The Gifted – eXposed
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
If this pilot is any indication of the upcoming season’s intensity, audiences are in for a wild ride.
“The Gifted’s” inaugural scene throws audiences into a high-speed police chase involving multiple patrol cars and a waterlogged mutant named Blink (Jamie Chung), who makes a dramatic escape through a neon purple portal of her own creation. It quickly becomes evident that the police weren’t the only ones in pursuit of Blink, as a motley crew of other gifted individuals are seen discussing her tendency to evade them. While their intentions are not quite clear, the group have a vested interest in Blink’s migration pattern and the usage of her abilities. John Proudstar (Blair Redford), sporting a Semper Fi tattoo on his bicep, senses Blink’s proximity through hazy visions. Marcos, the group’s human lantern, illuminates the path Blink left in her wake, using his handy flashlight to reveal the shattered remains of a police car’s lights. The third member of Blink’s fan club is Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont), who cozies up to Marcos (Sean Teale) while they discuss their next move.
Already an impressive tracker, John spots a brick building. The irises of his eyes spasm, and he is sure – Blink is hiding in there. No less than a few seconds later the metal lock and latch that once protected Blink crash to the ground – a casualty of war. Sneaking inside, Marcos startles Blink who in turn throws ceramic ware at his head and accuses him of being a cop. Lorna quickly appears beside Eclipse, demonstrating her impressive, enigmatic powers, a clear sign that they are in fact, not cops. They offer her safety in numbers and refuge, but John spoils the party by notifying the group that more cops are on their way. Together they prepare to face the storm, each demonstrating their impressive gifts. Lorna holds the cops off, manipulating the bodies and the vehicles of cops until Marcos blinds them with his powers of illumination. The group flees, but not without any losses. Marcos is shot and wounded. Lorna, overwhelmed with fury, attacks the cops in retribution. This ultimately leads to her capture.
At Belleview High, Kate Strucker (Amy Acker) and her husband Reed (Stephen Moyer) consult with the principal of their son Andy’s (Percy Hynes White) school about bullying. Andy, they believe, is being bullied by some malicious boys. The principal dismisses their concerns until Reed threatens to sue the school for negligence. As the principal retreats in fear, Kate commends her husband’s gumption. Their adorable matrimonial banter is interrupted by urgent messages from Reed’s fellow attorneys and prosecutors. He is dismissed, pardoned for his efforts in keeping the family safe…whatever that means.
Now in the Strucker residence, Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) models outfits for her boyfriend Jack (Steffan Argus) via Skype while Kate and Andy beckon her from the kitchen. With the high school’s dance taking place later that night, Kate debriefs with her children on their days and plans for the evening. Andy is socially suffering, but that doesn’t stop him from using the word “mutie,” a slur for mutants. Lauren scolds him for his racist remarks while Kate pleas for a normal family discussion.
Worlds collide as Reed enters a holding cell that contains none other than Lorna Dane, whose hands are bound together. Reed refuses to indulge her snark and asks for her account of the previous night’s events. Lorna and her pals are responsible for aiding and abetting thousands of “fugitives” or other gifted individuals. Despite her incarceration, Lorna demonstrates her physical prowess over Reed by threatening to pull the screws from his surgically altered knee.
While their father is making deals and enraging mutants, Lauren and Andy make their way to the school dance…and that’s where the trouble begins. Lauren meets up with Jack, leaving Andy to his own devices. Bullies spot Andy and follow him through the dark gym until they can grab him where they pull him into the locker room in a scene that eerily resembles an all-male Carrie. The unwanted attention is too much for Andy, who curls into himself on the floor in agony until the walls crack, the lights shatter and the ceiling caves in. The entire school trembles from Andy’s emotional breakdown – and Lauren leaps into action, determined to find and save her brother. She knows the destruction is his fault. Once Lauren locates her brother, she pulls him up off the floor and leads him to temporary safety.
We are reintroduced to Blink, John and Marcos who are recovering from their previous escapades. A handful of other undesirables are spotted within the large infrastructure, but tensions are high. It is here that we learn the X-Men may or may not be dead, but that they’ve certainly left their mutant brethren high and dry. While they discuss how to rescue more of their kind, John and Marcos are interrupted by news of a mutant-related incident at a local high school. They’ve found their next stray.
