There’s something to be said for varying a show’s level of action. A show like The Gifted is obviously aiming to keep the plot fast-paced and the stakes high, but I wonder if there isn’t something lost without those occasional slower, quieter moments and episodes.
If The Gifted were going to take a narrative breath, “boXed in” would have been a great place to do. Lorna and Reed were broken out of prison in the previous episode, effectively wrapping up the first mini-arc of the season. Instead, the show prolonged the tensions of the prison break into a city-wide mutant search, whereas it would have been better served by moving in a new direction.
I get what The Gifted was attempting to do with “boXed in.” It was a look at where both Lorna and Reed fit into the Mutant Underground following their periods of incarceration. For Reed, it is a question of trust and accountability. As we’ve already established, prior to finding out his kids are mutants (so, about a week ago in TV time?), Reed was a relatively reprehensible human being, prosecuting innocent mutants. He was actively at work in a system that arrested, charged, tried, and found guilty mutants who used their powers, often without their control or to defend themselves. Prior to being personally affected by anti-mutant oppression, Reed never stopped to ask what it must have been like for this marginalized group. He demonstrated zero empathy.
Reed serves as an interesting counterpoint to Agent Turner, who presumably harbored little anti-mutant sentiment prior to his daughter’s death during a mutant peaceful protest that spiraled out of control. Like Reed, he didn’t take a stance until he was personally affected by the mutant world. It was only following the (tragic) death of his (adorable) daughter that Jace presumably joined Sentinel Services and became so anti-mutant.
For Reed, the story has taken a happier twist. Because of his kids’ mutant status, he has been given a second chance at getting on the right side of history — and he proves himself helpful and loyal to the mutant cause in this week’s episode.
For Jace, however, the story is less hopeful. After being captured by a PTSD-driven Lorna and exposed to Sonia’s memory-changing abilities, Jace forgets about the death of his daughter. Upon returning home, his wife is forced to tell him that his daughter died four years ago, forcing the man to grieve not once, but twice for his child.
Jace may not be a good guy, but it’s not hard to sympathize with the man — especially after an episode like this one. He is a man who went through something someone should never have to go through and has let the pain and anger of that life-changing moment drive him in dangerous directions.
While Jace struggles with the effects of Sonia’s mutant abilities, Clarice finally puts two-and-two together to realize that Sonia also messed with her brain. While Jace’s change may have been more painful, Clarice’s was no less invasive. It also happened at the hands of a supposed ally, which makes the revelation not only horrifying, but a betrayal. Clarice tells Sonia to stay away from her. Sonia looks stricken that she has driven this potential friend away, but, like Jace, The Gifted does a good job of making us feel sympathy for her character while simultaneously holding her accountable for the harm she has caused.
In the least interesting subplot of the night, Caitlin, Lauren, and Andy attempt to patch up the mutant dude who was shot during last week’s prison break. This story feels like one we’ve seen before — i.e. Caitlin demonstrating her helpfulness to the Mutant Underground, and Lauren and Andy stepping up to demonstrate how their mutant abilities often trump the fact that they are only teenagers. In other words, they can and will pull their weight.
It didn’t help that the plotline showed Caitlin distressed (a character who is supposed to be a medical professional) seemingly in order to give Lauren a moment of mutant heroism. The plot line ends with the entire Strucker family taking part in “the best terrible meal” ever as a family, reunited after a harrowing week apart. You know what they say: the family that surgeons together, stays together.
Rating: ★★★ Good