tek's rating: ½

The Gifted, FOX, Tuesdays 8pm
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Caution: Spoilers.

This is apparently connected to the X-Men movies, but set in "an alternate timeline where the X-Men have disappeared." And neither the movies nor the show are going to make any particular effort to acknowledge or fit in with each other's events, so I'm not even sure what the point is of saying it's connected to the film franchise. In any event, since I don't read X-Men comics, I'm not familiar with any of the characters on the show. Also, after watching the first season, I had to figure out where to put my review. I could have gone with my "super heroes" section, since it's based on comic books... but that doesn't feel right to me, because none of the good guys on this show have any chance to do any remotely super-heroic stuff, since they're mostly staying in hiding and fighting for their very survival. I could have gone with "action," like I did with another comics based series, "Agents of SHIELD" (to which this show is completely unconnected), but despite there being a fair amount of action in the series, it doesn't really feel to me like an action show. Or I could have gone with "drama," like I did with "Gotham." There's definitely a lot of drama in this series. But ultimately I decided on "paranormal," because that's where I had put my review of "The Tomorrow People," another (unrelated) show with a similar premise.

Season one
Anyway, there's a mutant named Clarice Fong, aka "Blink" (Jamie Chung), who can create portals, which she used to escape from prison in Atlanta. She's pursued by police, but is rescued by members of the Mutant Underground. In the process, another mutant named Lorna Dane, aka "Polaris" (Emma Dumont, whom I know from Aquarius) is captured by the police. Her case will be prosecuted by District Attorney Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer, from True Blood). Reed, meanwhile, is married to a nurse named Caitlin (Amy Acker), and they have two teenaged kids, Andy and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind, whom I know from several episodes of Gotham). Andy is often picked on by bullies, and one night while they're beating him up during a school dance, his mutant ability manifests, causing a great deal of damage to the building. It then turns out that Lauren has known for some time that she herself is a mutant, with the ability to project force fields. Andy and Lauren will both be blamed for what happened at the school, because despite there being supposed laws in place to protect mutants' rights, it's still illegal to do any damage or harm with a mutant ability, even if it's accidental (and/or in self-defense, apparently). So, Sentinel Services, the law enforcement agency that deals with mutants, shows up at the Struckers' house to take them into custody. The kids and their mother manage to get away and go on the run, and Caitlin calls Reed to tell him what has happened. Reed then makes a deal with a member of the Mutant Underground named Marcos Diaz, aka "Eclipse." Reed will help get Lorna (Marcos's girlfriend) out of prison in exchange for the Underground taking in his kids and protecting them from Sentinel Services. The four Struckers later meet up with Marcos and Clarice, the latter of whom opens a portal to get the Struckers to their hideout. Unfortunately, Sentinel Services show up and capture Reed. So his family may be safe, for now, but he's no longer in any position to fulfill his promise to get Lorna out of prison. Reed undergoes interrogation by an agent named Jace Turner. However, it's not long before events allow Reed to get away and rejoin his family in the Underground. Also, the Underground eventually manages to help Lorna escape from Sentinel Services. Subsequently, she trains some of the younger mutants (including Lauren and Andy) to better control their powers.

There are a few other members of the Mutant Underground who we get to know, to various degrees. The leader is John Proudstar, aka "Thunderbird." We also get to know John's girlfriend, Sonya Simonson, aka "Dreamer." And a woman named Sage, who works with computers, which she mainly uses to keep tabs on the authorities' efforts to find the Mutant Underground. And... for now, those are the ones who seem most important. At one point, Sonya uses her telepathic power to give Clarice one of her own memories of her relationship with John, because it was necessary in a crisis situation to help Clarice use her power to rescue John. Unfortunately, this left Clarice with romantic feelings for John that weren't her own, but which she couldn't shake. This naturally made her angry at Sonya, and would make Clarice unsure if she should even remain with the Underground. Meanwhile, there's a research company called Trask Industries, the head of which is Dr. Roderick Campbell (Garret Dillahunt). Trask sometimes does some joint work with Sentinel Services, so Campbell will have some interaction with Agent Turner. Campbell has developed a project where he basically brainwashes mutants into serving his interests. These mutants are called "Hounds," and Sentinel Services uses them against renegade mutants. Campbell is also particularly interested in getting his hands on Lauren and Andy Strucker, because they are the great grandchildren of Andreas Von Strucker. Andreas and his sister Andrea were mutants known together as "Fenris," who could combine their individual powers, which multiplied them exponentially. They were also members of a terrorist mutant group called the Hellfire Club. Campbell wants to study Lauren and Andy to see if their own abilities can be combined the same way their ancestors' could, and he also hopes to find a way to use that knowledge to combine powers in his Hounds.

Eventually, the Underground rescues some refugee mutants, including a telepath named Esme Frost (Skyler Samuels, whom I know from Scream Queens). She later uses her ability to manipulate various members of the Underground to help liberate her family from Sentinel Services (or Trask Industries, I don't remember which). It turns out that she is one of three identical triplets, who want to rebuild the Hellfire Club. (Samuels also plays Esme's sisters, Sophie and Phoebe.) Unlike the Underground, they have no compunctions about killing humans, so most of the main mutants in the Underground don't trust them. However, they do end up needing to work together. And one or another of the Frosts, at various times, speak privately with various members of the Underground, trying to convince them to join. Most importantly, the Frosts are interested in Lorna, whom they believe is the daughter of an unnamed member of the old Hellfire Club, who was considered "royalty." (It's fairly obvious that the show is hinting that her father was Magneto, though that name is never specifically used.) Lorna doesn't seem particularly inclined to believe them. However, she does sometimes feel that the Underground isn't doing enough to try to change the world's bigotry against mutants. This can lead to some disagreements between her and Marcos. They do both want to build a better world for their unborn child. (Oh yeah, I guess I didn't mention that Lorna was pregnant. That's something that happened before the series even started, though by the end of season one, not enough time has passed for her to be showing, yet.) But they disagree on how to go about building that better world.

Well... eventually, Campbell does get his chance to experiment on Lauren and Andy. He also murders Sonya. And he develops technology to combine Hounds' powers. But before long, the Struckers get away. At the end of the season, Campbell convinces an anti-mutant U.S. senator named Montez to help him gain government support for his own plans. Meanwhile, the Underground tries to abduct Campbell from a conference, but fail. (Campbell points a gun at one of a group of children to stop the mutants from attacking him, though it doesn't seem like anyone else notices him doing this. That scene in particular pissed me off so hard, because it so clearly encapsulates how villains can be seen as good guys and good guys be seen as villains.) Subsequently, the Frosts convince Lorna to use her power to destroy a plane Campbell and Montez are on. Meanwhile, Turner leads a Sentinel Services task force to find and attack the Underground's secret headquarters, which Lauren and Andy end up destroying to cover the mutants' escape. Everyone later regroups at a mutant way station in Nashville, where the Frosts and Lorna then show up and ask for various mutants to come with them to join the Hellfire Club. Several people leave with them, including Andy sand Sage. Meanwhile, Turner's boss blames him for the failed assault on the Mutant Underground, which leads Turner to quit his job.

Well, I've left out lots of details, throughout the 13-episode season. But I definitely thought it was a good show. Of course, the public's mistrust and persecution of the X-Men has always been a good metaphor for pretty much any sort of bigotry you care to name. And I think that makes this show particularly timely, in an era where there's lots of unjust hatred of various groups in the real world. And I look forward to seeing how things progress when the second season starts.

Season two
Details coming soon, possibly.

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