This week on The Gifted, everyone is very aware of their connections and responsibilities to each other. With Reed back in his role of patriarch, the Struckers struggle to figure out who they are in their new lives as fugitives. Lorna and Marcos embrace their roles as future parents in their own unique ways. Jace renews his commitment to avenging his daughter’s death, taking his mission to an even greater extreme in the wake of Dreamer’s brain scramble. And Johnny questions whether he’s the right man to lead the Underground. The X-men said a war is coming, and he couldn’t even keep his best friend out of the clutches of Sentinel Services.
Clarice realizes that her connection to the others has never truly existed at all.
We begin with a flashback to four years ago. Johnny and other mutant military veterans are in Phoenix raising money to help victims of the Dallas 7/15 incident. That was the peaceful mutant rights march that spiraled out of control until at least one mutant released their powers, killing many people, mutant and human, including Jace’s daughter.
The fundraising isn’t going well, since people are filled with so much irrational hate toward mutants that their military service and other acts of heroism and generosity aren’t given any credit. Passersby become antagonistic. Johnny becomes angry, but another mutant calms him down. A truck drives by and throws an incendiary device. Johnny warns everyone out of the way, then throws the device into an area with no people.
In the present day, Johnny remembers his father, who was also a military veteran. Marcos enters the office to tell Johnny that he’s asked around about Pulse. There are rumors that Pulse has been helping Sentinel Services hunt mutants. Johnny is worried that Pulse isn’t the only mutant who’s been turned. If that’s the case, the humans will be able to slaughter the mutants.
Marcos has also checked out the Baton Rouge federal building. It’s the major mutant justice center for the southeast. Reed worked with a judge there, so they could probably find information about whatever is being done to mutants in the judge’s files. They don’t usually do break-ins, but SS has changed their game, so the mutants will have to as well.
Lauren and Andy are helping out with the new mutant refugees. A mutant teen named Wes is attracted to Lauren and flirts with her. He has the power to create visual illusions. Lauren brushes him off.
Caitlin is examining the new refugees. Some have overused their powers as they’ve struggled to survive, and their health is suffering. Nearby, Lorna tests the powers of a water witch. Lorna finds that the girl has strong powers, but needs training, so she tells her to join the Underground’s training sessions. Caitlin questions whether kids should be in combat training. We all wonder if Caitlin’s forgotten the last few weeks.
Johnny tells Clarice that he has a new mission and needs her assistance. He wants her to portal a team to the Baton Rouge federal building. It’s a request that sounds just shy of an order. When Clarice responds, she is deceptively calm on the surface, but in reality she’s justifiably furious.
She reminds him about what Dreamer did to her memories, and the fact that neither he, nor Dreamer, talked to her about it before or afterward. He gives Clarice a lame apology, then justifies his continuing silence by saying that they needed her help and were afraid she’d leave. Clarice is not happy to find out that she’s been being blatantly used all of this time. Leadership fail for Johnny on this one.
Clarice asks if the energy and looks that passed between them before Dreamer inserted the memories was real. Johnny tells her, “It’s complicated.” She tells him that she’ll be happy to make it simple for him. She portals herself out of the facility. Hopefully he’ll take this as a valuable lesson. Don’t toy with the emotions of women, and don’t toy with the emotions of your most essential mutant assets, *sshole.
The Underground leaders meet to plan the mission to Baton Rouge. Johnny informs them that the game plan has changed. The Underground isn’t just going to save mutants any more. They need to take the fight to the enemy.
Reed explains the situation and his connection to it. Shatter interrupts to question how many mutants Reed sent to Baton Rouge for torture or worse.
Johnny gets the discussion back on topic, but the next subject is transportation. Everyone assumes Clarice will portal them in. They don’t understand why she would leave. Dreamer says it doesn’t matter why, and moves the discussion ahead. It would look bad for her, if her part in it were to be made public.
There’s a parking garage in back of the federal building. Marcos could cut through the wall, but it would take too long. Andy overhears, and volunteers to create a hole with his powers. Reed objects, but Andy is the only one who can get through quickly enough.
Caitlin questions the decision as Reed and Andy are preparing to leave. They’ll ride with Marcos in the back of a tractor trailer. During their goodbyes, Caitlin notices that Sentinel Services took Reed’s wedding ring.
Lauren watches the goodbyes from inside, relegated to maid duty and unable to take a break, for some reason. Wes flirts with her again.
Jace returns to work early from his post-brain scramble forced leave of absence. His partner tries to stop him, but Jace barrels past.
The police pull the mutant transport truck over. The officer insists on looking in the back of the truck. Marcos/Eclipse can absorb light as well as emit it, so he makes the back end of the trailer very dark, shadowing the people inside. The officer is called away, so they are safe.
