A Look at The Gifted- Season 1, Episode 12: “eXtraction”

And we are back with the two-part finale of The Gifted, just after learning of the show’s renewal at the TCAs.  Well done.  Let’s jump into the first part of the finale with “eXtraction.”

The episode begins with a flashback to four years ago as Roderick Campbell, already late to a lecture, tends to his brother, Jack.  He wants Jack to talk to his doctor since his lung capacity is down and he’s running out of time, as his condition is worsening.  But he’s lived longer than expected since he contracted cystic fibrosis.  He implores that his brother leave.

At the lecture, Campbell speaks of the mutant gene while speaking about man’s evolution.  In his experience, mother nature is no friend to humanity.  Humans just struggle for their survival.  Homo sapiens used to be the only species, but now mother nature has created a new breed with powerful mutations.  However, humans don’t have to worry about extinction.

He wants to harness the power of science for humanity’s sake, but only if humans have the courage to come and stand together as a species.

In present day at the underground, the mutants make it clear that they’re working with the Frost sisters to take down the Hound program, which the Frosts still hope to kill soon.  According to sources, Campbell is taking his program national, starting with the Humanity Today Summit he’ll be attending tomorrow in Charlotte.

Every major anti mutant figure will be there, including Purifiers.  Security will be huge, and this is the time to use Campbell to smash the program.  Clarice doesn’t like the idea of kidnapping, so one of the sisters brings up her criminal past.  She doesn’t go into detail, but it’s enough to arouse suspicion.

Meanwhile, Caitlin and Reed unpack when John tells them that they’re headed to Charlotte tomorrow.  Reed has gone through his father’s research, but he couldn’t make much of the science.

John then heads upstairs just as Clarice joins him to explain herself: she had some trouble with Purifiers in Clarke County.  After she’d been run out of town, she found mutants who were pushing back.  Turns out said mutants were part of the Brotherhood.

She didn’t join, just helped with some things.  And if ever came up that she didn’t want to, she bailed.  She didn’t say that initially because technically she didn’t do anything wrong, but John is upset that she kept this from the underground.  For the first time in forever, Clarice has felt safe and she didn’t want to lose that.  Right now, John second guesses whether Clarice is truly on the right side.

In the air, Dr. Campbell receives a call from an associate to tell him that a significant portion of Otto Strucker’s research is missing, even though there’s an archive’s worth of information.  Well, time to look harder, as that research is key to wiping out the X-gene altogether.

Back at the underground, Lorna and Marcos talk about working with the Frosts. She’s not asking Marcos to change his mind, but to do this for the sake of their family.  Plus, Lorna is sure that the sisters won’t come between them.

Would you like to make a bet on that one, Lorna?

Lauren finds Andy reading the book again on their family history and believes that the book is biased against the Struckers.  It was written by humans, after all.  Lauren identifies the difference: the underground is saving people, but von Struckers were terrorists.  Andy at least appreciates that the Frost sisters treat them seriously.  To him, maybe they’re the only ones telling the truth.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Campbell and Director Wolcott arrive for the summit.

At the underground, after Caitlin has a brief spat with Fade, she finds Sage and Reed going through Otto Strucker’s research, and they can’t find most of his work on mutants. More than that, Sage has been looking at the genetic research boards and found that Trask is talking to everyone who ever worked with Otto Strucker.  Someone’s even being sent to an insurance company in Decatur.

The same company where Reed’s mother works

Upstairs, as Andy and Lauren tend to plants, Andy brings up the mutants who attacked them in Fairburn and how their powers came from joining hands, just like him and Lauren. Again, Andy wants to take action, but Lauren is adamant on working with the team. Reed and Caitlin then come to tell them that Sentinel Services is going to talk to Reed’s mother, so they need to get to her first.

On the road, John, Lorna, Marcos, Clarice arrive with the Frosts at their safe house. There’s a working security system and the Frosts are ready with a variety of interrogation methods to pry information out of Campbell.  The Brotherhood at least left the Frosts in better shape than the X-Men did with the underground.

