed, he does learn from his mistakes. After Lorna chews him out, he learns to put himself on the line too.
Most impossible choice: Promise to torture people for your gangster ex-girlfriend in exchange for helping your pregnant current girlfriend is not a situation anybody will be envying Marcos for anytime soon.