Previously on X-Men…
But on the real, though. I was surprised by how much I found myself enjoying The Gifted when it debuted last fall. Not that I was worried, but more curious how another live-action X-Men series would fare, especially after the stellar job Noah Hawley has done with Legion on FX.
And like that show, we’re at sort of an interesting place with Fox preparing to sell most of its assets to the House of Mouse. I’m not an expert or fortune teller, so I can’t and won’t pretend to know what happens with any of Fox’s properties- Marvel or otherwise- whenever this whole thing is said and done. And neither should you. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.
As you recall, we left things with the mutant underground hideout destroyed and the ranks divided, with Andy and Sage opting to join Polaris and the Frost sisters in the formation of a new Hellfire Club. Tough way to split up a family, but it was bound to happen.
So let’s pick up six months later with the Season Two premiere: “eMergence.”
The season begins with Reeva Payge, played by Grace Byers, speaking to members of the Inner Circle- the Frost Sisters among them- and asking them to put the events in Atlanta behind them. Mutants want freedom, peace, and to feel safe in their homes. I hear Genosha is nice. But none of this happens unless mutants have a place of their own. In Atlanta, some mutants almost made that a reality, albeit by breaking a few rules.
But it’s for the sake of a greater dream. William, though, is skeptical, as are others at the table. Not only has the mutant homeland project been discussed, it’s been dismissed on the grounds of being too dangerous.
Reeva’s a bit taken aback. Given her rough upbringing in Chicago, she feels that she’s earned a spot at the table. However, again, the gathering is aware of the risks she and the Frost sisters have taken. Recruiting Polaris was one of those steps, as she’s a rare mutant. But she has no right to make this decision without authorization. Still, the Frost sisters acted on Reeva’s instruction and without the blessing of the Inner Circle.
To that, Reeva doesn’t disagree. She’s believed in better times. With that, Reeva exhales, rendering the others, William included, motionless while the Frost sisters execute them. That’s one way to take over, anyway.
We pick up six months later in Washington, D.C., a pregnant Polaris stares out at the city while having memories of her and Marcos. Andy arrives, asking if she’s ready but Lorna tells him that he doesn’t have to come, even though that’s what he’d prefer. She thought that when she gave birth, she’d be around family, but Andy assures that she’s still got one. But he’s not all that useful if Lorna gets pre-eclampsia. Tough luck.
Meanwhile, Sentinel Services does what Sentinel Services does best- perform raids. This time at the Liberty Park Apartments, as officers break in and start capturing any and all mutants they can find.
At the same time, it’s all hands on deck for what remains of the underground. Reed calls John and Marcos to alert them about the raid, so Lauren and Clarice will be needed for this as well. Soon enough, they arrive at a warehouse, where they find a group of mutants in hiding. John tracks the others, while Clarice and Lauren pursue the others by the storm drains. Lauren in particular is upset that this is the third raid this month.
They arrive at a clearing and find…nobody. They soon find some mutants almost caught by officers, so Blink creates a portal. Lauren enters and creates a barrier long enough for the mutants to escape.
At a clinic, Caitlin cares for an injured mutant by the name of Cristina, played by Danube Hermosillo, who can’t control her abilities. She finally manages to calm down enough to ask Caitlin if her 12-year old sister, Jazmine, was found, as the two were separated after their parents were killed. Cristina tells Caitlin that many mutants lived where she and her sister did, noting that Caitlin lost someone close to her, too.
As night falls, Caitlin enters a restricted biohazard space and enters a secret room where Reed is hard at work, making IDs for the mutants. Caitlin questions what they’re doing, but still, they rescued 10 mutants. That’s still a good day. She asked all of the mutants about Andy, but none knew anything. And she can’t use his real name since the authorities think they all died in Atlanta. Still, they have to keep on trying.
Caitlin is ready to give up after the search. After John tracked Lorna and Andy to D.C., Reed and Caitlin had some semblance of hope, but it’s getting harder hard to hold onto that hope.
Elsewhere in D.C., the Frost sisters, Lorna, Andy, and Reeva arrive at an old munitions warehouse- all stone and concrete- and it may be the only spot strong enough when Lorna gives birth, so it has to be modified for her convenience. I bet. Anyway, Lorna feels a push and it’s enough for her powers to mess with some of the metal nearby, not the least of which includes one of their vehicles.
