Fox’s family-driven X-Men show The Gifted is one of the few promising pilots of the fall TV season. While The Gifted’s opening episode has its flaws and is not as good as the things it will remind you of (most glaringly in this pilot, the wonderful Sarah Connor Chronicles), it’s an entertaining hour that keeps the suspense high and drops just enough references to the rich world of X-Men canon to keep fans intrigued.
In this first hour, we meet The Struckers, a “normal” family with a lawyer dad, doctor mom, and two fair-haired children.
Patriarch of the family Reed (Stephen Moyer), a mutant prosecutor who claims he is not targeting mutants, but rather “criminals,” has some cognitive dissonance to deal with when he finds out his two children are, in fact, “muties” (sorry!) themselves and are being hunted by Sentinel Services for endangering humans.
I would have liked to see this opener play Reed a little more conflicted, or at least ambiguous. While we know he loves his kids, he is also actively part of a system that de-humanizes mutants and seemingly has been for a while. It seems like it would take Reed a little longer to work through this new reality. Perhaps we will see more of this as the 10-episode season progresses. Though, with Reed ending up in Sentinel Services by the end of the episode, maybe a stay with the scary government agency will give him a new perspective on his problematic job.
The other pillar of the Strucker family is Caitlin, played by a criminally underutilized Amy Acker. Caitlin, whose main hobby seems to be berating her children for arguing (you should try it — it’s so much fun!), spends the entire episode reacting to what everyone else is doing rather than making any klnd of decisions for herself. Though this show reminded me of Sarah Connor, Acker’s Caitlin was far from the badass maternal warrior who drove that narrative with decisive action and insightful voiceover. With a more-than-capable actress like Acker in the role, I hop Caitlin gets more to do moving forward.