There are a few different ways you could interpret this week’s episode title for The Gifted, but I’d agree, it’s a “gaMe changer.” It opens a year ago in Fairfax, VA, a wealthy suburb of Washington, DC, and it’s sort of an origin of Rebecca’s tragic tale. She made her own choices, but she’s had some bad stuff along the way.
In the present, the Inner Circle has Rebecca locked away in a nasty little device that any gamer would recognize as a d12. Andy is upset, and Sage tries to explain to him how it works and why it’s necessary. Andy has had some really bad judgement through most of this series, and it continues here. Poor kid has a lot of growing up to do, still. The Cuckoos check in with Reeva, and remind her they need Andy for the next step in the plan. They point out that Andy isn’t really in a helping mood at the moment. Reeva says she’ll go to talk to Andy.
Lauren goes over a brochure about the X-Gene, hiding it when Professor Garber comes back in. Lauren tells her parents what she’s learned, and they don’t believe her, which I expect is a lot of willful denial. I can understand that, they’re both so hopeful about finding a cure for Reed. She stuns them with the news that Garber’s brother helped found the Purifiers. Lauren points out how bad Garber’s work could be for all mutants everywhere, and Reed reluctantly agrees.
In the wake of Lorna’s decision about Dawn, Marco is alone and very unhappy, John comes to check on him and try and rally him for the next mission. John wants to go after Regimen Tech, the only lead they have after their interview with Rebecca. Marco isn’t in the mood to listen, but John is determined and uses every trick he can think of to get the other man to come along. Marco finally agrees, with one condition.
In a church meeting hall, which is sadly believable, the Purifiers hold a meeting with Jace, the speaker of honor. He lays out his new plans and rallies the troops. He really is sliding downhill fast as the season goes on. Of course, he uses the slaughter at Creed Financial as a rallying point, and I can’t blame him for that. Sage brings some concerns about Rebecca to Reeva, who absolutely doesn’t care. Andy goes to Lorna with his worries about what’s going on, and Lorna gives him a pep talk.
John has been doing some research, and is now focused on Lawrence Hays, one of the techs at Regimen. As he explains his plan, Blink is more and more appalled. She does seem to have become the moral center of the group. Marco, speaking mostly from anger, agrees with John. Garber serves the Struckers breakfast at her place and there’s a multilevel conversation about changing the world.
Marco nervously fidgets in the car as John and Clarice attend to their mission. Why they’d leave behind one of their stronger offensive power players, I’m not sure. He gets a rattled phone call from Clarice, which results in a surprise for two people and Marco getting off possibly the best reaction so far in the series. Clarice and John come back, arguing, and the group takes off.
Reed and Caitlin talk over their immediate plans, and she’s made some preparations for their upcoming departure. Garber goes over the problems with Reed’s condition and why she needs to keep working on his cure. She talks about Reed’s bad reaction to the process when he was a kid, and how she’s determined to make up for her failure back then. Lauren pressures Noah, not at all subtly, about seeing where all the blood they keep taking ends up, and he agrees, for a price.
At the clinic, the Underground has Hays prisoner. Clarice is pissed off at John, and talks about the cops having a shoot on sight order for two mutants (which is never a real thing). John makes a joke about the descriptions of them, but Clarice isn’t at all amused. Clarice wonders about John’s motivations, and he corrects her on a few points. He’s very impassioned, and comes across as desperate. Hays at first isn’t cooperative, denying everything, but John persuades him into admitting something very important about his company.
On the tv, Ryan the talk show host gives Jace plenty of time to talk up the Purifiers. Sage turns it off in disgust, and warns Reeva about someone else gaining access to the Regimen computer system. Reeva issues her orders about what to do. Reed is getting worried about Lauren being gone so long when Garber comes back and asks a lot of pointed questions. She really wants to study Andy and Lauren together, and is disappointed to hear they’re not in contact with their son. Noah takes Lauren to the high tech, well-secured storage room, and she makes a joke about all the security being for vampires. Noah defends Madeline Garber and her work to Lauren. They argue a tiny bit before going off to lunch, and Lauren makes some arrangements to come back.
John keeps yelling at Hays about the computer work, and Marco pulls him out of the room. Marco also thinks John is getting too worked up and needs to be careful to not lose Clarice. John vows to push ahead, and Clarice angrily tells him about the worsening situation on the streets from their grabbing Hays. They argue about several things, and she storms off to fix what she accused him of making worse.
Andy indulges his artistic side as Reeva comes in to talk to him. She wants his help on the next step, and he pleads for Rebecca’s release. They both agree Rebecca is a victim in all this, they just have different ideas about what to do next. Reeva works her manipulative words on Andy and leaves. Andy clearly doesn’t buy in, and goes to do his version of what’s right. He frees Rebecca and wants to run, but the clearly unstable mutant has other ideas. Andy is forced to make a terrible choice, and it goes badly for most of those involved. Reeva immediately starts spinning things and Lorna just looks sad. Marco pleads with John to look at what he’s doing to the people they care about, when Hays interrupts that he’s found something on the computer. John’s senses kick in just a bit too late as the invisible Fade cuts off the flow of information from Hays. This leads to a fight as Marco and John finally work together, but the fight is noticed and reported in to the Purifiers. John and Marco grab Fade and take off as sirens sound.
Lorna talks to Andy, both comforting him and priming him for the next step in the Circle’s plan. Lorna is almost as good as Reeva at manipulating people. She shares a bit about her experiences in a place like where Rebecca was imprisoned, and tells Andy what the next target is. A team of Reeva, Lorna, Andy, and the Cuckoos go on their raid. For as important a place as this is, it’s guarded very lightly, with too much reliance on hackable gizmos. Esme comments on Lorna’s new fashion accessory.
The action picks up a lot and jumps between locations as the episode closes in on the end. The Struckers get back to the storage vault (I guess Lauren’s power effects last longer than I thought) and get confronted by Madeline, Noah, and armed thugs. The Inner Circle launches their attack and we see the results in various places throughout the country. John and Marco drag Fade with them as the Purifiers show up. John decides to be very self-sacrificing, and shows he’s not anywhere near as strong as he is in the comics. Marco could have helped, but looks worried instead as he leaves with Fade, while Jace closes in on John. The Struckers get a surprising new ally and manage to make their escape, and I don’t think Madeline’s research will be an issue anymore.
What I liked: Much as I don’t like the sullen teen trope, they’re writing Andy decently within it. I get why he did everything he did in this episode, and I actually feel bad for him. I understand John’s clinging to the idea of doing something, anything, for the cause at this point, but I sympathize with Clarice a bit more. Marco’s line at the kidnapping was brilliant. Reeva, much as I loathe her, is smart and her plan is moving forward well with no real opposition. Lauren really has her head on straight and seems to be facing reality better than her parents.
What I didn’t: John apparently getting captured at the end didn’t make a lot of sense. There were several ways he could have handled that better, and Marco didn’t need to just stand and stare. Caitlin seems to have a major case of denial whenever she runs across something she doesn’t like, and it’s getting old, honestly. As I’ve said throughout the season, I’m really tired of the good guys coming in last every damn time. At least the Struckers got a win.
It was a good episode, even if I don’t like the general direction of things. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.