And now the rest of the Stepford Cuckoos!
The episode begins with a flashback eight years ago with the Frost Sisters at a much younger age. They have their collars removed and are brought in for another exercise. The doctor brings in a patient with a secret. The sisters are instructed to look in his mind to find out said secret. The sisters do so and find that the man is afraid of his family being found.
The sisters work individually at first, but then work together. Esme refuse because the man is fearful for his family, but she rejoins, as the doctor asks if she’s more worried about her family instead of this man’s.
In the present at the Inner Circle, Esme presses some cream on her arm from where Marcos burned her while Andy and Rebecca enjoy breakfast.
Lorna, meanwhile, cares for Dawn when Andy enters to tell her that, per the Frosts, they’re about to start training. Apparently this is a constant, and Lorna isn’t a fan, but today is about S.W.A.T. action. And yet Reeva still isn’t around. She’s doing important stuff, but doesn’t talk about it. Lorna wants her to start opening up, but she does agree to join the training.
Lorna, Rebecca, and Andy head down for training. They take out the virtual soldiers with maximum effort when Reeva finally enters. Lorna isn’t a fan of Reeva’s vanishing act, even though she’s apparently on an important mission. Still, Lorna cares for her child and needs to spend more time with her. As such, she needs to know the plan.
Reeva won’t talk, so Lorna issues an ultimatum: talk or she’s out. Still, Reeva resists. So Lorna leaves.
Caitlin checks Lauren’s condition and declares her recovered. Dr. Kelsey is still recovering at the clinic, but he’s alive. Meanwhile, Caitlin tracked down the doctor at the mental hospital- the same one Michael said was nice. She might have information about the captured mutant, and if they can find out what the Inner Circle wants, they’ll be one step closer to Andy.
Reed tells Caitlin that he’d like to join her on the trip, but Caitlin tells him to stay behind and train. While he still wants this to go away, he has to face it head-on instead of drug it away. Reed describes it as drowning, like when he got sick as a child. Rather, when his father made him sick. It’s like everything is happening at once. Reed doesn’t see how the training will help, but Caitlin convinces him to try.
She thinks back to his time at law school and how he liked learning new things. He’s good at anything when he wants to be. Luckily, Caitlin always made him feel like he can do anything.
Time for a meeting of the Purifiers. Wilson introduces Jace and congratulates him on the clinic work last week. Jace presents his case: according to the files, mutants were sent to a facility in Baltimore. Some mutants never made it, though. The crowd wants to attack this facility, but Jace wants them to be smart. The mutants used humans against them. The Purifiers don’t have those rules.
Jace then asks why someone would bring a gun to a meeting. They all want safe neighborhoods, right? Well, the general public won’t side with a hate group. That’s how the public sees them as a hate group. Do it the right way and they’ll be seen as heroes. Kyle doesn’t like this, but Ted agrees to give this plan a shot. Jace agrees that it’s time to solve the mutant problem, and it will be the Purifiers who stop it.
That night, Lauren shares another dream with Andy. She meets him at the Inner Circle’s training facility. Andy apologizes for almost killing Lauren, but warns her against getting in his way. His family is the Inner Circle and he welcomes Lauren to join him, saying this doesn’t have to be a war. The Inner Circle helps more than helping a few mutants get to Mexico.
As Lauren explores, she taps the device that Rebecca overturned and gets blood on her finger. When she wakes up, she still has blood there.
Reeva reams out the Frost Sisters for how they’re handling the training, but they’re confident that they can put Lorna in her place. She’s used to leading from work at the underground, but right now, their option is to trust her or lose her. Reeva concedes, so she heads off and entrusts the Frosts to handle this. Oh, and don’t have Reeva regretting this.
When the sisters leave, Reeva makes a call and wants everything on the other end arranged. If everything goes wrong, the fallout from her will be nothing compared to the consequences for her partner.
Esme heads up and spots Lorna caring for Dawn. She uses her powers to calm Dawn down and help her get to sleep easier. Once that’s settled, she enters and is ready to tell Lorna the plan. They have blueprints of their target, but Lorna wants to see this in person to know what she’s risking. She owes it to her baby, after all. Fair enough. Lorna can come.
