The Gifted: threat of eXtinction

gifted

Boy, let me tell you about your family tree…

The flashback for “threat of eXtinction” goes back a lot earlier than the others. This episode of The Gifted starts back in London of 1952. Andrea and Andreas Strucker, the Fenris twins in the comics, are on the run, as mutants always seem to be in this world. In their case, they deserve to be hunted. They’re just as dangerous, and evil, as their comic book counterparts. We get to see the extent of their destructive power at the end of the scene. And probably the end of several other things.

In the present, Reed is telling his family about his father’s ties to Trask Industries (source of the huge robotic Sentinels in the comics and some of the movies). Reed and his father are far from close. In fact, they haven’t spoken since before the kids were born. But, with what they’re learning, it seems Reed is going to have to go talk to him now.

Lorna is still mad at Marcos, and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to forgive him. Reed goes to tell John about his father. John is busy dealing with the aftermath of another refuge falling to Sentinel, but he’ll go with Reed when they get back. Marcos worries John when he says Lorna isn’t coming with them.

Lack of forgiveness, no matter how understandable, is going around, as we see when Dreamer tries to make things up with Clarice. While that unpleasantness plays out, John goes to find the refugees from the other raid. One of them proves to be one of Campbell’s Hounds, and there’s a nasty fight. It does show one of the things they do amazingly well on this show- a combination of creative use of powers and some really good teamwork. That’s a hallmark of the X-Men at their best.

After they get back to headquarters, they cage the spy, finding both a transponder and weapons on her. Everyone is worried about the discovery of Sentinel’s new tactic. With the increase in urgency, John decides he’s going with Reed to see his father. John tells the others to figure out what to do about the spy while he’s gone.

Clarice bonds with a young child among the refugees. Caitlin and her kids are helping the injured among the new group, which lets Caitlin talk to a few of them. One is a sort of surface level telelpath, whose power effect makes her eyes glow a striking blue. The telepath, Esme, finds a few of Caitlin’s worries, and tells her the people around here value her.

Campbell’s spy keeps trying to escape her cell, and her powers are impressive. Dreamer doesn’t think her powers will work on the captive, given the way she’s acting. Lorna has an idea about how to force some answers, and that ends up causing more friction with Marcos. Those two can’t catch a break. As this goes on, Reed and John get to Reed’s father’s shop, an antique store in Chattanooga. Reed’s father is very surprised to see him.

Marcos and Lorna argue about interrogation methods and motives. Marcos uses his experience with his former employer to figure out the spy is probably on something. Caitlin agrees that part of the problem could be withdrawal. This is when we find out about Kick, a drug that boosts a mutant’s powers, but is very addictive. When Lorna grumbles about treating the spy, Caitlin points out they are fighting for a world where people can live together, so that needs to start here.

While Clarice has another scene with the young girl, things are going less well at the antique shop. Reed’s father isn’t glad to see them, and mocks John’s Thunderbird codename. I’m not entirely sure why John introduces himself with both his code- and real names. Otto, Reed’s father, seems to be both playing the sympathy card as he complains about never getting to meet his grandchildren, but also being a hardass, refusing to discuss his work at Trask because it was classified and talking about harboring fugitives. Even after Reed tells Otto about his children being hunted, Otto won’t help, although he does ask about his ex-wife. Reed and John tell him what Trask is up to now, and Otto seems actually surprised. He softens enough to take John up to his apartment over the store, while John stays below as lookout. Otto asks specific questions about the kids, and then looks worried at the answers, saying, “I failed. It came back.”

Campbell wonders what happened to his asset, and reassures an employee that she’s been conditioned so she can’t talk about what she knows. Back at headquarters, with some more nicely done teamwork, the spy is subdued, sedated, restrained, and then injected. They hope that either Caitlin’s medicine or the fact that she might be dying will help get some answers.

Otto shows Reed some newspaper clippings and tells him about their connection to the mutant terrorists known as Fenris. Reed learns a lot of surprising family history in a short time. Otto also explains why he did the work that he did, and gives some surprising insight into one of Reed’s early memories. I have to admit, aside from the family name, I didn’t see a lot of the details of this coming.

Tensions are high at the refuge (actually, that’s not a bad name. I may start calling the base that if they don’t give it a name) about the spy. Andy and Lauren, between them, manage to deal with some potential trouble. The others find out more about the spy, including her name, Chloe, and what happened to her to get her in Sentinel custody. Even Lorna starts feeling bad for her. Since she can’t seem to tell them anything, they get Esme, their new-found psychic.

Otto and Reed argue about family history, and the choices Otto made. He takes some blame for destroying his marriage, and admits he could have done a few things better. Otto starts asking more questions about the kids, but this gets interrupted when John warns that Sentinel is out front. In a massive coincidence, this is when Campbell decided to follow up on his earlier interview with Otto. Campbell brought Pulse, so John’s powers fail, and Otto finally agrees to hold off Sentinel so John and Reed can get away, after giving Reed a dire warning.

Campbell strolls in like he owns Otto’s shop, and is just smug and annoying. Campbell reveals that Otto’s work is the basis for some of his own. Otto actually lies for Reed, but things start getting ugly. Finally, Otto does something really desperate to save the day, and it’s impressive, even surprising Campbell. Otto dies as a result of what happens, and Campbell survives, sadly, but Pulse also perishes, which is both good and bad.

There are a few scenes to end the episode. The folks at Refuge get some answers from Chloe via Esme, and it’s all tragic, but with some useful intel at the end. Chloe dies, and that helps Lorna reconcile with Marcos. John and Reed share some mutual grief in a small ceremony in the woods before heading home. Clarice finally sees a good use for Dreamer’s powers, and they make a step towards forgiving each other. There’s a joyful reunion when everyone gets back, but it ends on an ominous note in light of some of Otto’s warning.

What I liked: The fight with Chloe was great. I loved the creative power use and teamwork. Those are some of my favorite things to see with hero teams. I get why Lorna is holding a grudge with Marcos, but I’m glad that didn’t drag on any longer than it did. I’m also glad Clarice might be making progress in her issues with Dreamer, understandable though they were. Otto became more sympathetic as we learned a bit about him, and his sacrifice was noble, and worth it just to scare Campbell like that. Pulse’s death was sad, but probably good on a few fronts: it took away a powerful asset from Sentinel, and probably is going to change John’s views on taking the fight to the enemy. Kick is an interesting, believable development.

What I didn’t: I think my only complaint is the timing on Campbell’s visit. He just happens to get there, with troops and backup, while Reed is there. They explain some of it, but still…

This show is going up and up in my estimation. I’ll give this one a 4.5 out of 5. Nicely done, folks .

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