Stop hitting yourself.
The episode begins with a flashback to Tucson, Arizona, three years ago as John engages in a wrestling match. After he’s victorious, John is joined by Evangeline, who sees greatness in him and believes that he can do so much better. She worked with the X-Men before they vanished and she needs his help. Right now, she’s here to help John stop wasting his life, and she knows all about John’s upbringing and military history.
Evangeline was a great prosecutor until her mutant powers manifested. The District Attorney had an issue with mutants. She lost everything until the X-Men found her. And she wants John to lead an underground mutant station in Atlanta. And Evangeline is offering John a purpose.
I wonder if John could go a few rounds against Logan in the ring.
Anyway, we head to the present day, where John finds Marcos hard at work, regretting that he still can’t see his child. John reminds Marcos that hope is a strong thing to hold onto. It’s also the name of Cable’s daughter. Marcos believes that his child could be at the center of what the Inner Circle has planned, but there’s nothing he can do. John might know someone who can, though.
The Frost Sisters meet Reeva, who tells them that the blackout has hit the news waves. The facility couldn’t contain Lorna’s powers. Reeva has connections in high places that are tamping down on the blackout, but loose ends need to be tied up. Still, the Frost sisters need to take care of the guards and the manager was paid off, so they could keep quiet…right?
No. Reeva says that anyone who saw them must be eliminated. Same with the facility itself. Sophie and Phoebe note that Esme is going soft from her time with the underground, but she’s up to the task.
Elsewhere, Clarice and Lauren tell Cristina that they located her sister. She wants to go with them, but she’s still a fugitive, so that’s not going to happen. Plus, she’s not exactly great with her powers right now. However, she can’t risk losing her only family. Lauren understands, with her brother no longer around for the past six months. I mean, you’ve still got everyone else, Lauren…
Late that night in her dreams, Lauren returns to the roof and tells Andy that he must return. He again takes her hand, telling her to embrace their destiny as Fenris. This time, though, Lauren resists and throws herself from the roof. When Andy looks over, though, he can’t spot her. He then awakens in a fright from the same dream.
Back in Atlanta, Jace tells Paula that he’s landed a new client for his firm. However, he’s not as ecstatic as Paula. He’s thought about the Black Ops that hit D.C., as it reminded him of his Sentinel Services days. He tells Paula that this has to be mutant related, but she tells him that he has to move past the obsession. After all, he’s kept his files on the mutant underground. They can’t make a new family unless Jace is able to focus.
The next day, John remembers Evangeline offering him the opportunity to lead the underground station in Atlanta. The one that doesn’t exist anymore. Clarice soon awakens and asks if he’s about to see that lawyer friend that can apparently help him track the Inner Circle. As it turns out, they have a complicated relationship. Not that kind of complicated, thankfully.
He explains that after he was discharged, he popped pills to deal with the pain. In a flashback, he’s chained to a bed and endures pain while Evangeline tells him to focus on the cause. A tough time, but she got him through it. Clarice is confident that Evangeline can do it again…assuming Evangeline will even talk to him.
Reed is surprised that an injured Caitlin is going with John to find this lawyer. Yes, Andy isn’t dead, but like Lauren said, he chose to leave. Caitlin isn’t fine with just letting him go, though. Caitlin feels that Reed would do different if Lauren went missing. The argument escalates with Caitlin noting Reed’s constant episodes of pain, and she tells him that she is doing this for the family.
The Frost Sisters go to work removing all remaining traces from the equation. While Fade takes out a guard, they find the manager and remind him that lying to telepaths is a bad idea, so he should tell the truth. He swears that he’ll tell the truth, but the sisters need to be sure of that. So through their telepathy, they instruct the manager to walk towards some spinning airplane blades…however, he’s hit by a truck in the process.
You can thank Esme for that one.
Over with the Inner Circle, after Andy tells Lorna that he hasn’t been sleeping very well, it’s time for him to begin training. Reeva and Sage oversee his progress in their makeshift Danger Room, as he breaks through some solid walls with ease. However, he runs straight into one after he has a vision of Lauren. Sage notes that this hasn’t happened before. Okay, so now Fade is to be brought in, as she has a new assignment.
So in Philadelphia, Evangeline meets with John, Marcos, and Caitlin, and she doesn’t want fugitives there…especially fugitives who are supposed to be dead. Marcos accuses Evangeline of hiding, and since her work involves tracing bank records, John presents the information from the Inner Circle. And yes, Wire is somehow still alive. Right?