Hard to disagree with that, I must say.

One of the Frost sisters talks to Lorna alone about the mission about Lorna’s capabilities.  Lorna, not a fan of this sister trying to get under her skin, gets so riled up that she uses her powers to push the nearby bed into the wall.  The sister senses that Lorna’s power is growing, as she sees Lorna’s father in her.  In the eyes of the sister, there’s nothing stronger than a woman with something to fight for.

Very true.  Just ask X-23.

The Struckers arrive at Ellen’s office, Southern Worldwide Insurance, with Reed and Caitlin heading inside.  After speaking with an employee who confuses them for someone else, they arrive at Ellen’s office, but no Ellen.  Then they hear her voice down the hall and soon find her so they can talk.

Outside, meanwhile, Andy and Lauren keep a look out for Sentinel Services, though Andy is still itching for a fight.  If someone shows up, Andy won’t be the one who is in trouble.  Lauren reminds him that their powers come with responsibility and the last thing they should want is for people to fear them, but in Andy’s mind, maybe Sentinel Services should be afraid.

Inside, Ellen tells Caitlin and Reed that she doesn’t know about Otto’s research and has no intention of running from her entire life, but then Reed reveals that Sentinel Services already came for and killed Otto.

At the summit, Dr. Campbell joins Senator Montez, who heard about the tragedy at Trask.  Campbell finds this helps his cause tells Montez that he wants to expand his efforts, though Montez’s aide, Sarah, is against that.  However, the situation has changed since then and while today’s agenda is set, Campbell is focusing on the fight for humanity’s sake, so Montez at least wants to hear what Campbell has to say.

Lorna, Marcos, and John keep watch on the road while Clarice sits with one of the sisters in a van as they wait for their target.  Clarice asks how the sisters know of her past, but they didn’t read her mind.  They have a network and everyone talks.  The point was that the sisters have a lot in common with Clarice.

The vehicle approaches and is quickly brought to a halt thanks to the combined efforts of Lorna, John, and Marcos.  Yes, he won’t be going anywhere.

Ellen finds it hard to believe that Otto was a mutant and maintains that she had no idea about his powers.  Reed reminds Ellen that when he got sick, the serum was used to block the X-gene in him, and that serum is what Sentinel Services want, as it could wipe out the X-gene altogether.  He asks if Otto had another lab, but then gets a call from Lauren, who tells him that Sentinel Services is coming…

So Reed and Caitlin whisk Ellen to the elevator.  Outside, Andy and Lauren watch the approaching officers, and Andy wants to hold them off.  One officer raises his gun and tells Andy to put his hands in the air, so he does…and then claps them together, creating a shockwave.  He tells the officer to leave his family alone, but Lauren creates a barrier to stop him from doing more damage.

They face off and their powers clash, creating a shockwave that knocks them both back just as Reed and Caitlin come out of the building with Ellen.

Campbell tells Montez that he can’t do this alone.  Montez is worried about public opinion, as he’s paying for the early days of the Sentinel robot program.  Campbell appeals to Motnez’s reputation, saying he can be the man who won the war for humanity’s future.

The Frost sisters speak to their hostage, Franklin Bennett, played by Andrew Masset, and manipulate him to call Humanity Today to update his security detail.

John and Marcos get ready for the mission, though they’re still concerned about the Frost sisters. Marcos doesn’t like it, though John has experience of working with people he didn’t like when he was in Afghanistan.  They have to keep their eyes on the prize and fight the fight that’s in front of them: capturing Campbell.

Lorna and Clarice also get ready, though both realize that the Frost sisters are trying to get under their skin.  Lorna believes the sisters may have a point, as they talked about the man who might be her birth father.  However, Clarice knows now that the X-gene doesn’t take charge of who she is, and she hopes that Lorna realizes that sooner than she did.

