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The Gifted - eXposed - Review: "Best New Series" + POLL



Every pilot season there is that one project that everyone takes notice of. It is the one that is almost guaranteed a series pickup and the one that is most highly anticipated. For this season that series was The Gifted. These shows don't always succeed and more often than not expectations don't match the final product. That is definitely not the case with this show. Not only did The Gifted meet expectations, but it far and away exceeded them. The script was very tightly written and the acting was at an exceptionally high level. In a television landscape saturated by comic book superheroes and vigilantes, it was time that a network delivered a super-powered series that could stand out from the crowd. FOX did that and they did it better than many of their competing networks.

Everything fell into perfect alignment for this show to become the masterpiece that it is. They landed a strong cast headlined by well-known veteran performers Amy Acker (Kate Strucker) and Stephen Moyer (Reed Strucker). While they are perhaps the two most well-known names in the cast they are joined by a plethora of talented younger performers who deliver powerful performances. Joining Acker and Moyer are Natalie Alyn Lind (Lauren Strucker), Percy Hynes-White (Andy Strucker), Jamie Chung (Clarice Fong/Blink), Blair Redford (John Proudstar/Thunderbird), Sean Teale (Marcos Diaz/Eclipse), Emma Dumont (Lorna Dane/Polaris), and Corey Bell (Jace Turner). This show has a very large cast, yet somehow every character got some great defining moments in the premiere. The size of the cast and the fact that they may add on in the future could cause some issues later down the road, but for the pilot, the time is perfectly balanced for the cast.

While the pilot was an exceptional episode, this is just the beginning. With this powerhouse cast and smart leadership, the show has all makings of a hit. The story for the pilot was on point and powerful in tone with a clear message. It proved that it isn't afraid to tackle tough subjects and handle them in respectful ways. They need to be cautious in how they introduce any new characters to this already large ensemble. They proved that they have enough time in an hour to give all the current core characters screen time, but much more than this and they could get bogged down trying to deal with too many characters. They can just ask the team behind NBC's defunct Heroes how well that doesn't go when there are too many characters and not enough minutes in an episode. This team seems smart enough to avoid that path, but it is a real worry especially given how large this cast is from the start.

In the pilot, there were two core storylines that ultimately end up intersecting and uniting the ragtag team. The episode ended with two groups, each a bit wary of the other, unified in a fight for their lives. The first storyline revolved around the Strucker family, and the revelation that both of their children are mutants. That was one big driving point that saw the family come together to fight back against the Sentinel Service that was seeking to detain Andy and Lauren. Kate was having none of that and did her best to keep Jace Turner and his team from taking her children. That led to an awesome escape scene where Lauren threw up protection barrier for them while Kate used their van to clear the path. It was an awesome moment that showed how unified the Strucker family could be in the face of danger. That is a trend that would continue as Reed was looped into what was happening and joined his family on the run. Reed had to forsake his career as a prosecutor in order to protect his family, but it was a decision he made without a second thought.

It was wonderful the way that they revealed Andy and Lauren's abilities. The school sequence was stunningly orchestrated and Hynes-White and Lind both delivered exceptional performances. It was lovely to show the typical bond between siblings as being annoying to each other, but the moment one is in danger the other rallies to protect them. Lauren really stepped up to help Andy and together they escaped a bad situation. It'll be really fun to watch their relationship grow as the series progresses. They could be a powerful team given that their abilities seem to have similar properties. What was, perhaps, the best part of their reveal, was when Kate and Reed found out. Never, not for a second, did either of them love their children any less. They never tried to shame them or turn them in. As it was Kate tried to use herself as a human shield to keep Turner away from them. Even though Kate knew she stood no chance against the agents that didn't stop her from trying.

This was the point where the Strucker family was put on a direct trajectory towards the mutant underground. At the start of the episode, a team consisting of Lorna, Marcos, and John went to try and locate a rogue mutant who had escaped from a detention center. That mutant was Clarice who otherwise goes by Blink. It was in their attempt to reach her and get her to safety that they were found by Sentinel Services and attacked. Marcos was grazed, enough for him to emit a blinding light from his wound and send him to ground in pain. His girlfriend, Lorna, went on the attack after that and bought everyone else enough time to get free, but ended up being captured in the process. Now, this is where the Strucker family, thanks to Reed, had something to offer the mutants and in turn, they could aid his family in disappearing. Of course, this is television, and only a pilot, so things weren't that easy. Especially with the huge reveal that Lorna was pregnant with Marcos' child. That ups the stakes and puts everyone on edge. Now the one-time enemies have to work together in a tense and uneasy partnership.

