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The Gifted - eXtreme Measures - Review: “CompleX Relationships” + POLL

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The Gifted delivered another solid episode though it was considerably more low-key then recent weeks. There were a lot of key moments that will serve to ramp up future aspects of the season. This felt like another transitional episode as the writers try to get everything in line for the back half of the season. It was also a very character heavy episode that spent more time on character development than big grand action sequences. The season has actually needed a character based hour to flesh out some of the more domestic storylines revolving around character relationships, so this was a welcomed change of pace. After all the team has been through recently they really needed a bit of time to catch their breath. This break surely won’t last and things are likely to go sideways for them very quickly in the coming episodes, but for now, they all got a moment to sit back and just live their complicated lives.

This episode followed up on the data that they retrieved from Baton Rouge and it proved quite enlightening. Sentinel Services is up to some shady stuff and that’s not even accounting for the even shadier stuff that Dr. Campbell has brought to the table. To make matters even more complicated is the fact that Reed may be even more tied to it then he’d like as he discovered that his father worked for the company that is involved in turning the mutants against their comrades. Whatever is being done to them is definitely not being done of their own free will. We haven’t heard much about Reed’s dad, so it’ll be interesting to see how involved he was in this. His mom seems very pro-mutant, but it’s starting to seem like his father may not have been. The Strucker name has a dark heritage in the comic books. This generation of the family might be able to redeem the name pending they can keep Andy from following in his illustrious ancestor's dark shoes.

There was a lot of relationship drama this week. Lauren and Wes start the hour still in the early phases of what could be a cute young teen romance including breaking the rules for a little illusionary flight over the forest from the forbidden rooftop. They were starting to get really attached to one another. That is until Reed uncovered a file that he believed to be about Wes in the files from Baton Rouge. That led to a tense father-daughter conversation that ended with yelling and left Reed contemplating what to do in his new role within the Underground. He’s a prosecutor, that’s all he’s ever really known, but as Caitlin pointed out he needs to start being a father first. He heard his wife and approached Wes not as a prosecutor but as a father and a mentor. He gave Wes sound advice and left it up to the young man to make his own decisions. Thankfully he proved himself a good man and confessed to the others what he had done in his past. They gave him a pass, but not before sending him to another station. It was a sad ending to what could have been a really terrific romance between Wes and Lauren. However, that kiss Lauren gave him right before he left might inspire Wes to find his way back to her one day. There is a solid reason to believe this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Wes.

Another couple in turmoil was Lorna and Marcos, but everyone likely saw that coming because keeping secrets on television never ends well for the characters involved. Marcos kept a huge secret from Lorna and as a result, put his relationship on very shaky ground. It was pretty clear that he didn’t want to be working with Carmen again. But in his mind, he had to do it for his family and the whole mutant population because Carmen has resources that could help them sustain themselves a bit longer. That’s how he justified it anyway. Carmen was right when she said that Marcos once enjoyed the work he did for the cartel. We got to see as much in the opening flashback. It seems like he only left the cartel because he was almost immediately smitten by Lorna. It doesn’t seem like he left because he didn’t enjoy the work. On the contrary, as was seen when he was burning the drugs, that brief look of pleasure that flashed over his face showed that Carmen was right and he really does enjoy it. He might not have wanted to be doing it, but in the moment a part of him took great pleasure in it.

Unfortunately, he underestimated Lorna who immediately knew where he was when she discovered his good luck charm pendant missing. She wanted to believe that he was in trouble so she grabbed Dreamer and headed to the cartel compound. After a fun sequence of the ladies kicking butt and getting their intel, they ran off to get Marcos back. As Dreamer implied when this all began, things did not end well. Lorna showed up at the Russian’s burning drug shipment facility just in time to see Marcos doing his thing for Carmen. The extra added insult to injury was when Lorna saw Carmen place a kiss on his cheek. It was obvious that he didn’t want that kiss and had no interest to be there with her any longer than necessary, but Lorna had seen enough and left him to fend for himself. To be honest, one can’t really blame Lorna for being angry. He lied to her repeatedly and effectively betrayed her trust. Who knows how things would have gone had he told her the truth about Carmen from the start, but at least he wouldn’t have gone behind her back. The argument that he did it to save her only worked up until the point her got her back home. The first moment they had alone he should have confessed to her the deal he’d made with Carmen. Now it’s uncertain what comes next. At least he was allowed to still sleep in the same bed as her, but the fact her back was turned to him shows that it was a very cold bed. He’s going to have to do a lot to make this betrayal up to her.

The other relationship in turmoil was the one between John and Dreamer. It’s odd to call this one a relationship because it’s part of their story that they aren’t technically a couple. At least they weren’t a few weeks back when Dreamer and Clarice first met. Though Dreamer has been very hands-on with John lately they don’t appear to be an official couple though Dreamer seems to act like they are. If the way John reacted to Dreamer in this episode is any indication their time as whatever they are is nearing an end. This episode more or less solidified the love triangle between John, Dreamer, and Clarice with Clarice taking the lead for John's heart. The only saving grace of this triangle is that Blair Redford has exceptional chemistry with both Elena Satine and Jamie Chung, so no matter what route the show goes with their characters the chemistry will be solid.

It’s really hard to say which couple is the best for the show. It seems like Dreamer and John have always had a bit of a hot and cold relationship where they are going hot and strong for a bit then they cool down. They might be on the path towards Antarctic cold very soon because things between John and Clarice are really heating up. There is a definite connection between those two as was highlighted as he helped her get closure on her past. While the pairing has great potential, it seems like it all happened far too fast and without much firm groundwork. He went from thinking of Clarice as just an asset and perhaps the early stages of a friend to suddenly having these apparently pretty deep feelings for her. Going after her like he did was far less about trying to keep the location of the Underground secret and more about him just wanting to have her back.

