The Gifted is back! Are we excited? I know I am. I didn’t have the honor of reviewing season one, but I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to review season two. My relationship with The Gifted started from a skeptical place — long before season one aired. I am a comic book fan. I grew up with The X-Men cartoon from the nineties and, from there, discovered the actual comic books. In my high school years, the original X-Men film franchise was just starting, and I quickly became obsessed with that as well. I have watched every animated version of the X-Men that has ever aired on television. So, when I heard a live action show was coming, I was worried.
Early news indicated lesser known, yet still familiar, mutants surrounding a pair of sibling mutants that seemed to be original creations. Now, I am not a comic book fan who expects a literal interpretation of every panel of every issue of X-Men, but when you’ve got a wide and varied universe like the X-Men that’s full of diverse characters, I see no reason to focus on original characters. There was some question and many theories about who those siblings could be. So, I went into the pilot curious but wary.
I quickly figured out that The Gifted was utilizing the X-Men universe better than the current film franchise. The mutants featured on this series have long been deserving of a bit of the spotlight, and the show took it a step further by fleshing them out beyond their comic book origins. The incorporation of Fenris was well done, and while Andy and Lauren are original characters I never minded them. They were an expansion of established characters within the universe, and their journey was compelling.
Character after character was handled well enough to please both comic book fans and television viewers — that is a tricky feat. There’s another network I know that could stand to learn a thing or two from the team behind The Gifted. It’s possible to pay respect to the source material while creating a fresh and original story that pleases television audiences. It can be done — and it can be done eXceptionally well.
All of this is to say that while I began this journey as a skeptic, I ended it as a true believer. The series’ first season ended with the split of our core group, and it was heartbreaking to watch. But no matter what side you agree with, you can sympathize with both. That’s what makes The Gifted an amazing show. When it comes to these characters, the superpowers are second to the humanity. Season one exceeded all my expectations and delivered a poignant and entertaining story.
The Gifted earned this second season, and I am ecstatic that we get sixteen more episodes with this found family of mutants. If season one was any indication, then we’re in for a suspenseful and emotional season two. I cannot wait to go down this road with all of you. So, let’s get started. My review of the season two premiere starts now.
The episode begins where the first seasons ends, and we meet Reeva Payge as she speaks to the Hellfire Club. It is established that the Frost Sisters were following her orders, and we learn quickly that Reeva is not to be trifled with. When things do not go her way, the meeting becomes a slaughter. I learned that she is going to be an adversary that I will love to fear. She is ruthless, charismatic, and sympathetic all at once.
She is everything I want from an antagonist.
Reeva is new to The Gifted, but from minute one, she feels like a threat. Grace Byers portrays her with a steely control that makes her razor-sharp. I cannot wait to find out where she leads the Inner Circle; and I am eager to see her control pushed to its limits and find out what it looks like when that control snaps. I have a feeling that’s where we’ll be at the end of these sixteen episodes.
From that firing squad of a meeting, we jump ahead six months; now, we catch up with our core group from last season. We see a very pregnant Polaris, played by Emma Dumont, who in one look portrays wistful longing to utter perfection. Lorna spends the episode torn between her new life and her old one. She doesn’t fully trust the Inner Circle, and she’s feeling alone. She wants Marcos and her family from the Mutant Underground by her side. Lorna is scared of the future and yearning for the past. Dumont as Polaris is relatable and sensitive, and the fact that she can carry that off with such confidence and poise is nothing less than extraordinary.
Next, we see Andy Strucker, portrayed by Percy Hynes White, who looks as though he’s trying too hard to resemble his sister. Andy was not my favorite character last season. He suffered from the typical angst that writers feel all teenagers must go through. The character very much reminded me of Harry Potter while he struggled in Order of the Phoenix, which I also did not enjoy. But I will admit, Andy seems to have grown emotionally in six months.
I love the way White plays Andy in this episode, and I adore that the writers paired Andy and Lorna. Dumont and White do an excellent job of portraying their relationship. They are both new to the Inner Circle and relying on each other. There is a layer of trust between them that neither will share with Reeva or the Frost Sisters.
Andy and Lorna have an interesting, sibling-like chemistry, and having the two of them alone together gives us something new to explore in The Gifted season two. The way they joke and support each other tells me that this combination is going to be fun.
The next thing we see is a raid on an apartment complex where a large group of mutants are living. We learn that the Struckers, John, Marcos, and Clarice have been rescuing mutants who manage to escape Sentinel Services raids. One of the first things we get a glimpse of is Lauren and Clarice working together, and let me tell you: I am here for it.
I felt for most of season one that Lauren was a bit too goody two-shoes — too perfect. But in “eMergence,” her conversation with Blink gave her more personality than ever. She has grit and determination, but she’s growing a hard edge. Natalie Alyn Lind showcased that growth and change in The Gifted‘s season premiere. Lauren can only improve from this point on. Her family and her world are changing around her, and we are just now seeing the effect it has on her.
From the very beginning of this series, Clarice has been one of my absolute favorite characters; and this episode was no different. She counsels, supports, and is altogether warm while never losing her snark. It’s a delicate balance that Jamie Chung handles with grace. In Chung’s hands, Clarice is becoming a leader and allowing herself to connect to others. That’s a long way from where she began in the pilot.
