A Look at The Gifted- Season 1, Episode 3: “eXodus”

The key to tapping into your mutant powers has nothing to do with emotion.  It’s all about that warm, jelly donut.  According to Blink, anyway.  This is “eXodus.”

The episode begins with a flashback to three years ago as Marcos and Lorna go for a walk outside the mutant underground.  They talk of a prior riot at Oakland and their job about taking in fugitives. Marcos asks if she ever wonders if she did something in a past life that made her deserving of having the mutant gene, but Lorna wouldn’t change anything about who she is.

She asks what Marcos did when he first discovered his ability, but Marcos refuses to talk.  Lorna climbs atop a car and explains that there’s a reason she started wearing steel-toed boots and metal bracelets: when she was 16, she learned that she could connect to magnetic fields, thus giving herself the ability to levitate.

Marcos grabs and shatters a glass bottle, gathers some shards, and creates a glow within his palms that illuminates off of Polaris.  Their hands touch and it creates an Aurora Borealis, when solar energy hits the magnetic sphere.  It is a brilliant glow, I must admit.  And as the glow brightens, the two kiss.

We cut to present day as Polaris stews in her cell.  Detective Turner enters her cell and explains that he’s about to take down the mutant underground, starting with Eclipse.  He offers Lorna a chance to cooperate or things could get much worse.  He then says that if this bust goes down without her, she doesn’t have any cards to play.

At the underground, Marcos and John debate how to free Lorna, possibly through using Clarice’s powers.  Marcos insists that Clarice is fine, but John says that she’s not ready, so Marcos suggests training her.  Dreamer jumps to Marcos’ side and agrees that maybe John should train Clarice.

Caitlin suggests getting a lawyer since there are ways to fight that don’t involve battles, but John won’t risk any exposure and Sentinel Services could be tracking her.

Following this, Caitlin overhears Andy and Lauren playing Monopoly.  Lauren won’t let Andy be the shoe because that piece always goes to their father.

Clarice tells John that she’s still struggling to use her powers, believing them to be broken.  Something changed after she got sick and she woke up with a mark on her face, so she believes that her powers are broken.  John explains that most mutants first access their powers from strong emotions, but negative ones are unreliable.  The challenge is to tap into something positive.  They’ll begin tomorrow.

John tells Dreamer that Clarice needs to get past something to use her powers, so Dreamer offers to give Clarice memories in order to help restore her abilities. John, though, doesn’t want Dreamer to implant memories as a way to use shortcuts, based on past experiences.

Later that evening, Caitlin wakes up the kids to tell them that she’s heading out to seek Uncle Danny’s help, but since the Strucker kids don’t have much to do right now and they’ve already lost their father, they elect to go with Mom to Uncle Danny’s house.

Over at Sentinel Services, Turner walks Reed through his bar encounter with Marcos and the bartender.  The plan is to wire Reed up and then tail him so he can lead Sentinel Services to the mutant underground.

Speaking of the underground, Clarice begins her training with John.  She tells him that she uses her power to bail out of bad situations, but John sees more to it than that. When he was in the Marines, for example, if you were afraid, you focused on what you cared about the most.  In John’s case, that was being both an Apache and a mutant. For Clarice right now, that’s a warm, jelly donut.  I like how Clarice thinks.

So when she tries to picture it per John’s guidance, her powers do begin to form again, but they soon spark out.  Well, trial and error, Clarice.

Then John notices footprints on the ground and, through his tracking ability, realizes that the Struckers are gone.  He tells Marcos that Caitlin believes she can help through her connections.  He then wants to find and bring back the Struckers.  After all, they know the location of the hideout.  If they’re captured, it could be forced out of them.

Speaking of the Struckers, they’re heading to Uncle Danny’s place on foot, but to speed things up, Andy suggests using his powers to rob a bank.  After all, nothing is normal to them anymore.  But he ends up destroying some meters, thus giving them cab fare.  I’m not sure how nobody noticed this, but hey, they have cab fare.

