By Christian Holub
September 25, 2018 at 10:47 PM EDT

Welcome back, everybody! Season 1 of The Gifted was one of the most engaging superhero shows in recent memory, managing to balance comic-book lore and real-world relevance in a way that kept me engaged every episode. So needless to say, I’m pretty excited for season 2. With this premiere, The Gifted’s sophomore season gets off to a good enough start. Like most season 2 premieres, this episode is tasked with reminding us of where everybody was the last time we saw them, as well as introducing new characters and plotlines to fuel new stories.

So, where is everybody? Our old friends in the Mutant Underground have managed to lay low in some safehouses, carrying on their work in secret while the government continues thinking that they all died at the end of last season. Caitlin Strucker is putting her medical knowledge to good use treating rescued mutants, but she still wants nothing more than to find her son Andy, who went off with the Hellfire Club last season. Andy’s sister Lauren is still with her parents, but Reed has problems of his own. After much tension last season, Blink and Thunderbird have finally hooked up. They’re cute and I’m happy for them, but I’m guessing it probably makes things awkward for John with his best friend Marcos, a.k.a. Eclipse, whose pregnant girlfriend Polaris (a.k.a. Lorna) left him for the Hellfire Club.

THE GIFTED: L-R: Reeva Payge (Grace Byers, R), Esme Frost (Skyler Samuels), Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White) and Polaris/Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont) in the “eMergence” season two premiere episode of THE GIFTED airing Tuesday, Sept. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Steve Dietl/FOX
| Credit: Steve Dietl/FOX

Before we check up on Polaris and Andy’s whereabouts, though, we’re introduced to the new leader of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle: Reeva Payge. Apparently it was Reeva who gave the telepathic Stepford Cuckoos their marching orders last season, including convincing Polaris to bring down the plane carrying the evil scientist Dr. Roderick Campbell and the anti-mutant politician Senator Montez. Good riddance to those two I say, but the other members of the Inner Circle don’t feel the same. They’re mad that Reeva overrode their authority to act on her own, and aren’t swayed by her lofty rhetoric about a future that’s safe for mutants. Reeva’s not going to waste time arguing with them though. She unleashes her mutant power, a sonic scream that messes up the brain chemistry of anyone who hears it. As the Inner Circle members reel from this effect, the Cuckoos methodically walk around the room killing every last one of them. Reeva is certainly merciless, and I suspect this season will constantly keep us guessing whether to cheer for or against her. As it was last season, it looks like The Gifted is determined to paint its main conflict in shades of grey. Sure, the mutants are fighting for their lives against authoritarian repression, but they also kill people sometimes! Sure, the humans are trying to commit genocide, but some of them even have daughters! Though speaking of which, there’s no sign of our old friend Jace Turner in this episode.

NEXT: A New Dawn

As Lorna prepares to give birth, she asks a favor of Andy. She’s got a bad feeling about this delivery, and she knows that if it’s a question of saving her or the child, Reeva will take the former. She wants Andy to make sure that her baby is safe. Now outfitted in a black jacket and platinum hair, Andy agrees to live up to the Von Strucker mantle of not taking no for an answer.

Caitlin and Marcos, meanwhile, are determined to find their loved ones. Marcos finds a lead in the form of Wired, a mutant with the ability to control technology. The others think it’s too risky, but he and Caitlin decide to take the chance. Of course, this is The Gifted, so things don’t go according to plan. When Marcos and Caitlin show up on their own, Wired and his goons hold them at gunpoint, demanding more money. Unfortunately for them, Caitlin’s not a helpless damsel; she’s been doing some training and manages to disarm Wired and hold HIM at gunpoint even after taking a bullet herself. After his goons back down, Wired tells them about the existence of the Inner Circle and gives them a data drive filled with more information about the organization.

Back at the safehouse, Reed isn’t feeling too well. He goes to take a couple pills, but it soon becomes apparent that the problem is much deeper than mere dizziness. Reed’s arm starts pulsing with a strange red energy — it seems his mutant abilities weren’t as nullified as his father Otto thought! I’m sure this will be a developing storyline throughout the season, but before he can get a chance to mention it here, Reed is distracted by the more immediate crisis of Caitlin’s bullet wound and the pulsating waves of power rushing through the city.

That’s right: Polaris going into labor is messing with the magnetic field for miles around. Marcos and his friends desperately try to track the power waves to their source, but unfortunately, it all goes dark before they find their missing loved ones. Marcos screams in despair, but it’s actually good news for Polaris. She was struggling a bit in birth, but once the Cuckoos give her a telepathic vision of a future in which the mutants win and secure a safe world for her child, she’s able to deliver successfully. Welcome to the world, baby Dawn.

Since there weren’t many cool power uses or impossible choices in this setup-heavy episode, I’m going to forgo the usual superlatives I used with my recaps last season. But that could very well change moving forward. I miss this show’s crazy power combinations!