The Strucker family and Clarice allowed the audience to get to know the two sides individually before uniting. Through the Struckers, fans were introduced to the culture that has forced mutants to take to underground life. Through Clarice, fans got to see how that underground culture is able to thrive. As it turns out, the sanctuary that houses the mutants was largely crafted by Lorna meaning that almost everyone there has some vested interest in bringing her home. Unfortunately for them, as John pointed out, going after her would threaten everything Lorna worked so hard to create. This then prompted Marcos to go rouge forcing Clarice to keep a secret from her newfound friend, John. Well, friend isn't exactly the correct word, but he tolerated her and he does seem to have taken some sort of interest in her. There certainly seems like a future relationship of some sorts being set up between them. Whether as friends or a couple, there was definite chemistry between them. That was short lived though as Clarice confessed where Marcos was and the race was on to help their wayward friend.

This is another area the show needs to proceed cautiously. Spending too much time pairing off the characters is an area where it could stumble. Sadly, this is an era of shippers and every show has to give shippers something to latch onto. Lorna and Marcos along with Kate and Reed are established couples coming into the show and the chemistry in both pairings is perfectly matched. The show does need to be cautious to not add anymore too fast. They seemed to imply that something could evolve between Clarice and John, but if that is in the cards, hopefully, they'll wait a considerable amount of time before doing anything about it in the storyline. The show already has enough relationship drama to deal with given that both main couples are now separated.

The two sides of the story finally collided in a literal race for their lives. Every mutant gave everything they had and it resulted in one awesomely epic fight/escape sequence that just doesn't usually get incorporated into a pilot. A sequence like this wouldn't have been cheap to film which is a clear indication that the production company and network believed in the viability and potential of this project to go to series. It was an epic sequence that was a heart-pounding race for survival. The stakes felt very real as they ran for their lives and continually got boxed in. Thankfully Clarice had insisted on going with John to help Marcos and his unexpected acquaintances meaning that they had a way to escape. Though again, it would be too easy if her powers worked perfectly, and as she demonstrated earlier in the hour, sending anything through her portals can be dangerous. Just ask the poor dog toy that got cut in half. Still, it was their best, and only, option. Clarice came through for them in a big way as she generated a stable portal and almost everyone made it through except Reed who was shot right in front of his family right before Clarice collapsed and cut them off from him. With her incapacitated and Sentinel Services still hunting them the hour cut to black ending the best series premiere of the season on a huge cliffhanger.

What comes next? Clarice is clearly in distress and Kate has a medical background, so she'll come in handy. Based off of the duct tape job John did on Marcos' arm it's evident that they are in need of someone with medical skills. Kate has already proven that she'll do anything to protect her family and she'll likely do everything in her power to get help to get her husband back. Prior to the series launching, there was a lot of chatter about concerns that Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer would be portrayed as just the parents. This episode made it clear that both Kate and Reed are essential to the story and have bigger roles to play than as just the parents of Lauren and Andy. Since both of their children turned out to be mutants, caused by a genetic mutation, the odds are pretty darn good that one of them carries the mutant gene in them. Given Reed's job, he was probably thoroughly scanned and vetted, so through the process of elimination, there are relatively good odds that there is more to Kate than we realize at this point. Perhaps more than even she realizes about herself. While it'll be fun to watch all the mutant characters and their powers evolve it'll be equally fun to see what the show does with Kate and Reed.

In the human department, there is also Jace Turner, who seems like a guy who believes he's doing the right thing even if the outcome isn't ideal to the audience. That makes him the type of character that usually has some sort of redemption arc where he finds himself sympathizing with those he once saw as the enemy. Until then, it should be interesting to watch him and his fellow agents go after the mutants. There's more to Turner's story than we know, and that may heavily impact the choices he'll make in his mission to bring down this rogue group.

For now, members of each family unit, the Struckers, and the mutants are being held captive. That gives them a common mission which will certainly solidify their need to work together. The Sentinel Service is a merciless agency, but they aren't a big bad in and of themselves. Who is leading them? Why do they hate mutants so much? Answers to those questions should reveal a big bad of some pretty epic proportions. The setting of this show is in a time where the X-Men have gone MIA and no one even knows if they are still out there. Given that there is a reasonable possibility that Lorna is the child of Magneto could lead to very good chances of at least him making an appearance in some capacity. Not to mention the Strucker name has some very dark heritage in the comic books that could find its way incorporated into the show. Certainly, at some point, a few familiar characters may show up, but for now, the ragtag team Lorna pulled together is the best hope that she and Reed have. One thing is certain, the journey ahead for these characters is going to be quite intense to watch.

Now the wait begins for what comes next. Don't miss the next episode when it airs next Monday, October 9th at 8/7c on FOX.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about the premiere. Will you keep watching the show? How do you think they'll rescue Reed and Lorna? How will the show handle Lorna's pregnancy? Will they be able to help Clarice recover? How will the Strucker family incorporate with the mutants?







 
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