Johnny sets up concrete barriers to reinforce the Underground building. Dreamer approaches him to find out how things went with Clarice. Johnny tells her that he’s a failure at everything: Clarice, Pulse, the mutants. The X-men picked him and said a war was coming, but they didn’t say the mutants would win the war. Maybe Johnny is the wrong man to be in charge.
The truck stops at a rest stop for the night. Reed noticed that using his powers can hurt Marcos a bit. He asks if it hurts Andy, too. Andy says it feels more like exertion than pain. He says that it feels good to use them, like a release. Reed is shocked, since Andy’s powers are destructive, and admonishes Andy that he could hurt someone.
Andy gets upset that his father isn’t more positive toward him. Marcos leads Andy away, since he knows what it’s like to enjoy the first rush of powers and to have a critical father.
Caitlin searches a storeroom for schoolbooks. She wants to start a school for the mutant kids, including her own. Shatter helps her find them. Caitlin asks why there are so many textbooks. Shatter tells her it’s because SS like to grab entire families when the kids are getting off the bus. They can get the whole family at once.
Lorna begins combat training with several young teens, including Wes and Lauren. She tells them that they’ll be playing for keeps in the real world, so they play for keeps in training, too. Lorna stands at the top of a wide staircase and uses her powers to slowly lob metal objects at the kids one at a time. The kids use their powers to stop the objects.
When it’s Lauren’s turn, Caitlin sees what’s happening and intervenes. Lorna has just given another speech about taking training seriously, and needing to depend on each other in the field. Caitlin tells Lorna that she didn’t give permission for Lauren to participate and drags Lauren away.
Marcos tells Reed that he should keep trying to talk to Andy. Reed says that he always wanted to be a dad. Marcos says his dad was a lousy dad, even before Marcos became a mutant. Reeds counsels Marcos to love his baby and do the best he can as a parent.
Jace asked Dr Campbell to call in some favors so that Jace can be reinstated early. Campbell makes it happen, but wants access to the Strucker siblings’ files, among other things, in return.
Caitlin stops Lorna again later to argue that Lorna should be preparing the kids for a life after the fighting. Lorna replies that they might be fighting for their entire lives. Caitlin says that she wants something more for her kids, and some sort of normalcy. Lorna tells Caitlin that Lauren and Andy have strong powers that could be helpful in the fight once they’re developed. This is the new normal for mutants.
Caitlin desperately doesn’t want to believe Lorna. She still wants to believe that together, the power of her and Reed’s upper middle class whiteness will be able to save the family. With her green hair and history of rebellion and homelessness, Lorna is everything that Caitlin doesn’t want for her kids.
Wes takes Lauren to a furniture storage room for a little privacy. Lauren tells him that she hid her powers for years, and planned to move to Florence, Italy after graduation so that she could continue hiding. Wes puts up an illusion of Florence that turns out to be Rome. The date is interrupted by Caitlin, who’s realized that Lauren has been out of her sight for 2 minutes.
In Baton Rouge, Andy easily makes a door-sized hole in the wall between the parking garage and the courthouse. Andy gets sent back to the truck, while Marcos and Reed find the judge’s office. They find the correct files, steal the hard drive from the computers, then destroy what’s left so that there’s no incriminating evidence left behind.
Reed tries to stop Marcos from destroying the remaining files, out some lingering loyalty or need to avoid committing further crimes. Marcos has to bluntly tell him that you don’t hold back with people who are trying to kill you. Like Caitlin, Reed hasn’t fully accepted the gravity of their situation. He still thinks that the vestiges of his old life will save them some day. To be fair, they may be useful, the way Caitlin’s brother was useful, or her ability to talk herself and Marcos into the hospital, but that’s the extent of it. There are mutant shaped targets on their backs, and they need to figure that out before they get more people killed.
Johnny tells Sage and Shatter that another HQ way station has been hit. They got half of their refugees out, and will be bringing them to the Atlanta way station. Sage notes that this facility is already 78% over capacity. Johnny tells her that they need to find space for the new people somehow.
Sure would be great if someone could portal refugees straight to Mexico right about now.
Speaking of, Dreamer wanders by and cattily gloats that Marcos and Reed accomplished their mission without Clarice’s portals. Kinda makes you wonder if she drove Clarice away on purpose. She’s certainly not sorry Clarice is gone.
Johnny stops her and tells Dreamer that what they did to Clarice was wrong. Dreamer replies that doing things the way they did saved lives. Then she switches tactics and says that it’s okay that he made it out and Pulse didn’t. They need to accept it and move on. She kisses him.
He stops her again and tells her that he can’t do this. She says that all they have is here and now and kisses him harder. The phone rings. It’s Marcos. The truck is almost back, and an unmarked police car is trailing them.
