First, Our Quick Spoiler-Free Recap
Ok, now one to a more in-depth review!
FOX is doing Mutants Right
If you are a Marvel fan and you haven’t been following along with the new Fox TV series The Gifted, you are missing out. We’ll spare you the convoluted IP law labyrinth that is Marvel’s relationship with the live action versions of their mutants, but the quick and dirty is that Fox Studios is doing a good job of bringing the X-men and related characters to life on the small screen.
The Gifted is the story of a typical American family torn apart by the revelation that their kids are mutants in a world where Sentinel Services is out to hunt them down. And the first few episodes of the first season do a great job of world-building. Background is built rather subtly in the show, with characters almost always referring back to major anchor-points obliquely rather than through direct exposition. We know what sort of world this is through the expressions on actors’ faces and by how closely it mirrors our own.
This week’s episode picks up when we last left off, with the Strucker family escaping from Sentinel Services. There are consequences, however, as Reed was putting mutants in jail before discovering his own family was at risk – and worked with Sentinel Services until just before escaping with Polaris. Not everyone is ready to forgive or trust him after that, and this episode is Reed’s attempt to earn some good faith and his family’s safety. That’s what makes The Gifted work so far; consequences and real stakes.
That being said, there were serious weak points. This episode was packed with more world-building, this time a little more heavy-handed than in the past, included insight on Jace’s backstory and the 7/15 incident. The death of Jace’s daughter Grace in a flashback was not handled especially well at the start of the episode. The scenes just seemed flat, and the young actress playing Grace clearly had no idea her character was in mid-peril. Those choices felt off to me.
Later on, a surgery scene with Caitlin and the kids felt similarly low-stakes, entirely in how it was presented. Sure, a man who risked his life for their family was lying there dying on a table, but it felt fake.
This, coupled with some bad VO and CGI could have made this the weakest episode so far for the show, but for the ending. Oh boy, that ending.
Grace’s death may have been filmed strangely and provided merely as a trope motivation for a major antagonist on the series – but the way that tragedy was unintentionally magnified by Sonya/Dreamer is what makes this show a worthy superhero story. In many ways, normal humans are justified in their fear of people with strange abilities, and vice versa, but these groups reaction to each other only feeds the destructive cycle.
Overall, we rate this episode a Watch It. It’s not perfect, but there are enough quality moments that make it worthy viewing.
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