This Week on TV, Nov. 3, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

You know, back when I was following half a dozen shows or more, I pretty much never had a week where there was nothing for me to comment on. I mean, obviously, outside the Summer Break and the Winter Drought (the holiday season). But last week, with me still unable to properly watch Black Lightning or Doctor Who in any sort of cost-efficient way (this is still a hobby rather than an income), I was left high and dry when The Gifted skipped it. So, I am quite glad they skipped only the one week. 🙂

Also, good news, we have the date for Gotham‘s final season premiere: January 3! Ooooh, I am excited! 😀

The Gifted

2.05 “afterMath”

After the events of the last episode, it’s like they dropped not only a straw but a cannon ball on the proverbial camel’s back. Mutant protests are breaking out all over the country, mutant haters are responding with force, and the Underground is overloaded with people needing help.

The Inner Circle loves every bit of this, but they haven’t even really begun yet. No, they have plans for something big, something they’re doing very soon. We don’t even see Reeva, for once, as she’s out laying the groundwork for this next step. Which leaves Lorna, Andy, and the Frosts to deal with their latest acquisition.

Her name is Rebecca, and she has the ability to turn things inside out. A very dangerous and useful ability in the hands of any organization, most especially one with violent intentions. Small wonder the Inner Circle went to such lengths to obtain her. But there’s a small problem with their plan: she’s still a human being, not a weapon.

Andy is the one who gets that, even though it’s the Frosts who can enter her mind and see the immense pain and turmoil within. To the Frosts, Rebecca is a weapon, and a pivotal part of their plans, their next operation. To Andy, she’s a girl who just got out of a terrible, terrible place. He makes the effort to bond with her as a person, and it pays off quickly enough. She opens up to him, he shows her around, they even go out and have burgers and milkshakes, and before the day is over, she’s signed on with the organization. Oh, and they kiss. Andy officially has his first girlfriend.

But there’s a small problem with even Andy’s perspective: he doesn’t see how dangerous Rebecca is.

Lorna knows from experience about being in an asylum. It leaves a person scarred and often unstable for a very long time. She may see Rebecca more as a person than the Frosts do, but she also sees the other side of it, which Andy is ignorant of. She lets Andy take Rebecca outside, but cautions him. She was right, there’s a screw loose in Rebecca’s head, as demonstrated when she, just for the fun of it, turns a police car inside out, and in how she pressures Andy to do something. Most especially when she exults in the resulting explosion, without a care in the world for anyone nearby.

There is something seriously wrong when one’s definition of fun can so easily endanger people.

Yes, the asylum was being used to cage innocent mutants, but that does not mean all the mutants within were innocent. Something tells me Rebecca’s time there may have been for valid reasons.

If there’s one good thing about this, it’s how Andy and Lorna both seem to be wrestling with themselves. For Andy, he’s torn about how he just hurt his sister, and it’s entirely possible he’s so keen to help Rebecca in part to make up for that in some way. Lorna, on the other hand, is eying Rebecca as something both dangerous and uncertain. She gets out of the asylum, and within a day she’s supposedly fine? Something’s up. Something is just not right.

Have to agree there, but for now, we depart the Inner Circle and head over the Underground’s corner of things.

Lauren has fortunately escaped her encounter with Andy with little more than a mild concussion. She needs rest, water, something for the headache, but she’ll be fine. Reed takes her home so Cait can focus on helping the injured mutants that just came in, and with that, Reed and Lauren take a back seat for the rest of the episode.

At the clinic, John, Cait, and another doctor try to save the life of a badly-injured mutant man. His blood and sweat are apparently highly acidic, which makes treating his wound all but impossible. When air gets trapped within the flesh of his lungs, they manage to jab a needle in and relieve the pressure, but the acid eats through said needle as well. Even John, usually impervious, is left with injured hands as he helps treat him.