Time for training. John sets down a radiator and talks to Reed about controlling his emotions. He tells Reed to rest his hand on the radiator and relax. Nothing happens at first, so John implores Reed to dig deeper. It’s not a technique. Activating powers starts internally. John tells Reed to focus on a time his powers manifested- like how he felt when he crashed the car with Lauren.
At first nothing happens. John starts poking at Reed, saying he wants a shortcut, but he has to face his fears. After getting under his skin deep enough, Reed’s powers manifest and he destroys the radiator.
Marcos and Clarice have information from Shatter- the Purifiers have bombed a church in Baltimore. Shatter will bring some to a shelter, but they need identification. The police are out in full force, so it could be risky, but John tells them that they’re going. Not just as a show of force, but to show that they’ll stick together, even in tough times.
At the Baltimore Mutant Underground Station, the gang reunites with Shatter and Pedro, who tell them that they have refugees from the church on an already full group. Things have gotten worse since the hospital attack. And the human groups that used to help won’t take their calls. Reed will get on making new IDs while the others get the names.
John asks Reed if he’s ready to help, but Reed is confident that he’s strong enough to keep it together. John tells Reed that he needs to find his trigger, and he needs to own his feelings or he can’t control his powers. Reed is short with John and tells him that he’ll work through this his way.
Inside, Shatter, who overheard this conversation, talks with Reed about how he found out about his powers. He went to sleep one day and woke up when he found out things he touched could turn to crystal. He saw a monster in the mirror. He tried to kill it. He cracked the windows a bit. Sometimes, the more you reject things you can’t face, the worse you make it.
Esme takes Lorna out on the town to show her the target- a bank with a mutant detection system. They can’t get close without getting spotted. The bank funded mutant slavery in South America in the 1950s and they started a drug epidemic in the 1990s. Lorna isn’t sure with all of Reeva’s secrets, but if they hit this bank, maybe more mutants will be inspired. Enough to start an army, maybe.
This isn’t a cause for Esme, though. It’s personal. The bank funded the lab that created Esme and her sisters. Esme admits that she and her sisters are clones. One day, they stopped the guards before they could put on the collars, so they did what they had to do and had the officers kill the doctor. The sisters didn’t escape what the doctors made them do. It’s a risk, but Esme is confident that some risks are worth taking.
Back at the Baltimore station, Reed talks with the others about the church attack. None of the mutants were injured, even though the Purifiers attacked the church, and everyone realizes that this is a trap. Before everyone can evacuate, John tracks the ground and tells everyone that the Purifiers have arrived.
As the Purifiers rally outside, Jace tells the mutants that if they surrender, they’ll merely be handed over to the authorities. Ted tells everyone to wait instead of jumping to violence, and Jace tells them that the mutants are inside, not outside. He brings out some devices and reminds everyone that they’re the good guys.
Back at the Inner Circle, Esme tells Lorna that she was right- if they’re going to do this, they have to trust each other. As they board the elevator, she starts humming a familiar tune, and Lorna realizes it was the same lullaby she sang to Dawn. And Lorna learned that tune from her family. Lorna comes out and demands to know if Esme was in her head.
Cornered, Esme is on the defensive as Lorna starts choking her with her own necklace. As the door opens, she slams the door shut and threatens to kill Esme if she and her sisters get in her daughter’s head again. Reeva forces the door open, telling Lorna not to do something she’ll regret. Fine, but Lorna won’t have the Sisters near her baby anymore. Not unless they want to die, anyway.
On the road, Caitlin apologizes for pressuring Lauren into confronting Andy. Lauren confesses that they had another dream, and she’s confident that Andy is having the same dream. Getting stronger isn’t unusual, given how powers develop. The same might happen to Lauren, but she doesn’t want to fight him again.
Plus, she’s confident that Andy doesn’t want to be saved. He’s in deep with the Inner Circle and is seen as a hero to the mutants.
They meet with Dr. Taylor, played by Sumalee Montano, who doesn’t know yet about the escaped mutant. They bring up Rebecca, who is apparently their cousin, and this throws Taylor for a loop for a moment. Now that they know the X-gene is in her blood, the two want to know more about her. Taylor hasn’t worked at the hospital for awhile. She left due to the mutants being treated against their will.
She then goes off to get her notes. But Lauren notices that something is off and senses that Dr. Taylor is scared. She interrupts the doctor and destroys her call just as she’s making a call. Again, she demands to know about Rebecca. Taylor refuses to talk about her patients, saying she treated the mutants as best she could.
