The Gifted Season 1 Episode 2: rX Recap

TG102ClariceOpensPortal

In this episode, Amy Acker remembers she’s a badass, Vampire Bill remembers that he likes to play morally ambiguous characters, and Cagney Mama Novotny Mama Westen Sharon Gless stops by for some family bonding and interrogation. The Strucker kids continue to be awesome and take after their mother. Vampire Bill Reed must have spent most of his time at work.

The mutants are in constant jeopardy, but that goes without saying.

The episode opens with a flashback to the Struckers on a family bowling outing one year ago. This must be something they do frequently, because they’re all good at it. Reed’s mom, Ellen, has come along. They’re an ideal suburban family, other than Lauren’s pesky little cheat using her mutant powers.

A few lanes over, a young teen mutant girl is vibrating uncontrollably. Some older teenage guys in the next lane are laughing and jeering at her. Her dad becomes angry and yells at the guys, which upsets his daughter even further.

Between her embarrassment, humiliation, and anger, the daughter loses control of her powers and sends a shockwave through the bowling alley that does some minor property damage. Reed runs over to them and explains that the damage is a serious crime, even if it was accidental. . Reed tells the dad to get his daughter out immediately and let his anger about the rest go. The dad doesn’t want to leave, but realizes he needs to protect his daughter, so they quickly get out of the building.

Reed goes back to the family, who are still in shock over the situation. They aren’t pleased with the way he handled things. Lauren, in particular, is stunned at her father’s lack of empathy and needs to sit down.

In the present day, the rest of Reed’s family and the mutants have portalled to the Mutant Underground Headquarters. Clarice has never portalled that far, and she passes out from the effort.

Reed was shot by an immobilization round, and can’t feel or move his arms and legs. Jace gloats about that for a moment, then tells Reed that they’ll be talking about the rest of Reed’s family later, after the paralyzation wears off.

Lorna is taken to the county jail (why not a federal facility?), where the other inmates welcome her with taunts and worse. There’s an electric collar (“flea collar”) around her neck which gives her a severe shock whenever she tries to use her powers.

When Lorna takes a shower, the black dye she’s been using washes out of her hair, which is revealed to be green. There is another mutant in the jail who has pale white skin with prominent blue veins through it and no hair. When Lorna approaches her to make friends and create an escape plan, the porcelain mutant brushes her off.

Out in the exercise yard, the prisoners who’ve been taunting Lorna the most make their move. Their leader, who has a scarred face, tells Lorna that the mutant prisoners all work for her, even though she hates mutants. Lorna deduces that Scar was hurt by a mutant.

TG102Scar&Lorna

Lorna fights Scar’s minions, and they viciously kick her in the belly, trying to make her lose her baby. Lorna uses her powers to hit Scar hard with a metal table before she’s knocked out by the flea collar. As punishment, Lorna’s placed in solitary confinement.

Johnny reports on the mission to another mutant who appears to be a leader of the underground, who other sources say is “Dreamer.” She’s been trying to find a doctor for Clarice, but it’s the middle of the night and the middle of nowhere. Dreamer mentions that she wasn’t informed of this mission, so Johnny tells her that it was a freelance mission taken on by Marcos. Just as they’re about to yell at Marcos in earnest, Lauren calls them to look at Clarice, who’s gotten worse.

Caitlin has been watching Clarice, since she’s a nurse, but she’s not an expert on mutants. Clarice is very depleted from all of the portalling, causing fever, spiking heartbeat, respiratory distress and other issues. They argue about the lack of medical facilities and Caitlin’s lack of confidence in her own abilities.

Caitlin insists that Clarice needs a hospital, but the mutants insist that, as an escaped prisoner, she’d be taken straight back to jail. Caitlin’s written as being very dense here, since that’s not even a mutant issue. When pressured, Caitlin finally comes up with a list of medications that might help Clarice.

The discussion is cut short when Clarice has a seizure that causes her powers to go haywire. Though she’s unconscious, she opens a portal to a street on a country road. A pickup truck skids through the portal. It’s cut in half when the portal suddenly closes. Johnny uses his body to block the others from being hit by the truck.

Clarice continues to have seizures and open portals to the same spot. Lauren uses her bubble wrap shields to close them each time, because she’s awesome. Each time the portals open, there are more people on the other side, and they are more weaponed up and hostile, culminating in a SWAT team showing up.

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It’s decided that Caitlin will go on the mission to the hospital with Marcos to steal medicine for Clarice, while Lauren stays behind to keep closing portals as needed.

On the way to the hospital Caitlin reminds Marcos that she still expects him to honor his deal with her husband. Marcos essentially tells her that he doesn’t think honor is the right word to describe the Struckers. He’d be helping mutant kids either way. She’s only helping because they’re her kids, and Reed actively persecutes prosecutes mutants. Marcos isn’t the one who’s likely to go back on the deal. Caitlin looks dumbstruck, like it’s never occurred to her before that she doesn’t do much to help other people or that her husband is kind of an *ss.

