The Gifted – Season 2 Episode 3
The Gifted introduces a big piece of X-Men lore and lets Marcos reunite with Lorna to solve a parenting emergency.
I have to applaud this show for moving plot forward at an accelerated rate without making things feel overly rushed. Lorna and Marcos’ baby being born in the first episode before exploring Lorna’s feelings on being what amounts to a single parent in the second and having Marcos meet his child in this episode is a natural arc that takes us through much of the potential the story has to offer without delaying.
The flashback sets the tone for Marcos’ emotional journey in this episode. It takes place during his time in the drug cartel and details a visit to his father who was dying of cancer. This gives us extra insight into Marcos’ state of mind through exploring his backstory. His father wasn’t exactly the best role model as he made Marcos and his mother choose between leaving or hiding the fact that they were mutants. This is very much the opposite of what a father should do as he actively encouraged his son not to be true to himself. For his mother hiding this significant part of herself drove her to an early death and Marcos turned to a life of crime so it’s safe to say no father of the year awards are due to be handed out.
Marcos is motivated by his desire to be nothing like his father and but he is worried that he won’t be good enough for his own child. Lorna leaving to join the Hellfire Club has knocked his confidence a lot. He definitely feels guilty for being at least partly responsible for not meeting his daughter and he isn’t sure what it will take to fix it.
One of his problems is solved for him when the Frost sisters seek him out because he’s needed to make his child healthy again. Baby Dawn has come down with a sever cause of Jaundice that can’t be fixed through traditional means. The working theory was that his abilities would be what is required to make her healthy again. Naturally he’s suspicious but the prospect of meeting and helping his daughter is enough to encourage him to willingly come along.
What follows is nothing short of extraordinary. Sean Teale is mesmerising in the scene where Marcos meets Dawn. The unconditional love, sorrow, relief and unimaginable happiness can all be seen in his facial expression and the way the visual effects depict his powers healing Dawn is almost ethereal. It’s a very powerful moment that is given the time to resonate properly.
Unfortunately for Marcos this meeting is short lived as it is made clear that he is not welcome after serving his purpose. He makes suggestions such as Lorna coming with him or him staying with her but none of them are acceptable as far as the Hellfire Club is concerned and it gets to the point where he is forcibly removed. He makes a last ditch attempt to convince Lorna to leave by warning her that the Frost sisters are in her head. Whether this is true or not is up for debate as there is no evidence to suggest that she is being manipulated by them in any way. I hope it is just a desperate attempt to change her mind because X-Men stories are always far more interesting when different sides of the same argument are represented. If Lorna doesn’t truly believe in the path she has chosen then it cheapens her role in the ongoing struggle. Based on the evidence here I’d say it’s fairly likely that Marcos was trying to convince Lorna that she was being manipulated so that she would leave with him.
Lorna’s reaction to this is interesting as she is torn between her feelings and what she has chosen to do. On one hand she loves Marcos and isn’t shy about admitting this but she is also committed to doing what she can to create a better world for Dawn as well as all other Mutants. As far as she’s concerned the Hellfire Club is the best place for her to do that so her personal feelings don’t really enter into the equation. It’s really harrowing to see this new family torn apart especially when Reeva battles Marcos and brutally defeats him to the point that he’s only alive because she lets him live. It’ll be interesting to see how Marcos will react to the events of this episode; it could be that he accepts Lorna’s choice while lamenting what he has lost or he could refuse to accept what has happened and try to figure out a way to force Lorna to leave the Hellfire Club. Initially he does certainly seem motivated to strike against the Hellfire Club but whether that will last is up for debate.
As this is going on, John and Clarice head to the sewers to find information on the whereabouts of the Hellfire Club. Amusingly they don’t seem to know that Marcos is spending some time there as they search. They are following the lead Evangeline gave them in the previous episode and seek out a man named Erg (Michael Luwoye). John and Clarice’ trip to the sewer has to lot to unpack but the most important thing about it as far as I’m concerned is how their relationship is portrayed. John is isolating himself from Clarice and become obsessed with finding the Hellfire Club for reasons that he won’t divulge to her. It’s something of a reversal from her being the more subdued one last season and a clear indication of how positive an influence their relationship has been on her. Not only is she comfortable with John but she is willing to open up to him and wants him to do the same. After some prodding he reveals that he blames himself for this whole situation and carries around the burden of knowledge that it might not be possible to free Lorna or Andy from the Hellfire Club. Evangeline believes that since they are willing participants there may come a time when John has to kill one or both of them. It’s an extreme way to think but it will naturally be a possibility since they are on opposite sides. Clarice is very supportive and reassuring but isn’t without her own secrets.