They realize that the truck has been identified as carrying mutants. The truck driver told the officer who stopped them earlier that he was going to Denver, so being spotted later in Baton Rouge sent up red flags. Sentinel Services has set up a roadblock. There isn’t an alternate route that the truck can take.
Lorna takes Wes and, with Caitlin’s reluctant permission, Lauren, to help the truck escape the blockade. Lorna tells the truck to keep driving straight through, no matter what. Lauren and Wes will have to use their powers on a larger scale than they ever have before.
Andy gets angry because he’s not being allowed to help and he thinks he’s being oppressed. Reed talks him down, using team language, because American men always respond to sports talk.
Lorna stops the Sentinel Services bullets, Lauren creates a shield that the truck uses as a ramp over the barricade blocking the road, and Wes makes the truck invisible, while creating the illusion of the truck going in the opposite direction. The truck escapes successfully.
Jace holds a meeting after the escape. They are going to increase their monitoring of everything and everyone that can be monitored within a 50 mile radius of the roadblock. They strongly suspect that the truck came from the same cell that hit Baton Rouge. They’re going to hunt the cell down. An agent asks about a court order and which phone numbers will be monitored. Jace loses control, and yells that he doesn’t care about court orders, and they will monitor all phone numbers.
The Struckers try to get back to normal. Caitlin gives Reed a ring she found to replace his wedding ring. He tries to talk to Andy, but Andy prefers to play Monopoly and pretend that nothing’s wrong. Lauren doesn’t exist as part of the family.
Johnny and Dreamer examine the files to learn about what was done to Pulse.
Clarice wanders, alone. All of her people on the outside are gone or have rejected her.
Marcos gets a call from Carmen. She’s calling in his debt.
Dreamer’s a terrible influence on Johnny. She had to be aware of the opportunity to eventually drive a romantic rival away by leaving the memories intact, instead of subtly removing them once Johnny and his team were home that night. Either way, she doesn’t deserve a leadership position.
They are supposed to be rescuing mutants from abuse, not doing the abusing themselves. Then there’s the way she was coercing Johnny back into a relationship that he’s told her repeatedly he doesn’t want. You have to wonder if she can use her powers to subtly influence people, not just affect memories, and hasn’t mentioned that to anyone. If not, she’s a very, very manipulative person.
Johnny is one of those people who thinks he’s honest all of the time, but lies by omission, and has become an expert at talking around subjects he wants to avoid. When that fails, he convinces himself that his method was the only option available. That can lead to major communication issues in personal relationships, as issues fester, and is a terrible trait for a leader, as issues will never get addressed at all.
Even when Clarice confronted him directly and he had the opportunity to make things right with her, he couldn’t look her in the eye and take her needs into account. He was too busy trying to find a way to justify his actions and get out of the conversation.
Clarice really just wanted to know that the group cared about her for more than her powers. It seems like she’s been used and lied to before, and is trying to avoid having that happen again. They’ve shown us that it’s a common problen for mutants.
The group should be making sure that she’s physically well taken care of so that she has the physical resources to make portals. And they should be letting her know how appreciated her talents are, and how much she brings to the group, as they make an effort to get to know her. Instead, they treat her like an object.
Johnny’s also still learning that he’s not leading an official military squad. The mutants aren’t forced to follow his orders or stick around, the way the marines were. He needs to rethink his leadership style, and give people reasons to stay and follow him personally, as well as making the cause more attractive.
Right now, Lorna looks like the better leader, since she’s considering both the long term needs of individuals to protect themselves, and the needs of the group. She’s explaining her reasoning and methods to the individuals she’s working with, giving them a reason to stick around through the difficult parts of training, and developing long term loyalty.
Johnny might be better as the administrative leader, working with Sage, Shatter, and Reed to shore up defenses, obtain supplies, move refugees on the Underground and on overall strategy and goals. Remember when relocating refugees to Mexico was a thing? That’s why Johnny should have done whatever it took to keep Clarice happy, especially since she was legit the wronged party. She wasn’t being a diva.
Or maybe we’re working toward an X-men type of split, with the more militant mutants following Lorna and Marcos, and the ones who want to try peaceful methods first following Caitlin and Johnny. But that doesn’t seem reasonable in the climate Jace and Campbell have created.
The way Caitlin interferes with Lorna’s training is way over the line. I’m not sure how much of this is that Caitlin got used to being the Queen Bee of the Underground for a few weeks and Lorna is competition, how much is that now Caitlin has her big strong man back to protect the family, and how much is that she’s supposed to think the mutants can win their fight for equal rights any day now.
She’s needlessly antagonizing Lorna, and going backward in character development. It’s lousy, given that she’s only a tolerated human guest taking up space in a place meant to hide mutants. I wouldn’t blame them for kicking her out, if she weren’t providing essential medical care.