The Gifted – Season 1 Episode 4
The Gifted works to bring the gang back together when the Mutant Underground mount a rescue mission to retrieve Lorna.
I find the handling of Lorna in this show to be really interesting. She is the best character and Emilly Dumont consistently delivers the strongest performance of any of the cast. Separating her from the other characters in the first episode and leaving it until the fifth episode before she has a chance to meaningfully interact with them is a bold move that I’m glad to say has paid off.
The show has turned her loss into something that is felt. Marcos is deeply affected by her absence and the main thrust of each episode has been figuring out a way to get her back. There are departures from that such as Clarice’s powers acting up -resisted the urge to say “on the blink” and Caitlin running off to see her brother but the through line has been the desire to free Lorna from Sentinel Services. What this tells us without labouring the point is that she’s important to the Mutant Underground. Different characters mention her here and there to indicate a prior relationship with her and it’s largely left at that. In short, it’s all about Lorna which means that the decision to separate her from the cast for nearly half of the season was a good one because it has emotional weight to it.
Lorna is faced with the prospect of essentially being thrown in a hole somewhere that she will never be found. This is something that clearly terrifies her based on her facial expressions but she attempts to put a brave face on it anyway. The implication is that the Mutant Underground have made a conscious decision to never show fear around Humans who mistreat them as that would count as a victory on their part. None of this is explicitly mentioned but the subtext of the show is so strong that all of this comes through.
As luck would have it, Lorna and Reed are made cellmates and are bound for the same fate. This calls back to the first episode where Reed and Lorna directly interact which faces Lorna with the confusing prospect of trusting someone who essentially got her in this mess in the first place. Reed is a changed man since then and completely empathises with the plight of Mutants thanks to the knowledge that he has two children who are Mutants but that doesn’t alter the fact that Lorna blames him for her current situation.
Reed tries to get through to her and explain to her that he’s changed but it’ll take more than that to convince Lorna that he is a victim here. She sarcastically congratulates him on figuring out that he’s one of the bad guys and tells him about the time she had to force a little girl to come with her while she begged to join her mother in prison. We aren’t shown any of this but the performances are powerful enough to make the emotional connection clear.
Imaging something horrible can often be worse than seeing it and the audience is put into Reed’s position of having to imagine it. Reed spent a long time turning a blind eye to the suffering of others because he was able to rationalise it as simply being a part of his job where Lorna has seen it from the other side and lived that suffering so Reed’s epiphany doesn’t really impress her. It’s a great scene and outlines the central conflict of this show which is Mutants only wanting to be treated fairly.
The best thing is that Lorna and Reed’s interactions remain somewhat frosty for the rest of the episode. Lorna has no reason to trust him though accepts that his desire to escape is genuine enough so agrees to work with him should the opportunity present itself. He does everything to show that she can trust him such as offering up the metal screw in his leg when her powers return so that she has some form of weapon. It’s a good dynamic and I hope it’ll continue now that they are free.
On the other side of the prison escape the other characters are looking to figure out a way to free Lorna. Thanks to Caitlin’s advice they come up with a plan to intercept their convoy rather than trying to break into prison. It’s seen as the less risky plan but in order to pull it off they need information. This can only be gained by Marcos making use of his less reputable contacts.
He goes to visit his ex girlfriend Carmen (Michelle Veintimilla) who runs a nightclub that is a front for a drug cartel. We learn through dialogue that she has taken over from her father and used to wish he would give up the criminal life. Marcos was hired muscle for the Cartel and isn’t proud of his past. Sean Teale’s performance shows the reluctance Marcos feels stepping back into his old life but also the determination to do whatever it takes to save Lorna.
These scenes are full of clichés but Michelle Veintimilla has plenty of presence that elevates the material beyond what it is. She has plenty of chemistry with Sean Teale that shows their history better than hammy dialogue ever could and the setup of her organisation is interesting in itself as it brings in another aspect of this universe showing it to be seedy and complex when it really needs to be. I also really like the idea of a nightclub owner hating the music that they have to play for the sake of appearances. It’s a nice touch and adds a little bit of depth.