One really nice thing about their little adventure this week is that it did at least tie back to the start of the season when Clarice was opening those portals to that one street. Finding out what happened to her foster parents made this personal for her, so at least they gave a solid justifiable reason for why she rejoined the fight against Sentinel Services. And, of course, having her back in the fold will only cause further love triangle drama. This is really the only aspect of the whole show that is a bit frustrating. Was it really necessary to launch a love triangle storyline this early on in the evolution of the show? They have so many other storylines they could focus on and they chose to go this route? Drama sells shows and love triangles usually bring the drama, but in a show like this, they already have plenty of drama and high stakes without a love triangle.

John, Dreamer, and Clarice are exceptional characters with a ton of depth. There are so many different storylines they could do with each of them that would give far more meaning to the series than seeing two women fight over the same man. The writers need to settle this storyline and the sooner the better so that the characters can move on to more important things. They need John to pick one already and end this drama. Dreamer and Clarice are amazing female characters, so let them be badasses instead of fighting with each other for John’s affection. This storyline might have been really fun to watch in a future season or even next season, but to stick it in the first season just seems like an unusual choice. It’s hard enough to build up the world a series exists in let alone to add in trying to juggle so many different romantic pairings. In this episode alone there were four romantic relationships that had to be dealt with. That is a lot for any show let alone for a single episode. It’s annoying, but luckily, thanks to the immense talent of the performers, it hasn’t taken away from the overall story of the season. If this is the most annoying part of the season then that’s not a bad first outing for a series. Freshman seasons of shows usually have far more issues than this, so the writers get a pass, but as a viewer, it’s hard to not wish they hadn’t gone this route with three such phenomenal characters.

There were other things going on besides the relationship drama, like the early days of a new educational setup. As was hinted at last week, Lorna and Caitlin have arranged a bit of a two-fold educational system. Caitlin is managing the book smarts side while Lorna is training them on their powers. This is their own little version of Professor Xavier’s school and it’ll be interesting to see if they keep building on this aspect of the show. Training and education was a big part of the comics and the movies, so it’s nice to see that legacy continue in this series.

On a far more sinister note, over at Sentinel Services, Dr. Campbell was busy showing off just how awful he is. When something doesn’t go his way he just has a mutant take care of it for him. Please, note the irony of that. For example, that poor DOJ lady who was given a mutant induced stroke simply because she tried to stop Turner and Campbell from violating the rights of the mutants. Though Turner appears to believe they have no rights as American Citizens. Too bad no one reminded him that they are acting as they are because they are being hunted like animals and just trying to survive. It was awful what happened to his daughter and awful that he had to relieve her death a second time, but it’s not like the mutants haven’t suffered just as much if not more. They’ve lost their lives, their families, and everything they knew. He feels wronged and hurt, but so do they.

At least there was one brief moment of hope for Turner when he confronted Campbell about what happened to the DOJ representative. He seemed genuinely angry about his tactics and wanted answers. Maybe he would have held his ground if Campbell hadn’t used Grace’s memory against him, but alas he did and Turner seems to still be going along with the plan. That plan includes sending in brainwashed mutants to spy on, disrupt, and destroy the network from the inside out. Things are definitely going to get quite messy in the coming weeks as this plan is enacted. The only hope seems to be for Turner to come to his senses and realize how wrong this operation is. Since that seems highly unlikely to happen anytime soon there are going to be some dark days ahead for the team.

This wasn’t a big action-packed episode, but it was still a very engaging one. Thanks to the more low-key nature of the hour it gave the audience some more insight into secondary characters like Sage. We’ve seen her nearly from the start, but haven’t really seen her ability at work. Hayley Lovitt finally got to show off what Sage can do and it was really quite fun to watch. Sage’s ability to review and process data is fascinating. We also got to learn more about her involvement in the upper-level leadership of the team. She seems to be heavily involved in who is and isn’t allowed into the underground. Surprisingly she works really well with Reed. It’ll be good to see them start to develop her a bit more. If the show continues on its current path it seems highly likely that there will be a siege episode at some point and every character will be involved. The writers need to make sure we, as the audience, feel connected to and invested in all of them to ensure the stakes are as high as they can be. That requires diving more into the key players and the high-level secondary characters so that we care what happens to them.

Overall this was a low-key setup episode for what is to come. It was heavy on character development and storyline setup. This is the second such episode of the series so far, one that plays on the less high energy side of things, but these episodes are necessary. It can’t all be high action and fights because then we’d never get to know the characters. The show can do without the love triangle, but since it’s already in play all we can do is let it play out and be happy when a resolution is finally reached. Reed and Caitlin are the only couple that ended the episode as a strong united unit though the odds are fairly good that won’t last either under the stress of war. The nightly Strucker family dinners are kind of nice to see incorporated. Even in such serious circumstances Reed and Caitlin are fighting to give their kids some sort of normalcy. It’s a bit ironic that the family seems closer now than before all this began. This episode seems like it was giving the characters and audience a moment of peace before complete and utter chaos breaks looks. Chaos can be ultra fun to watch unfold, so hang on because this calm won’t last and when the dam breaks war will rage.

Don’t miss the next episode when it airs next Monday, November 20th at 9/8c on FOX.

Hit the comments with your thoughts on this episode. Do you like the love triangle? Can the underground survive the covert invasion being let loose on them? Can Marcos recover his relationship with Lorna? Are you excited for what is to come?

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