Episodes: 13 episodes
Created by: Matt Nix
Featuring: Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Sean Teale, Natalie Alyn Lind, Percy Hynes White, Coby Bell, Jamie Chung, Blair Redford, and Emma Dumont
Kate Strucker:“I just can’t believe there wasn’t any warning.”
Lauren Strucker: “Mom, accept it. Andy is a mutant. That’s how mutant abilities first appear – it’s moments of stress or danger. Dad talks about this all the time.”
This month sees the release of the first season of the X-Men inspired television show “The Gifted” (2017-present) on DVD, a success that has led to a second season that is airing right now, so what better way to catch up than to possibly binge watch this show right now. There are so many times when watching either comic book movies or television shows that there is an added benefit in knowing what has gone before in respective universes, or just having a general idea of the connected universe a person is actually watching which is great for viewers who are avid watchers, but not so great for casual viewers or people that want to enter a story but don’t want to play catch up’.
The really good news about Fox’s new show, “The Gifted” is that it is actually a great starting point for new viewers that know little about the ‘X-Men’ franchise beyond the fact that some people, normally young, have super powers and that others, normally human, are either trying to control them or kill them. The entire ‘X-Men’ franchise is one of those comic book groups that was an allegory for the civil rights movement but has grown over the past fifty years to be an allegory for just about every perceived ‘outsider’ or minority that faces some form of domination by the greater society who normally fear what they do not understand. In terms of that central premise “The Gifted” fits right in, not only borrowing storylines from the comics, but from previous movies as well but doing this by introducing original characters and powers –mostly.
The first season of the American television series “The Gifted” is based on Marvel Comics’ X-Men properties, and follows ordinary parents who take their family on the run after they discover their children’s mutant abilities. The season is connected to the X-Men film series, set in an alternate timeline where the X-Men have disappeared.
One of the first elements to notice in the credits of this new series are some regular ‘X-Men’ producers, as well as some new ones which means there is good news and bad news for potential viewers. First the bad, unfortunately Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg still have their fingers in the mutants pie, to me there are issues here as these two have not always been a good thing, even now with the newest film it has been delayed by years for undisclosed reasons which is a very bad sign. However the good news is that there is a new talent on the horizon in Matt Nix the shows actual creator who came on late to this project but has been able to cobble together a cohesive narrative that looks forward while planting seeds for future seasons, at the same time giving enough information, normally in flashbacks to keep viewers interested as well as introducing new aspects of the mutant universe outside the same bunch of characters from them main movie series. The other thing the show has been able to do is to bring together a range of directors who all share the same vision and are able to deliver some visuals that make this show one of the better ones of the past few years without going overboard on CGI, keeping the action character based, moving forward with each episode.
In terms of casting the question probably was do we go for big names or have relative unknowns, the answer is more that later than the former. At the head of the show are genre old hats Stephen Moyer and Am Acker who play parents of the newly discovered mutants played by newcomers Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White who are the audences entry into this world who are all as you would expect excellent in their roles, however as the quasi centre of the show they are sometimes forced into the storyline, I cannot help but feel that in the future they may be extra baggage that are not required, however the producers introduce flashbacks to make their roles more legacy and so will probably be required for the foreseeable future. The other experienced actors who do their jobs very well are Jamie Chung as Blink, Coby Bell as Jace Turner and Garret Dillahunt as Dr. Roderick Campbell, the later two are the villains, playing them very well. In terms of the newcomers my stand out is definitely Blair Redford as one of my favourite X-Men characters John Proudstar who here really shines whenever he appears onscreen especially in contrast to the rest of the newer actors, in particular Emma Dumont who seems to be playing her Polaris as a Jessica Jones-lite character but with little edge or originality – which is a missed opportunity for the show.
In terms of the show itself, what could have been a week-to-week adventure is expanded about halfway through with some very canny flashbacks as well as name dropping characters audiences will either know or will come to know. The series feels a bit slow and aimless in the first few episodes which may be because this was originally a very different idea with a pilot that was not picked up, this show was a late idea, but by the end of the first season there is a definite arc as well as the introduction of some very familiar characters which is a great way to start the second season which is airing right now.
I recommend this show very highly as a family drama first and an ‘X-Men’ spinoff second, which is exactly how it should be for any of these types of show, story should trump spectacle, in this case it does, give it a go.
eXposed:In Atlanta, Georgia, the mutant Clarice Fong escapes from prison with her teleporting abilities, and is rescued from police by members of a mutant underground that aims to protect persecuted mutants from the government. During this, Lorna Dane / Polaris is captured by the police, and is later asked by district attorneyReed Strucker to cooperate with him in exchange for a reduced sentence. Reed’s children, Lauren and Andy, go to their school dance that night, where Andy is attacked by bullies.
rX:Clarice falls unconscious from the effort of teleporting the group back to the underground’s hideout, losing control of her abilities. Portals begin to open to an unknown road, causing an accident that is brought to the attention of police. Caitlin, a nurse, offers to look for medication that may help Clarice, and races to a nearby hospital that still treats mutants with Eclipse, where they use an old injury to gain access to the medication.
eXodus:Reed, being tracked by Turner, meets up with a mutant that he knows is working with Eclipse, and he agrees to smuggle Reed to the underground, but Reed decides to not put the mutants in harm and returns to Turner. Clarice begins working with John Proudstar / Thunderbird to control her abilities, but does not have someone that she truly cares about that she can focus her emotions on
eXit strategy:Two years ago, the underground helped several mutants escape from an SS “Relocation Center”, but Thunderbird’s best friend Gus / Pulse—who can short out electrical circuits and other mutants’ abilities—was believed to have been killed. Now, the underground plans to rescue Reed and Polaris from SS before they are delivered to a similar center, one that inmates do not return from. Eclipse gets information on the route they will be taken from the cartel he used to work for, now run by his former girlfriend Carmen Guerra.
