The Gifted delivers a strong episode with ‘eXodus’ that plays to the series’ episodic strengths and teases a dark path for a Strucker child.

FOX’s The Gifted occupies an interesting space in the ever-expanding (eXpanding?) comic book television universe; one that allows it access to many of Marvel’s mutants without the expectations and high cost that comes with having certain high-profile characters headlining a network TV show. The X-Men’s past (at least some version of it) is The Gifted‘s, and the show is determined to mine that past for everything it’s worth. More than just off-handed references to a national tragedy involving the X-Men, and the occasional near name-drop here or there (last week the show eschewed specific mention of a pair of mutants and instead chose to allude to fair-haired siblings of interest Garret Dillahunt’s Dr. Roderick Campbell) the series is making good use of the pop-cultural shorthand that exists when talking about the comic book characters, especially when it comes time to illustrate the temptation for these powerful people to no longer play the underdog.

That much is true with the series’ third outing ‘eXodus’, which again plays to the episodic strengths of showrunner Matt Nix and his writers, giving each thread of the rapidly unraveling Strucker family tapestry an equal part to play in the drama. But what stands out about the hour is how quickly The Gifted introduces the idea that one its newest mutants has begun to get a handle on his powers and has come to believe he should use them as he sees fit, going well beyond merely defending himself and others when the moment arises.

Related: The Gifted Premiere Effectively Blends Family Drama With Marvel’s Merry Mutants

Of course, we’re talking about Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White), who has gone from bullied high school student to mutant on the run to proposing a full on bank robbery to fund his family’s flight from Sentinel Services. It’s a rapid progression and one that’s actually made more interesting because of just how quickly he’s begun to take a side on the familiar distinction between those with the X gene and those without. He may be a newbie when it comes to being a mutant, but Andy sees just how strange it is for those who can shatter parking meters with their mind, open portals, or project solar energy from their fingertips to be on the run from those who can barely muster up the decency to be polite on the phone when Garret Dillahunt calls.

Blair Redford Natalie Alyn Lind Percy Hynes White and Sean Teale in The Gifted The Gifted: One of the Strucker Children May Be Headed Down a Dark Path

It would be too soon to call Andy a villain in the making, but his fiery temper and actions in ‘eXodus’ certainly bear a strong resemblance to a certain firebrand in Bryan Singer’s X2. Aaron Stanford’s Pyro also started out as one of the ostensible good guys until he began to see things differently and took up with Magneto. There’s no Magneto (Professor X or X-Men) in this universe, so Andy’s progression down this potentially dark path is going to be solo for the time being. It’s something that Nix and his writers can tease out for the foreseeable future, as it’s clear Andy’s actions are a response to his family’s increasingly dire situation – one that he sees and incredibly unfair – and the realization that after being relegated to the role of victim (who knows how long he was subjected to the kind of bullying we saw in the pilot?) he’s now in possession of some fairly destructive abilities. Each episode seems to show more of what his somewhat vague telekinetic powers are capable of. Mix that with the emotionally confusing time that is adolescence and you’ve got a recipe (Marvel would know) for trouble.

Of course, there’s still the matter of the characters’ surname and whether or not Strucker relates Andy and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) to the von Struckers from the comics and if Fenris is in anyway in The Gifted‘s future. It seems the series already made mention that the “blonde-haired, blue-eyed siblings of European descent,” – presumably Andrea and Andreas von Strucker – but the continued interest in the mutant siblings by Dillahunt’s Dr. Campbell suggests a connection, and the reveal is likely on the horizon. And considering the display of how certain mutant powers interact with one another, as when Polaris and Eclipse created an Aurora Borealis-like effect simply by touching, it seems like a strong possibility that Dr. Campbell is interested in finding out whether Andy and Lauren’s mutant abilities have a similarly cooperative component.

Amy Acker Blair Redford and Sean Teale in The Gifted The Gifted: One of the Strucker Children May Be Headed Down a Dark Path

Whatever Dr. Campbell’s interest in the siblings, and wherever Andy’s emotional state of mind takes him next, in its third week The Gifted once again delivers a compelling episode of television that finds the right balance between action and family drama. If the show continues at this pace, it’ll quickly become the superhero TV show comic book fans need to be watching.

Around The X-Verse

Blair Redford’s Thunderbird and Jaime Chung’s Blink are quickly becoming The Gifted standouts, and not just because Elena Satine’s Dreamer Inceptioned a romance between them as a way of coaxing the latter into harnessing her powers. The introduction of a tricky romantic subplot was pretty much a foregone conclusion on the show, but the writers have found a nice way to make the problem a uniquely X-Men one.

Stephen Moyer ratcheted back the menace a bit in ‘eXodus’ to better capture the desperation of a man trying to protect his family while also realizing just how many innocent people are affected by the policies he once helped enforce. The shift from powerful to powerless actually puts him on a track that’s completely opposite of the one his children are on, and hopefully The Gifted continues to find ways to feed into that contrast as the series continues.

Polaris takes flight courtesy of the accessories at Hot Topic.

Next: The Gifted Turns the X-Men’s Disappearance Into a Tragedy

The Gifted continues next Monday ‘eXit strategy’ @8pm on FOX. Check out a promo below:

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