Over at the hideout, Clarice continues to struggle with her powers when Dreamer joins her, saying that this can be hard at times.  She asks if Clarice has something or someone meaningful in her life, but she doesn’t.  Then Clarice puts two and two together and figures that Dreamer and John are in a relationship.

Dreamer tells Clarice that she arrived at the base as a refugee explains that she came here as a refugee.  She explains that she and John agreed that if they were to work together, then they couldn’t be together.  Furthermore, Dreamer believes that Johnny knows his stuff, so Clarice should keep at it and take his advice.

So the Struckers arrive at Uncle Danny’s house.  They explain to Danny, played by Jeffrey Nordling, how they’re not with the mutant underground.  When Danny’s son, Scott, played by Cooper Roth, starts asking too many questions, Danny has the kids leave the area so he can speak with Caitlin alone.

He tells Caitlin that she shouldn’t have come, but Caitlin needs to find Reed.  She hopes that Danny can use his powerful connections, but he’s already receiving the cold shoulder from colleagues.  Hell, he could go to jail just for giving shelter to Caitlin and the kids, but they are still his family.  For now, he’ll allow them to stay the night, but they have to leave tomorrow.

Turner outfits Reed with an ankle monitor that can only be removed if Turner himself unlocks it.  Nice arrangement, I’m sure.  After spotting the bartender, Turner sends Reed into action.

Reed meets up with the bartender, Fade, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips, who vanishes and reappears with a gun at the ready, as he’s fearful that Sentinel Services is coming for him.  Reed offers to help, but he needs to find his family first.  And if Fade won’t assist, he may as well shoot Reed right now.  He doesn’t, and chooses to help Reed instead.

Inside, Reed explains how he hid from Sentinel Services, and is then introduced to a mother and daughter also on the run: Sheila, played by Erin Way, and her daughter, Dominique, played by Scarlett Blum. They’ll be taken to a drop spot tonight.  Sheila tells Reed that her husband has been taken to Sentinel Services Detention Center, as and that since her daughter has the X-gene, she’s seen as a future threat.

She then presses her hand to Reed’s wound and explains that she took away his pain.  After all, they have to stick together.

Scott and Andy play video games, but Scott wants to see Andy’s powers.  Lauren advises him not to and then she spots something on Instagram.  A schoolmate, Lucas, has spray painted some anti-mutant graffiti on their home.  Andy’s anger intensifies as his powers activate, causing him to strike at some of Scott’s figurines. Caitlin comes up to check on the kids and tells them that she’s still working things out with Uncle Danny.

Turner continues to wait- and texts someone named Paula- when Reed is finally heading out.  Time to get to work.  On the road, Turner follows Reed and the mutants from a safe distance.  In the van, Dominique tells a nervous Reed that they’ll be okay since they’re going to the safe place.

Feeling conflicted, Reed tells Fade to stop the van and admits that they’re being followed.  He apologizes to Sheina and, given that Fade won’t stop the van, he opens one of the doors and jumps out just as the getaway van slips into invisibility.  A disappointed Turner tells Reed that he made the biggest mistake of his life, but Reed won’t take part in this deal anymore.

Let’s check on Lorna again.  She eyes her cell door and begins concentrating.  Despite the collar giving her another nasty shock, she gives it all she has and soon manages to rip open the cell door.  Now with a nose bleed, she collapses to the ground.  Well, it was a good effort.

Caitlin receives a surprise visit from Marcos and John, who have come to take her and the children back.  Caitlin tells Danny that yes, the mutants are here to help. Before this family spat can escalate, armed men arrive and it turns out that Scott texted a picture to a friend.  Idiot.  John can get everyone through a wall, but Andy would prefer to fight, given that these people hate the mutants.  Danny offers to surrender himself.

He goes out and confronts the mob, who want the mutants turned over on the grounds that they want to keep the neighborhood safe.  They knock over Scott, but Andy unleashes his power and blows the mob back, yelling for them to leave the mutants alone.  The mutants keep the mob at bay long enough to escape, but the mob pursues them.  And Lauren can’t create a barrier because the plot demands it.

