The first four episodes of The Gifted were, in their different ways, each about pulling characters together in preparation for the human/mutant war that the show’s been alluding to from the very beginning. This week’s episode “boXed in” is moving the series closer to that confrontation, and exposing some of the earliest consequences of the battle to come.
It actually helps to jump forward a bit into the episode to the scene where Caitlyn and Reed Strucker realise that despite their initial plans to work with the Mutant Underground to flee the country, they’re needed (and better off) sticking with the resistance group. Officially deciding to join the team solves one of The Gifted‘s more glaring issues from earlier in the season – the fact that there was no way in hell the Struckers were going to make it out of Atlanta without a lot of the Mutant Underground ending up dead in the process.
That end goal might have made for a solid single season of television, but in order for the series to continue into later seasons, each of the Struckers needed to find an identity beyond “frightened refugee on the run”. “boXed in” makes quick work of telegraphing just who all the Struckers are destined to become as the newest additions to The Gifted‘s answer to the X-Men.
While trying to stabilise Fade, the mutant shot by Sentinel Services during last week’s mission to free Lorna and Reed, Caitlin takes lead of his emergency medical care. She rigs up a blood transfusion (using Andy, who has a universal O blood type) and works with Lauren (who creates a small shield to use as a medical tool) to close off one of Fade’s mortal wounds. Though she insists that she’s “only” a nurse, it’s clear that she’s to become the team’s medic. Reed, still working to win back the Mutant Underground’s trust after almost selling them out, vows to use his knowledge about Sentinel Services to help the mutants avoid them. The Strucker kids’ roles are less clearly defined, but they’re both still marked by how much raw potential they have. Lauren’s becoming even stronger and more creative in the use of her shields, while Andy still simmers with rage and raw power, suggesting that he may become a problem for everyone much later down the line.
In squaring away who the Struckers are, “boXed in” gives The Gifted‘s more established characters the space to more wholly embody the parts of their personalities that we’ve only caught glimpses of so far.
In a flashback, we see just how agent Jace Turner came to hate mutants so much – a “my child was caught in an accident caused by a mutant” scenario. The moment feels rather rote and standard issue for an X-Men villain, but it provides an interesting narrative contrast to Lorna and Marcos’ motives for fighting against Sentinel Services. Now that the two are reunited and both know that they’re having a child together, their fight against the humans takes on an added layer of dynamism. Polaris and Eclipse have always been strong together, but being prospective parents puts them in a different kind of sync that skews more towards offensive than defensive.
Though Eclipse isn’t sure of Polaris’ plan to attack Turner, he’s game to use his powers with hers to take out Sentinel’s drone and patiently stands by why Polaris attacks their soldiers. The couple’s fantasies about their future and what kind of person their child might be suggest that Lorna’s probably going to lose the baby, which is sad, but again it’s potentially setting up a deeper, darker character arc for Lorna at The Gifted goes on.
Though it’s never directly addressed, Blink seems to be gaining control of her powers at an exponential rate. She’s able to create portals that transport multiple people a number of times and the experience doesn’t at all seem to phase her. But along with this newfound control, Blink’s also beginning to piece together the events of “eXodus” and how Dreamer implanted false memories in her mind in order to save Thunderbird.
Given that there are only 10 episodes in this first season of the show, it’s good that “boXed in” immediately gets to Blink confronting Dreamer. The show easily could have stretched that tension out over the season, but because Blink doesn’t really know these people all that well, it feels right that she, newly in touch with herself in a deeper way, wouldn’t waste time beating around the bush. Her assertive calling Dreamer on her crap isn’t just satisfying, but it also shows an emotional growth for Blink. Even if she isn’t quite settled with the Mutant Underground, she’s finding her own voice and becoming increasingly comfortable using it to defend herself.
Dreamer’s defence that she only manipulated Blink for the good of the group isn’t at all convincing even though it’s grounded in a certain degree of understandable logic. Even still, “boXed in” wants to show us just how destructive powers like Dreamer’s are even if they can’t physically affect things. Though Dreamer is the Mutant Underground’s closest thing to a traditional telepath, there’s an impreciseness to her abilities that makes them uniquely dangerous. While sifting through Turner’s memories to figure out how Sentinel Services managed to convince the power-cancelling mutant Pulse to work for them, Dreamer accidentally scrambles some of Turner’s naturally formed memories.
The botched psi-recon leaves Turner mainly alright, save for the fact that he no longer remembers the death of his daughter until his wife is forced to tearfully remind him, something that absolutely wrecks the couple. Even though it was an accident, “boXed in” is making a point of saying that even when defending themselves against persecution, mutants are forced to do things that will end up being perceived as acts of unwarranted aggression.
The X-Men warned the world that a human/mutant war was coming, and now none of The Gifted‘s characters can really pretend to believe otherwise.
- Jace and his wife knew that crap was going down near that park and yet, for some reason, they didn’t grab their daughter and run. Honestly? Her death is their fault, too.
- It’s now established that whenever Lorna and Marcos touch, they make an aurora. Make of that what you will. Also, Lorna’s ability to feel the baby inside her the way she can feel electromagnetic waves is weird and cool.
- Oh hey, Sage! Where you been!?
- The moment Stephen Moyer mentioned the Mutant Underground going to Baton Rouge, I screamed. Bring. Back. Vampire. Bill.
- Seeing as how The Gifted has plucked some really obscure, cool mutants out of Marvel’s books to include, I’m inclined to believe that Sentinel Services’ “true” secret weapon is actually Tattoo. He could easily put Sentinel Services tattoos on unwitting mutants and force them to do the organisations dirty business. We’ll see.