The Gifted – 3 x 1
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
Blink (Jamie Chung) circa 2015 is gleefully leaving a showing of The Longest Ride with her date, Nate (Jason Burkey) when their night on the town is interrupted by a gaggle of anti-mutant humans. The humans form a circle around their two victims, while a few stragglers vandalize Blink’s car. The pack leader accosts the couple, first addressing Blink (whose mutant-hood is more apparent), before turning to ask Nate if he’s a mutant too. He hesitates, as though assessing the situation, before declaring that he’s a human. Blink is appalled by Nate’s inaction and backs away from him, dejected. The leader of the pack lights a torch and tosses it into the backseat of her car while Nate watches. Without wasting another minute, Blink flees, a purple orb forming between her palms.
In the present day, the Stepford Cuckoos (Skyler Samuels) are reporting back to William (Ray Campbell). William, who is both affluent and authoritative, was tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding the infamous Hellfire Club. His mission is to act as a mouthpiece for the inner circle. He reprimands their “indiscretions” and scolds them for eliminating so many Sentinel Services agents in one, reckless fell swoop. They take his lecture in stride and insist that in the future, they can enlist (AKA manipulate) the Mutant Underground into helping them execute their plans with a little more subtlety. William loosens the reigns and sets a diamond down on the desk, a reward for their efforts.
Elsewhere, both the Mutant Underground and Jace Turner’s (Coby Bell) crew are holding separate memorial services for their fallen comrades. Polaris (Emma Dumont) stands before her found family and speaks on the courage and valor of her best friend, Sonya/Dreamer (Elena Satine). Jace, on the other hand, decides to use the funeral as an opportunity to further demonize the mutant masses. His compulsive need for revenge once again eclipses the truth, which is that he is responsible for the death of Dreamer and his own foot soldiers. The blind faith he has in his own cause is a powerful precursor to the battles that may follow. Jace’s self-righteousness is countered by Marcos’ own speech for Dreamer. Marcos (Sean Teale) acknowledges the differences between man and mutant, but he also recognizes their irrevocable similarities. Man and mutant both love, both grieve, both bleed, and both fight. One by one, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind), Andy (Percy Hynes White), Cait (Amy Acker), Reed (Stephen Moyer), and John (Blair Redford) pay their final respects to Sonya.
Tensions are rising at the Mutant Underground, grief and confusion building within the pressure cooker of their small compound. John is outside attempting to swallow his tears when Blink finds him. This time, she’s all in and willing to do what must be done for the sake of the others. John reverts to his typical stoicism and declares the continued war on the Hound program. Inside, no one is spared from the loss of a loved one. Reed and Cait want to help their children emotionally, but more importantly, they want them to walk away from the underground. The family separates, child against parent…but there’s a triple threat coming. Esme and her twins have entered the facility, and they’re looking for help stopping the Hound program. The underground’s collective response is one of hostility, but the sisters persist. While they mislead the entire group of mutants, they technically didn’t break the promises that they made, a point they were betting on. Without stirring up too much commotion, the Cuckoos leave the mutants alone to pontificate the offer.
In a series of scenes detailing the minutiae of their new lives, we catch a glimpse of each side at work. Dr. Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) meets Jace Turner at the cemetery in attempt to display some humility while covertly exploiting the casualties suffered by Sentinel Services. Meanwhile, Lauren and Andy regroup away from their parents to discuss the benefits of running. Their powers may come into question not just by humans, but by the mutants as well. Fleeing might be their safest bet, whether or not they want to. The remaining Mutants have assembled in Sage’s hangout to get the latest intel on the Cuckoos. Sage (Hayley Lovitt) has revealed that their names are Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe Frost. Their powers involve the use of a “Hive Mind”, and limited mind-control abilities, something that was demonstrated during previous bloodbath.
Everyone is in survival mode. Marcos and Polaris disagree once again, as Polaris insists that it doesn’t matter how things get done, as long as they do. Her suggestion at aligning with the Frost sisters concerns Marcos, who is still desperately clinging to his moral compass. The argument is cut short when Polaris feels a pain in her abdomen, but she dismisses it and breezes past Marcos. When he leaves their room to catch up with her, he notices that the Struckers are packing up their belongings. Cait states that they’re leaving, and Marcos immediately tries to get them to stay. They’re set in their decision, but his passionate pleas only struck a few of their chords. They bid him farewell as they pack up the car, but Lauren isn’t ready to go yet. Inside, she bumps into Blink who uses their last few moments together to implore Lauren not to let hate win. It hits her hard, but she still needs to go.
