A Look at The Gifted- Season 1, Episode 8: “threat of eXtinction”

A great installment of The Gifted that gives us some history of the Strucker family before the show goes on a two week break  This is “threat of eXtinction.”

The episode begins with a flashback to London, England 1952 as we see newspaper clippings about a pair of mutant twins, who turn out to be Andrea von Strucker, played by Caitlin Mehner, and Andreas von Strucker, played by Paul Cooper.  As the phone rings, the two realize that they’ve been found.  As agents stream into their home, the mutant twins hold hands and an explosion ensues.

In the present, Reed tells his family about the work looking into Sentinel Services and mutants being turned against each other.  He’s found that Sentinel Services have been working with Trask Industries, the same one where Reed’s father worked.  Reed’s father didn’t disappear- he lives in Chattanooga and was never all that close with Reed.  When Reed almost died from a sickness, Dad didn’t show up.

The two haven’t spoken since before Lauren and Andy were born, but Caitlin tells Reed that it may be time to speak with him.

Marcos finds Lorna playing with knives.  She’s still freezing him out due to his involvement with Carmen and tells him that she saw the look on his face when he burned the shipment, not to mention Carmen kissing him.  Lorna wonders how they can raise a baby in this world, but Marcos assures her that they can do this together, even though they can barely protect themselves.  Lorna goes to bed.

The next morning, Reed tells John that they need to visit his father, as he’s the only connection to Trask Industries.  It turns out that John is headed to pick up some survivors at a station that just fell anyway.  Marcos informs John that Clarice, not Lorna, isn’t coming on the mission.  Fine, but John wants the two to fix their situation, as they’re both leaders at the underground.

Outside, Dreamer hopes that there are no hard feelings between her and Clarice, but Clarice is just here to avenge her foster parents.  So the only relationship they need is a working one.

At the drop-off spot, a pastor, played by Jim Dougherty, informs the mutants about the refugees.  He takes them to a barn where the mutants are hiding.  They get into the transport vans while Clarice approaches one mutant, whom we’ll identify later, and tries to assure her that everything will be fine.

A telepath, Esme, played by Skyler Samuels, approaches John and tells her that she’s getting bad vibes from one of the mutants.  John approaches one of the mutants and finds the same tattoo that he saw on Pulse.

She engages the mutants in battle.  Through a combination of Marcos’ beams to trap her, and John jumping through Clarice’s portals, John puts the mutant down with one punch, man.  All things considered, it’s a great display of teamwork.

She’s imprisoned at the underground, where the others learn that she’s working for Sentinel Services.  Sage suggests stopping the flow of refugees if there could be a mole, but John won’t have that.  He leaves with Reed and leaves the others to find out about Little Miss Vicious.

Reed bids his family farewell, though Caitlin wants to accompany Reed, given how tough it could be to face his father for the first time in 20 years.  If anything helps protect them from this threat, it’s a small price that Reed is willing to pay.

Elsewhere upstairs, Clarice speaks with the mutant she spoke to earlier, Norah, played by Liza Fagin, who isn’t in the talking mood.  Clarice leaves her with a blanket and gives her the opportunity to talk later.  I thought the compound was short on blankets.

Andy and Lauren, meanwhile, helps Caitlin patch up some of the mutants.  Caitlin then goes to Esme, who explains that she can feel people’s thoughts if she’s close to them.  She reads Caitlin’s mind and learns that Caitlin is concerned about what’s going on between mutants and humans…and she doesn’t want herself and Reed to end up on the opposite side of her kids.

The rogue mutant still won’t talk, and she’s far too fast for Dreamer to use her powers, so Lorna opts to just toss knives at her.  Marcos orders Lorna to stop, and she does, but also questions why he draws the line here and not with his cartel work.  Sounds like a lover’s quarrel indeed.

Reed tells John about his father as the two approach an antique store.  Inside, they speak with the owner, Otto Strucker, played by Raymond J. Barry.  An awkward family reunion indeed.

So Lorna and Marcos spar over how to get information from the mutant, with Marcos not wanting to use the tactics he used when he worked with Carmen.  He then realizes, based on the mutant’s behavior, that she must be on some kind of drug.

So they talk about this to Caitlin and discuss a mutant drug called cake that makes you lose your powers for a bit, but makes you feel invincible.  Lauren’s familiar with it.  Lorna, though, doesn’t want the mutant to be treated, especially if it could make her stronger.  Side-note, it’s criminally unfair for a drug to be named cake.

Clarice speaks with Norah again, noting how the dog has taken a liking to her, but Norah still isn’t in the talking mood.  And it’s revealed that Norah was at the same foster home where Clarice grew up when the others were killed. Norah wanted to help every time, and every time she goes to bed, she remembers the faces of the fallen.