Reed and Caitlin are both seen at a clinic helping the mutants who escaped the raid. Caitlin still impresses me as a non-mutant who handles her own next to these super-powered people. Her unconditional love for Andy is frustrating but understandable because you know that Caitlin is a good mother. She wants her children to be safe and happy, and she will do anything to see that to fruition.
Caitlin is compassionate toward mutants in a world where abandoning them would benefit her, and I am in awe of her. Amy Acker has always floored me with her ability to play complex women with formidable spirits.
While Caitlin is working in the clinic, Reed appears to be monitoring police frequencies and forging documents. He is as torn as Caitlin; but this season, he seems to be the parent that is acknowledging his children’s freedom. At times The Gifted‘s first season, Reed felt overbearing. Now, he seems to understand that Andy made a choice for himself, and he is also pushing Lauren to live her own life. In the middle of the chaos that his loved ones’ lives have become, he is trying to be a better father.
Reed also seems to have his own secret. I can’t say for certain, but it seems that “cure” his father gave him as a child might be wearing off or causing some sort of negative side effect. It’s a mystery that I am curious to see solved. Moyer plays it brilliantly, leaving you both concerned for his well-being and angry at him for keeping it to himself. It’s a thread that will be intriguing to watch as the season continues.
It is important to note that both Caitlin and Reed could potentially abandon this cause and find a life somewhere else. They do not have abilities, and they are not a part of a persecuted people. They choose to stay and help. That alone makes them both admirable. They gave up everything to keep their family together in season one, and watching Moyer and Acker perform as parents who feel lost in this world of mutants, aliases and fugitives speaks to the heart of this show. It’s about family — the family you are born to, the family you create. and the family you fight for.
The family theme carries over to Marcos. Marcos wants to do the right thing; he wants to choose the right side of the fight. He’s been on the wrong side before and he won’t do that again. But he also wants to be there for Lorna and his baby. Marcos wants to be a good father and is torn apart by the fact that he cannot be that. He is shattered by the distance that’s been created between himself and Lorna by the fight for mutant kind. This character is at the end of his rope; and, as he says, he’s done being careful. Marcos will fight for the Mutant Underground, but he will also fight for Lorna and their family. It is an intricate struggle, and Sean Teale does a phenomenal job showing how raw that conflict leaves Marcos.
John seems to be the most well-adjusted of our main group, but I can tell that eventually he and Marcos will butt heads. I feel like Clarice’s concern about Marcos’ state of mind will be a conflict for him, as well. John has his family with him, but a part of that family is wounded. How he deals with that going forward will define his journey this season.
John and Clarice have clearly found domesticity in the middle of hiding out, and with the way he looks at Blink, you can tell he is truly happy with her. They have faith and trust in each other, and it is delightful to watch. Blair Redford gave us new shades to John, all of which were joyful and content. He smiled more in this episode than I think he did in all of season one. I hope beyond hope that we get to see more of that before the drama of The Gifted season two truly begins to unfold.
Overall, this was an exceptional start to The Gifted season two. Just when I thought this show couldn’t get any better, it delivers an episode like “eMergence.” It’s an episode that speaks to all the ways family can build you up and break you down. It showcases that this world is not black and white, that every issue is nuanced. You can want the same things but disagree with how they should be achieved. You can love someone and disagree with their decisions. You can miss someone and be furious with them all at once. Our lives are complicated. and our emotions are even more so. But in the end, the thing we all should remember is that we are all human.
We may come from different backgrounds, and not one of us faces the exact same issues — but we all feel triumph and defeat. We all have family, whether we were born to it or we found it for ourselves. We are not identical; but we are similar. We may not agree, but we all feel.
The lesson of The Gifted is that compassion makes us the society we should be. Understanding for our fellow man will make us great. Pausing to learn about another person and their way of life is not an inconvenience or a waste of time, it is necessary. With compassion we will go far; without it, we will victimize innocents.
It is a concept that is more relevant now than ever before and a message that the entertainment industry needs to spread. We need it ingrained in as many things the masses consume as it possibly can be. Showing concern for those who are shunned or dismissed by the majority may put you in the middle of a fight, but if it does, you can rest assured that it will be a fight worth winning. You may find yourself persecuted by both sides as the Mutant Underground is; but the more you care about people, the more you will positively impact the world — and the more the fight will be worth it.
The Gifted is on television at exactly the right moment in time, and I hope it entertains and informs. I want it to continue to give us an empathetic look at a world where people who are simply born different are ostracized, so that people will see the reality of the world reflected in it. So that we might face the worst parts of our humanity and change it. This show is exposing all of humanity’s worst flaws and greatest attributes.
So, am I excited for the rest of The Gifted season two? Absolutely. Let’s take this ride together, you and me, and explore the ways we can fight the good fight and effect change. While we’re at it, let’s watch a strong diverse cast perform to the best of their ability and entertain us with marvelous mutant powers. (See what I did there?) I’m in for all of it: the fights, the drama, the romance, and the angst.
So, bring it on, Fox and Matt Nix. I’m ready and waiting.
The Gifted airs on Tuesdays at 8/7C on FOX.