The Gifted – Season 2 Episode 2
The Gifted continues its second season with widespread uncertainty as many of the characters waver in their commitment to what they have chosen.
Andy is the most prominent example of this particular through line and it’s easy to understand why that is. He likely feels more isolated than anyone else because his connection to the Hellfire Club is tenuous at best and Lorna is unable to support him the way she did previously because of the newborn baby shifting her priorities. As such Andy is alone without anyone to connect to which makes him more amenable to questioning his choices.
We also learn that he is experiencing the same dream Lauren had last week which heavily suggests that their powers connect them in ways that neither of them realise. The dream is expanded to show Lauren throwing herself off a roof so that their combined powers can’t reach the extent of their destructive potential. This further shows the divide in their outlook as Andy appears driven to combine their abilities to see how powerful they really are where Lauren is scared that she will be responsible for harming people and afraid of what she is actually capable of. When Andy sees what Lauren is willing to do to stop him from exploring the extent of their combined powers he does start to question his own motivations which creates a fascinatingly conflicted mindset for him on this episode.
I’ve noted in previous reviews that the Strucker family in this show are often limited by having repetitive arguments that never seem to find resolution and that’s definitely still the case but Andy being removed from that gives him the opportunity to grow in ways that he otherwise wouldn’t if he was still involved in those arguments. For the moment it’s far more interesting to have him separated because it allows him to examine his choices with very little input from others. The episode explores this by connecting it to his powers as being distracted by missing his sister means that he’s less effective in a training scenario. Reeva recognises this and offers him the advice that he needs framed around her own desire to use what he can do to further her own cause. It’s an interesting perspective because it further shows Reeva to be completely committed to what she stands for while showing that she’s capable of empathy and that everything she believes has been informed by her life experience. She relates to Andy missing his family but encourages him to push past it because that’s presumably what she did. It may or may not be good advice depending on what Andy’s ultimate goal turns out to be but her delivery seems sincere and it’s clear that she wants to create some kind of connection to those around her even if there are manipulative undertones.
Andy does ultimately find a way to -at least temporarily- push those feelings aside though there is still conflict within him that is rife for exploration. It’s good that the season is taking its time on having him interact with Lauren and his parents because it builds a mystery around whether that eventual encounter will be hostile and allows the characters to explore their feelings of loneliness and loss.
As I mentioned above the other members of the Strucker family don’t fare as well. Reed and Caitlin have essentially the same argument they had last week about whether Andy is truly lost to them along with the added bonus of hiding things from one another. Once again Reed’s powers manifest in a moment of high stress which punctuates how he feels and Caitlin continues to retreat into herself because her husband isn’t supporting her relentless crusade to force their son to come home. Meanwhile Lauren hears these arguments and calls Reed out on hiding things from her while pretending that his world isn’t falling apart. Her contribution to this isn’t the least bit interesting nor are the arguments that Reed and Caitlin persistently have but I do like that Lauren is committed to helping other wayward mutants as shown by how easily she relates to Christina’s (Danube Hermosillo) desire to reunite with her sister. Lauren would be better placed focusing on helping John and Clarice protect as many Mutants as possible.
John has more to do in this episode than he did last week. The cold open flashback shows how he was plucked from a meaningless existence using his powers to make money from fighting and recruited to be a leader in the Mutant Underground. Evangeline Whedon was the one who helped him find his path to the familiar tune of honouring the X-Men and what they stood for. This prompts an interesting reversal as John is shown to be completely disinterested in the plight of Mutants and refuses to take any responsibility for helping anyone beyond himself at that point in his life. Evangeline Whedon is able to convince him to do more and be better which starts him down the path towards being the man burdened by a sense of responsibility that he is in the present day. John has the idea of approaching Evangeline to ask for help but finds she is in hiding because she’s scared that she will be discovered and punished for being a Mutant. It’s a very valid position to take considering how Mutants are treated in this continuity but John is disappointed in her and sees it as turning her back on her own kind. She does come around to the idea of helping which feels very abrupt all things considered but the symmetry of Evangeline helping John find purpose being paid by him helping her to rediscover her purpose is a nice touch that works really well. It helps give their connection depth beyond the small amount of screen time they share with one another. It also helps contribute to the overall theme of uncertainty around choices that have been made.