Trask Industries is about to see something it’s never come close to witnessing before. Dr. Campbell leads Jace through the cellblock, showing him the powers of two mutants. Individually, their powers are relatively benign, but together, they just might be on par with the Strucker children’s. Jace questions the legality of the program, but he’s in too deep to turn away.
Already on the road, the Struckers enter the Fairburn Vocational Institute to meet others who help mutant-related travelers. Upon entering the building, they bump into a familiar face: Wes (Danny Ramirez). Wes helps cloak the facility and its inhabitants. Lauren, Cait, and Reed are happy to see him, but Andy has some brooding to do. His solitary session is intruded upon by one of the Frost sisters, who has undoubtedly identified him as the weakest link. In an attempt to manipulate him into convincing his family to return back to the Mutant Underground, she reveals a sliver of just how much she knows about him.
The sisters are hard at work with their mind games. Another sister has pulled Polaris from her sleep and guided her outside with a little mind control. The Frosts know that Polaris is open to the idea of working with them – and are hoping to sway her with some information on her father and his position within the Hellfire Club. Polaris rejects the information and her biological father, causing the Cuckoo to switch tactics. If they can’t exploit her identity as a daughter, maybe than can do so by appealing to her as a future mother. This exchange plants the seed in Polaris’ mind, and her powers activate as she toys with the idea of their alliance.
Later, Marcos finds Polaris after she uses her powers to slam a vault-door shut. He is startled, but she feels better than ever, something that she attributes to her pregnancy. He suggests that she approach her joy with caution, in case it’s the uphill swing of a bipolar episode, but she insists that it’s not. Before they can discuss it any further, a meeting is called between the core mutants. The Hound program continues to manifest, a growing danger to humans and mutants alike. Even so, Marcos does not want to compromise his No-Casualty Clause. Sage bursts into the room to alert them that Trask and Sentinel Services are plotting something huge.
Fairburn is full of hope and fleeting happiness. Lauren and Wes share a reunion kiss, and the Struckers may have the opportunity to call the hideout home for a little longer. Before this can be perceived as good news, two hounds blow out one of Fairburn’s walls. The hounds, joined together by a device, are having their abilities extracted through their blood and synthesized into a deadly combination. Wes grabs Lauren and cloaks the area before another strike. Before they can flee, Andy foolishly prepares to fight and gets himself knocked out. In all of the commotion, Reed calls John to provide an update. John is already on the way to rescue the family and the others when Reed reveals that most of the refugees have already surrendered themselves to Sentinel Services.
Dr. Campbell is proud of his work, declaring that overwhelming force is a kindness when it comes to the slaughter of living beings. Thankfully, John and the others have finally arrived to stop the carnage. Wes is overexerting himself while he tries to cloak the Struckers. As the Mutant Underground portal themselves into the vocational school, Wes falls to the ground utterly exhausted. Everyone is in the line of fire now. The conjoined mutants are sending seismic blasts through the entire building, sending every mutant flying through the air. The moment they collect their own, our protagonists flee into the woods.
Jace and Dr. Campbell are debriefing their director on the success of the Hound program. The director eventually caves and agrees to watch a demonstration of the program’s efficacy in the war against mutants. Dr. Campbell promises that the program has the potential to reach international utilization.
Under the cover of the towering trees, Andy experiences a little Frost-induced tinnitus. His ears ringing, they whisper to him the direction in which they should run. The team follows suit and are lead to Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe – who are all waiting with getaway vehicles. As desperate times call for desperate measures, they join the sisters to make an escape. When the family reaches safety, Andy reveals that a Frost is the one who guided them through the trees. The Frosts are expecting the mutants to be indebted to them for their valiant efforts, and they’re right. The mutants have no choice but to align with the trinity, who always seem to be one step ahead of them.
When the agreement is made, they return to William. William reveals that the sisters tipped off Sentinel Services in order to demonstrate the brevity of the situation, a tactical and cunning maneuver. They are truly winning the game of chess. They’re always ahead of the mutants and Sentinel Services because they’re using them as pawns in their schemes…but it worked. Hellfire’s inner circle might not be happy with their methods, but the Stepford Cuckoos have successfully recruited the Mutant underground.