Clarice is affected by the events of last week by imagining that she’s in love with John. She dreams about him and relives memories that never happened. John briefly talks to Dreamer -still no name- about this and points out how wrong it was to implant memories without her consent. Dreamer is adamant that there was no other choice and that there would be no lasting consequences of this as the impression would simply fade over time. For now the feelings are strong and Clarice is struggling with them. John also has trouble with this as he she doesn’t know the truth about why she feels this way. It’s a morally dodgy issue that the show doesn’t really do enough with but Jamie Chung’s awkward interactions with Blair Redford sell the anguish being felt by both John and Clarice.
I’m glad this isn’t being used for a love triangle plot as it seems to be more about the morality and implied violation than anything else. Focusing on the difficulty Clarice has processing those feelings is a smart move as it makes it about her and highlights the effect the lack of consent has on her. So far the whole thing is unexplored but the seeds are planted for this to continue.
John is also faced with something that affects him personally when Pulse (Zach Roerig) is seen working for Sentinel Services. Pulse is a Mutant whose powers can disrupt things like technology or other Mutant powers. He is deployed when Sentinel Services suspect an attack and the entire group lose their abilities while his are active. The character is introduced in a cold open showing an attempted rescue resulting in Pulse’s apparent death. This is something that John feels a measure of responsibility for as he was part of the ill fated mission so is understandably shaken when Pulse not only turns up alive but is working for the enemy. This delivers a personal connection to the conflict for John as well and highlights the stakes at the same time since a similar mission was met with a significant loss.
The prospect of a Mutant who can remove powers also raises an interesting philosophical debate. Every character in this show has decided to take action for their own reasons and their desire to fight is purely motivated by the fact that they have to. It is now apparent that Mutants can work for the enemy though it’s unclear whether Pulse is coerced or not -it seems likely that he is- so more work needs to be done on motivation in that regard. The debate comes from what Mutants would do if they were unable to use their powers? Would they still be committed into charging into battle for the cause or would the lack of powers colour this in some way? Marcos is fully committed to saving Lorna with or without his powers but what about the cause at large? I presume there are other Mutants working for Sentinel Services so I expect this will come up again especially since Pulse wasn’t rescued.
Lauren and Andy don’t have much to do in the episode though do play an important role in the rescue. Beforehand they practice how to combine their powers to get a desired outcome and it works to highlight the brother/sister bond. During the rescue attempt itself it’s notable that Lauren had to convince Andy to use his powers by bullying him and forcing him to anger as this was what triggered them in the first place. On the surface it seems harsh and it plays out that way. I wonder if this will go anywhere or if it was a specific situational plot thread that won’t be brought up again. I did like Lauren’s brief reality check where she talks about what she should have been doing that day. The dialogue is fairly hokey but it does serve as a reminder of how much has been lost in the name of survival.
The rescue attempt itself was really well handled. It did a great job of building tension and gradually increasing the stakes in a way that was meaningful. I do think there were a few too many moving parts and far too many characters to keep track of on both sides. The inclusion of Shatter (Jermaine Rivers) didn’t add an awful lot for example and it feels like he was served up as cannon fodder to increase the stakes.
An excellent episode that works to reunite the cast by freeing Lorna and Reed from prison. Lorna remains the most interesting character and Emma Dumont’s performance delivers a lot of world building through subtext. Her relationship with Reed is impressively strained and their scenes together are more interesting as a result. Seeing Marcos talk to his Mutant drug cartel contacts was rife with clichés but Michelle Veintimilla was enough of a presence to add some depth to it and the setup adds further scope to the universe.
Clarice struggling with the implanted memories creates an interesting moral dilemma that the show hasn’t explored quite yet as it’s focusing on the mental anguish being felt by Clarice. The awkward interactions she has with John work really well and the issue feels nicely complex. John’s personal stake in the conflict thanks to the appearance of Pulse was a nice touch and it broadens the show to include the suggestion Mutants on both sides as well as the notion of belief being connected to powers. The rescue attempt itself was really well executed though there were a few too many moving parts to make it truly great.
- Emma Dumont’s performance adding to the world building
- Lorna’s complicated relationship with Reed
- Carmen’s group adding depth and scope to the universe
- a well executed rescue attempt
- the moral dilemma associated with Clarice’s implanted memories
- implied philosophical debates raised by the loss of powers
- awkward dialogue
- clichés in Marcos’ story
- too many moving parts in the rescue sequence
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