After what seemed like a longer break than usual, The Gifted are back, kicking off their season with “eMergence.” The first season ended with a major cliffhanger as the good guys split over some idealogical differences, splitting up the group and even the family that’s been a central part of the story. So now the conflict of the Mutant Underground vs. the government agency, Sentinel Services, becomes three sided, with two different mutant factions.
The show’s actual opening didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. The Hellfire Club, long-time X-Men foes in the comics, held a meeting where a few younger members argued over their agenda. There was, to put it mildly, a hostile takeover of the organization. Somehow, the powerful, experienced mutants that run the club were absolutely no match for the newcomers. That one scene really didn’t ring true for me. If they were trying to show that the Cuckoos and Reeva were ruthless, they succeeded in that much. Six months later, the newly renamed Inner Circle (what the ruling council of the Hellfire Club was called in the comics) is busily building a secure place for Lorna to give birth. We at least find out she misses Marco, although fellow Mutant Underground quitter Andy Strucker seems very happy in his new home and his new hair.
Elsewhere in the greater Washington, DC area, the remnants of the Underground scramble to help when Sentinel Services raids an apartment complex that was harboring mutants. Reed Strucker, monitoring the radio, sends in the troops and we get to see some of the team in action as they save the ones they can. Once again, they chose to avoid open conflict with Sentinel Services, this time because after the massive battle at the end of Season One, everyone thinks the Mutant Underground died. This, too, is a trick the X-Men used for a while. They save some, not others, including part of one family. I suspect trying to reunite them is going to be an ongoing subplot for much of the season. We get to see their new secret headquarters, and that Kate Strucker is really not handling Andy’s switching sides at all well.
The Inner Circle deals with some complications from Lorna’s pregnancy, and the Underground get a post-mission peptalk from Reed. This degenerates into some spirited bickering, as John and Reed are urging caution, while Marco and Kate are a lot more interesting in doing any and everything to find Lorna and Alex. John points out how dangerous this could be for them, and Marco shows his stubborn side. I’m not unsympathetic, but I think Kate and Marco really need to stop and think about what they’re doing and what it could mean for everyone else.
Lorna and Reeva have a scene together which gives us a few things. Reeva is very committed to her ideals, fine with being ruthless, and keeping things from Lorna. Lorna has some concerns about what’s going on, which I think speaks well of her. The Stepford Cuckoos get sent off on a different mission, where they are oddly relying on bribery instead of their telepathic powers. I’m not quite sure I ever understood why.
Blink brings some food to Christina, the telekinetic girl they rescued from Sentinel Services, who once again drives home the point that her sister is missing. Blink and John follow that up with a cute little domestic scene. Things are less good with the Struckers, as Reed comes back and Kate barely glances up from her computer. Reed and Lauren talk (I had forgotten the difficulty of the Lorna/Lauren names and really wonder what the writers were thinking making them that similar), and we see Kate is concerned to the point of arguably obsessed about finding Andy.
Lauren has a nightmare about Andy, and Kate turns what should be reassuring their daughter into an interrogation, desperate for clues about Andy. When Reed intervenes, Kate sneaks off to call Marco for her latest in a long string of “Everyone is relying on secrecy to stay alive, but I’m going to wander off because I feel like it” missions. The Inner Circle keep working on their new facility, and Andy gets some very serious instructions from Lorna. The doctor the Circle has brought in is worried about Lorna’s condition.
John sends Blink off on her own secret mission, and we learn some of the limits her disguise is putting on her. She teases John about not having a talk with Marco about his pushing to find Lorna. Speaking of, Kate and Marco go off to find Wire, who is clearly not happy with what he’s learned about the Inner Circle. The expected betrayal takes place, but the heroes turn the tables, mostly through Kate’s desperation and willingness to take big risks. Finally, Wire gives Kate and Marco a thumb drive with some potentially useful information on it so they can continue with their dogged pursuit, although they haven’t gotten away from this escapade unscathed.
John and Blink try and reassure Christina with the lack of results from their search for her sister. This, in turn, gets interrupted as Kate and Marco stagger in from their outing, definitely not at their best. This triggers an emergency call to Reed, who is busy keeping his own secret. I have a theory about what’s going on with him, and his keeping it from everyone is really not smart. Andy discussing baby names with Lorna gets interrupted when she has a contraction and it has some major effects on the surroundings. The Inner Circle is clearly not quite ready for this development just yet.
Kate’s obsession continues even as she is dealing with injuries from her sneaking out. Finally, Lauren can’t take it anymore and calls her mother out, correcting some of the delusions Kate is laboring under. They argue briefly and Lauren storms off. Marco, meanwhile, tries to make sense of the information he got from Wire. There’s a LOT of it. His computer searching is interrupted when Lorna’s issues affect the city power grid. It’s a shame Sage died last season. Not only was she a good character, her data managing powers would be really useful about now.
Kate and Reed’s argument over Lauren being right (she is) gets interrupted when Marco bursts in and tells them they need to come up to the roof. The power flickers everywhere are side effects of Lorna’s powers, he’s positive of it. They all pile into cars, relying on the power displays and John’s tracking ability to try and find her. The show cuts back and forth between the Underground and the Circle. Finally, Lorna’s crisis ends and Marco’s desperate quest comes to a disappointing halt for now. Frustration finally proving too much for him, Marco lets loose with a major power flare which is not going to help their presumed dead status.
What I liked: I missed these characters, and I’m glad they are back. The team in action, using teamwork to make their powers greater, is a hallmark of good super teams, and the few action sequences for the Underground showed that. I get everyone has their favorites, but I’d like for John to get more screen time and to be used for more than a glorified bloodhound. Andy, while I believe he’s chosen the wrong side, seems to back to his more cheerful earlier self. Lorna’s power complicating her condition wasn’t something I saw coming, and they did it in an interesting fashion.
What I didn’t: A lot of the superhero type shows seem to suffer from a weird compulsion for characters to keep secrets, even when it makes no sense and is potentially harmful to the characters and those around them. Sadly, the show has fallen into that habit. Kate needs to get reacquainted with reality and, if she can’t handle it, possibly restrained before she gets someone killed or blows their secret. The opening scene, as I mentioned above, really didn’t make much sense to me. Where the heck was Agent Turner? He was one of the more interesting and complex characters last season, and didn’t even get a mention aside from the credits.
I thought it was a good start for the new season, but not one of their stronger episodes. Mostly, that’s because first season was really impressively good, so I hold them to a higher standard, I suppose. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. It’ll be interesting to see how this all spins out.