At the new mutant hideout, Reed tells the others that losing Liberty Park was a blow, yes, but 10 mutants and their families can start new lives. He’s organized transportation, and Shatter’s crew in Baltimore will take most of them. Still, Cristina doesn’t want to leave her sister, but the trail is a day old. In the meantime, she’ll stay with John and Clarice.
Also, Marcos has been speaking with some mutant hackers that can work their way into computers. One of them, Wire, may be able to help, even though the mutants are criminals. The only thing keeping them alive is that the government thinks they all died in Atlanta. And Marcos’ kid is about to be born, so he’s done being careful.
Polaris rests while massaging her baby bump when Reeva enters. She’s not worried about the car, but tells Lorna that she understands what it’s like to feel alone. She was hated for her poverty, skin color, and now her powers. But they’re here to change that and Polaris is a part of that equation. However, Lorna knows that others have been used by Reeva in the past for the good of the Inner Circle.
Yes, Reeva’s made sacrifices. She lost good friends, but for the sake of what it is that’s being built, she’ll sacrifice everything. Also, the Frost sisters are taking care of everything else.
They are. The sisters, driven by Sage, arrive at a facility and use their psychic abilities to persuade an official to hand the building over to them. And he’s being paid for his silence. Also, Sage is now the Inner Circle Driver, looks like.
John and Clarice provide a shelter for Cristina. Clarice assures her that John, as a tracker, can find anybody. She then goes to ask John about Marcos, who she feels is behaving less and less rational since he’s so close to finding his child.
Reed joins his wife and daughter, but as he turns on the tap, he feels a ringing pain. Once it subsides, Reed tells Lauren that he wants her to live her life and work, but she doesn’t mind the shelter work, as that how she’s gotten most of the information she’s received so far. Finding Andy is a priority, sure, but she also needs to live her life.
Lauren leaves and goes out for a walk. She heads to the top of a random building, where she finds Andy, new hairdo and all. The reunion is cut short when Andy takes her hand so the two can utilize their powers. Lauren resists, but it’s not enough as their powers soon activate.
Oh wait, it’s all a dream. Never mind. Lauren tells her mother that she saw her brother, older and different, at a parking garage. Because Lauren could describe how Andy looks without seeing him in reality, this could be crucial in locating him. After all, they can use their powers together and see one another through each other’s eyes. Caitlin sees this as a sign of hope, but right now, Lauren just wants to get some sleep.
As Caitlin gets a glass of water, she then makes a phone call to Marcos to talk to that hacker mutant. Since Andy might be close, Caitlin is done waiting.
At the munitions warehouse, Reeva tells Lorna that she’s not to be exerting herself, especially with her contractions that are capable of moving a 6000 pound car. As such, she should be on bed rest. As for Andy, he’s to help the workers outside. Reeva calls the doctor away, but Lorna needs to talk with Andy. She’s got a bad feeling about the birth, saying it won’t go well.
Things can still go wrong and she thinks that Reeva will choose her over the baby, so Andy must protect the child at all costs. After all, he’s a Von Strucker. He can stop them any way that he can.
Clarice puts on some flesh makeup to cover up her markings, even though her portals have nothing to do with her appearance. Plus, she can’t see the portals or energy, and trying to practice would be like throwing darts blindfolded in a hurricane. I’d like to meet the mutant who can do that. Meanwhile, John hasn’t talked to Marcos yet.
Speaking of, Marcos and Caitlin head to meet this Wire, with Marcos warning her that Wire is a bit erratic due to his drug problem. They’re led right to Wire, played by Brad Carter, who is surprised that this isn’t a one-on-one meeting. That’s not how secret meetings work, but Marcos assures Wire that Caitlin is on the level.
Wire tells them that the Hellfire Club is into some heavy stuff, which leads to today’s business. Wire and his men pull their weapons, and since Marcos has no more money, that could be a problem. He and Caitlin spring into action, but Caitlin is shot in the process. She demands to get what she wants or the motherboard gets a bullet. Wire soon gives in and surrenders. Even with a grazed shot, Caitlin is done waiting.
