‘The Gifted’ S1E1 Recap: “Pilot”

Even though the X-Men film series has been widely successful, there’s always room for more mutant action.  With Hugh Jackman hanging up his claws in Logan, we’ve seen an uptick in TV shows surrounding the X-Men universe.  Last year FX brought the brilliant Legion to the small screen, which dealt with mutant abilities as a parable for mental illness (actress Aubrey Plaza should have gotten some sort of recognition for playing The Shadow King).  Now, Fox is premiering The Gifted, a show surrounding a lawyer who specializes in prosecuting mutants, only to find out that his own children are mutants and he must now rely on the same community he was trying to stop to help his family.

It’s unclear at this time how “connected” the events of The Gifted will be to the X-Men film series.  For example, one mutant we’ve been introduced to Lorna Dane AKA Polaris in the comics is Brotherhood of the Mutants supervillain Magneto's daughter.  She even has the same magnetism powers he has, but we don’t know if they will be father/daughter in the TV series.  Like Legion hinted that David Haller is Professor X’s son, but did not completely spell it out.  Perhaps later on in the series, we will hear about her familial connection.  The X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants are mentioned as missing, so it may coincide with the timeline set up in Logan (there are a lot of timelines in the X-men universe after all).

The episode begins introducing us to the Mutant Underground.  Unlike the “underground” mutants from the comics (The Morlocks who literally live underground), this group seems to be operating like an “underground railroad” network for mutants who are trying to avoid capture by the authorities.  The first mutant we meet it Blink (Jamie Chung), who was played by actress Fan Bingbing in X-Men: Days of Future Past.  She has the same ability to create portals.  We find out later that there are problems if she tries to teleport to a place she hasn’t been to before as the poor dog’s Kermit The Frog doll finds out.  Blink is on the run from the police when she encounters members of the Mutant Underground trying to help her.  The opening scene introduces Mutant Underground leader Marcos Diaz (Sean Teale), John Proudstar (Blair Redford), and Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont).  The show does a great job showing their powers and doesn’t try to waste time showing what they are capable of.  Marcos Diaz has the ability to manipulate light energy (similar to Dazzler did in the comics).  He gets shot by the police and even his blood is the light energy.  John Proudstar is the same as his comic book counterpart “Thunderbird:” super strength, and also the mutant detection powers that he had in X-Men: Days of Future Past.  As stated before Lorna has the same magnetism powers as she did in the comics.  While they are able to save Blink, Lorona is captured by the police, much to her boyfriend Marcos’ displeasure.

Later on, we meet the Strucker family.  Family patriarch Reed (Stephen Moyer) is a lawyer who specializes in prosecuting dangerous mutants.  His wife Caitlin (Amy Acker) is assumed to be a nurse (given her work clothes).  The two head to their children’s school to speak with one of the administrators concerning their son Andy (Percy Hynes White), who has been subject to bullying.  As they are talking with the school official, Reed flexes his legal muscles to make sure their son gets the attention he needs to ensure his torment doesn’t continue.  Because of his work, Reed is forced to leave to deal with the new mutant in custody, Lorona.

That evening, Andy’s sister Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) heads to a school dance.  Little does she know that Andy has snuck out of the house and wants to tag along.  Tired of being stuck in the house, he wants to enjoy the social world outside.  Unfortunately for him, he’s still socially awkward when he gets there and spends most of his time sitting on the sidelines.  Even more unfortunate for him, the same bullies his parents had a school meeting about are at the dance, and they aren’t too happy with him snitching on them.  They quickly grab him and take him into the locker room where they give him a hot shower against his will.  That’s when all hell breaks loose.  The pain of the torture has him activate his mutant power.  While we still don’t 100% know what his power is (probably telekinesis), he’s incredibly powerful as the entire school begins to shake as though an earthquake has gone off.  As everyone at the dance is trying to escape, Lauren ditches her boyfriend to find her brother.  The ceiling is about to fall on her and a fellow student when she uses her mutant power, creating some sort of forcefield to shield her and others from debris.  The two quickly escape and head back home.

At home, they both tell their mother the truth of their powers.  Laura had kept her powers a secret for years from their mother as she tells her that she used her powers to protect them from a car accident.  Before mom can get a grip on current events, the feds are at her door.  The name of the agency involved is Sentinel Services, named after the killer robots from the comics and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Leading the investigation is agent Jace Turner (Coby Bell) who wants the children to come quietly.  Caitlin is not having any of that, forcing the agents to come in full force.  Although they are prepared to deal with mutants, these kids are nothing to trifle with.  Andy uses his powers to cause the house to shake and push them away, while Lauren uses her force fields to hold them at bay while they all escape via their garage.

Caitlin calls Reed to inform him of what’s going on.  Meanwhile, he’s concerned for the kids thinking the “mutant terrorist” might have hurt them at the high school.  He then finds out that his children are the “mutant terrorists.”  As soon as his wife mentions the Sentinel Services, he knows that they are in deep trouble.  Catching up with them later on, their course of action is to try to escape to Mexico, where mutant laws aren’t so harsh.  Knowing about the Mutant Underground, Reed calls Marcos and tried to work out a deal.  After he and Marcos meet at a really cool mutant bar, the Marcos agrees to help get Reed’s family out of the country, under the condition that he remains behind to help get Lorna out of the prison she’s currently in, as she is pregnant with Marcos’ baby as well.

Marcos agrees to meet up with the family later on and will coyote them out of the country.  However, Reed is new to this whole “staying low” thing and the Sentinel Services tracked his phone.  Surrounded with nowhere to go, it looks like all is bad for the family and Marcos.  Lucky for them John Proudstar and Blink opted to save Marcos after he disappeared without telling them.  The Sentinel Services have “spider drones” which are probably some sort of robot similar to the Sentinel killer robots from the comics.  Marcos’ powers don't even have a strong effect on them.  Blink is hesitant to use her powers to create a teleportation disk to get everyone through, despite they may die as a result.  As they all try to escape through the teleport, Andy uses his power against the robots and completely obliterates them, he’s strong.  Just about everyone makes it through Blink’s portal, except Reed as he gets shot by one of the Sentinel Service members and the portal closes and he is left behind.

For a first episode, The Gifted gave use everything needed to captivate our interest.  The show gave us some characters to root for (the Strucker family), who are thrown into an impossible situation and now have to fight for each other’s survival.  The X-Men universe in the comics has always been a parable for race and sexuality, this time it seems like a parable for immigration.  Hell, there’s even a wall at the Mexico border, so in this timeline, Trump got his wishes (hope that doesn’t happen in our reality: Earth-1218).  The Struckers will have to work with unknown people who Reed was in the middle of investigating and prosecuting and now have to devote their complete trust in them.  With Reed in custody, this means the family isn’t going to leave to Mexico without him, and there’s going to be some interesting things going for them.  The show gives the right amount of X-Men Easter Eggs as well, name-dropping the X-Men (even though they are missing) and utilizing lesser-known X-Men characters.  And of course, we got a Stan Lee cameo!  This season looks promising!