Caitlin brings up Michael, who said Taylor was kind. That’s why they’re here. It wasn’t up to Taylor, who admits that she could’ve done more. Rebecca was apparently abused and locked up, and now she’s in the hands of dangerous people. They need to find them because they also have Caitlin’s son.
Taylor is sorry, but Lauren doesn’t believe that. Taylor shows the two a video of Rebecca, who has the ability to twist things with her powers. She does so against a guard, and Taylor quit the hospital she same day. That’s how Taylor knew that Caitlin and Lauren weren’t related to Rebecca, because she thought Rebecca had killed her family, too.
Sophie and Phoebe have an intervention with Esme, though Reeva tells them that they need Lorna on board by tomorrow. So they’ll have to use a more direct approach. And if the two of them work together, they can get this accomplished. This is who they are. Or rather, it’s who the doctor wanted them to be. If they’re building a new, long-lasting world, then the people, especially Lorna, need to believe.
Reeva won’t get sentimental, though. They all need to make sacrifices. With that, the sisters leave while Reeva responds to a text from a Q.M. about dinner.
Back in Baltimore, the mutants attempt to evacuate, though the Purifiers haven’t attempted to enter just yet. Clarice doesn’t want to portal them outside because they’ll be in view of the others, but it’s their only chance.
As Clarice prepares a portal, the Purifiers shoot smoke grenades into the building. It’s enough to knock out Clarice and Pedro as well.
Outside, the Purifiers take a position out back. Reed tells Marcos that if they go back through the gas, they’ll pass out in seconds. With Clarice passed out, they can’t portal. There is a service tunnel on another side of the building, but it’s on the other side of the wall and they can’t get through it without going through the gas. Reed decide to step up, but they’ll have to take on the Purifiers as well.
Shatter offers to go out. He rushes out and takes on fire while attacking the Purifiers. Reed heads to the wall, but he can’t find the motivation deep down just yet to activate his powers. Outside, as Shatter takes a bullet from Jace that puts him down, Reed finds the motivation he needs to destroy the wall and create an opening. Everyone rushes through.
Back at the Inner Circle, Esme enters Lorna’s room just to talk. She apologizes for being inside Dawn’s head, as she felt the love of a mother. Lorna didn’t have a mother either, but that doesn’t give Esme the right to invade her child’s mind. Esme manipulated Lorna because that’s what she and her sisters do: they manipulate people. That’s not an excuse, so Esme decides to tell the full story.
They didn’t start off as triplets. Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe went in for training. But the others, Celeste and Mindee, had to stay back. The other two, still wearing their collars, couldn’t be saved, though, and to this day, the sisters never told anyone that story- not even Reeva. When the two sisters died, Esme felt that pain, as if she herself was dying. And Esme would do anything to protect Dawn from that.
Esme apologizes, saying that whether or not Lorna joins her, Esme stands with Lorna and Dawn. With that, Esme leaves.
Ted congratulates Jace on the attack, as some of the mutants have been rounded up and arrested. The one who died on their side will inspire more. And Shatter supposedly died in Atlanta, so it turns out that maybe Jace was onto something after all.
At the underground, Caitlin tells Lauren that she’s making a mistake dragging her into a fight. It’s on Caitlin to bring Andy back, not Lauren. She doesn’t want to put her daughter at risk to save her. However, Lauren and Caitlin saw the same thing in that footage. If Andy won’t come back of his own volition, then Lauren must do it herself.
Then we get our ending montage. Andy and Rebecca bond over video games, Lorna joins Reeva, the Frosts rest, and Caitlin and Lauren come to find bad news. They enter a burned room and find Reed, his hands still glowing, trembling in a corner like a frightened animal as he’s unable to make his powers stop.
I tell you, watching The Gifted reminds me of a quote from Kevin Smith’s Clerks about how life is a series of down endings. Such tends to be the case with this show, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It would be easy to have every episode conclude with good triumphing over evil, and to be fair, a lot of comic based shows have broken from that tradition. But with The Gifted, the heroes always seem to take a licking.
Perhaps that’s for the best, as losses will propel them into action when they strike back against their enemies, but putting them on the defensive also allows them to think better and smarter. To the credit of the Purifiers, using the church attack as a way to draw the mutants to the other Baltimore station was a good way to box the mutants in, and I imagine that was probably Jace’s intention.