Reeva summons Andy and asks why he couldn’t handle that one barrier. He blames it on an off-day, and this prompts her to discuss her upbringing. One day, she and her close friend had a fight. Then they were attacked by a group of Purifiers, but Reeva’s powers didn’t activate, so her friend was stabbed by the Purifiers. That was Reeva’s off-day when she realized that mutant powers tell the truth, even if the mutants don’t.
Still, Andy has nothing to tell Reeva about how he’s feeling other than that he won’t make that mistake again.
Reed goes through Otto’ss old research and reads through the notes. One note involves Otto recounting Reed having an attack. The reading is interrupted when Lauren enters to tell him that she and Clarice are going to get Cristina’s sister. He claims that he was looking through family photos and the two think back to simpler times until Lauren asks how her father is doing. After all, it’s alright if he’s in any pain.
Still, Reed tells his daughter that she doesn’t have to worry about him.
As Polaris rocks her baby, she welcomes Andy into her room and is aware of what happened during the training session. He explains that he’s been having thoughts, but not about his family. He feels like he should be with Lauren. But if Reeva thinks that he’s not 100 percent on board, things could go badly. Andy just needs to get his head back in the game. Then the baby starts crying and it’s time to feed. Bye, Andy.
Following this, Andy purchases himself a disposable cell phone and calls a clinic to speak with Lauren. However, Reed ends up answering the phone. He asks how the caller knew about Lauren, but Andy doesn’t answer. He crushes the phone and goes on his way.
As he leaves, though, Fade appears into reality and alerts the others that there’s a problem.
Jace Turner heads to a bar and meets with a Sentinel Services friend of his, as he wanted to ask about the Black Ops that hit D.C. Jace questions whether it really was an electrical grid. After all, there were surges that lasted for half an hour. The friend doesn’t think it’s Polaris, though. He advises Jace to let it go. Jace and Paula pulled through, so he shouldn’t try to blow that because he has a hunch.
At home, Jace tells Paula that he’s cleared out the attic and now he’s dumping his files. If he can’t let go of the past, he can’t have a future. For that much, Paula is grateful.
Evangeline presents the information regarding the Inner Circle’s assets- Reeva Payge is preparing for war. She’s one of the most powerful mutants still standing after 7/15 and now she’s got both Polaris and one of the Struckers. She’s practically unstoppable. Since John’s failure in Atlanta, half the undergrounds have been ransacked, and Evangeline won’t let John destroy the rest of what they’ve built. She’s done her part.
Well, that didn’t work. Outside, John indeed blames himself for what happened in Atlanta, even though Marcos and Caitlin remind him that everyone played a part. However, he tells the two to head back and he’ll meet them later.
Back with the Inner Circle, Polaris informs Andy that they’re ready for him downstairs. Okay, so training session number two…doesn’t go so well, as Andy once again runs smack dab into a wall. The Frost Sisters read Andy’s mind and confirm that yes, he’s thinking of his sister. So that makes the score Wall- 2, Andy- 0.
So John meets Evangeline on his own, and she’s content that he can’t win. He reminds her of their first meeting. He has a cause and the underground needs something to believe in, but there aren’t enough mutants left as far as Evangeline is concerned. However, there is a mutant separatist named Erg who lives in the undergrounds of D.C. Though she’s content that Andy and Lorna won’t come back because Reeva is ruthless.
She apologizes for giving John a cause, as she didn’t know that said cause was doomed. Real optimistic, this Evangeline.
The Frost Sisters speak telepathically to one another before finally talking with Reeva about what to do with Andy. After all, he’s distracted during training and calling his family. After all, him being a von Strucker could be useful. If he can’t trust them, then they can’t trust him. Reeva doesn’t enjoy this problem, but it needs to be solved.
So she meets Andy and hopes that he sees this facility as a home. She saw Andy’s mind elsewhere in the training room. Andy is content that he needs practice, but Reeva doesn’t want any more lies. Still, Andy tells her that he’s not lying. Okay…Reeva clearly doesn’t buy it, but before she can do anything about it, Andy tells her that his mother knows that she plays League of Legends.
Caitlin has been messaging him for the past six months and he ignored it…until today. He called Lauren just to hear her voice, but she wasn’t there, so he hung up. As for why he’s coming clean now, he admits that he’s having dreams where Lauren is afraid of him. Good. Reeva doesn’t want Andy to forget that feeling- she wants him to use it. They’re building a home for mutants, but to do that, Andy must be strong.
