The Gifted just wrapped up its first main plot arc — the integration of the Strucker family into the Mutant Underground — in style, with Caitlin, Lauren, and Andy helping John, Clarice, Sonia, Harry, and Marcos to rescue Lorna and Reed from the clutches of Sentinel Services.
“Exit Strategy” wasn’t as strong as last week’s episode, but it demonstrated just how much The Gifted has done narratively in only four episodes. After only four hours of television, this show has formed a complex found-family dynamic that successfully taps into the themes that make the X-Men story so important.
But before the rescue can go down, the Mutant Underground need a plan. While Caitlin “may not be able to shoot lasers out of her hands,” she has an idea: why not attack Sentinel Services while they are trying to move Reed and Lorna. This is one of those character moments that relies on making every other character look like an idiot to prove that one character is smart. Not this episode’s best narrative device.
In order to put Caitlin’s plan into action, the Mutant Underground has to find out when and where Sentinel Services will be moving Reed and Lorna. Marcos heads to his friends in “the cartel” to find out. It’s annoying and cliché to have the Colombian guy have a history with the local drug cartel, but you have to give The Gifted credit for doing it with style — and when I talk about style, I am talking about the witty, unpredictable character of Carmen.
Carmen, Marcos’ former beau and the current leader of the cartel, has a serious ax to grind with Marcos. Turns out he left her to get together with Lorna and she has definitely not let it go. She sees Marcos’ choice not only as a personal betrayal, but a familial one. She sets about proving to Marcos that the Mutant Underground is no better than the cartel, getting Marcos to torture a man before she gives him the information. Carmen’s parting words imply that she will be calling on Marcos’ services again, and that he better not disappoint her.
While Marcos is getting pulled back into the dangers of his pre-Mutant Underground life, Lorna and Reed are bonding in neighboring detention cells. And by “bonding,” I mean Reed it trying to extend an olive branch and Lorna is justifiably tearing it to shreds. “Congratulations on figuring out you’re one of the bad guys,” Lorna tells Reed after he dictates his life story to woke-ness. He feels really bad about throwing all of those mutants in jail, OK?
I’m glad Lorna — and this show — didn’t let Reed’s sob story go without comment from Lorna. Reed claims he never understood because it was his job to see the mutants in his courtroom as guilty, but empathy means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes even without having experienced their hardship. Do better, Reed.
Reed makes up for his ignorant, harmful ways a bit during the prison bus escape scene. Though Lauren and Andy manage to take out the wheel of the bus, a newly introduced mutant named Pulse (John’s former best friend who was presumed dead after a detention center bust two years prior) manages to prevent the mutant rescue squad from being able to use their powers. Reed and Lorna try to team up and overpower their guards, but only get beaten down for their efforts.
Eventually, John is able to knock Pulse out (and hopefully rescue him, though it didn’t look like it). Lorna busts herself and Reed out of the prison bus using the screws from Reed’s leg. (Because, apparently, she can’t use metal that isn’t in her direct surroundings?) It’s a start, Reed, but don’t think we’ve forgotten about all of your abuses of power.
So, the Strucker family is reunited. Lorna and Marcos are back together again. And, while Clarice may still be confused about the nature of her relationship with John following the sexy memories Sonia planted in her mind, the Mutant Underground is still in operation. What will The Gifted look like with its first, central problem out of the way? Well, with Agent Turner more desperate than ever to capture all mutants and take the Mutant Underground down, something tells me the gang won’t have long to catch their breaths before the next crisis rises up.
It will be interesting to see, however, what kind of choice the Strucker family makes now that they are back together again. Presumably, given the nature of the show, they will stick around to help the Mutant Underground, but what will that transition look like? And how will the Mutant Underground leadership feel about that choice? What happened to Pulse to make him turn against his fellow mutants? And will Lauren ever get a chance to make corn muffins for the football team fundraiser?
The Gifted may have just wrapped up its initial narrative thrust, but there’s plenty more story to explore here. This show is just getting started.
Rating: ★★★ Good