While one of The Gifted's major strengths is that it's never seemed all that interested in trying to be a weekly X-Men show, this week's episode was an excellent reminder that while those heroes may be missing, the influence they have had on the Mutant Underground is profound. More importantly, it shines through to make "got your siX" one of the series' more complicated, action-heavy episodes yet.
In case any of us had forgotten that there's a war coming that will test the Mutant Underground, "got your siX" opens with a poignant flashback to the days before Thunderbird went on the run, when he was simply a mutant veteran looking to raise funds for survivors of the mysterious 7/15 event.
The outright hostility the baseline humans have for the "variant veterans" group echoes the sort of discrimination often described by veterans of colour here in the real world, whose service and patriotism have been historically called into question because their "otherness" somehow lessens the contributions they have made. At this point in the series, The Gifted doesn't really need to remind us that the world really, really doesn't see it for mutants, but the flashback effectively contextualises Thunderbird's present-day heroism we've seen so far. The Mutant Underground doesn't exactly have a proper leader, but "got your siX" rather obviously wants us to see Thunderbird in that light, at least partially.
Heroic as Thunderbird may be, he's still dealing with the consequences of Dreamer's decision to alter Blink's memories in order to save him. Even though Blink's already confronted Thunderbird and Dreamer, the latter two have still yet to fully own up to the objective screwed-up-ness of it all. Rather than immediately apologising or even just taking the damned memory out, Dreamer continues to insist that she did what she did for the safety of the Mutant Underground. Thunderbird, on some level, knows that Dreamer really acted out of selfishness, but as this personal drama has unfolded, he's found that he's kinda sorta maybe developing feelings for Blink which is just... bad.
It's been delightful watching Blink's personality really begin to come into sharp focus these past few episodes. At this point, she has no time for Dreamer and Thunderbird's bull and expertly portals herself out of the Mutant Underground to have some alone time to think. Is that the smartest thing she could be doing? Of course not, but it's a real and understandable response to being deceived in such a personal, intimate way by people she trusted.
Blink's absence prompts the Mutant Underground to get a little creative with their latest mission to steal important information about Sentinel Services. Without Blink's portals, Eclipse and the Strucker men are forced to break their way into a building using raw force. Between the heist and a chase sequence with the police, not all that much interesting really happens with these guys, but it's becoming impossible not to see that the young Strucker son really, really needs to sit down with someone to talk about his anger issues. At this point, he's an over-powered telekinetic who tears things apart when he gets upset (which he does with ease). Though he doesn't have a codename, I kept thinking to myself "Timebomb" would be an apt choice.
Back at HQ, Polaris has been hard at work training the Mutant Underground's young gifted folks in the crappiest Danger Room in X-Men history. With the war coming, she reasons, the kids must learn to use their powers to defend themselves. What better way to test the limits of your powers than being forced to dodge a workman's hammer or a rusty saw blade? To reiterate: Polaris threw a hammer, like a regular arse hammer and not a Mjolnir hammer, at a child and was essentially like, "it builds character". Caitlin Strucker's desire for Lauren and Andy to not become child soldiers is endearing and relatable, but again, someone really needs to be focusing on getting Andy in check before he inevitably messes everything up for everyone the next time he has a fit.
What's more, Polaris is right. As The Gifted builds to its season finale, the show is making sure that we know just how large the Mutant Underground is. With each episode, there are more mutant refugees populating the background, but we really only ever see a small handful of them using their powers in useful ways. When the foretold war does finally come, all the mutants are going to need to know how to fight whether they want to or not - Polaris just wants to make sure that they're ready.
- Thunderbird only wears T-shirts that are about a size too small. This is a good thing.
- Andy Strucker's whole beatboxing thing is... not great.
- Everyone makes this huge deal about the Strucker kids being uber-powerful but shields and shitty telekinesis don't seem particularly interesting, honestly.
- The Claremont moving company Easter egg is a nice touch.