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The Gifted: boXed in

Season 1, Episode 5
Written by Jim Campolongo
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

“We’re going to have a weird kid.”

This week’s episode of The Gifted proves the old adage that trying to win a war is like trying to win an earthquake. Casualties ensue no matter which side you’re on.

This week’s show begins as the SS closes in on mutant headquarters. When Strucker and Lorna escaped from custody last week, they probably didn’t realize it was only going to be the beginning of an even bigger conflict. The SS sends out drones and sets up a dragnet to try to locate them, while simultaneously mounting a citywide crackdown on all mutants. A drone chases Lorna and Marcos as they try to get back to headquarters without the SS zeroing in on them. This hardly seems like the time to talk about their unborn baby, but in mutant reality you take your romance wherever you can. Plus there’s something really awesome about a soon-to-be mom who can hover a car mirror in the air while her partner directs a beam of light at it to incinerate a drone. That is one bad ass baby mama.

Though they destroy the drone, Lorna and Marcos run into a police blockade. Lorna uses her magnetic powers to force Marcos to drive right up to it. Then she magnetizes all the metal in the guns, bullets, and cars to disable the SS. She even takes the lead SS dude, Turner, hostage.

Lorna and Marcos hole up in an old warehouse, where Lorna secures Turner by snaking heavy gauge re-rod out of the wall and giving him a karma collar, pinning him to the wall by his neck. She wants to know all about how the SS is turning mutants against their own kind and getting them to work for the SS. Though her techniques seem extreme, Lorna understands immediately that any and every mutant can be weaponized by the SS. Turner plays hard ass, though. He tells them about how his seven-year-old daughter died in the July 15 debacle. It’s clear that her death drives him to seek revenge. Though his loss does not make Turner sympathetic, it does make his actions understandable.

Because Turner refuses to tell Lorna anything about how the SS is getting mutants to work for them, Lorna calls upon Dreamer to come and see what she can find out by searching his memories. Clarice opens a portal and she and Dreamer arrive at the warehouse just before the SS forces surround it. Turner assumes that they plan to torture him. They don’t: Dreamer intends to just fish around in his memory for the information they need. But with the SWAT team preparing to invade the warehouse, she runs out of time.

Dreamer’s memory magic leads to two unintended casualties. The first happens as Dreamer works on Turner. Clarice suspects, then realizes that Dreamer implanted a memory of an intimate connection between Clarice and Johnny that didn’t really exist. She watches horrified as Dreamer addles Turner’s mind, knowing that some similar process was used on her, too. The second and even more horrible casualty occurs when the SWAT team converges on the warehouse and Dreamer has to abruptly leave Turner without completing her memory work. She leaves him scrambled and confused, to the point that he forgets that his daughter is dead. Though she never meant to torture him, she inadvertently causes him to go through that terrible loss again. Even Turner’s wife suffers; she not only has to tell Turner that their daughter died four years previously, she has to convince him that it is true.

Kate’s nursing background makes her the only available medic at mutant headquarters. She works to save a mutant who was shot by police last week. She even recruits her children to help her as she performs surgery to remove a bullet. She uses Andy as the donor in an improvised blood transfusion. Though she successfully removes the bullet, her efforts nick an artery, causing a major hemorrhage. Lauren uses her power to create a kind of clamp to stop the bleeding. Working together, they save the patient. Even their efforts, however noble, don’t change the way the rest of the mutants feel about Reed Strucker, though.

Strucker makes it back to headquarters and reunites with his wife and kids. While they are certainly happy to see him, the mutants don’t feel so welcoming. His former job as prosecutor/persecutor presents a huge problem. Most of the mutants don’t trust him. A few think he should be punished. And one beats the crap out of him, or at least tries to.

Strucker tries to prove his worth, though, and gets a chance when he helps the mutants understand the weird radio silence that occurs citywide. The police figure that the mutants are listening, so they start coding all of their communications. He interprets the codes the police are using on their radios and shows them on a map where the SS forces are. Unfortunately, the SS moves closer and closer to the headquarters. Because of the extensive police presence throughout the city, evacuation will just result in capture. Strucker knows that he has to prove himself to these people. Having mutant kids doesn’t excuse all the things that he’s done, in the mutants’ eyes. Knowing the SS strategy, he volunteers to act as a decoy to draw the search pattern away from the headquarters. He walks the streets, making sure that he’s seen by traffic cameras and passersby so that the SS divert their resources to recapturing him.

Unfortunately for Strucker, his getaway driver is the bar for owner that Strucker nearly gave up to the SS. He holds a grudge. He only agrees very reluctantly to help with Strucker’s decoy plan. In fact, it looks like he bails on picking Strucker up at the appointed meet, leaving him to get scooped up by the police. He does arrive at the rendezvous point at the right time, but he’s made not only himself but his car invisible. Strucker only finds him because he literally bumps into the cloaked car.

Strucker, Lorna, Clarice, and Marcos successfully return to headquarters. Kate’s patient looks like he’s going to live. But you can’t win a war without causing damage. Though the mutants really only want to live with the same rights and freedoms as non-gifted humans, their powers frighten people. They also hurt people. Though those powers may often only be used in defense, that doesn’t mean that they don’t cause terrible destruction. Likewise, the humans feel besieged and justify their oppressive actions by claiming that their safety is at stake. Neither side is completely wrong, nor are they completely right. As the conflict between the mutants and the humans escalates, more damage accumulates and more resentment builds. Eventually each side will do things that justify the other’s outrage. And that is perhaps the greatest casualty in this war.

The Gifted can be watched for the simple unfolding of a very dramatic story of conflict between two different kinds of people. But there’s no doubt that it also touches upon deeper themes that resonate outside of the TV screen. Tonight’s episode highlighted both hope for the future, in the form of Lorna and Marcos’ baby, and grief and rage going forward into that same future, as exemplified by Turner’s loss of his daughter. That makes for a very compelling storyline far beyond a basic mutants versus humans battle.

Grade: B+

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Amy Anna was raised by wolves. She spends all her time eating and watching movies while lying on the couch . Her animal totem is the velociraptor.