John calls Dreamer to tell her they’re en route, but need an escape plan that doesn’t involve fighting. Dreamer tells Clarice of the situation and needs her to prepare a portal, but Clarice still feels she isn’t ready.  Dreamer breathes a memory into Clarice’s mind to give her something to care about- a memory of Clarice kissing John which, of course, never happened.  It’s enough to give Clarice motivation, so there’s that.

The mob continues opening fire on the mutant vehicle just as Dreamer and Clarice head to the road.  Dreamer gives Clarice a location of where to create a portal, so Clarice stands in the road and finally manages to create a portal large enough for the mutants to pass through.  She and Dreamer go through soon after and manage to lose the mob.

When the coast is clear, everyone heads inside, though John is suspicious of Clarice’s sudden ability to tap back into her powers.  When asked, Dreamer admits that she gave a memory of her and John to Clarice, and both she and John are aware of what this could lead to down the road.

Back at Sentinel Services, Turner prepares for a prisoner transfer just as he receives a call from Dr. Campbell, who expresses his interest in Turner’s case and the Strucker children in particular.  He promises that he can be of use if he can gain access to some of Turner’s information, but Turner refuses to comply.

Caitlin, along with John and Marcos, meets up with Danny on the road.  Danny apologizes and wants to help by offering Caitlin shelter at his cabin.  Also, after making some calls, he can confirm to Caitlin that Reed is alive, but being taken to a mutant facility along with someone else from the underground. Danny wants Caitlin to accept the possibility that she may never see Reed again, but Caitlin doesn’t accept that.

And that was “eXodus.”

Another word to describe an exodus would be ‘journey.’  And that’s a lot of what the characters experience in this week’s installment of The Gifted, both physically and for the continuation of their character arcs.  What began for the Struckers, for example, as just a means to escape captivity, has now turn into a guessing game where they can’t be sure who to trust or what lies in store for them next.

And by far, the most interesting part about this growth in the episode was Andy.  He started off afraid about his powers, but now he’s embracing them, willing to be on the frontlines to fight any threat to him and his family.  Plus, he’s impatient and impulsive, electing to rob a bank or find a quick means to money rather than a conventional approach.

He’s a prime candidate for the Brotherhood of Mutants if I ever saw one and based on his temper and desire to fight instead of negotiate, he lines up more with Magneto’s philosophy towards humanity than Charles Xavier’s.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s just a nice change of pace to see a mutant who is more aggressive than passive when it comes to dealing with mutants.

Going a step further, the whole sequence of taking shelter at a relative’s house and then having to confront people who hate mutants felt reminiscent of the sequence in X-2 when Logan, Rogue, Bobby, and John take shelter at Bobby’s family home.  Even all the way down to the fact that people are alerted about mutants in the area because of a sibling’s action.

But it’s no different here in how the Strucker family sees intolerance and outright violence towards mutants.  This has always been a focal point of X-Men lore and again, it’s given a more personable touch here because of the focus on this family.

The mutants in the underground have known this all their lives, but with Lauren and Andy out in the open, they see with their own eyes that people they once considered close friends and acquaintances will turn on them the instant their mutant side is out in the open.  It’s a good move on the show’s part to have Andy be harsher towards humanity compared to Lauren and Caitlin because it makes for believable drama.

After all, Andy’s power manifested as a result of bullying.  Despite being in the hands of fellow mutants, he’s still facing torment.  But rather than being diplomatic, he now has a weapon at his disposal.  The flip side to this argument is that by going down this route, Andy not only proves humanity right, but he’d be the kind of mutant that Officer Turner would want to take down, as he sees no difference between good and bad.