Wire tells the two that the Hellfire Club spun off of the Inner Circle, which is very well hidden. As in 12 layers of shell companies hidden with dozens of bank accounts. As for the group itself, Wire tells Caitlin that she doesn’t want to find the Inner Circle because anyone who crosses or steals from them disappears. And Wire is afraid, that’s why he wanted more money.
As for what the Inner Circle is doing, they have big plans and Wire won’t be getting in the way of them. He hands over a USB drive with all the information needed. Oh, and Caitlin- while pointing a gun at him- advises Wire to stop doing drugs. Good luck with that.
John, Lauren, and Clarice talk with Cristina about Jazmine- they tracked her as far as a bus station, where she was picked up, but it didn’t seem that there was a struggle. Hopefully she was picked up by somebody good. They will follow up with their contacts, but then Marcos and Caitlin arrive with the information from Wire. Even though Caitlin took a bullet, it’s a step in the right direction.
But where’s Reed? He’s taking drugs when he gets a call from John. But his hearing starts to go on the fritz again and he collapses in pain as his body begins to mutate.
Back at the facility, Andy keeps a close eye over Lorna, who gets another contraction, but this time, the baby’s coming.
All systems are go. Red alert. All things metal go haywire as Lorna is brought into the containment chamber.
Reed chews out Caitlin for what happened, even though she did get results, which is better than no results after six months of searching. However, Lauren steps in and reminds her parents that no, Andy wasn’t kidnapped- he left of his own volition. He’s not too young to fight, as this war came to him. Lauren’s hurting, too, but she’s confident that Andy left them.
Marcos goes through the files when the computer goes on the fritz for a second. Then the lights. He looks outside and sees electricity going haywire. He goes to Reed and Caitlin, who are discussing Lauren’s words, and tells them to come to the roof.
At the same time, Polaris goes through probably one of the most painful things she’s experienced as she goes through labor. And the more she pushes, the more she creates metal and electrical interference not just in the chamber, but throughout the city.
On the roof, the others looks at the spectacle. Marcos is confident that this can only be Lorna’s doing, while Caitlin realizes that this is the result of contractions. That’s right. Lorna is having her baby right now.
Or is she, as the doctor notes that Lorna isn’t dilating and her blood pressure is skyrocketing. She won’t be able to take this much longer. This is a mental issue, not health, and if something isn’t done, Lorna could die.
The underground hits the road and follows the power lines in hopes that this will lead them to Polaris as John tracks her signal. That’s as best as they can do right now since Clarice can’t just blink them there. For one, they’re miles from where they’re going, and two, she they don’t know where they’re going. Also, she’s not a wizard, Harry. The surge just gets stronger as they get closer.
Still no baby, and Andy wants to know what Reeva plans to do. Lorna’s screams intensify as Andy steps aside. Reeva plans to show Lorna the dawn of a new age and remind her why she’s fighting.
So the Frost sisters look within Polaris’ mind and create a vision of a new era of peace and prosperity for all of mutantkind. Oh, and Lorna’s daughter lives to see that day.
Reeva asks Lorna if she wants that for her baby. And she does, more than anything. So time to show that. Okay, more pushing, as Lorna pushes, nearly bringing down the whole facility.
On the road, though, this causes the trail to go cold as all power goes out. Marcos, unaware of what this means, fears that either Lorna or the baby could be dead. He drops to his knees as his powers intensify.
At the now rundown facility, Polaris has successfully given birth to her child, who she names Dawn. Well, at least that happened.
Welcome back to The Gifted, folks, as the X-Men series thrusts us right into the swing of things while still allowing for some slower paced, emotional moments on a jam-packed episode. It’s a strong start and return for the program that builds on where we left off with the mutant underground splintered off, and they’re even more split now with others helping lead the fight in other cities, as seems to be the case with Shatter.
But we’ll get to the underground in a moment. Let’s start with the Inner Circle. Grace Byers makes a good impression in her start as Reeva Payge. She has an air of mysteriousness to her that’s as shadowy as the Inner Circle itself, but the show makes a point of having her relate to Polaris and the daily experience that comes with being a mutant- which was made worse for her because of her race and economic status.
So it remains to be seen if Reeva Payge will end up being the overarching villain of the season instead of just a secondary antagonist for somebody bigger behind her, but right now we understand her motivations in her quest to create a better world and life for mutantkind. Not an unfamiliar motivation as far as X-Men lore is concerned, but something occurred to me when she talked of sacrifices.