boXed in:Thunderbird takes the Struckers back to the underground, where a mutant named Fade recognizes Reed as having been working with Turner; many of the underground’s members are uncomfortable with Reed joining them. In order to prove his loyalty, Reed suggests using himself as bait to lure away the SS agents. Thunderbird tasks Fade with helping Reed, and they are successful. Meanwhile, Caitlin, Lauren, and Andy are able to save the life of an injured mutant, Trader. Having earned the underground’s trust, the Struckers decide to stay and fight with them. Eclipse and Polaris attack an SS blockade and capture Turner.
got your siX:Clarice confronts Thunderbird about him not telling her what Dreamer did to her memories, and decides to leave the underground. The group plans to attack a Federal facility where Pulse was taken without Clarice’s help; Reed, Eclipse, and Andy go to break in and steal information on the mutants who are now working for SS. Thunderbird worries that these mutants could be the deciding factor in a war that the X-Men believed was coming (they put Thunderbird in charge of the underground before they disappeared). Reed becomes concerned with Andy’s abilities and how he enjoys using them to destroy things, and attempts to gain Andy’s trust as his father again. After stealing the information, the trio are followed by police into an SS ambush.
eXtreme measures:Guerra forces Eclipse to help her on another job, this time destroying a rival’s shipment of drugs; Polaris and Dreamer follow Eclipse after the former discovered he was lying about his whereabouts, and see him work with Guerra. Thunderbird tracks down Clarice, and offers to help her find the road that her portals were opening to when she was sick. They realize that the road leads to the home for mutants that she lived in as a child, but it is now derelict after SS agents stormed the building and killed its inhabitants.
threat of eXtinction:The underground rescue a group of refugees, but a telepath among them, Esme, reveals another of the mutants to be a Hound. The latter is taken hostage, and Esme is able to help read her mind; they learn that she was taken hostage by Trask Industries, and their work on her included addicting her to the drug Kick. Reed and Thunderbird visit Reed’s estranged father Otto, who used to work for Trask. Otto reveals that his father and aunt, Andreas and Andrea von Strucker, were the mutant terrorists Fenris.
outfoX: Reed tells his family about his history as a mutant, and about the von Struckers and their terrorist activities. He and Caitlin test Andy and Lauren to see if they could become as powerful as the twins; holding hands, the pair feel the power to destroy the entire building, and are only stopped by Reed separating them. Desperate to rescue her family from Trask, Esme uses her abilities to manipulate the others into agreeing with a plan of attack: Clarice, Dreamer, and the Struckers will take out a power plant supporting the Trask facility, which can then be attacked by her, Polaris, Eclipse, and Thunderbird.
eXploited: Polaris wants to immediately attack Sentinel Services, but Reed and Caitlin argue for a diplomatic solution that will not endanger their children, potentially reaching out to some of Reed’s old contacts about Trask and the Hound program. Esme talks to Reed and Caitlin in secret, and suggests that they go to Turner and hope that his better nature prevails. When Esme tells the other mutants what the couple intend to do, they prepare to attack. At Trask Industries, a heavily scarred Campbell forces Andy and Lauren to demonstrate their combined powers by killing Dreamer, and they are able to dent an apparently “indestructible” adamantium wall. After he is confronted by the Struckers, Turner plans to arrest them, but is convinced by his wife to do the right thing. Turner goes to Trask to transfer the mutants back to Sentinel Services.
3 X 1:The Frost sisters approach the underground for help in stopping the Hound program, though they are doing so to support their own agenda of rebuilding the Hellfire Club. The underground members refuse, while Reed and Caitlin decide to take their family to Mexico. They stop at another refugee base on the way, where they reunite with Wes. One of the sisters visits Andy, asking him to reconsider leaving. Another visits Polaris, and uses knowledge of her mysterious birth father—who once led the Hellfire Club—and her unborn baby to try manipulate her into assisting them. Turner and Campbell launch an attack on the Struckers’ location, using Hounds who can combine their abilities with technology developed from Lauren and Andy to start destroying the building and arrest mutants. Polaris, Clarice, Eclipse, and Thunderbird arrive to rescue them, but only the intervention of the sisters allows them to successfully escape.
eXtraction:Polaris, Eclipse, Thunderbird, and Clarice join the Frost sisters at a safe house where Esme explains that when the X-Men established the underground before their disappearance, their rival group the Brotherhood established the new Hellfire Club before their own disappearance. Campbell meets with the anti-mutant Senator Montez at the Humanity Today conference, where he talks about his advancements in the fight to eradicate the X-gene; Montez agrees to give political support to expanding the Hound program for use across the country. Meanwhile, SS agents search for more information on Otto’s research. Learning that they are going after Ellen, the Struckers go to her office and persuade her to go into hiding. Andy and Lauren disagree on how much force to use when holding off arriving SS agents.
X-roads:Four years earlier, Polaris had been approached at a mental hospital by an attorney named Evangeline, who recruited her for the underground on the behalf of the X-Men. Now, Campbell and Montez set to fly to Washington. The Frost sisters convince Polaris to embrace her heritage and stop them. Turner tracks the Struckers with a new pair of Hounds to the underground’s headquarters, and lays siege to it. Reed leads a defense of the building with the few remaining fighters, while Caitlin oversees an evacuation through an escape tunnel.