Back at the shop, Otto tells his son that he’s wasting his time.  John explains that he’s not a terrorist and not here for political debate.  Otto knows about the school incident, but told Sentinel Services that he never met his grandchildren and hasn’t spoken to his son in years.  His work at Trask Industries was classified, and it’s a crime to reveal such information, so he won’t reveal it.

Otto knows this has nothing to do with him.  Trask no longer exists in his mind, but Reed informs him that it’s open again and running experiments on mutants, including John’s best friend.  Otto then beckons the two to follow him upstairs, but John tells Reed to head up alone.

Otto asks Reed if Ellen knows about this, but she’s already been questioned.  Reed shows his father a photo of the kids and asks for information, but Otto’s work was peaceful, he claims.  Everything he did was for Reed.  He then asks what the kids can do and Reed explains Andy and Lauren’s powers.  This concerns Otto, who realizes that he’s failed and that it came back.

Dr. Campbell learns that the church has been searched and the asset is gone, plus her surveillance beacon is inactive.  With her conditioning, she may not be able to give any information, but with mutants, Campbell says you have to assume that you’re compromised.  He then orders that headquarters be contacted for an additional asset.  As for now, time for a road trip.

Back at the underground, Andy and Lauren prepare to go to work at restraining the mutant so Caitlin can administer the dosage to knock her out.  It works and they restrain her against the bars just as Caitlin sticks her and she goes down for the count.

She’s later restrained while Caitlin works on her,  though Caitlin thinks she may be dying.  Marcos doesn’t believe she may be able to provide any information, but Caitlin wants to wait.

Otto decides to tell Reed everything, starting with a photo of his father: Andreas von Strucker.  He and his sister, Andrea, were mutants and did terrible things.  He shows Reed newspaper clippings similar to the ones from the start.  Apart, they had the same abilities as Andy and Lauren, but together, they were known as Fenris- the Wolf, and were more powerful than Reed can imagine.

So yes, Andy and Lauren inherited their mutation, and Otto himself is a mutant.  They tried to raise Otto to be like them, but he resisted and hid his powers.  Their powers set them apart, even from other mutants.  When he ended up at Trask, he worked on a project to eliminate the mutant gene, but never got to develop one that could eliminate the gene from all mutants.  He did develop a serum and gave it to one mutant…Reed.

When Reed was sick, yes.  And it had to be done before any of Reed’s powers manifested.  Otto hated himself for what he did and couldn’t look his son in the eye afterward, and all of that for nothing.

Back at the underground, the mutants from the church confront Lauren don’t want the rogue mutant out of her cage, but when Andy gets in the way and stands his ground, the building begins to shake.  The mutants soon back off.

Sage meanwhile, found the rogue mutant’s file on the hard drive: her name is Chloe Tan, played by Michelle Kim, and used to live in a trailer park outside of Jasper.  When her kid got sick, the pediatrician wouldn’t treat the mutant, so Chloe trashed the office. Classi.  She was soon apprehended by Sentinel Services.

When Chloe awakens, Lauren tries to get her to speak, but she’s unable to talk, maybe from a mental block or any other reason.  Caitlin then decides to get Esme to help.

Otto explains that he tried to give his son a normal life, which is why he kept this information a secret.  He didn’t want to take any chances.  As for how much Reed’s mother knew, she knew that Otto had secrets, which is what destroyed what Otto had with both her and Reed.  Otto then asks if Andy and Lauren have used their powers together and whether they’ve held hands.

John rushes upstairs to tell them that Sentinel Services has arrived.  Campbell assumes that the mutants are already aware of Trask Industries.  He injects Pulse with a serum, thus activating his abilities.  At the same time, John feels his powers suppressing.  As such, he can’t fight his way out, so Otto offers to go downstairs.  He apologizes to Reed for everything and tells him to take care of his family.

But also to protect the world from Andy and Lauren.

Otto heads downstairs and speaks with Dr. Campbell, who introduces himself as a fan of Otto’s work, before all of this, as he dug up his work on Trask and suppressing the X-gene.  As Pulse uses his powers, Campbell tells Otto that he’s looking for Reed, though Otto claims to know nothing.  Even though Otto told previous investigators that he hasn’t had contact with Reed, Campbell wants to be thorough.

Before anyone can search the place, though, Otto  uses his own powers to create an energy sphere.  To Campbell’s surprise, Pulse isn’t able to neutralize Otto’s powers. As the officers open fire on Otto, he fires the blast.

Upstairs, an explosion rocks the store as Reed later looks outside the window and sees Sentinel Services retreating.  They head downstairs and find the shop in ruin as Reed goes to his father’s dead body.

At the same time, John rushes outside and finds a badly injured Pulse, who apologizes for what he’s done before he dies.

Back at the compound, Caitlin brings Esme to Chloe to read her mind.  She senses nothing but need and pain- Esme’s husband was killed, her daughter captured.out Esme’s husband and daughter were killed.  She gets a vision of Trask Industries. Caitlin makes one last promise to Chloe just as the mutant soon dies.

