The Gifted recap: 'rX'
As you may remember, I really enjoyed the pilot episode of The Gifted. The big question heading into this week was whether the second episode would continue the good momentum, or whether that was a one-off plastered over by the skills of X-Men movie maestro Bryan Singer. Thankfully, the second episode delivers as well, with direction from Len Wiseman — there are even some wild scenes of uncontrollable superpowers that parallel the best scenes from Singer’s films.
Most of this episode is focused on solving the fallout generated by a comatose Blink. One thing I really like about this show so far is how no one gets easy victories. If they take one step forward, they also have to take a half step back, and every good thing comes with potentially catastrophic consequences. The pilot ended with a great example of that, with the Strucker family connecting with the Mutant Underground and escaping the Sentinels — except, that is, for their patriarch Reed, who was shot and captured by the very security forces he used to order around. His kids, obviously, want to go back for him immediately (and Marcos is sympathetic, given Reed’s precious info about Polaris), but their friendly neighborhood teleporter is currently comatose.
The situation soon deteriorates further, as the wounded Blink starts randomly opening a portal to a far-away country road. Thankfully, Lauren is able to use her forcefields to physically shut the portals (which is AWESOME), but the root of the problem still needs to be addressed. Kate Strucker has enough nurse knowledge that she knows what kind of medicine Blink needs to stabilize, but unfortunately those are only available in a hospital. So she and Marcos hit the road to find one, as everyone else tries to keep Blink’s fits under control.
Meanwhile, Reed now finds himself on the opposite end of the prison-industrial complex than he’s used to. Jace Turner, the Sentinel Services agent in charge of the Strucker case who for some reason keeps reminding me of an Evil Cory Booker, is ready to bring the hammer down — presumably the same way that Reed used to. As Reed keeps desperately asking for a lawyer and complaining about harassment, it’s clear how little he understands about what he himself used to wreak on people. I don’t like Reed very much. (Recap continues on page 2)
Polaris is in jail and it’s not going great — except, that is, for the revelation of her green hair. In the X-Men comics, Polaris’ most distinguishing feature aside from her Magneto-inherited powers is her glorious green hair. Glad to see that’s still intact in this version, once the dye washes off in the prison shower.
Other than that, though, yeah — it’s not a fun time for ol’ Lorna. She’s stuck with a personalized shock collar to dampen her abilities, and her attempt to befriend fellow mutants in the prison (and recruit them for a potential escape) is coldly rejected. And things get worse once she’s out in the prison yard. It’s interesting to watch this show at the same time as Inhumans, which in its most recent episode also featured an extended scene in a prison yard. I suppose if you’re going to draw connections between mutants/Inhumans and real-life marginalized people, it’s good to subject the former to the same kind of oppressions that face real people trapped in the unforgiving carceral state.
“Unforgiving” is certainly the word as one prisoner starts cruelly beating Polaris in the yard. Somehow she knows about Lorna’s pregnancy and savagely kicks her in the stomach, which prompts Lorna to struggle against her collar, generating enough magnetic force to slam her opponent into a fence with a metal table. That’s a pretty good comeback, but unfortunately it lands Lorna in solitary.
Marcos, we can be sure, is desperate to free Lorna, but for now he has other problems to solve. He takes Kate to a low-key mutant medical clinic, which represents another one of this episode’s main subjects: health care! (The episode title should be familiar to anyone who has to constantly refill a prescription). I love how clued in this show is to the real world in the present, and I think the idea that lack of health coverage disproportionately affects minority communities should be at the forefront of our ongoing national health care debate, so I like this focus.
Long story short, Marcos and Kate get the medicine they need and escape the clinic…just in time to find Blink’s portals tearing the mutant headquarters apart! Every other member of the Strucker family has proved themselves so far, and now Kate does too, bravely dodging through the portal storm in order to inject Blink with some much-needed medicine, which restores her back to normal.
But like I said, every victory in this show comes with some other defeat, right? So with Blink restored to health and the Strucker family starting to forge a real connection with their mutant comrades…Reed goes ahead and ruins it by striking a deal with Evil Cory Booker to protect his family in exchange for leading the Sentinels to the Mutant Underground. I know there are no easy decisions on this show and that’s the whole point, but still: Goddamn it, Reed.