At last, Cristina and her sister are reunited. As Clarice helps them get ready, Reed asks Lauren if there’s anything wrong. He knows that she’s hiding something, but Lauren throws it back at him, as she overhears her parents arguing all the time. She wants Andy back, yes, but in Atlanta, they killed 15 people. She knows their names, but neither mom nor dad have brought it up. Lauren is sorry every day for what she’s done.
As Lauren leaves, Reed feels another hit of pain as his mutation strikes again. This time, it doesn’t stop as he soon burns everything that he touches. I see he’s got a bit of Fire Fist in him.
John informs Clarice that things with Evangeline went well, and she even provided the name of a guy who has eyes and ears everywhere. So success, but John doesn’t seem so thrilled. Clarice asks if anything happened with Evangeline, but John evades answering the question. Clarice had thought Evangeline might have chained him to another bed. Wishful thinking, I’m sure.
Marcos joins Caitlin outside, as Reed and Lauren is still at the clinic. He’s brought his celebratory champagne with him, but since he can’t celebrate with Lorna, he’ll celebrate with Caitlin instead. Marcos can’t stop thinking about what Evangeline said about an upcoming war. He’s ready to give up, but Caitlin warns him against giving into despair, saying that it will eat him alive.
That evening, though, while John takes his anger out on steel, not to mention reeling from the losses of Pulse and Dreamer, Andy is finally able to bust through the wall. Finally. Just in time for the end of the episode.
As Marcos finishes his drink, the rains begin to fall. He has a flashback to Aurora Borealis and his first kiss with Lorna. He shines a brilliant light into the sky.
At the same time, Lorna looks out the window and spots the green light among the clouds. As she stares out at it, she smiles. She goes to her daughter and informs her that her father is saying hello. However, Dawn can’t join in because she’s burning up. Well, that could be a problem.
Much like its larger X-Men counterparts, a central theme of The Gifted has been the importance of family. That’s been a constant in X-Men lore and, for my money, much more vital in Marvel lore versus a group like the Fantastic Four. Though admittedly, that’s more of a personal preference since I’ve never been a big fan of Marvel’s First Family, but that’s a much longer conversation.
If these first two episodes of the second season are any indication, it’s that The Gifted is ramping up the emotional moments and internal conflict. I’m all for that. Power displays and flashy mutant abilities are nice to see, but there’s something deeper about seeing the characters at war with themselves. That really shined in this week’s episode with several characters having their own struggles to face.
Even though the Inner Circle and mutant underground may not seem far apart in the practical sense, they’re pretty much worlds apart and that separation, coupled with the reality of their fractured lives, is what leads to this conflict, but it also results in some great, dramatic moments.
Since the first season, John has struck me as the reluctant leader. I vaguely remember conversations he had with either Dreamer or Marcos last season about this not being a position he really wanted, and to John’s credit, he hasn’t crumbled under pressure. The Underground in Atlanta is lost, yes, but the people around him are alive and well and willing to keep fighting.
But he still feels guilty about the losses they’ve faced, not the least of which includes losing both Dreamer and Pulse…though I’m still being stubborn and believing that Dreamer could return since there was no body to bury and there’s no telling what plans Campbell may have had in store for her. But back on topic, John is under a lot of pressure.
It’s nice of him to acknowledge his shortcomings rather than pass the blame onto someone else, but at the same time, this isn’t a role he chose. Given the tools at his disposal, he’s done the best job that he could and is still making the most out of a bad situation. Like Reed said in the premiere, even the small victories count for something.
And I do like him confronting Evangeline and even going to her in the first place. He could have relied on his own resources, but like Marcos going to Wire, John is taking advantage of his connections. The Underground is being proactive and I love that. Too often the protagonist can just worry about how they’ll overcome an obstacle, rather than just going out and taking it on headfirst.
Here, we see John seek out Evangeline’s assistance and he’s eventually successful. He’s still blaming himself, as we see by episode’s end, but he’s not wallowing around in self-pity and loathing. It’s a tough battle and as a veteran, he knows that there will be losses in war. So it’s good for him to accept that yes, he didn’t ask to be the leader, but he’s doing the best job with what he has. He deserves credit for that at least.
Plus, it was nice to shed a bit of light on his backstory and first interaction with Evangeline. One thing this show has done well with its cold openings is introduce us to the mutants and their allies at early stages in their lives, and this was a nice way to show how John came into initial contact with Evangeline.