Marcos is beginning to unravel knowing that his child is out there somewhere that he can’t access. He’s struggling to deal with Lorna leaving him and not knowing his child so continues to lash out instead of properly processing his feelings. This is represented by a bottle of champagne that calls back to the early days of his relationship with Lorna while representing the future that he hoped to build with her. The story he tells about the champagne is really charming and full of obvious history that reminds the audience of the personal stakes attached to Lorna’s decision. By the end of the episode he does manage to take the first step towards moving on with his life by drinking the champagne followed by him using his powers to signal Lorna that he’s still holding out hope that they will be together. It’s a beautiful image that makes for a great callback to how their powers have connected them in the past and suggests a semblance of hope for their relationship at a later point. Lorna isn’t featured heavily this episode but seems to be adjusting to motherhood well enough outside of a cliffhanger fever situation and now that the baby is born she appears to be missing Marcos more than she would publicly let on.The way she regards his signal is extremely telling about her own feelings of regret.
Former Agent Jace Turner returns in this episode as well; trying to adjust to life without his obsessive devotion to his job. I’m not sure there’s a place for this character in the show any more though what we see of him this week is really interesting. It has always been well known that his hatred for Mutants is connected to the loss of his daughter and subsequent erasure of his memory of her but his obsession appears to have escalated beyond that suggesting it has roots beyond his daughter’s death. It may not go anywhere interesting but the brief use of this character was interesting enough to make his presence worthwhile for this episode. It”s a very crowded show and Turner seems to be the extraneous part but it’s possible he might weave himself into the tapestry of the overall story nicely.
So far the rest of the Hellfire Club are lacking in depth for the most part though I find myself interested in what could become of the Frost Sisters. Since they were reunited they have acted as one being who think with one mind but there is a suggestion that Esme might not think along the same lines as her sisters judging by her reluctant reaction to killing all witnesses of their movements. It’s not something the episode dwells on too heavily but I like the idea of one of them thinking differently enough to disrupt the equilibrium and hope this becomes key in later episodes.
Another strong episode that delivers a strong theme and compelling characterisation. Removing Andy from the influence of his family is definitely the right move for this character as his isolation makes him really interesting. Establishing a strong friendship with Lorna last week was a good move as not having that to support him has made his situation more difficult this week. It turns out he’s having the same dream Lauren is which distracts him from being as effective as he could be in service of the Hellfire Club. Reeva taking on the parental role by discussing her own experience of losing family is a nice touch because it humanises her as well as serving as a reminder that she is motivated by profound life experiences. Keeping Andy apart from Lauren and his parents works well for his character and should make it more impactful when they inevitably cross paths. Unfortunately Caitlin and Reed are having the same repetitive arguments that lack any sort of resolution and Lauren makes valid points about Reed keeping secrets from her. I do like that Lauren is helping John and Clarice rescue Mutants in danger of being snapped up by Sentinel Services and would like to see more focus on this.
The flashbacks in this episode detail John finding his way to the Mutant Underground thanks to the intervention of Evangeline Whedon who convinces him to stop thinking only of himself and work towards a brighter future for Mutants. This builds up to a solid symmetrical moment when he appeals to her better nature after finding out she is in hiding in order to protect herself. Evangeline’s reversal comes a little too quickly but it works on a conceptual level. Marcos is struggling to deal with his feelings of loss since Lorna’s departure as represented by a bottle of champagne that acts as a symbol of the beginning of their relationship as well as the future he hoped to create with her. By the end of the episode he does start to move forward as shown by him drinking the champagne which combines with the beautiful image of him reaffirming his connection to her by creating a signal in the sky by using his powers. Lorna clearly isn’t ready to let go at this point as per her reaction to it. The return of Jace Turner might end up being a mistake as I’m not sure there is anywhere in this show for him at this point but the hints of his hatred for Mutants extending beyond the loss of his daughter are interesting for at least this outing. The hint that Esme isn’t completely on the same wavelength as the rest of her sisters is really compelling as well. I like the idea that the equilibrium of three people who normally act as one might be disrupted by one of them thinking differently and I hope this becomes key in later episodes.
- Andy becoming more interesting when separated by his family
- the strong theme of uncertainty around decisions that have been made
- the symmetry of John being given purpose by Evangeline and returning the favour at a later point
- hinting that Esme doesn’t entirely think the same as her sisters
- further depth given to Reeva through her sincere personal stories
- the champagne as a symbol of Marcos and Lorna’s connection as well as the signal image
- hints that Jace Turner’s hatred for Mutants runs deeper than the loss of his daughter
- more repetitive Reed/Caitlin arguments
- not using Lauren to her full potential
- Evangeline’s realisation of her lost purpose feeling too abrupt
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