The Gifted – eXtraction and X-roads
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
Somewhere in the distant past, a clean-shaven Dr. Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) sits before his ailing brother. The room is somber. Cystic Fibrosis has weakened his brother to the point of no return. Nebulizers don’t work and his lung capacity is diminishing. Despite his impending demise, Good Brother Campbell is insistent that his brother leave before he misses his big lecture. Dr. Campbell obeys his brother’s wishes to deliver a lecture on The Evolution of Mankind and the threat of mutants. It quickly becomes evident that Dr. Campbell has always been anti-mutant, and supports doing what he can to overcome his supposedly inferior genetics. This is no doubt a visceral response to his ailing brother’s CF diagnosis – but it is not enough to humanize the doctor.
Present Day is looking bleak for our mutants, who still cannot decide which cards they want to play. The Sisters Frost (Skyler Samuels) are heavily influencing at least one member of the core Underground clan while others like Blink (Jamie Chung), Marcos (Sean Teale) and John (Blair Redford) are more critical of their dubious plans. John’s hesitance leads him to seek out the Struckers to discuss their plans to nab Campbell in Charlotte. Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Kate (Amy Acker), by no fault of their own, are unfortunately less than helpful despite the family’s connections to Trask. John’s day gets no better when he bumps into Blink who informs him of her past as an accidental former recruit of The Brotherhood.
Tensions are high at the Mutant Underground. Lorna (Emma Dumont) and Marcos are having trouble navigating the complex ties that bind them to one another and the connection that Lorna has with the Frosts. Andy (Percy Hynes White) and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) are facing off in a debate on their family history, and the narrative that their homicidal great grandparents had fallen into. Andy, in all his youth, is unwavering in his stance that the world owes him something, while Lauren maintains her logic and anti-war stance. The Frost sisters have apparently planted seeds of doubt in Andy’s mind and his affinity for their belief system sends Lauren off in a huff.
Back at basecamp, Fade (Jeff Daniel Phillips) decides to throw some next level shade at Kate and her family. His remarks rattle her, but she has a job to do. Soon after, the Struckers are met with some more disturbing news: Reed’s mom may be in danger. Sentinel Services, Dr. Campbell and his lackies are interested in finding Otto’s missing mutant research and they’re starting with Ellen (Sharon Gless). Meanwhile, the Frosts, Marcos, Blink, John and Lorna arrive at a rather bourgeoisie safe house in Charlotte. After they all get settled, they manage to sequester Lorna to appeal to her motherly instincts, as well as her dark side. Though she doesn’t say much, another seed has clearly been planted.
Kate and Reed infiltrate Ellen’s office by pretending to have been at a recent Christmas party. She is unscathed – for now. The Struckers talk in Ellen’s office while the kids serve as lookouts outside the building. Andy is still ready for a fight, his aggression palpable. Things aren’t going so well inside, either. Reed reveals that Otto is dead…another dead mutant. Reed reveals a number of their family secrets – but it’s time to go. Sentinel Services is hot on their trail, and Ellen is refusing to go on the run with them. It’s not easy leaving your life behind.
Back outside, two Sentinel Services agents are approaching Ellen’s office. Andy steps up to physically stop them, rather than evade them. Completely disregarding their safety, he uses his powers against the agents, wounding them. Lauren refuses to sit by and idly watch as Andy further injures them, and uses her shielding powers to block Andy’s next attack. He instead turns his attack around on her. The oppositional force of their powers sends them both flying. This could be a deadly sibling rivalry.
The Purifier poster-boy Senator Montez (David Norona) walks alongside Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell is less interested in purification and more interested in manipulation; something Montez doesn’t have time for just yet. They part ways, but Dr. Campbell seems a little too pleased with himself. Later in the day, Dr. Campbell and Montez regroup to discuss the efficacy of Campbell’s plans.
In the safe house, the mutants have captured Franklin Bennett (Andrew Masset). One of the Frosts uses her mind manipulation through Bennett, facilitating their plan of making the mutants Bennett’s new security detail. This is their way to Dr. Campbell…it’s also the Sisters Cuckoo’s way of having some sadistic fun. They’re clearly fans of a good ole’ torture session.
Safe (for now), Ellen reveals to Reed and Kate that while she was completely unaware of Otto’s secret lab, she did remember a fellow researcher with whom he had a close relationship. The researcher visited Reed when he was recovering as a child, and might just hold the remaining artifacts of Otto’s mutant research. Ellen then reveals that while she will run, she will not go with them. Instead, she’ll head to Boca Raton. In a tearful goodbye with her grandchildren, Ellen makes sure they know just how gifted they are.
Charlotte’s Exhibition Center is bustling with bigoted activity. Montez delivers a rousing hate speech, which allows Esme and her pawns to enter the premises. Their ticket in? Franklin Bennett, of course. The mutants go over their game plan for knocking out the power grid and controlling security, while Blink and John share a tender moment of forgiveness, followed by a quick kiss. The second their lips part, they’re joined by Marcos. It’s go-time. Blink opens up a portal and they jump through.
The Struckers report back to the underground. Reed meets up with Sage (Hayley Lovitt) to ensure his mother’s safe passage, and to look into the researcher, Madeline. Kate is burdened with the responsibility of mediating her clashing children. Andy storms upstairs, but Lauren stays with her mom to let her know that something inside of Andy has changed. He is angry and cold and dangerous.
Lorna sits with one of the Frosts and jams the cellular connection within the building. John, Marcos, and Blink are inside plotting their attack and extraction. Dr. Campbell and his security detail get off of an elevator where the mutants are waiting. Marcos blinds the group while John man-handles them, but there’s a Hound present. The Hound injures Marcos, causing a distraction that allows Campbell to grab a child to use as leveraged. He escapes as more armed guards arrive, shooting at our mutant pals.
