The Gifted wrapped its 13 episode season 1 with an order from FOX for a second season, though it it had difficulty scoring the ratings the network expected for a comic book superhero series based upon the popular X-Men movies. Because The Gifted is set in an alternate universe from the films, the lack of actual X-Men characters like Wolverine, Storm or even Professor X appearing likely hurt fan interest in the series. The Gifted also suffered from creative issues; the series had trouble building and sustaining momentum and living up to its potential.
However, The Gifted also did quite a number of things right. With 13 hours to tell its tale, The Gifted presented the most complex and provocative exploration of any X-Men adaptation of what it would be like to live in a world where mutants not only exist, but their civil liberties are continually threatened. Also threatened are ordinary people, who share this world with untold numbers of beings possessed of potentially devastating superpowers. Seen through the eyes of a seemingly ‘ordinary family’, the Struckers, who discover their children are mutants and are forced to become refugees indoctrinated into the Mutant Underground, The Gifted offered no easy answers to the plight of those born with the X-Gene, for better or worse.
With a strong cast portraying both the mutants of the Underground and the human government agents hunting them, The Gifted delivered some powerful and unforgettable moments that harken to the time honored themes of the X-Men. Here are the best moments of The Gifted season 1:
ANDY STRUCKER UNLEASHES HIS POWER
Mutants in The Gifted know that their powers are both a blessing and a curse. For Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White), they were definitely both when he first discovered them after he was bullied during a school dance. No longer able to tolerate the abuse, Andy fully unleashed his mutant ability – the power to unleash a destructive telekinetic field – for the first time; he not only terrified and injured his bullies, he literally demolished his school’s rest room and ruptured its walls. His older sister Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind), who is also a mutant, got her brother home, but the die was cast: from then on, Lauren and Andy were considered mutant terrorists and were now targets of Sentinel Services.
FIRST SENTINELS ATTACK
Sentinel Services, the government agency with broad powers to hunt down and imprison mutants designated as terrorists by any means necessary, are the primary antagonists of the Mutant Underground throughout season 1. They’re led by Jace Turner (Coby Bell), for whom hunting mutants is a very personal issue. Sentinel Services not only utilize the Hounds – mutants who have been captured and mentally reconditioned against their own kind – true to their comic book roots, Sentinel Services also have robots at their disposal.
Unlike the giant purple robots seen in the comics and films, Sentinel Services’ Spider Sentinels are terrifying, multi-legged machines that can adapt to the powers of the mutants they are tracking. We first see the Spider Sentinels in the pilot and they get destroyed by the Mutant Underground, but later in the season, they returned, deadlier than ever.
While mutant powers can be devastating, they can also be beautiful. One of The Gifted‘s themes is what happens when mutants combine their powers. In the case of lovers Lorna “Polaris” Dane (Emma Dumont) and Marcos “Eclipse” Diaz (Sean Teale), two leaders of the Mutant Underground, their powers can combine into something visually stunning.
In a flashback to their sweet early courtship, Polaris joined her green-hued magnetic powers to Eclipse’s bright solar light for the first time and created an Aurora Borealis effect. By the time The Gifted‘s first season began, Lorna would be pregnant with Marcos’ baby, but their relationship would be tested many times over.
PREJUDICE AGAINST MUTANTS
An incident during a mutants civil rights protest in Dallas on July 15, 2013 turned into a tragedy when the mutants unleashed their powers and thousands died – including Jace Turner’s daughter Grace. The day forever known as 7/15 turned public sentiment and soon laws against the mutants. The Gifted shows the prejudice, discrimination, and hatred mutants were subjected to far better than any of the X-Men movies. Every primary mutant character in the series was shown dealing with and usually being forced to run from ‘ordinary’ people who outright hate and fear them.
This includes Clarice “Blink” Fong (Jamie Chung), who was publicly threatened by an anti-mutant group calling itself the Purifiers. The Purifiers even set Clarice’s car on fire, suffering no consequences, which briefly led her to work with the Brotherhood before joining the Mutant Underground.
The Gifted makes very clear how difficult it is to be a mutant in this universe. To her credit, Blink is one of the most engaging characters in The Gifted, and the trials she continues to endure thankfully haven’t erased her dry, acerbic wit.
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