Plus, the fact that we met him in the ring instantly reminded me of our introduction to Logan in the first X-Men film when he was just a cage fighter. Damn. Hard to think that movie was way back in 2000.
Anyway, keeping with the underground and them being proactive, I’m enjoying how much more prominence Caitlin has been given. She was around last season, sure, but she felt like more of a support player. To be fair, she’s still supportive here, but she’s more willing to thrust herself into a dangerous situation. She already took a bullet when she and Marcos met Wire, now she’s choosing to meet Evangeline.
Though her presence may not have swayed Evangeline, it’s nice to see her more involved. She’s just as integral to the underground’s mission as anyone else. More than that, she’s the shining beacon of hope when everyone’s morale is lost. She won’t give up the search for Andy, and she tells Marcos not to be brought down by pessimism.
That scene with Marcos and Caitlin drinking, by the way? Probably the best acted moment in the entire episode, made very convincing between the chemistry of Sean Teale and Amy Acker. I always a good, quiet moment where the actors and dialogue can dictate the scene, rather than it being spelled out for the viewers.
Reed’s trying his best to keep the family together, but he’s torn between keeping them safe from danger and, potentially, himself. He may have the most literal internal conflict by virtue of his mutation getting worse and now it’s finally come to light. It’s only a matter of time before he either displays it in the wrong way and someone gets hurt or he comes clean to everyone.
But like Caitlin, he’s also being proactive by actually looking at his father’s research. For one, it’s right there, so he may as well use it, but also, it prevents him from having to put himself at danger by seeing a doctor or physician who could expose him. Not that Reed would ever do something that stupid, but as Jace’s hunches have proven, it doesn’t take long to spot the mutant underground and its allies.
And while family is important to the Struckers, when it comes to Lauren and Andy, their bond trumps that. They are Fenris, after all, but their shared dreams hint at something much deeper than the devastation they can bring when they join hands. We see how this has impacted Lauren and I like that the show actually acknowledged the guilt she feels for killing people last season.
Sure, Lauren also didn’t ask for this situation, but at the end of the day, she was still responsible for deaths and the loss of the Atlanta underground station, so at least we haven’t just swept past that.
And Andy can’t exactly keep a secret because, for one, the Frost Sisters are telepathic, but also because everyone has an eye on him. More so than Lorna, Andy is an outsider trying to fit in with this new family, but he’s having dreams about Lauren. Plus, as we learn, his mother hasn’t stopped trying to get in touch with him.
Like Polaris said, Andy’s head isn’t in the right place and that could lead to him having to make a choice. That’s hard to do when he did make the decision to go with Lorna in the first place, but he can’t stop thinking about his sister. By episode’s end, we see that he’s using those feelings to further himself and tap into his powers, so if Reeva can steer him in the right direction, this distraction could be a positive.
Reeva is a strange blend of Magneto and Charles, I think. She’s providing a safe haven for mutants and wants them to be comfortable using their powers, as Charles would, but like Erik, her ideal haven is only for mutants. Never mind the humans. And she uses emotions as a way to bring out a mutant’s inner potential. And her firsthand experience with the Purifiers has shown her the ugly side of humanity that hates mutants.
Sticking with the Inner Circle for a moment, is Esme indeed going soft? After all, she spent more time with the underground than her sisters and she has a connection with Polaris and Andy, so it’s possible that she’s not as into Reeva’s mission as Phoebe and Sophie. I do hope we get more of this, or at least more signs of her toning down the brutality compared to her siblings.
We don’t get a lot with Lorna this week and I’m fine with that because, hey, she did just give birth. Need a moment to relax and get your breath back, you know? And she’s perfectly fine being there as a mentor figure for Andy. It’s perfectly fine for her to take a backseat for a week. Plus, her baby’s got a fever, so she’ll no doubt play a bigger role moving forward.
Same for Jace Turner. The man just cannot stop scratching that mutant itch. Now that he’s no longer bound by Sentinel Services, I have to wonder if he’ll be some sort of mutant bounty hunter. He’s already suspicious about the blackout and given his history with the underground- Polaris in particular- not to mention keeping those files, count on him having another run-in with his favorite mutants soon.
Again, this was a very emotional week for The Gifted, showcasing some fantastic acting and interpersonal drama with our characters. They can’t fall into despair- they must use those emotions to keep themselves moving forward to attain their goal. And with Marcos shining a light to Lorna, looks like a reunion is on the way. See you next week.