We jump back four years in time to Lakeview Mental Hospital, Lorna’s place of residence. There is a gentle knock on her door and the nurse enters with news of a visitor. Lorna stops playing with the gift that was given to her by “someone” that her mother knew as her visitor enters the small room. A lawyer by the name of Evangeline (Erinn Ruth). Evangeline knows a little too much about Polaris’ past. It doesn’t take long for the lawyer to reveal herself as a mutant as well. It is here that she tells Lorna, “We all have demons inside of us…it’s what we do with them that matters.” This is Lorna’s first new beginning.
In the present, Blink gets the boys to safety where they report that Campbell used kids as a shield. The Frosts aren’t pleased, but they don’t have time to discuss the morality of their comrades. The topic of war and peace is ubiquitous, extending as far as the Mutant Underground, where Andy is at odds with his entire family. Andy is ready to fight, regardless of who he might hurt. Ah, adolescents and their immortality complexes. His fervor might just get him into trouble. Jace Turner (Coby Bell) has arrived at the scene of Andy’s crime with two detective Hounds.
Lorna has hit a wall. Within that wall is a door – to another new beginning. The conference and the hatred have gotten to her and weakened her resolve. Their failed attempt at capturing Dr. Campbell has done little to conflict the Frost’s insistence that a peaceful resistance will be futile. Marcos can see the internal battle etched on her face and promises that their new and better world will take time to build, but they’ll get there…and despite her love for Marcos and his faith, they might not be enough to pull her back to his side.
Lorna goes outside to get some air and to suit up for their next mission when a Frost approaches her in another attempt to get Lorna to subscribe to their brand of justice. She knows about the medallion that her father gave to her for her 13th birthday – a totem of her attraction to the dark side, and perhaps, The Brotherhood/Hellfire Club. This is all it takes. Lorna is manipulated into an epiphany that she chooses to believe: that joining Esme and her sisters is what needs to be done. She disappears, sending Marcos into a frenzy.
Turner’s hounds have identified the end of the Strucker’s trail. He calls his Director for the go-ahead to proceed with tracking them. When he receives the news, he orders his team to open up access and pursue his targets. A cloaked mutant that is on watch notices the crack in the façade and jumps to alert the others. He uses his powers to try and fill the team with a sense of overwhelming fear, but Turner works through it. He orders his team to do the same.
Shatter (Jermaine Rivers) gets word that Sentinel Services is approaching, sending the mutants scattering to evacuate. They destroy evidence, intel, and walls to get out. Lauren and Andy reunite, though not amiably, in their commitment to protect their fellow mutants. Fade and Kate share a fleeting moment of mutual respect, but time is too precious to waste on emotional engagements. They need to survive. The brute mutants work to reinforce walls and break through others, creating an escape route. The others pack their belongings, and the elder Struckers rally the troops. Mutants with combat training brace for impact. Kate and the others work to create a tunnel out. Shatter comes through, cracking the infrastructure below in hopes of creating a passage.
With all the combat mutants at their respective posts, Sentinel Services decide to make a move as well. Reed takes an old-fashioned approach to war, loading his shotgun. The attacks begin, mutants fighting with defensive force. Jace and his agents plan on using fatal force, but they were unprepared for the quasi-organized Underground. Sentinel Services falls back temporarily while they await Hound assistance. They recollect themselves and move in, this time with Inertia and Gravity Hound taking point. Their combined forces obliterate the building’s structure, wounding some mutants in the process. Time is running out. The barrier is crumbling. At last, they break through the wall and send some of the mutants through, but it won’t be enough. Lauren and Andy know that they’re the underground’s only hope at escape. While the others flee, Lauren and Andy go to meet their genetic foils. More Hounds enter the building, but they’re obsolete in the face of Von Strucker power. The siblings unite and the building is bathed in blinding light. Time stands still, and everyone inside falls down. The only thing left standing are Lauren and Andy. Not the Hounds. Not the Underground.
Marcos and the others have tracked Lorna down. She is standing point at an aerial ground, poised to destroy Montez’s plane, the very plane that carries Dr. Campbell and the Senator. Blink makes a move to stop her, but Lorna – now more Polaris than anyone else, threatens her. Marcos cries out in desperation. The mother of his child is about to become a murderer. He cries out to her one last time, but it’s futile. Her powers activate and the plane explodes in mid-air. This is the genesis of a new world, of the world imagined by the Hellfire Club. This is Polaris’ new world.
The Mutant Way Station is full of quiet activity. Sage debriefs John and the others on the night’s events, praising the Strucker children for their efforts while mourning the loss of headquarters. John’s life is gone, but so is Marcos’ family. Even though they survived, they all lost parts of themselves in the day’s battles…everyone except for Andy. While Lauren pontificates the consequences of taking lives, Andy is apathetic to their plight. The tension gives, if only a little, when the Struckers catch a glimpse of John, Marcos, and Blink. They’re still a team. For now.
Agent Turner is being reamed by his Director, but his hatred quickly eclipses his inhibitions. On impulse, he quits Sentinel Services. He will fight this war without the bureaucracy. Simultaneously, the Way Station is about to experience its own brand of anarchy. The mutants are turning on the Struckers, blaming them for the destruction of their stations. Marcos comes to their defense, but is interrupted by Polaris 2.0. She shuts him down and uses fear-mongering rhetoric to recruit mutants to her and the Frost’s new cause. Fade, Sage, BIG BOY, and Andy cross over to join the ranks of the Hellfire Club. Andy’s parents try to stop him, but he uses his powers to cause a tremor, pushing them back.
Without another word, they walk away from their old family and embark on a journey to a new war and a new world.