Over the course of its first season, Fox’s The Gifted set the stage to tell a timely story about just what it means to be a misunderstood, disenfranchised second-class citizen in a world that hates and fears you.
With “eMergence”, the second season picks up six months after the finale of the first, with all of the show’s pivotal mutant players clearly split along ideological lines about what the best course of action is to ensure their safety.
On one side, you have the remaining members of the Mutant Underground. They’re able to stage a number of dangerous rescue missions for other untrained mutants under renewed and more intense attacks from Sentinel Services because the public believes that the freedom fighters are actually dead.
On the other, there’s a new iteration of the Hellfire Club led by newcomer Reeva Page (Grace Byers). They plot from the shadows, preparing to strike back (with the help of Emma Dumont’s heavily-pregnant Polaris) at the humans who would see them all dead.
And “eMergence” immediately makes clear just how much The Gifted’s world has changed in the wake of the first season, showing the brutal and systematic attacks on the mutant public that Sentinel Services is now making with little to no oversight.
Rather than rounding up mutants who proved themselves to be somewhat dangerous due to the lack of ability to control their powers, the paramilitary force cavalierly storms neighbourhoods full of unsuspecting and largely harmless mutants — many of them children — and simply disappears them.
Those who aren’t killed on the spot are taken to detention centres very much like the ones so many undocumented immigrants in the US have been funnelled into — away from the public eye where they’re made to suffer all manner of human rights atrocities.
It’s that reality that drives both the Mutant Underground and the Hellfire Club to do what they do because, ultimately, both sides are merely trying to fight for a future in which their people are able to live freely, unburdened by the evils of murderous prejudice.
The fight this season has also come to the nation’s capital, where the still heroic Struckers (Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker and Natalie Alyn Lind) are now full-fledged members of the Mutant Underground doing everything they can to usher mutants to safety, all the while working to find Polaris and Andy (Percy Hynes White) and what remains of the Hellfire Club.
Andy and Polaris’ defection to the dark side is the source of much of the Mutant Underground’s ongoing turmoil because, as best as they can tell, the Hellfire Club’s methods can only lead to future chaos and war that’s sure to leave far too many innocent people dead in the process. At the same time, though, the show’s heroes understand that as much as they might want to be reunited with their loved ones, the greater good might just necessitate them parting ways.
After dispatching of much of the Hellfire Club’s upper leadership, Reeva and the Frost sisters (Skyler Samuels) are focused on ensuring that Polaris’ impending birth goes well. Lorna appreciates their concern, but she’s also somewhat ambivalent about their motivations and unsure of how she factors into their ultimate plan for mutant liberation.
She’s in turmoil because, even being driven to the extremes that she’s been, what she wants most in the world is to be with Marcos (Sean Teale) to welcome their child.
Though Magneto is probably never going to make an actual appearance on The Gifted, his presence is very much a part of the show’s atmosphere. Though she’s loathe to admit it, Magneto is a part of who Lorna is. Her fury against her oppressors reads very much like his, and everyone around her is all too ready to point that out.
It dismays and horrifies her, but it’s something she can’t deny, especially when she considers that fact that what she’s really fighting for is her family’s freedom — meaning her daughter and Marcos.
But that righteous anger is interestingly shot through with a healthy amount of reserve, because as much as she’s like her father, Lorna’s also markedly different to him. She wants to build a happy, healthy family and would never dream of abandoning her child the way Magneto did her. That key difference in their personalities is an unsubtle hint that, perhaps, her working with the Hellfire Club (of which Magneto was at one point a member) isn’t the right path for her.
Perhaps even more so than the actual war against Sentinel Services, the concept of family is what’s really going to define The Gifted over the coming months and, knowing this cast of characters, it’s going to lead to a more than interesting season of television.
- It isn’t exactly clear what Reeva’s powers are, but they appear to be something along the lines of a sonic scream (eh) mixed with a bit of vertigo (hell yeah). The very subtle CGI effects used to make clear when she’s using her abilities is nifty.
- Pregnancy has done wonders for Polaris’ hair.
- Emma Frost would be proud of her daughters taking out a bunch of Hellfire goons with a tripartite, synchronised execution. Also, the bit where they act as psychic midwives during Polaris’ delivery is excellent.
- Who let the Strucker boy at the peroxide? Perhaps there’s a Hellfire Club member whose power is bleaching people’s hair, or maybe it’s a natural outgrowth of his powers getting stronger.
- All of the Struckers have really found new purpose as skilled freedom fighters with the Mutant Underground, but it really seems as though Lauren’s the only one who has her head on straight.
- One has to imagine that Lorna’s pregnancy-related power fluctuations are the kind of thing that really remind her of Mags being an absentee father, because this is the sort of thing he’d be ideal to help coach her through.
- The circumstances that have Lorna and Marcos separated really tap back into the ethos of this show about displaced, broken families that come from this kind of oppression. This is the kind of X-Men story that we need right now.