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The Gifted - boXed In - Review: “CompleX Dynamics” + POLL

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After last week’s intense episode, The Gifted delivered a slower paced, but still significant episode. The intensity wasn’t quite as high and the action not as plentiful, but the emotional side of this hour was explosive. They dove deeper into Jace’s story and into some of the more complex relationships within the underground. It also fully solidified the place the Strucker’s now hold within the team as each did something to endear them to the cause. This felt very much like a transition episode as they moved from the storyline that launched the series to the storylines that will power the back half of the season, but the writers handled it well and made for a very dynamic hour.

Earlier in the season, it was revealed that Jace lost his daughter in what was referred to as the July 15th incident. Up until this point, not much was known about that incident. We now know, thanks to the launching flashback, that this event occurred four years ago and resulted in thousands of deaths. It was a Mutant rights protest that turned bad. It was a tragic day all around and the day that young Grace Turner was killed caught in the crossfire while playing right in front of her parents. It is enough to drive any man to hatred, but not enough to justify what has seemingly become a witch hunt resulting in the prosecution of even the most minimal of power infractions. Still, the emotionally wrought nature of the story involving the loss of a child gave Coby Bell a lot of powerful scenes to portray and he did a hell of a job. He took a character that is easy to hate and made him someone that the audience could at the very least sympathize with. Turner is right to be angry, any parent would be over the tragic loss of a child, but punishing an entire group for the evil deeds of a few isn’t the answer to any problem. The sad thing, as in real life, is that there are good and bad guys on both sides and the bad always seem to overshadow the good.

For the mutants, they have those that would use their powers for nefarious means, but they also have mutants with incredible powers who could do so much good in the world if allowed. Look at what Lauren did to help save Trader (whose real name we learned to be Harry). She didn’t have to do that, figure out how to use her powers in a new way to save the life of a near stranger, but she did in the name of trying to do good and save someone. In fact, Andy didn’t have to do what he did either, offering up his blood, but he volunteered without a single hesitation much to the surprise of his mom and sister. Yes, this was about the Strucker family trying to prove themselves, but in the heat of the moment it was all about helping Harry and saving him. Caitlin’s makeshift surgery to remove his bullet likely has no real-world practicality, but at least it looked good on screen and did help to up the intensity of the moment especially since as a relatively unknown character the audience didn’t have much context in with which to worry about Trader’s outcome. Though, it does seem like the family endearing themselves to the cause was the bigger point of the moment then Trader’s ultimate fate. And their acts of selfishness didn’t go unnoticed.

While the family has slowly been earning their place within the underground, Reed is still seen as a bit of an outcast and a threat. One can’t really blame Tex for being so angry regarding Reed. It was a given that the next time they met after the van incident that it wasn’t going to go well. What was interesting in all this is how John defended Reed despite not really knowing him. He was willing to give Reed the benefit of the doubt and it worked out in their favor. Reed’s insider knowledge could be invaluable to them. Right about now Shatter should be glad that he and the others didn’t act upon their rush to judgment regarding him. Had they lynch mobbed Reed and had Dreamer wipe his memories then they could have found themselves in a world of trouble. Like it or not they need Reed and the Strucker family as a whole has a lot to offer them. It will be interesting to see if John will have to continue to defend Reed and his family or if their selfless acts in this episode proved their worth and earned them official places within the team. Reed even offered himself up as a decoy to try and spare everyone at the headquarters. It looked like he passed Tex’s risky and unsanctioned test, so perhaps the gruff bartender will be less inclined to set his friends loose on him again. That is an interesting dynamic that will either turn into an interesting team or result in even more tension at the compound. Seeing how Reed is incorporated going forward should make for some very fascinating storylines.

As all of that was going on, Polaris and Eclipse had their hands full. They volunteered themselves as the proverbial bait to draw the Sentinel Services attention away from the others and the compound. It gave them a nice moment together to process the news about their baby. The scene also reaffirmed that they have to have a daughter because the name Aurora couldn’t be more appropriate. They are a cute couple and the chemistry between Emma Dumont and Sean Teale is quite literally electrically charged. One of the many good things about the characters being reunited is the fact that they are a mighty force when they unite their powers. Taking down the drone was a visually cool moment. But, perhaps, the best show of unity of their powers, and most stunning visual of the hour was when they once again created the Aurora Borealis over their unborn child. In the immortal words of Eclipse their kid is going to be “weird”, but that is okay because he or she will also be super powerful and loved beyond belief.

It was poignant to have them talking about their unborn child right before coming into possession of Turner. While Turner has justified his actions to himself they are quite cruel at the very best. The way his agency handles mutants is nothing short of inhumane. They torture them then when that doesn’t work they send them to some detention facility that seems to brainwash them or worse. Still, there is a paternal connection that Marcos made with Turner upon hearing what happened. As a soon-to-be father, he seemed to sympathize with their captive. Lorna did as well, but she was also very quick to bring him back to reality. July 15th was a horrible day all around, but the mutants, many who were likely innocent of any involvement with that day, have been captured, chased and driven underground just to survive. Not only did the mutants also lose many of their own, but war has been raged on them as a result. They needed the information he knew and couldn’t lose sight of that. As such, they brought in Dreamer.

