“eXtreme measures” was very much a builder episode of The Gifted, one in which all of our central storylines were moved along in necessary ways, but there was nothing too memorable at work here. Still, if this utilitarian type of episode is The Gifted at its worst, then Fox has a show worthy of its source material.
Trust is an integral part of any organization and family — two institutions X-Men stories often have at their core. If it wasn’t clear from the source material that “trust” as a theme is integral to this story, then it probably was when techno-mutant Sage spells it out for you: “This place is built on trust,” she tells Reed when he not-so-subtly inquires about the repercussions for Lauren’s new boyfriend Wes lying about his background.
Wes makes a healthy choice when he comes clean to the Mutant Underground about his criminal past. He is allowed to stay within the organization’s protection, and Lauren even gives him a kiss before he goes. It isn’t an easy choice for Wes, and one that requires a pep talk from unlikely source Reed, but it pays off, as does Reed’s own mature choice to talk this issue out rather than go in guns metaphorically blazing. I would have preferred if he actually talked to Lauren, like Caitlin suggested, but at least he didn’t go for some kind of power play. He’s learning.
You know who’s not learning? Marcos, who is pulled back even further into his cartel life in tonight’s episode when he helps ex-beau Carmen with a job. We don’t get to see the fallout for Marcos’ bad decision in tonight’s episode, but it will most likely have repercussions both in his relationship with Lorna and in his place at the Mutant Underground. He has broken the trust of both. Worse yet, Carmen didn’t seem wrong in her characterization of Marcos’ enjoying blowing things up. He may be someone who is loyal to Lorna and who believes in the Mutant Underground cause, but there seems to also be a part of him that revels in the destructive nature of his own power. Until Marcos’ recognizes and deals with that properly, he will likely be a liability for the Underground.
Agent Turner also has trust issues in this episode, though his mistake is in trusting Dr. Campbell against his better instincts. When a representative from the justice department tries to shut down Turner’s operation that will send brainwashed Sentinel Services mutants undercover to find the Mutant Underground, Campbell uses his right-hand mutant to take her down. If he is being honest with himself, Turner knows that Campbell is dangerous. But Campbell knows how to manipulate Turner into getting what he wants, using Grace’s memory against her father.
Finally, we have my favorite plot line of the night: Clarice. Clarice is still on her own after having left the Mutant Underground upon finding out that Sonya messed with her mind, but a still-guilty John decides they need her back. He hunts her down, but Clarice is understandably not interested in coming back. John adopts a different method: helping Clarice complete her own personal mission of finding the road she kept opening portals to when she was going haywire.
It turns out the road was near the mutant foster home she felt safest when growing up, a foster home that has now been taken down by Sentinel Services. Watching John help, then comfort an angry, devastated Clarice was the first time I have been invested in them as a couple since Sonya first planted the fake memories of their love in Clarice’s mind. I like that The Gifted is doing the slow burn on this one, but, given the way John was looking at Clarice upon their return to headquarters, this is the first time he has looked at their relationship in a romantic way, too. Things are about to get awkward.
The more important takeaway from Clarice’s storyline tonight was her commitment to the Mutant Underground’s mission. Prior to finding the blood of her foster parents, people she loved, Clarice’s connection with the Underground has been one of necessity and casual trust. Now, she is all in. They may have broken her trust by playing with her mind for their own purposes and then lying about it, but some things trump trust… at least until it can be built back up again. Getting revenge for people who gave you a family, a place to feel safe, is one of those things.
The Mutant Underground just earned themselves a powerful asset, and just in time, too. With Campbell’s Trask Industries with a foothold in Sentinel Services, things are about to get rough for an already stretched-too-thin Mutant Underground.
Rating: ★★★ Good