Emotions are running high back at the Strucker household. Andy and Lauren are reasoning with their mother, who is still in the throes of denial. Lauren snaps her out of it by declaring that she too is a mutant, which is the sole reason they were able to escape the gym as it crumbled to the ground. Kate is stunned, still holding onto hope that her kids aren’t mutants…until Lauren recounts a near death experience that she thwarted, an inexplicable event that she had once deemed a miracle. Lauren’s abilities have saved the entire family without them ever knowing. This scene is an incredibly powerful allegory for issues families endure together, one that is only deepened by the realization that Reed exclusively prosecutes mutants.
The family meeting is interrupted by a knock at the door, special law enforcement waiting to take the children into custody. The shove their way through the threshold, Kate falling to the ground in the process. Andy becomes enraged again, causing the officers to draw their weapons. Lauren deflects a gunshot and the family run to their car. With the help of Lauren’s abilities, they manage to escape in their Mutant Mom Mobile. Once they reach a gas station, Kate calls Reed from a pay phone to fill him in on the latest family revelations. Though Reed is floored by the news, he rushes to meet his family. He approaches the situation from a legal approach until Kate reveals that a federal agency is looking for the children. Activating full dad-mode, Reed begins hashing out plans for an escape to a place with looser mutant laws; Mexico.
Sentinel Services, the federal agency after the Strucker children, have wasted no time. They’ve already begun investigating Reed by visiting his office to go through his files. Reed calls his coworker Carla (Toks Olagundoye) asking for help, but she is hesitant.
The Struckers are now fully on the run and staying at a seedy motel. Andy and Lauren commiserate outside, the youngest Strucker expressing his guilt and fear. Lauren, ever the protector, promises Andy that it gets better – a sentiment we could all stand to hear. Lauren promises that with work, Andy will be able to control his abilities. If she could teach him how to swim, she can teach him restraint…just not right now. Andy shatters the glass the motel vending machine as he remembers what his classmates did to him.
Back at the mutant shelter, Blink is feeling social enough to talk to Marcos who reveals that he is planning to break Lorna out of jail. He hopes to use Blink’s portal-hopping abilities during the rescue mission, but she reveals that using portal to uncharted territories could have fatal results. Before his disappointment can set in, Marcos receives a call from Reed Strucker – who needs to get his family safe passage. He reveals that the high school mutant incident was at the fault of his kids and discloses his involvement in Lorna’s capture. The threat of extortion and the news of Lorna’s pregnancy are enough to get Marcos to agree to a meeting with Reed.
In preparation for the meeting, Reed and Kate discuss the lives mutants must live. Did he know their lives were this difficult? He knew it wasn’t easy for them, but never this bad. He never knew it was so bad that mutants would have drones searching for them…which is exactly what was happening to his family. Gazing out the window, he spots a drone and urges his family to move. The drones will recognize their car and their license plate. Lauren suggests stealing a truck from a motel vendor and with the help of her abilities they do just that.
In a seedy lounge on the road, Reed meets Marcos. The first order of business is Lorna and the baby, who are both in a detainment center. Reed offers additional information only after Marcos promises to help keep his family safe. He agrees, but only if Reed stays behind to ensure Lorna is safely released.
Blink, knowing about Marcos’ meeting, tells John about the clandestine meeting with Reed. They spring into action to track Marcos down before he gets himself into any more trouble.
The Strucker family meet back up with Marcos after sundown, where they are to gather supplies before crossing the border. Marcos explains how the family will get to Mexico and how they’ll assume new identities…but they’ve got company. Sentinel Services arrive – they’ve been tipped off by Carla. At the climax of their standoff, John breaks through and provides an alternative route for the mutant clan to run. Sentinel Services unleash an army of arachnid robots to do the inhuman (and inhumane) jobs that they can’t – physically pursuing and engaging the mutants.
John tries to use his enhanced strength to break through the steel walls of the compound, much to no avail. Lauren’s defensive powers provide to be effective once again, but the robots are too persistent for her immature powers. While they fend off the robots, Blink opens a portal and urges the family through. Andy finally takes his sister’s advice and manages to demolish the robots before running through the portal. Blink, exhausting her powers, pulls the Struckers through…but not all of them.
Reed is left standing alone to face Sentinel Services, betrayal and the consequences of protecting his family.
Credits roll…but it’s not over yet. A piece of anti-mutant propaganda is interrupted by a hijacked broadcast hosted by Marcos, promising that they cannot be stopped.