It wasn’t the best move on Caitlin’s part to go to a relative for help.  After all, Turner was bringing in people that Reed knew for questioning.  Of course, Caitlin didn’t know that and perhaps she figured that Danny’s connections would provide some sort of breakthrough, but all it did was bring trouble her way.  But hey, she doesn’t have many options and she did learn that Reed is alive, so something came out of it at least.

Though there were a few too many conveniences.  The only reason we have a standoff is because of Scott’s reckless action.  And during the chase, Lauren was unable to create a barrier.  Why?  That seems like a flimsy excuse just to give Clarice an opportunity to finally get back in sync with her powers.  It worked, mind you, but it felt too easy.

However, this did lead to another good segment with John and Dreamer helping Clarice get back in tune with her powers, given that she’s not back to 100 percent after the previous episode.  That by itself is a good thing.  Too many times we’ve seen a protagonist get taken out of commission one week, only to be back to normal in the next episode.  But not Clarice, and it’s a small thing worth commending on the show’s part.

But yeah, Thunderbird essentially becomes the Charles Xavier of the mutant underground when he teaches Clarice the important of focusing on something she cares for in order to harness her abilities.  It felt reminiscent of Charles teaching Erik to find that balance between rage and serenity in X-Men: First Class and was a good way to emphasize how difficult it can be to use your mutant powers.

The question is at what cost, though.  So we learn here that John and Dreamer were once an item and that the use of her ability could lead to consequences.  I hope we expand on this because we have here an instance of a mutant using their ability on a fellow ally for a greater good.

Risky, but it got results, like when Rogue used her ability on Logan to heal her wound after she accidentally stabbed him.  And I don’t know why I can’t stop referencing the X-Men films when talking about The Gifted.

But anyway, this a prime opportunity to expand on Dreamer’s ability and character, given that John sees her powers as a shortcut instead of a necessity.  Just more of Dreamer in general would be nice.  Both she and Sage right now are just extra voices at the compound.  And I know I’m not the first to say this, but hopefully they’re given more prominence as the season progresses.

Another journey we see play out here is the bond between Marcos and Lorna.  The flashback at the start was a great, quiet moment that allowed us to see Eclipse and Polaris bond prior to their current situation, demonstrate their powers, and make me long for them to reunite, if just because of the impeccable chemistry between Sean Teale and Emma Dumont.

Plus, in the midst of so much chaos, a simpler moment is appreciated.  Helps set up the contrast from where these two began to where they are now with Polaris’ capture. Also, it was just cool to see Polaris levitate.  She truly is her father’s daughter.

What’s also great is that Polaris isn’t resigned to her fate.  Even though she’s imprisoned, she’s still fighting and it was a strong, but risky character moment for her to use her powers to rip open the door, despite the intense pain she endured.  Plus, you’re still pregnant, Lorna.  Take it easy. No telling what all that exertion could do to your child.

Reed’s journey is bringing him further in sympathizing with the mutants.  Yes, this was telegraphed the moment that Sheila used her ability to take away Reed’s pain, but I enjoy watching Reed’s internal conflict play out.  He’s putting himself at risk for the sake of mutantkind, even at the expense of his own safety.  We’re seeing shades of his selflessness emerge the more he interacts with mutants.

Granted, had Reed not been paired with a mutant that could take away pain, I’m not sure what the results would have been, but for the sake of the story, his move allowed Sheila and her daughter to escape, so there is indeed a good person struggling to do the right thing.

“eXodus” was a pretty solid follow-up to “rX,” continuing the various threads with Polaris’ attempts to free herself, Clarice’s struggle with her powers, and the Strucker family’s cooperation with the mutant underground to rescue the people close to them. The Strucker family now sees how the anti-mutant sentiment hits close to home when they’re the victims themselves, so will they fight, as Andy wants, or find another way?

Also, some very good character progression on Clarice’s part thanks to John and Dreamer’s assistance, but we’ll see how the long-term effects of Dreamer using her powers on Clarice play out down the road, I hope.  And with Dr. Campbell now reaching out to express his interest in the Strucker case, the family may have more on their hands to deal with besides Officer Turner.

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