This was an interesting episode for Dreamer and dove a bit more into how her abilities work. She can give and take away memories, but she can also see people’s memories as well. It’s easy to see why she is such an important member of the team because her power can be very helpful. On the flip side of that, her power is also very invasive and can cause major psychological harm in certain circumstances. One big important thing to understand about the character is that she fully grasps this. She seems to be very aware of the risks involved with her using her abilities on others and doesn’t do it lightly. When she was retrieving information from Turner she had to be physically dragged away by Lorna. Not entirely because of what she was learning, but because she seemed almost desperate to not have to leave him in the state she had him in. It seemed to pain her to have to leave him like that. Even though he’s been hunting them and captured her friends she still didn’t want to harm him. Sadly, that is what happened as his memories were left a bit scrambled and he had to relieve the loss of his daughter all over again, though that did give Coby Bell a hell of a powerful scene to play. That traumatic moment is sure to only serve to further drive Turner to take down the mutants. What matters in all that is that she didn’t want that outcome and fought to try and avoid it.

Dreamer, whose real is Sonya, is a good person who just happens to have a very powerful ability. With a power that strong comes great responsibility. That is something she seems very aware of and is perhaps a lesson she had to learn the hard way. She and Clarice barely know each other, but they’ve had to work together a great bit lately. It would be a stretch to call them friends at this stage, though they could have easily become such, Clarice’s words still stung Dreamer deeply. Losing Clarice’s trust and potential friendship shouldn’t be a significant event at this early stage, but it was. Clarice calling her out on the forced memories of John triggered a nerve within Dreamer. She was darn near tears by the time Clarice got done laying into her. There is something significant in her past that drove her into the underground and that still seems to haunt her. Finding out what that is could be a very intriguing story. What will be even more interesting is to see what becomes of this new conflict between Clarice and Dreamer. John was right in telling Dreamer to talk to Clarice about what happened and by delaying it Dreamer opened herself up to this tense standoff. It will be curious to see how the writers handle Clarice dealing with her memory of John now that she definitely knows it’s not hers. There is a lot of story left in this particular issue and hopefully, the writers capitalize on it in a way that doesn’t result in an awkward love triangle. Some important things to focus on are how both women deal with the situation and each other. Will some event cause them to come to an understanding with one another? Or will their rift continue and put the stability of the team’s critical missions at risk? Clarice has become a significant member of the team in her short time with them and Dreamer is obviously someone they heavily rely on, so as long as they both remain on the team they are going to have to work together again.

It’s almost a travesty that Dreamer isn’t a regular on the show. Elena Satine is doing some really terrific work fleshing out her character. Should the Dreamer survive the season they need to up Satine to a series regular. The show already has a big core cast and they don’t need to add to many more characters, but Dreamer is one that they need to secure for future seasons. The way that tears flowed into Satine’s eyes during that big Clarice and Dreamer confrontation was a powerful bit of acting. She has been spot-on with understanding the depth of her character and bringing it to life on screen. If they choose to add any new series regular spots for a much needed Season Two then she definitely needs to secure one of those spots. It’s hard for guest stars or recurring characters to make an impression, but through Satine’s skilled acting she’s made Dreamer a memorable character. The writers also seem to understand the potential in this character and how talented her portrayer is, so hopefully all of her recent involvement in the bigger storylines is a test run for bigger future involvement.

With that said, outside of Dreamer, they are struggling with some of their other secondary recurring characters like Sage. She keeps popping up in the story, but outside of being a computer whiz and seeming to have some sort of statistical ability, we know hardly anything about her. Even the Strucker’s only really know her as the “computer girl”. There are the likes of Trader and Shatter who pop-in and out with no real exploration into them. Right now, as the show is still evolving, it’s okay to have a handful of background characters like them, after all, they do have to fill up the headquarters, but that won’t be sustainable long term. They will either have to phase out some of the overabundance of background characters or start to give them more to do within the story that makes the viewers understand why we should care about them. Like in this episode, Trader was fighting for his life, but the audience had no real baseline in with which to be concerned about him. Now, had it been a character the audience knew and cared about the stakes would have been much higher during his risky surgery. The show has a strong flow right now, but bringing in too many background characters and not giving them a place within the story could do more harm than good in the long run.

Even though this episode wasn’t as action heavy as last week it was still a really strong episode. The writers have a good grasp on how to keep the flow moving forward while not overtaxing the audience by overwhelming us to many weeks in a row with intense action sequences. It was an important transition episode to push towards the back half of the season without losing focus on the core story. The Strucker family had some really powerful reunions that felt earned. Meanwhile, Turner is more personally connected to the fight than ever before and he’s likely out for blood. Rifts are forming within the underground team at the worst possible time as Sentinel Services is highly motivated to take them down. The latter half of this season promises to be quite a rollercoaster ride.

Don’t miss the next episode on Monday, November 6th at 9/8c on FOX.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Do you think Clarice should give Dreamer a chance to rectify her error? Should Dreamer be afforded forgiveness from Clarice? Will the others ever truly trust Reed? Should the show cut back on the pop-in recurring background characters?

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