Bennett doesn’t back down to the sisters, so they order him to stop breathing, relishing in torturing him for all the pleasure he’s taken in watching mutants be tortured.  The interrogation is interrupted when the others arrive and Clarice orders them to stop.

The Struckers make a call on the road and prepare to dump their car while they keep moving, though this is still a lot for Ellen to process.  If Otto had any secret lab, Ellen has no idea, but Reed wonders whether Otto used to talk to someone or visit a particular place.  Then something hits Ellen, a researcher who would talk with and visit Otto.  Ellen only met her once, when she came to the house to see Reed.

Her name? Madeline Risman.  Ellen apologizes, saying she should’ve protected her son, but Reed comforts Ellen, saying she did the best that she could.  Reed then tells Andy and Lauren that the underground is sending someone to pick them up.  Ellen, meanwhile, will have to lay low and stay at the underground, but Ellen doesn’t want to go, saying she’ll hold the family back.

She can’t go home, so she has a friend in Boca Raton and enough cash to get there.  Lauren tells Ellen that even though she and Andy are mutants, they’re the same people.  But Ellen disagrees- Andy and Lauren are much more than that.

At the summit, Senator Montez is introduced on stage and tells the audience that this summit is the birthplace of great ideas.  It’s time the humans took back their country.  People live in fear while mutants hide behind the Constitution.  That document, he says, is a human document, so it’s time to stop being politically correct and coddling their enemies.

So Montez plans to introduce legislation that will take down mutants who are a threat to humanity.  This bill will fund programs to wipe out mutants wherever they are, whatever their power, as humans are done hiding.  It’s time to prevail.

At the same time, the mutants arrive with Mr. Bennett in tow.  Once the speech is done, Lorna will knock out the frequencies for telephones and walkie talkies, giving the mutants an opening to enter.  Clarice tells John that she can portal him past the guards, but John tells Clarice that it was right for her to stop the Frosts from torturing Bennett.

Despite her past, what matters is who she is now, and that’s part of the underground. And then they kiss just before Clarice portals the two of them and Marcos into the building.  Time to execute the mission.

Back at the underground, Reed shares with Sage what he heard about Madeline Risman, so she decides to start digging.

Caitlin confronts Andy and Lauren over what happened at the parking lot, so Andy admits that he attacked the guards, but did not kill them.  He proudly admits that he’s proud to be a von Strucker, while everyone else seems to be ashamed of the family past.  With that, he storms off.

Caitlin wants Lauren and Andy to work this out, but Lauren has noticed changes in her brother, noting that he’s not the same anymore.

With the speech done, the sisters leave Bennett tied up and are on their way back.  Lorna and Esme watch the happy crowd with disgust, as nothing brings people together like hate.  Lorna starts manipulating everyone’s electronic devices.

Inside, Clarice also has no signal on her phone, indicating that Lorna did her thing.  As the three head upstairs, John senses Campbell approaching with some armed guards, with other guards in a suite down the hall.  As Campbell emerges, John and Marcos fight them off, but they have a bit of trouble since one of Campbell’s guards also has mutant abilities.

Campbell is cornered, but his escape opportunity comes when some of the children come off of the other elevator.  He grabs a gun and uses the children as his shield, knowing the mutants won’t attack him, and they don’t.  With that, he manages to escape.

More guards arrive and start opening fire.  As John shields Clarice, Marcos yells for Blink to get them out of there as the episode comes to a close.

With this being the first part of a two-part finale, it’s impossible to completely talk about this episode without also being informed with that comes right after.  There are character moments and scenes here that are paid off in “X-roads,” but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to gleam from this episode on its own.

If there was a constant to this episode, it was division.  The seams are slowly coming apart between our various groups, whether it’s the mutant underground, the up and coming rebuilt Hellfire Club, and even the politicians and figures who seem to eliminate the mutant problem.