Erg is someone who is able to appeal to a very primal part of her where she doesn’t feel that she truly belongs to the world she lives in. He explains that the Morlocks are a group of Mutants who live underground because they either can’t hide among Humans or refuse to. Living in the sewer might not seem like a great choice but for some it’s preferable to living a lie in a world full of fear, intolerance and hatred. Clarice sees that point of view because her eyes make her different and clue people into her being a Mutant. It’s something she has worried about her entire life so Erg naturally makes a lot of sense to her. She isn’t quite willing to give up her life on the surface but certainly understands where he’s coming from. Erg offers her the information they are looking for in exchange for her being a spy for him on the surface. It isn’t explicitly confirmed that she agrees to this but it’s heavily implied and it’s also possible she intended to come clean with John before Marcos appeared.
The Morlocks are a big part of X-Men lore and I don’t feel they were done justice here. In fairness this is a TV show with a very limited budget but at the same time there was no attempt to make them visually interesting in any way. From an ideological point of view the writers managed to bring them across well but there was a real opportunity to have fun with unusual looking characters that wasn’t taken advantage of.
Even the Struckers managed to climb out of the repetitive mediocrity that they are so often resigned to. After two episodes of Reed struggling with manifesting powers and keeping it to himself the secret is finally revealed. Lauren finds out when he loses control while driving a car and disintegrates the steering wheel which forces Reed to open up to her about what he has been going through. She has often been the most adult member of the family as shown by her mature reading of the situation and the way she relates her own experience of coming into her powers. She quickly shoots down Reed’s suggestion of keeping it from Caitlin because she feels that secrets are very much a bad idea and can rattle of several examples of why that is. This leads to actual progression for these characters when Reed and Caitlin have an open conversation about what he’s dealing with and promise to get through it together. Perhaps this will lead to more interesting plots that are free from repetitive arguments. It’s early days but there was more forward movement in this episode than both of the prior episodes combined.
Turner’s contribution to the show continues to be interesting. It’s becoming clear that he is descending further into his obsession which drastically affects his relationship with his wife who won’t even return his calls any more. Without the aid of Sentinel Services he enlists the help of local law enforcement who let him help in exchange for information. Turner ends the episode as he begins; with nothing but information and his obsession with finding the Struckers. It looks to me that Turner is a man lacking in purpose and desperately needs one though pursuing it might cost him everything else he cares about. So far this is being fed to us in small doses which feels about right amount to prevent this plot from feeling overblown and unnecessary. Last season a lot of stories were dragged out but this season is a massive improvement in that area.
An excellent episode that delivers some impressive characterisation and moves various plots forward nicely. Marcos and Lorna’s story is definitely the strongest with Sean Teale delivering an excellent performance. The flashback showing his relationship with his father is really illuminating as to what motivates him and adds so much depth to the moment he meets his daughter along with the promises he makes. Lorna’s conflicted nature plays in nicely with her ultimately sticking to her choice because she feels that it will be more positive in the long run. John and Clarice’s relationship continues to be engaging and the introduction of the Morlocks is intriguing from an ideology point of view though doesn’t take advantage of the obvious potential to showcase bizarre looking characters. Clarice relating to them because her eyes aren’t considered normal is a nice touch that plays into her being offered information in exchange for being a spy. John opening up about his concerns over what it might come to with Andy and Lorna is great as well because it shows how comfortable he and Clarice are as a couple.
The Struckers take some important leaps forward when Reed’s powers become known to Caitlin and Lauren. It is down to Lauren to be the adult and explain why secrets are bad. It all comes together really well as there are a few open conversations that get the secrets out in the open and expand the scope of these characters to participate in less repetitive plots. Turner’s obsession with finding the Struckers is really compelling because it’s a portrait of a man obsessed to the point of losing everything he cares about. He begins the episode with nothing but information and ends the episode the very same way. It’s a tragic story and is utilised just enough to be effective.
- Sean Teale’s excellent performance
- excellent insight into Marcos and how he feels about meeting his daughter
- Lorna torn between her choices and her feelings
- Clarice and John’s relationship
- the Morlocks being interesting on an ideological level
- Clarice relating to what the Morlocks stand for
- the Struckers actually taking steps forward
- Turner’s obsession and what it is costing him
- not taking advantage of the opportunity to show bizarre characters with the Morlocks
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