I can understand those who may be tired of Jace at the moment, but what I enjoy about him being with the Purifiers is his ability to pull them back from insanity. Again, he’s trying to operate within the letter of the law. Attack the mutants and you look like villains. Help arrest them and you’ll look like a hero. It’s a more logical approach that ended up garnering results, even though the Purifiers lost one of their own in battle.
Though by episode’s end, Jace doesn’t look all that certain about his actions and decisions. It’s as if he has to convince himself that he’s making the right decisions. After all, if you have to say that you’re the good guys, then maybe you aren’t.
Onto the mutants, though. One thing this show does well is build upon mythology established in the larger X-Men films, and while it was nice to get the Stepford Cuckoos here, now the show builds upon the introduction of the Frost Sisters by giving us the other two sisters as well. Sure, Celeste and Mindee only appear in flashbacks, but it’s nice to see them at all and see more of the Frost family.
Plus, this backstory further explains why the sisters have a grudge against humanity. And Esme probably hopes that Lorna can relate to having her powers exploited by humans and being locked away like a caged beast. After all, Lorna wants to make a new world, and so does Esme, so it’s not hard to see why Esme would think they’re on one accord.
But then Esme crosses a line when she enters Dawn’s mind and hums that tune. Rookie mistake, really. Not only was that a bad decision, but the sisters had to know that Lorna would retaliate when she found out about the invasion of privacy. That alone would erase any goodwill Esme had hoped to gain since Lorna is growing distrustful of Reeva’s secrecy. I can’t say that I blame her.
After all, Reeva’s operating at this shadowy leader who works in the background. She wants Lorna for her cause, but isn’t willing to bring her into the fold at first. Not a good way to convince Lorna to remain on your side. But I am curious at what Reeva is up to, given the conversation and text we saw in the episode.
It does seem like there will be a split among the Frost sisters. The opening flashback established Esme as the sister unwilling to use brute force compared to Phoebe and Sophie, and she has a rapport with Lorna. Could there be sibling rivalry as the season continues? We’ll see.
I did like seeing Reed be more proactive this week as he struggled to learn how to use his powers. Admittedly, Reed doesn’t have as much time compared to most mutants to learn about tapping into his emotions because he’s in the middle of an ongoing battle. Since Otto suppressed his powers at a young age, he didn’t have the opportunity to practice using them when he was a boy.
As such, Mutant Training 101 with John has to be condensed into a couple of minutes. Though I do like John’s approach. He has the calmness of Charles Xavier, but also has Magneto’s assertiveness. Makes for a good combination when trying to get Reed to dig deep. And thankfully, it succeeds, but it might have worked too well based on the ending.
Seeing Reed at the end with things burned around him with his powers flaring like a scared child was pretty tragic.
He needs some sort of device or suit that he can use to channel his powers through, kind of like Havok had in X-Men: First Class. And I don’t know why I can’t stop talking about First Class when talking about The Gifted.
Sticking with the Struckers, since Caitlin was at the clinic last time, I do like seeing her spend time with Lauren and apologize for pushing her too much. But Caitlin must accept that Andy is too far gone. Lauren has, and I like how assertive she is when speaking with Dr. Taylor. She has great powers. Use them! And she wasn’t out to harm Dr. Taylor, after all. She just wanted answers.
And it worked. She stopped Taylor from alerting someone else and got to learn more about Rebecca’s powers and past in the process. This is one of those instances where The Gifted could have had both sides just talk it out, but screw that. Mutants have powers and their lives are at stake. Plus, the underground is in a race against time, so put those powers to good use.
As for the Baltimore mission itself, it was nice to see the likes of Pedro and Shatter again, as well as have Shatter explain his mutant manifestation to Reed in order to help him a bit with his struggle. But damn it, now we’ve lost Shatter! To be fair, he went out in a blaze of glory, providing some cover for the mutants and taking out one of the Purifiers, but man, I wish he’d made it to the end.
So the mutants have managed to evade the Purifiers at the moment, have a bit more information about Rebecca, and Lauren is resolute in her plan to stop Andy by any means. Meanwhile, even though it looks like Lorna is going along with Reeva’s plan for now, there are clear signs of division among the Inner Circle. Time will tell if those divisions grow even deeper.