The Gifted – rX
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
In an intimate look at a happier time for the Strucker family, we watch as Reed (Stephen Moyer) , Caitlin/Kate (Amy Acker), Andy (Percy Hynes White), Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and their grandmother Ellen (Sharon Gless) get rowdy at the local bowling alley. Andy’s talents extend far beyond his mutant powers, as she easily scores a strike. Lauren is up next and knocks down all but one pin with her bowling ball. Not one to be outshined by her brother, Lauren subtly flicks her wrist and the final pin topples over. The family are impressed by her good fortune and Andy sighs in exasperation. A few lanes down, a father defends his conspicuously mutant daughter while teenagers mock her. The young girl’s body vibrates, her face a blur as the teenagers laugh on. Lauren witnesses the spectacle and asks her father if he sees what’s happening. They all do, but Kate scolds Lauren and tells her to mind her own business. It’s unwise to interfere when mutants are involved.
When the nameless father of the young mutant has had enough of the taunting, he raises his voice at the teenagers, who are only encouraged by his reaction. With all eyes on them now, the young girl loses control of her powers and sends a wave of energy outwards, knocking cups off of tables and startling onlookers. Reed, ever the family man, approaches the mutant and the father to announce that he is a federal prosecutor and that his daughter just committed a serious crime by using her powers. He advises the father to leave with his daughter in order to prevent any further backlash. They oblige, but Lauren is unhappy and bitterly asks why the mutants have to leave…a good question indeed.
In present day, we are thrown into a chaotic scene as Blink (Jamie Chung) regains consciousness. The Strucker family, minus Reed, are frantic after abandoning their father. Their mutant companions are just as frazzled, but determined to keep moving in order to avoid law enforcement. John (Blair Redford) elects himself as leader, telling the Strucker’s to shut up and put up so they can all escape safely. Unfortunately, Blink is still weak and falls unconscious once again. The extreme utilization of her powers as an escape vehicle was too much, and she is depleted.
Reed was shot, but he is well enough to be threatened by Agent Turner (Coby Bell) as he is loaded into the back of an ambulance.
Within the cinderblock walls of detention center, Lorna (Emma Dumont) is guided to a new cell in what appears to be the general population unit. Realizing that she is surrounded by steel and iron bars, she attempts to use her powers. They work well enough to make the cell bars tremble – but the collar on her neck shoots electricity into her body, no doubt a consequence of using her powers. Escape will not be as simple as she thought. Inmates laugh from their cells. Another, perhaps kinder, inmate asks Lorna if she’s okay. The collar she wears was customized to prevent her from using her “mutie” powers, a standard for the facilities gifted inmates. Sadly, the prison reflects the world outside and Lorna is certain to be targeting by other “normal” inmates. Lorna knows that she needs backup, but within this prison…she has none.
John, Marcos (Sean Teale) and Sage (Hayley Lovitt) argue over Marcos’ decision to help the Strucker family without their consent, but it’s too late to turn back now. Their family tiff is interrupted by Lauren, alerting them to Blink’s deteriorating health. Kate uses her nursing expertise to assess Blink’s current state, notifying everyone that she is in respiratory distress with a rapidly elevating fever. In what comes as no surprise, Kate insists that Blink get medical attention. Mutants, of course, are not eligible for quality or affordable healthcare. The underground only has first aid kits and painkillers for dire situations. Kate is concerned that her single course on human variant medicine, but Lauren silences her mother’s concerns and begs for her help.
Blink’s heart rate rises, pushing the powerful mutant into shock and Kate lists off a number of medications and medical solutions that will be needed to nurse her back to health. Before they have time to argue about the accessibility of healthcare, Blink’s powers go on the fritz and open up a portal through which a large truck bed crashes through. John body blocks the family and the truck bounces off of his back, slamming into the wall. The group is shaken and a little banged up, but too preoccupied by Blink’s unstable state to care. It’s time to act, not argue.
The portal opening mutant does just that – and opens another portal, rather the same one that birthed the flying truck. On the other side of the tear in time and space, armed men are quickly approaching. They can see the mutants, and it doesn’t look like they’re thrilled about it. Marcos and John step up the frontlines, ready to defend – but mighty little Lauren saunters past them and gazes through the portal, poised to protect them all. Raising her hands, Lauren uses her impressive strength and power to close the seal before the men have the chance to shoot. Everyone, including Lauren, is shocked by her ability.
In case it wasn’t already abundantly clear – Blink needs medicine, including steroids, which need to be accessed at a medical facility. John organizes to have Kate and Marcos go on a fieldtrip to procure the necessary prescriptions.
The tables have turned for Reed, who is now sitting opposite of Sentinel Services agent Jace Turner. Agent Turner threatens prosecution for Reed and his family, to which Reed uses his powers of interrogation to divert the course of his detention.
Marcos and Kate are on the road in search of medical supplies. Marcos assures Kate that her kids will be safe with John, who is extremely strong. Kate, still too on edge to reciprocate the warmth, demands that Marcos continue to honor the deal he made with Reed. Marcos plans on it, but not without first laying some old fashioned guilt down on the Strucker matriarch. After all, Reed put a pregnant Lorna in prison.