Outside, Clarice apologizes to Dreamer for what she said earlier, and then asks for a favor to discuss Norah.  She explains that Sentinel Services found the foster home because of Clarice constantly making the portals.  And since Norah keeps having nightmares about the others, she wants Dreamer to take away that memory.

To that, Dreamer agrees as we get a montage: Dreamer takes away Norah’s terrible memories…

John and Reed laying Otto and Pulse to rest…

Also, Lorna and Marcos reconcile….

Reed soon returns to the compound and they learn the worst has happened to Reed’s father.  While Caitlin consoles her husband, Andy and Lauren join hands.

Now that The Gifted is going on a two week hiatus, it helps that we end on a very strong note with an equally strong episode full of revelations, the biggest of which being confirmation of Fenris.  Even though Andy and Lauren have very similar powers to that of Fenris, it was a welcome treat to see the twins in action during that opening flashback and finally see them in this X-Men universe.

The build up to this has felt very organic and even without Otto revealing the link, the connection between the two pairs is evident.  Since Andy and Lauren have been on the run, they’ve taken the initiative of using their powers together, even in this episode, and all they’ve yet to do is join their hands and see what they can do.  But I imagine in light of what Reed has learned, we aren’t too far off from that.

Despite only having one episode between Reed and Otto, the chemistry between Stephen Moyer and Raymond J. Barry was so strong that one could tell there’s years of tense history between them.  Otto working for Trask Industries and developing a serum to eliminate the gene in Reed makes sense, given his motivation to try and give Reed a normal life.

Like Reed, Otto knows what it’s like when powerful forces target a mutant, and if Reed still had the X-gene, he’d be in just as much danger as his kids.  It alienated his relationship with his family, but Otto was willing to pay that price in order to protect them.  Given what Reed has done, between going on the run and going against Sentinel Services, he can relate to that.

It adds an extra layer to this fractured relationship and leaves me wondering just what was Reed’s mutant ability?  I doubt we’ll see it, but like learning in Days of Future Past that Kennedy was a mutant, it’s interesting to speculate.  But hey, Stephen Moyer is married to Anna Paquin…maybe he’s got a little bit of Rogue’s powers in him.

But anyway, while Reed has had his chance to bond and work closely with Marcos, Lorna, and Sage in the past, now he and John have a chance to work together over their common enemy.  Both had people close to them who were targeted by Sentinel Services and while it’s unfortunate that Pulse’s run came to an end, at least John got to see the real Pulse one last time before he died.

Before moving on, I’d like to mention that I enjoy seeing Dr. Campbell on the frontlines in this war.  Given his position and importance, it’d be easy for him to give orders and send minions while he remained at Sentinel Services, but he’s putting himself out there to accomplish the mission, even if he ends up getting harmed in the process.  Risky, but I like that he’s playing an active role as a villain.

It’s interesting that, in this continuity, we have both a Sentinel Services and Trask Industries both performing experiments on and using mutants for their own purposes. Given how there’s so much about both groups that we don’t know, they feel even more in the shadows than they already are, but we see the impact of their deeds through mutants like Chloe.

While flashbacks and conversations help inform the audience about a character or situation, that can come across just as powerful by what we don’t see, as in Chloe or Norah’s cases, with Chloe losing her husband and daughter, or Norah being unable to get the bad memories out of her mind.

It’s an added layer of tragedy to otherwise discarded mutants on the run and provides more motivation to the mutant underground to fight not just for themselves, but for all those affected by Sentinel Services and Trask Industries.  Plus, Lorna and Marcos put their feud behind them when all of this was over, so that’s good.

Another good thing, morbid as that sounds, about seeing and hearing about these terrible acts inflicted upon mutants is that they’ve allowed Caitlin, who seems to be taking up the mantle of the underground’s doctor, to garner more sympathy for them. Given that, based on Esme reading her mind, she doesn’t want to be on the side opposing her kids, it seems right now like she’s on the right one.

Going back to Norah for a moment, it makes sense that Clarice would have less of an issue with Dreamer using her powers in this instance.  For one, she asked first, and second, Norah is much younger and these emotions will be processed differently versus how an adult would handle loss.  Clarice is ready to fight to avenge those lost, but Norah, having been there, has that memory burned into her mind.

So here, Clarice feels that she’s relieving Norah of having to relive that horror. Granted, that doesn’t make the situation any better because it is another instance of Dreamer taking away memories that has the potential to backfire.  Whether that happens down the line, I don’t know, but at least Norah no longar has that memory.  For now.

“threat of eXtinction” put Reed and Otto on good terms before their reunion came to abrupt end.  With Reed knowing more about his family’s history with the mutant gene, the first appearance of the Strucker twins, and Otto’s warning to Reed on keeping the world safe from his children, things are about to escalate for the Strucker family as the battle against Sentinel Services and Trask Industries continues.

See you in two weeks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s