The Gifted recap: Battle in the tunnels
It’s been a while! In fact, the multi-week break since we last checked in with The Gifted should have alerted me to the fact that this episode was going to be a real barn-burner. After all, Game of Thrones took a week off before hitting us with the Red Wedding. This doesn’t quite reach that level (what does?) but I did have to take a walk after finishing this episode, just to calm down.
This week’s cold open gives us a look at Benedict Ryan back when he was still a radio shock-jock in the Rush Limbaugh style. This sad, pathetic radio personality is a far cry from the well-mannered, anti-mutant powerhouse we know and hate. So how did he get here from there? The answer, apparently, is Reeva Payge. Far from being a recent one-off meeting, Reeva and Ryan’s partnership apparently goes back years. It seems she was the one who really refined his anti-mutant crusade.
Part of the way she’s done that is by giving Ryan select pieces of information about mutants to inflame his audience. In the present day, we see her give him information about the Morlock tunnels, telling him to send Jace Turner and a team of Purifiers to root them out. It’s unclear whether Ryan ever has an original thought or if he just does what Reeva tells him because even his method of convincing Jace to do the mission (telling him he can take over Sentinel Services) is inspired by Reeva. It’s not a temptation that Jace can resist.
The multi-week break really dampened the effect of last episode’s cliffhanger that made it look like Marcos might have died in his climactic confrontation with Max. So it should come as no surprise when I say, he’s alive! He’s totally fine, and barely seems fazed by the shots at all; he’s just sleeping it off on the couch. He is worried about Lorna though.
His worry is not misplaced, either. It doesn’t take long for the Inner Circle to realize Max is missing, and when they investigate further, they soon find his body in the burned-out car by the liquor store. It soon becomes a tense quest to find the spy. Now, you’d think Lorna couldn’t possibly last that long since the Cuckoos could just read her mind and see that she’s the one who looked up Max’s location in the computer system, but for some reason, they…don’t do that. Instead, these telepaths just pull up the computer security footage and find that it was Sage who logged in and pulled up Max’s information.
In actuality, Lorna used her powers to scramble the computer and hack Sage’s log-in, but since the Cuckoos can’t read Sage’s mind (it’s all just ones and zeroes to them), they have no way of knowing that. Furious at being betrayed, Reeva has no time for an investigation. She simply executes Sage on the spot. This would maybe be heartbreaking if Sage had more than like six lines over the course of the show, but you can tell that it really rattles Lorna. That one log-in of hers has already caused two deaths…though possibly prevented hundreds more.
NEXT: Purifiers vs. Morlocks
Speaking of death, the killings come fast and hard once the Purifiers invade the Morlock tunnels. Since these are just every-day fascists and not trained professionals like the Sentinels, it takes them a while to adjust to the spooky tunnels. For a few minutes there I was happily enjoying the Purifiers getting confused, rattled, and killed by the Morlocks, but I should have known it wouldn’t last. After two Purifiers get taken down, the others hide and booby trap grenades on their bodies. When the main team of fighting Morlocks comes to investigate the fallen, they get gassed, stunned, and murdered. Even the Morlocks’ ultimate trump card (flooding the tunnels) gets canceled when the last guy trying to make it to the pump room gets shot to death.
From there the carnage escalates; you know how this type of thing goes on this show. It becomes an evacuation mission, with Blink trying to teleport out as many mutants as she can while Erg and a few others hold off the Purifiers.
Mutant Underground members like Marcos, John, and the Struckers arrive to help drive the evacuated Morlocks to safety. This leads to a pretty amazing Caitlin moment. As she and Lauren are trying to drive a carload of mutants away, they find themselves blockaded on both sides by police cars. They’re too far away for Lauren to use her powers, so Caitlin does one better: She literally pulls out a gun and fires it through her windshield at the cops. When they duck for cover, she smashes through the blockade. Go Caitlin! Way to remind us that you’re one of the single best characters at the show. Shouts out to Amy Acker; her performance of Caitlin’s arc of gradual radicalization has been so compelling to watch, especially this season.
By redirecting energy from the Purifier’s bullets into his eye beam, Erg is able to hold a few of them off. But give Jace this, he’s good at figuring out mutant abilities; he soon tells the others to fire at the other Morlocks, even as Erg screams at them for being cowards. Fascists always are!
With their defense failing, Blink tries to usher the last of the Morlocks out through her portal. Despite breaking up with John for wanting to fight for a losing cause, she…proceeds to do exactly that, refusing to leave the tunnels until everyone else has been saved. So, this ends the only way it can: With Jace firing three bullets into her back as John looks on. Blink falls and disappears into her own fading portal. We don’t see where.
This, for me, is crossing a line. Even if Blink isn’t really dead, it’s no longer possible for me to sympathize with the character of Jace. Trying to fight for your family, stand up for what you believe is right, fine whatever. But murdering the show’s best character when she’s actively not fighting? When he sees a fallen teddy bear on the ground, even he realizes that he’s become the horror he’s been screaming about for years. Now he’s the one murdering kids and ripping them away from their loved ones. I think that’s as far as his character arc can go. He better not make it out of this season alive.