Speaking of Lorna…things are looking a little rough, so to speak. Inmates and guards alike are treating Lorna like she’s one of the cattle going in for slaughter as they herd her into the showers. Passing by a cell, Lorna spots another mutant with a body that resembles granite. They share a look, but Lorna is pressured on. As she showers, her hair dye bleeds out, unearthing a dark green tint to her hair. This is Polaris.
John reveals that Blink is a fugitive who was arrested for using her powers in order to steal food from a supermarket, something many mutants are locked away for. Oftentimes, mutants who cannot pass as humans are discriminated against and unable to get legitimate employment. As her story is told, Blink seizes and re-opens the portal. Lauren struggles to close it as law enforcement gathers on the other side.
Kate and Marcos arrive at a mutant “friendly” hospital by the time the sun rises. Kate asks Marcos to look at his wound, and he urges her to watch out for his blood. She scoffs at him, but quickly changes her tune when she realizes that his blood resembled liquid sunlight. They rush through the hospital doors playing the role of a desperate couple. They’re brought in through triage and doctor staples Marcos’ wound. The doctor, seemingly human, suspects that Marcos and Kate got into a physical altercation, hinting at abuse – simply because Marcos is a mutant, and is therefore profiled. Kate dismisses the accusations and the doctor leaves, allowing Kate the opportunity to swipe some scrubs.
At their hideout, John contemplates an evacuation. It’s not ideal, but it might be the only option.
Reed is still in Agent Turner’s custody and Agent Turner is wasting no time in isolating Reed, revealing that the prosecutor was sold-out by his coworker Carla. Agent Turner has a personal agenda when it comes to capturing mutants, as his child died during “The July 15th Incident” by a blast of energy. He doesn’t care if a good or a bad mutant killed his daughter – and we suspect he holds onto that apathy in his work.
In prison, Lorna drops her human name and introduces herself as Polaris to the only other identifiable mutant. The stone-faced woman isn’t interested in the interaction, admitting that her life is hard enough on the inside, she doesn’t need another mutant to worsen the situation.
Kate proves that she must have moonlighted as a petty thief while she was a nurse, nonchalantly lying and stealing medications from the locked supply cabinets. On her way out, she spots Marcos’ doctor talking to the police. It’s time to get out and fast. They are spotted by police on their way out and make a run for it, heading out a back door.
Polaris walks alone, but is beckoned by a hardened woman and her groupies in the prison courtyard. The inmate threatens Polaris, which is not received in kind. Polaris is rewarded for her spunk by a few punches to the face. As she bleeds on the ground, the inmate addresses Polaris’ pregnancy and begins kicking her in the stomach. The hatred for mutant kind is palpable and disturbing. Polaris uses what she can of her powers to send a table flying at her attacker. The human’s friends then flock to Polaris and begin beating her in a group assault. Polaris is punished for being a victim and is thrown into solitary.
Blink’s composure is disintegrating by the minute. John is insistent on evacuation, but Blink’s lack of control has other plans and reopens the portal, inviting the police in. Lauren is too exhausted to close the portal and the police begin to infiltrate. John’s enhanced strength can only do so much to drive the ranks back, but Andy’s powers are enough to defend them. In a blast of energy, Blink is throat from the table – conjuring multiple concurrent portals to open.
Reed faces his dire future and fates of those he pushed through the system as a prosecutor, bearing witness to his own mother’s interrogation. Agent Turner is taking no prisoners, and by that, I mean he’s taking as many as he can.
Kate is on the precipice of an epiphany, having witnessed firsthand the horrendous treatment mutants endure on a daily basis. Marcos divulges details of his painful past: being disowned by his parents, the moral concessions he’s had to make just to survive, and commends Kate for not giving up on her children just because they’re mutants. In the midst of their conversation, Kate is stricken with immobilizing fear, something that Marcos reveals to be a product of the Underground’s security system, a deterrent of sorts. The mutant responsible appears on the side of the road, and informs Marcos that they’re evacuating.
Above and all around them, small portals are opening and closing. The community is in grave danger, products of the portals crashing into people, cars and architecture. Lauren and Andy are still safe, but Blink is inside, still in danger. Marcos insists on going in to administer the medicine, but Kate refuses and takes on the task herself. At the apex of danger, Kate runs to Blink’s side through a portal with her medical supplies in tote. In a scene that reminds us all that Amy Acker has chemistry with every living creature in existence, Kate brings Blink back from the brink of death and destruction. When a sense of calm settles over the Underground, John asks Blink why she continued to open the same portal over and over again. She can’t remember – but the others will never forget.
With the imminent crisis averted, the Struckers are left wondering how they’ll rescue Reed. If one thing is certain, they’re prepared to fight for him, for everyone – including Polaris.
As Agent Turner resumes his meeting with Reed we discover that the prosecutor has had time to evaluate his situation. It seems as though Sentinel Services might not have as strong of a case as they’d like Reed to believe. Taking control of the conversation, Reed takes command and bargains for his family’s protection. His requests a lawyer, but the offer is conditional. Reed will only get a deal if he barters freedom for the mutant underground.
Elsewhere, a physician and his assistant discuss a case from the 1960’s concerning powerful mutant siblings in Rio de Janeiro. He requests information on the Strucker children investigation, suggestion that he and the lead investigator should talk. One mutant teenager is fine, but two equals terror.