Brief Thoughts On The Gifted, Episode 6

by Erik Amaya


After focusing on the “Until It Happens To You” narrative for so long, The Gifted finally shifted the focus to mutant concerns with its sixth episode. It definitely needed to do that. With three human characters and seven-or-eight featured mutants, we definitely known the humans a whole lot better. Of course, that was by design. The Gifted is telling a story about an “average” American family suddenly losing their privileged state, but it’s also a modern television show with a sprawling cast who deserve compelling stories of their own. And though we’ve learned things about Marcos and Lorna over the last few weeks, it was always in the service of the Strucker story.
Now, the Struckers are part of a mutant story.
The thrust of the episode concerned John’s need to learn more about Pulse’s condition. To do so, Marcos, Reed and Andy make for a Baton Rouge courthouse where the legal processing of mutants headed to the black site takes place. But within that story prompt, we get some new angles from which to look at the mutant condition. Marco’s struggle to hold back the light and Reed’s subsequent talk with Alex about powers being a physical strain is a rarely examined aspect of the Marvel mutant concept (at least on film). Even more intriguing was Caitlin’s examination of a mutant teen whose use of his own powers results in high blood pressure. Using mutation as a metaphor for chronic conditions could lead to some powerful statements; just as Harry’s reference to Sentinel Services grabbing mutants as their kids get out of school was a pointed statement about the current state of immigration.
But let’s go back to Reed and Andy for a moment as their talk in the back of the truck is particularly interesting in this context. Reed, for the first time, sees mutant powers as a possible physical ailment and asks Andy if his powers cause him discomfort. Alex reveals, with perhaps a poor choice of words, that it is a release. “It’s like shouting,” he says. Unfortunately, he already suggested he likes having the power, which Reed was less than thrilled to hear. And while they were able to work through that tension in the short term, it was important to establish the physical sensation of mutant powers. And from Andy’s standpoint, it was finally time for a mutant to admit that being able to do amazing things is cool.
And that coolness is definitely on display when newcomer Wes (Danny Ramirez) shows Lauren a vision of Florence Rome. He came on a little strong when he first introduced himself, but attempting to give Lauren a vision of a place she will never see in real life was a genuinely thoughtful and cool use of his illusion power. That ability also turned out to be extremely useful when Marcos, Andy and Reed get caught by Sentinel Services.
It also highlights an inherent problem in the Underground’s leadership.
John and Lorna are both fighters. They both come at a problem from a standpoint of force. Lorna’s attempt to train Lauren, Wes and a few other mutant teenagers illustrates this well. Wes’s flower illusion leads to Lorna dressing him down, but his power was critical to saving the day. Despite working in the shadows, Lorna’s tactics do not reflect an understanding of misdirection or subterfuge. I suppose that’s indicative of her unspoken family connection; something the sudden use of the term “Magnet Girl” definitely draws attention toward. But as her character continues to develop, that brute force approach is something that will need to be examined and, I imagine, Caitlin will be the one doing the examination as Marcos heads off to deal with more of his past.
Meanwhile, Blink finally walked out on the Underground after her attempt to talk to John went poorly. She’s part of the regular cast, so I imagine she’ll have a story line of her own in the weeks ahead, but I’m glad the show confronted this issue quickly. I also have to wonder if, perhaps, Dreamer’s used her powers on John and created a false history for them. As she worked her way back into his affections this week, I couldn’t help but see a possible manipulation there. As I said last week, her power can be easily abused.
Dangling Questions:

  1. Was John’s father a member of the X-Men? Dreamer said John is trying to live up to his example. While there is a Neal Proudstar in Marvel Comics lore, he’s never been more than Thunderbird and Warpath’s rarely seen father.
  2. How is Dr. Campbell conditioning his mutants? Is it a drug or a more involved process? Is it, possibly, his mutant power?
  3. Despite saying they are part of the fight, will Caitlin ever accept everything that statement entails?

The Gifted airs Mondays on FOX.

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