The Gifted – Season 1 Episode 3

Oct 17, 2017 | Posted by in TV


The Gifted continues to test the assumptions of the characters as some of them are forced to make compromises to protect those that they love.

Reed brings the main thrust of this idea as he is forced to make a deal with Sentinel Services in order to protect his family. The deal involves him ratting out the Mutant Underground in return for the organisation he once worked for turning a blind eye to the fact that his kids are Mutants. It’s just the sort of clandestine backhanded dealing that shows like this take pleasure in exploring.


The next scene involves them going out for some steamed hams

The problem is that it’s rarely done well because the mechanics of telling this kind of story are always so predictable. It amounts to the deal being accepted and the most powerful side of it not living up to their end of the bargain, a double cross somewhere along the line by either party or the deal going as planned but the person who compromised feeling guilty by the end.

This episode goes with the guilt fuelled double cross and it can be seen coming a mile off. Stephen Moyer gives it his all in the scenes but the dialogue is far too on the nose to not see the story beats coming. At first he’s torn between wanting to save his family and sacrificing innocents to be thrown in prison then he gains the trust of a member of the Mutant Underground before seeing a textbook example of purity and innocence which causes him to reconsider his decision and let them go.

As I’ve said, Stephen Moyer is an excellent actor and his performance sells his inner turmoil wonderfully. The cogs can practically be seen turning in his brain as he struggles to bury his feelings so that he can get the job done. One simple job and his family are protected. This is at the forefront of his mind the entire time but he ultimately concludes that the suffering of a large group of innocents really isn’t worth what he gains so he does the decent thing. I’d say it has been concretely established that Reed will always do the decent thing and that should put him in a very difficult position for the rest of the season.


What to do about Clarice?

Meanwhile Caitlin is trying to protect her family in a different way. Despite what she learned last week she is still fixated on the idea that Mutants will be treated as people in the eyes of the Law. She interrupts all the planning to spring Lorna from prison with the idea of contacting a Lawyer to represent her in a Courtroom in an attempt to appeal for her freedom. In an ideal world it makes sense to go down that route as turning her into a fugitive is a less than ideal situation. Caitlin fails to realise that Lorna and the rest of the group are already fugitives and no amount of legal representation will fix that.

She decides to ignore the dismissal of her plan and takes her kids to visit her brother Danny (Jeffrey Norling) who is less than pleased to see them thanks to the threat they represent to him and his family. He is pleased to see that his sister, nephew and niece are alright but is reluctant to get involved. It’s a reaction that’s easy to understand and it also shows how complex family dynamics can be. Danny cares about his sister but isn’t willing to take any personal risks to protect his family. He’s not quite racist or necessarily prejudiced but is definitely self involved and doesn’t want to get his hands dirty.

There’s a complicated argument here that the show doesn’t begin to explore. Caitlin goes to her brother for help which is a natural thing to do and the fact that he’s reluctant to do so is also fairly reasonable as far as reactions go considering the circumstances. He does as much as he’s willing to do by letting them stay the night but makes it clear they have to be gone by morning. It may seem harsh but it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from if nothing else.

What the show barely addresses is how unfair it is for Caitlin to put him in this situation. Danny knows at least something about what happened to them and he is undoubtedly someone who will be kept under close watch by Sentinel Services as people tend to look for help from those closes to him. Caitlin is desperate, that much we know and she may not be thinking entirely rationally when it comes to her actions but at no point is it even suggested that asking family members to take in fugitives might be a bit much to ask. Danny is put in an impossible situation and reacts about as well as can be expected given the circumstances.


Feel the Force flowing through you

There are also problems with this plot when it comes to how members of the Underground react. Marcos is very forgiving of Caitlin despite how reckless her behaviour was and how much danger it put everyone in. It’s justified by him believing that desperate people do desperate things which doesn’t seem like the attitude of a group of desperate Mutants. His reaction should have been something along the lines of “Do something stupid like that again and you’re on your own!” rather than what we got.

Secondly, no reasonable reason is given for Caitlin bringing Andy and Lauren along. Does she not trust the Mutant Underground with them? Is she terrified of losing them when she’s not around? Both of these and more are great questions that would provide insight into the character but it also isn’t explored.

Lastly, I had issues with how militant the neighbourhood became. Danny is a well-to-do professional living in a nice suburban neighbourhood so I found it surprising that so many of his neighbours had guns and were filled with murderous rage when it came to Mutants. I get that there are dangers everywhere, many Humans can’t be trusted and they have to be careful who they decide to let their guard down around but this was a very extreme example that didn’t really work. The whole sequence was awkwardly staged with confusing attempts to manufacture tension such as Lauren being unable to create a shield because she can’t see out of a dirty window.