Much like Jace Turner, it was a tragedy of a family member that sent Roderick Campbell down the path where he is today.  His brother having cystic fibrosis would explain the anger Campbell has towards mother nature and genetic disorders, but that death isn’t the fault of mutants.  If anything, the mutants seem like the scapegoat because mother nature has given them genetics that, in the eyes of humans, make them superior.

He says that mother nature is no friend to humanity, but mutants are just as susceptible to disease as humans are.  I don’t have an issue giving Campbell a backstory and motivation for his crusade, but what we get here feels like a way for him to blame mutants for what mother nature has given them…a gift that was out of their control upon birth.

With this motivation in mind, though, he’s able to manipulate those around him to advancing his mission.  With Jace, it was continued use of the Hounds.  And through Martinez, he appeals to his political sensibilities, as if higher elected office is in his future if he sees the bigger picture in eliminating the X-gene.

Both Martinez and his aide at first don’t see eye to eye with Campbell, and Martinez even mentions that he’s still paying for the results of the first Sentinel problem, so it makes sense that he’d be hesitant on joining Campbell’s cause, even if they both believe that mutants are the problem.  It all depends on execution, and Martinez, at first, isn’t willing to go to the extremes that Campbell will.

Conversely, not going along with Campbell’s plan could make Montez look weak on mutants, as far as public opinion is concerned, and Montez’s appearances have established him as someone who cares very much about what the public thinks, as most politicians do.  He can’t go from making a speech about not being politically correct and wanting to fight mutantkind to not backing Campbell’s approach.

And as Lorna and Esme note, the entire notion of a Humanity Today summit is just hatred veiled as patriotism and defending humanity’s values.  As Reed and Caitlin have pointed out, many of their fellow men and women may turn a blind eye to the plight that mutants face, whether from fear or seeing mutants as lesser.  As the series has shown, most of humanity sees no need to aid or sympathize with the mutants.

It’s worse when atrocities are committed by mutants that the public sees, similar to when Mystique spared Trask’s life in Days of Future Past.  While in that instance, humanity saw that mutants can be trusted, there are instances, like July 15, that turn public sentiment against mutants.  And those events have greater political and national implications for people like Campbell and Montez.

Then we’ve got the mutants who are just as split.  For one, I think it’s unfair for John to question Clarice’s loyalty since, as she said, she left the Brotherhood mutants when asked to do something she didn’t want to do.  Clarice has kept her past shrouded in mystery, but not for malicious reasons.  She’s given no reason for John to distrust her, so it felt like unnecessary drama since the two patched things up anyway.

But the underground is still split on working with the Frosts, and for good reason. There are some good parallels between these groups here and the ideological debates between Charles and Erik.  The Frosts are willing to accomplish a goal by any means necessary and don’t care who gets hurt, plus their methods are more extreme than the more diplomatic underground mutants.

Because not everyone sees eye to eye on working with Esme and her sisters, this makes it easy for the Frosts to divide and conquer.  They’re already gotten into Andy’s head and Lorna has been told about her father’s history in the Hellfire Club, so Lorna couldn’t have been more wrong when she said that the sisters wouldn’t come between the mutants.  And that’s exactly what happened.

I’ll touch upon this more in the finale, but Lorna is starting to come into her own and accepting her destiny.  Humanity is a threat in her mind and seeing the conference attendees so gleeful at the thought of hating humans disgusts her.  In her eyes, the real enemy is humanity, so she’s willing to take the risks that the others won’t.  While Clarice doesn’t let the X-gene in her take charge, Lorna is all but willing to embrace it.

The one noteworthy thing to come out of the Struckers meeting with Ellen is the reveal of the name Madeline Risman.  So there’s more to Otto’s research than he led on, even to Ellen, and adds even more mystery to the Strucker’s mutant history.

With Campbell still free, the mutants are in a bind as their one opportunity to capture their target has vanished.  How will they take care of the Hound program after this setback?  We’ll find out in the season finale.

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