Reeva is what Polaris- and maybe even Magneto- could be if she went further as far as who and what she’s willing to sacrifice. She’s not above using mutants to achieve her goals, even though she’s sacrificing the very people she’s seeking to protect. Sure, Magneto isn’t above using mutants. Go back to X-Men: The Last Stand and remember his line about pawns being sacrificed in the great game of chess.
But I don’t get the feeling that he would go to the lengths that Reeva is. Same with Polaris, as both she and Andy are still acclimating to their new family and life. It’s nice to have the two bond and become closer friends. Neither of them has their real family anymore. They only have each other. And given their past together in the underground, they already have a connection.
And this leads me to believe that their bond will grow closer now that Polaris has given birth. Lorna already has a sneaking suspicion about Reeva’s intentions and she’s advised Andy to take care of her baby should something happen. Lorna may not have an idea of what that is, but I could see Reeva using the child to drive a further wedge between Lorna and Marcos.
That or, if Lorna becomes too attached to her child- what mother wouldn’t?- Reeva could see this as Polaris becoming distracted from the mission of creating that new era of peace and prosperity for mutantkind. And if Lorna is distracted, what good is she to Reeva? Right now, Andy might be the one real friend Lorna has since the Frost sisters just follow Reeva’s orders.
And poor Sage. I really like Hayley Lovitt in the role and wish she got more to do other than be the driver. She’s not even present when Lorna gives birth, as far as I could tell, and she’s known her longer than anyone else in that chamber. If anything, given her anger at the Struckers for the problems they brought- and that being the reason she chose to leave with Lorna- I would think she’d have a bigger presence.
Oh, and before I leave Andy and Lorna, I did love how Bolt was one of the baby names Andy picked. Another nice little nod to X-Men lore, but hey, Bolt’s not a bad name. Bolt just happened to be in a bad X-Men movie. That’s all. And we don’t speak the name of that film.
Family has been a constant theme of this series, and this premiere is no exception. At the heart of everything happen, it’s a constant race to reunite. To have searched for six months with little to show for it would demoralize anyone, and that’s almost the case with the Struckers. But they don’t give up and I like how they haven’t divided over Andy’s betrayal.
That’s another thing. Caitlin seemed to believe for the longest time that Andy was kidnapped. But no, as Lauren reminds her that he left because he chose to, and going off of that little dream, he’s still focused on power and destruction. Lauren, like the underground, is focused on helping as many mutants as possible.
In fact, while I know some have complained about how much screen time the Struckers get, I like that they’re proactive. Amy Acker in particular got a bit more to do by showing Caitlin’s mounting desperation when she trains a gun on Wire and, despite being shot, manages to get some information out of him. That’s much more effective than her teaching class to the underground.
And Reed is effective in creating ID cards for the new mutants. He’s trying to be positive in a sea of pessimism, which is a nice balance against all the losses the underground has faced. Not to mention that they have to operate under the radar so they don’t alert Sentinel Services. In a way, their operation is even more covert than last time because at least now, as far as we know, Sentinel Services thinks they all died.
Reed’s mutation is only going to continue manifesting until it’s all let out. Even though his father warned him about Andy and Lauren, Reed has his own mutant challenge to confront. It doesn’t seem like anyone else notices the pain he’s been experiencing, so it’s only a matter of time before either they witness it or he’s forced to tell them.
The desperation of the underground makes for some interesting drama and my hope is that there’s less infighting between them as the season progresses. I get the worry over Caitlin and Marcos over going to Wire for information, not helped by Caitlin getting shot, but they got results. The ends don’t entirely justify the means, but it’s more information on the Inner Circle. And Caitlin is a doctor. She can handle herself.
And it’s nice that John and Clarice are happy and have some playful banter, given their history in the first season. Again, a nice way to build on established relationships and push the story forward since we’re talking about a six month time gap.
The stakes are set for what looks to be a much more emotional season of The Gifted. The underground is still fighting to keep mutants safe, but without a stronghold like the last one, they only have each other. It’s a race not just to protect each other and help any mutant in need, but also find Andy and Lorna, who are both a part of Reeva’s master plan.
What will come of all of this? We’ll find out in the weeks ahead on The Gifted. See you then.