When they get to the hospital, the ER is crowded with mutants. Marcos explains that most hospitals won’t take mutants, who are expensive to treat and usually uninsured. The ones who do take mutants end up nearly bankrupt and overcrowded.

I sense a free underground mutant medical clinic in Caitlin’s future. Where can I donate to the Indiegogo campaign?

Caitlin decides they need an emergency to move them up to the front of the line. Marcos’ bullet wound and brightly glowing blood do the trick. He’s taken back and stitched up. The doctor also shows a little racism anti-mutantism by asking Caitlin if she got the cut on her head because of domestic abuse, since mutants are well known abusers, according to him. Caitlin has another realization about the prejudices mutants face.

She feels a lot less guilty stealing the medicine now, and grabs some scrubs from a pile. She tricks a nurse into leaving the medication room, and leaving the door to the correct cabinet open for her. After grabbing the meds, she races back to Marcos. On the way, she sees police officers talking to Marcos’ doctor. He must have called the police anyway.

Marcos and Caitlin make a run for it and get away without being caught. On the way back to headquarters, Marcos explains the failure of the Patriot Act Mutant Civil Rights Act to Caitlin, which ended up being used to persecute mutants in the name of public safety, rather than protect them as was promised. People are now so afraid of terrorists mutants that they often call the police based on unfounded suspicion alone.

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Caitlin asks about Marcos’ family, and he tells her that they rejected him as soon as his powers manifested at age 13. He survived on his own until he met Lorna. She’s his family. He’s impressed with the way that Caitlin supports her own kids, even though they’re both mutants. It’s clear that they’ve developed a mutual respect on this mission.

As the car gets closer to the compound, Caitlin becomes terrified. Marcos is confused, then tells her that one of the mutants uses his powers to project fear around headquarters to scare intruders off. Geez, you could have warned her, dude.

Clarice’s powers have gone insane, and headquarters is being evacuated. Purple energy bursts are flying everywhere, and mini portals open then close all over. Marcos insists he’ll find Clarice and Johnny, but Caitlin says that he won’t know the correct dosage. She wants him to keep her kids safe, while she takes care of Clarice. Aw, the newfound trust is a beautiful thing. 😂

Headquarters has become a Möbius strip house of horrors from Clarice’s powers. Caitlin jumps through a portal to reach her. Once she injects Clarice with the meds, everything settles right down. Later, Clarice is conscious, but in bed with an IV drip. John asks about the place the portals opened to. She doesn’t remember, so she can’t tell him about it.

Caitlin promises the kids that they’ll rescue Reed and keep fighting for the other mutants.

Meanwhile, Reed isn’t particularly worried about his situation.

Reed and Jace spend a fun day playing cat and mouse with each other, quoting the law, constitutional rights, the evidence against Reed and his family, their personal feelings on the matter at hand, their personal grievances, and the potential charges against Reed. Jace brings Reed’s mother in for harassment questioning at one point, and threatens to detain everyone else who’s important to Reed. He refuses to let Reed talk to a lawyer. But it all comes to nothing, because they both know the system, and neither can intimidate the other. In the end, they negotiate a deal.

Reed agrees to cooperate with the investigation, accept a deal for a plea, and do some prison time. In return, Sentinel Services will bring him his lawyer, let his mother and anyone else they might be holding or harassing go, and leave his wife and kids alone. There will be no charges brought against Caitlin, Lauren and Andy. In return, Jace wants the Mutant Underground. Reed agrees.

Bad move, Reed.

In the stinger, Dr Roderick Campbell enters his lab and asks Joshua, one of his assistants, to look up all of the information they have on mutant siblings. He remembers an incident in Rio de Janeiro in 1962. Then he tells Joshua that he and the lead agent on the Strucker investigation need to talk.


 

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The special effects continue to be well done and add to the action. The little portals and energy bursts from Clarice, and Marcos’ light blood were nice touches. The mutant make up is also fantastic for a TV show. I don’t know if we’ll ever see someone like the porcelain mutant as a regular character, but her skin looked gorgeous in close ups even for a guest spot.

If only there were single payer universal mutant healthcare. Say, Muticaid or Muticare. It could be used to help young mutants get their powers under control faster, and stay mentally healthy, so dangerous incidents would be less likely to happen. Think of the savings to the healthcare, law enforcement, judicial and prison systems.