One major concern I have that covers Reed and Caitlin is that it appears the episodes might involve them learning the same lessons about empathy -in Reed’s case- or the lack of empathy Humanity in general has for Mutants -in Caitlin’s case-. These are lessons best learned only once otherwise their characters remain stagnant and repetitive storytelling means that they aren’t all that intelligent in the context of the story.


There’s no way this is a good idea

The most interesting thing to come out of this story is Andy’s growth. He is prone to rage and is starting to think that obeying the Law is beneath him. He casually suggests robbing a bank and has no problem stealing cab fare. Later he offers to use his powers against the angry mob then decides to do it anyway after being told why that wouldn’t be ethically correct. I feel like we’re seeing the growth of a Magneto style villain within the show but from a teenage perspective where every emotion is amplified. Like most things in this show it’s easy to see why Andy would think that and his actions feel very in tune with what is known about his character.

There are consequences to Clarice’s powers freaking out in the previous episode. She now has the opposite problem in that she can’t conjure up portals any more. It’s implied the problem is more psychosomatic than physical which brings us to another typical superhero show plot line; training and philosophy. John is tasked with training her to come to terms with who she is and find a way to use her abilities once again. This goes along the lines you might expect with pseudo-spiritual pep talks about concentrating on someone or something important to you and using that to create an emotional balance. It’s even worse that the Native American character is the one delivering these vague lessons that really don’t help anyone.

In a surprising twist it doesn’t work as Clarice is a very solitary person who hasn’t made any emotional ties to anyone. This somehow means she can’t use her powers effectively which doesn’t really make sense though it does keep them tied to character development which is along the right lines.

Dreamer (Elena Satine) -presumably has a real name but the show hasn’t elected to tell us what that is- is impatient and wants Clarice to be fighting fit so that they can get to work freeing Lorna. Instant travel via portal will be an ideal way to do this so she is keen for Clarice to figure things out quickly. Since emotional control is an important factor she offers to implant a memory of Lorna being Clarice’s best friend which provides the perfect motivation for her to learn how to control her powers and save her.


Testing limits

In a moment of urgency, Dreamer implants affectionate feelings for John into Clarice’s mind which has the desired result but will definitely result in a -literally- manufactured love triangle. It hasn’t even really started yet and it’s already tedious. I like the moral ambiguity associated with messing with someone’s mind in such a way and the fact that Dreamer will suffer personally for doing this is a reasonable idea but I’m always reluctant to see another love triangle.

The setup for this does allow for some important development for Clarice who is shown to be excellent at reading people. She picks up on Dreamer’s feelings for John almost immediately with the smallest of clues and starts to get a sense of how everyone fits into the community that has been built here. There’s also a hint that she might be able to find a way to belong to it given time.

Lorna in prison remains some of the most fascinating work on the show. We see so little of her but what is shown is routinely great. She is offered the opportunity to have leniency shown by Turner in exchange for information on the Underground. The bargaining chip is the child who may be able to have limited visitation from its parents in order to have some semblance of a family. It’s not a great deal but it’s better than the situation she has now. She declines the invitation because her loyalty to the group is absolute and she is testing the limits of her collar so hopes to find her own way to escape.

In order to remain sane and focused she relives happy memories such as the one shown in the opening scene detailing the start of her relationship with Marcos. It’s a really good character moment with strong performances from the actors. Asking someone what their first joyful power experience works brilliantly as an ice breaker for mutants and the Aurora Borealis effect created by their powers coming together was impressively romantic. On a symbolic level it shows that together they are stronger and are able to create something beautiful which they have now done in a literal sense with their unborn child.


Abusing powers


An uneven episode that still has a competently built foundation but makes some fundamental mistakes. Caitlin taking her kids and asking for help from her brother is essentially an alternate way for her to learn the same lesson from the previous episode. Much of this plot feels forced and the fact that Caitlin’s reckless endangerment of the Mutant Underground is so easily forgiven doesn’t really work. It does help reinforce the attitude of Humans to having Mutants in their midst but it’s handled so clumsily. Similarly, Reed re-learning empathy plays out in a dull and predictable way. The best thing about Caitlin’s story are the hints that Andy might be starting to think he’s better than Humans and this risks leading him down a really dark path.

Clarice learning some vague philosophical stuff from John is also fairly typical though the important twist is that it doesn’t work and Dreamer is forced to take matters into her own hands by implanting memories without her consent. It feels like a transparent way to force a love triangle but the morality of it is at least interesting. Lorna’s part of the story is the most interesting part as it shows that her loyalty to her people is absolute as well as providing insight into her through her exploration of her happier memories.

  • 7/10
    eXodus - 7/10


Kneel Before…

  • the hints at Andy’s growing villainous streak
  • a wonderfully handled opening scene
  • Clarice’s ability to read people
  • the moral questions associated with implanting memories
  • subverting expectations by having John’s vague training not work

Rise Against…

  • Reed and Caitlin’s plots forcing them to re-learn lessons
  • the forced nature of Caitlin’s story
User Review
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