My biggest fear regarding this episode of The Gifted was that – well, obviously, that it wouldn’t live up to an exceptional Pilot, but also that I wouldn’t learn more about the characters – that they would go plot heavy. I like my X-Men and I like my action, but I watch TV to connect to characters, to their journeys. I felt an inkling of connecting with many of these people as they were introduced to me, and if, before the episode, you’d asked me for one hope for “rX” it would have been for the show to build on that, to make me care.
I’m very happy to say Mission Accomplished.
And not just because Lorna was there, to be my beacon in the darkness, to be my mutant warrior princess. If I’d needed her to, I have no doubt Emma Dumont would have saved the day, and the show. Thing is, I don’t need her to. She’s a shining star, yes, but she’s not the only one who’s shining brightly.
To which I can only say: Hallelujah.
So, let’s get on with the double standards, the not-so-hidden political undertones and the family feels in “rX”:
One thing I appreciate about this show it that it doesn’t shy away from the double standards involved in the Strucker’s decision to not just support their children, but to basically go rogue for them. Sure, from our point of view, what else were they going to do – but we soon learn from Marcos that there’s an easy answer to that. They could have just kicked their kids out.
His parents did it, after all.
Even in the flashbacks, though, there’s a sense that Reed Strucker was never the man we thought he was, the hard-ass, no-nonsense prosecutor who didn’t care for anything or anyone. Sure, he wasn’t about to put his ass – or his family – on the line to help others, but he wasn’t actively trying to hunt them either, as his first appearence might have indicated. There was always a heart there; it didn’t just grow six sizes when his kids were revealed as mutants.
“It’s not a crime to be a mutant,” he tells Agent Turner, and last episode I might have thought he only believed that, but this episode peels off a layer I didn’t even know was there and makes me, if possible, even more interested, not just in what’s happening now, but in what these people went through before this moment.
Especially because – the thing about Reed is that, at various times, he seems to be overplaying his hand. Then he accuses Agent Turner of doing the same. But, is he? Or is he playing a deeper game than we might think? At this point, I’m not ruling anything out. I already underestimated Moyer (and the writers) once. I’m not making that mistake again.
Mutant is a very easy metaphor, and if we thought the show was going to go easy on the political commentary, we were dead wrong. This episode makes it really clear not only that mutants are being hunted mainly because of fear – it also draws a clear line in the morality sand when Marcos asks Caitlin: “If it wasn’t your kids, would you be standing up for them. Would your husband?”
Because the answer is, very clearly, no. At least, not the Caitlin Strucker of before. Maybe not the Reed Strucker of before. But things have changed.
Oh, how have they.
When she’s still trying to justify herself, Caitlin uses a line that is a clear callback to the best excuses against racism. How can he be against mutants, his children are mutant, she says. Marcos, rightly, calls her out on it. “But some of his best friends are mutants?” he asks, in that oh really tone, and Caitlin doesn’t get it, not then, but we do.
Discrimination looks way too familiar in this day and age.
Just in case the message wasn’t clear, though, there’s the doctor talking about the X gene and violence, which of course, bothers a scientist like Caitlin. And then there’s Marcos pointing out that the so-called rights the mutants have can be easily taken away with just the mere suspicion of danger – a clear parallel to cops claiming that violence is necessary because they fear for their lives.
The message is clear, and yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t striking. Discrimination is born out of fear. We fear what we don’t understand. And, sometimes – most times, really – the reactions born out of fear are not good. And yes, there are good people helping, but more often than not, there are people, like Reed and Catilin Strucker, who just never dared to question the status quo, because questioning it was not in their best interest.
We might not have mutants in our world – but we can and should still take something away from The Gifted. We can’t remain silent while the world collapses around us. We have a voice, and even if we can’t do anything else, we can use it.
And we should.
“A lot of people have been fighting this fight for a long time, and now it’s our turn,” Caitlin Strucker says, near the end of the episode, and I didn’t expect her to be here, delivering the hope speech, I didn’t expect her to be the one to risk her life – I didn’t expect her to be the one who’s willing to do anything and everything – but hard times call for desperate measures.
And these are, without a doubt, hard times. And, just as Caitlin Strucker, we might, one day, we called to help those being discriminated against. May we make the same choice she made.
Things You Were Also Thinking:
- I’d totally use my mutant powers to beat my little brother at bowling. Totally.
- And I really, really wouldn’t wish Clarice’s powers on anyone.
- “Mom, it’s okay. I can do this.” Lauren is a badass.
- Also, everyone is really, really pretty.
- No gratuitous nudity, thankyousoverymuch.
- I want to shower and have the dye come out of my hair but my eye-shadow game to remain on point. What brand of makeup is that?
- Also, GREEN HAIR.
- I’d laugh at the pre-existing condition jibe, but it hits too close to home.
- WHAT’S THE MARCOS AND LORNA SHIP NAME? I SHIP IT. BAD.
- What are you up to, Reed? What are you up to?
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