Wow, the scene where Reed told the dad to get the daughter out of the building, fast, felt like something out of the Jim Crow era Deep South, where they were trying to avoid a lynching. It was chilling. It was especially chilling to have it driven home that Reed has no problem with these laws or with enforcing them. I got the feeling that he just didn’t want his family to be present for any more unpleasantness. Otherwise he might have called the police himself. I wonder how long it was before someone from Sentinel Services knocked on that girl’s front door.

It shouldn’t have been that hard for Caitlin to determine treatment for Clarice, since the fundamental problem was exhaustion, probably aggravated by dehydration and hunger. The obvious solution was IV fluids with electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, dextrose, other nutrients and whatever nutrients have been found to be especially crucial for the use of mutant powers.

Marcos tells us that John is a tracker, nearly bullet proof, and stronger than most anything.

Jace says that the government is considering classifying the Mutant Underground as a terrorist organization. They want to use Reed and Lorna as test cases.

Is it me, or does Caitlin have better chemistry with Marcos than she does with her husband? They made a fantastic and effective duo with Caitlin as a beginner field agent. Imagine what they’ll be capable of in the future. She’s a natural.

Sharon Gless is having a great career playing cool moms to quirky adults. I hope she becomes a frequently recurring character here. We definitely need to protect her from Jace, and the mutants definitely need a cool grandma around. She can play it similar to her Queer as Folk character. Grandma could run the kitchen at Mutant Underground headquarters, and throw food and wisdom at everyone, while smoking endless cigarettes. Maybe it can turn out that the mutant gene comes from her, and she can tell stories to the youngsters about her crazy mutant relatives from the old days. Or about her in-laws, the crazy mutants. Even better.

How does Scar know that Lorna’s pregnant? Was that beating a set up to try to get her to go state’s evidence? That would fit with Reed trying to use her pregnancy as leverage.

Lorna’s green hair ended up looking pretty good, but why was she wearing a temporary hair dye instead of a permanent one? I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that her mutant hair wouldn’t absorb longer-lasting dye, but Metamaiden isn’t so kind, being a hair dye aficionado herself, and had a fit over it for several minutes. Plot convenience for the win. But wasn’t Lorna out in the rain during the pilot?

Will Reed finally fully come around to the mutant cause because he spends time with Lorna, who’s more Vampire Bill’s normal type, let’s face it? How many hair colors has Anna Paquin (his real life wife) had? Will he and Lorna become an evil power couple, since he’s descended from HYDRA royalty and she’s Magneto’s daughter? They can’t have chosen the name Strucker coincidentally, can they?

I’m totally up for a partner switch between the Struckers and Marcos/Lorna.

Johnny was very drawn to Lauren. What’s up with that? Clarice should be earmarked as his love interest, or Dreamer, the mutant leader who apparently doesn’t have a human name right now. Lauren is underaged, for the moment, so either he’s going to be her mentor, this will be a very slow burn romance, or we’re going to get a Thorn birds-style tortured attraction.

It becomes clear over the course of this episode that Caitlin is a good, compassionate person who’s led a sheltered life, which led her to be ignorant of the extent of the suffering of others, and thus complacent. Now that she’s beginning to understand the enormity of the mutant issue, she feels compassion for all of the mutants, not just her children, and will undoubtedly keep her promise to continue the fight.

Reed, on the other hand, has been in the thick of the mutant crisis all along, acting as one of the people enforcing the laws that persecute them. He’s very well aware of the situation, but has no problem ignoring suffering that doesn’t affect him personally. He’ll betray people who have helped him if it means protecting his family. After all, a few days ago he was trying to put those people in jail. Why should he change his methods now?

He’s really no different from Jace Turner, who’s willing to stretch the law until it almost breaks over what amounts to a personal vendetta. Jace is motivated to make all mutants pay for the death of his daughter. Reed is motivated to protect his own mutant children, but still doesn’t care about other mutants, or changing the laws or culture to make life easier for mutants in the US. Reed used Lorna’s pregnancy to try to get her to turn state’s evidence, and to help coerce Marcos into helping him, the same way Jace used Reed’s mother as leverage this episode.

What will happen when the family is reunited? Will Reed eventually develop a conscience? How bad will his betrayal be? Or was he lying when he promised to give Jace information on the Mutant Underground, and hoping to find another way out in the meantime? Are they setting Reed up for redemption, as a villain, or as a complicated antihero?

How much did the people on the other side of the portal see of the mutant headquarters? Was it enough to identify the location? It must be a location with some significance for Clarice. Did anyone recognize her? Will military be showing up at the headquarters door next week?

What was the incident that Dr Campbell remembered and who were the mutants involved? South America was a popular location for former Nazis, like, perhaps, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, to find asylum after World War 2. In the comics, Strucker had boy-girl twins named Andreas and Andrea. Could they be the siblings who created the incident in Rio, and then Andreas went on live in anonymity and father Reed? That would explain a lot about Reed’s personality.

 

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