Being a mutant kind of sucks.
Whether you’re fighting to defend a world that hates and fears you, or just fighting to survive, it seems like life will never cut you a break. Nowhere is that made more prominent than The Gifted, the smash television series that focuses on a world where mutants don’t have the X-Men or the Brotherhood of Mutants to defend them. And the second season only promises to make things harder for our heroes in the Mutant Underground-both physically and emotionally.
When the first season ended, the Underground was divided. Polaris (Emma Dumont) had left the group, taking a handful of followers with her-including neo mutant Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White). We pick up in the aftermath of that, as Reeva Page-a mutant with a paralyzing sonic scream-eliminates her competition in the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Six months later, Sentinel Services are doubling down in their apprehension of mutants (with some disturbingly relevant imagery) and the Underground is stretched to their limit. Adding to the mountain of problems, Strucker patriarch Reed (Stephen Moyer) is struggling to keep his emerging mutant powers at bay, Eclipse (Sean Teale) is going to dangerous lengths to find his girlfriend and their child, and Polaris’ pregnancy wreaks havoc on her powers.
The thing that I love most about The Gifted are the character relationships; for all the cool powers and socially relevant stories, it’s the characters that draw you in and keep your eyes glued to the screen. Whether it’s seeing Blink (Jamie Chung) and Thunderbird (Blair Redford) in the “honeymoon” stages of being a couple, Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) struggling with the fact that her brother turned his back on his family, or Eclipse desperately trying to reunite his family, the dynamics at play are reminiscent of the hallowed era of X-Men stories penned by Chris Claremont.
This also holds true with our villains-or rather, our antagonists; the shades of grey that colored the first season are just as prevelant here. We see that Reeva is determined to protect her race by any means necessary-her methods may be horrible, but her goal noble. Likewise, Polaris and Andy find a surprising rapport with each other-he promises to keep her and her baby safe and is by her side when the child is eventually delivered. (The baby girl is named Dawn-possibly a nod to her father, which I found sweet.)
If there are any faults to be found, it is mostly with some of the dialogue (which comes off as hokey) and the fact that the Strucker parents remain the least interesting characters in the show (though Reed’s power up might change that.) These are minor quibbles in an otherwise excellent premiere.
The Gifted has started off its second season on the right foot; let’s hope they continue this momentum for the next fifteen episodes.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Cerebro helmets. A solid start to the sophomore season.