When the man wakes, he turns out to have been a solider, a marine. A man who served his country was locked up by it just for being a mutant, how obscene is that? And he and others in the asylum were kept there because the collars didn’t work on them. It’s hard to keep a prisoner collared when the slave sweats acid that eats through said collar. So, he was sent to the asylum and restrained with drugs instead.

He can’t offer much, but he can name Rebecca and her psychiatrist, something Taylor, so John can figure out the details later. Unfortunately, he can’t stay conscious for very long, and treatment is complicated entirely when some unexpected and unwelcome company arrives: Purifiers.

And here we have Turner again. He comes to a Purifier meeting, complete with coffee and donuts, and listens to them. But he does more than that, he speaks up. He sees the danger to their cause in the simple plan of counter-protesting, because that’ll just help the narrative of oppressed mutants and hateful Purifiers. I mean, it happens to be the truth, but since when does that matter?

Turner, it turns out, has been part of mutant oppression from the first day on the job. As a rookie officer, he was paired with a veteran who, effectively, taught him to attack innocent mutants. A boy was waiting for a ride, just standing there, and the officer confronted him, tased him, and had Turner cuff him. So, really, it’s not just Turner losing his daughter that’s driven him to hurt mutants. He’s been doing that all along.

Now, in the present, he’s leading Purifiers, again from his first day among them. Instead of using violence against mutants, he suggests they raid all the mutant-friendly clinics, as there were escaped asylum inmates which were injured. The plan: find the mutants, report them, get them arrested again, and thus show the world that the Purifiers are part of the solution, not the problem.

They invade the clinic. The nurse out front and the doctor and everyone else is owed some serious credit for barring the way even when violence is both threatened and used against them. These people are real heroes, not only healing the sick and the injured universally, but putting their own lives on the line standing against the Purifiers’ hatred. Bravo.

Unfortunately, there is some damage done before the cops arrive. Staff are hurt, the facility turned upside-down, files stolen, and the soldier who sweats acid doesn’t make it. He, too, made a choice, and silently demanded the same of Cait. When John wanted to charge out of their hiding spot to fight the Purifiers, protect their friends, and get the marine to a hospital, Cait and the marine said no. Cait doesn’t want Turner to know they’re still alive (not knowing he already knows it and just hasn’t been listened to) and they can’t afford to lose the clinic like that. The marine tells John the mission comes first. That is the way of the soldier, to give their all, if need be, for the mission. He, too, is a hero.

John hates that they’ve lost again, but Cait can only offer the comfort that they know a little more than they did for more. It was not for nothing. They can make certain of that themselves.

So, once again, the Underground is trying to help people, and Turner is leading the charge against them.

Elsewhere, Marcos and Clarice have a ton of escaped mutants needing help to deal with. They don’t have the resources to protect so many new arrivals all at once, so they turn to the Morlocks for aid.

Clarice is able to appeal to Urg, partially because she’s holding up her end as his spy. Urg is reluctant, and he hates taking part in the Underground’s efforts partially because he doesn’t believe in what they’re doing. It’s a bit of insight into his character, where he doesn’t hold at all with the Inner Circle’s vision of mutant supremacy because of the wanton bloodshed it will certainly result in, and he doesn’t buy the dream of the X-Men and the Underground about coexistence. His concern lies in the practicalities of survival.

There’s something to be said for that, of course, especially as he seems to be successfully leading a hidden people through a very tumultuous, dangerous, unfriendly era. But there’s something missing from it, I think. Where there is a lack of belief, there is a lack of joy. Urg’s people might survive, or maybe not. But living in the sewers, scrounging for scraps, hurting no one and yet still being hunted like by those above? Hiding from the world only gets you so far. Eventually, and there is no way to avoid this, one must confront the world. It will come, in due time. The Inner Circle seeks such confrontation, and the Underground faces it every day, but the Morlocks can’t avoid it forever.

It’s also a strange dichotomy, as the Morlocks hide from the world yet exult in supposedly not hiding. That’s the purpose of the brand they wear, to make them visible even while they strive to stay invisible. That’s why it’s the symbol of their community, so they can tell themselves that they are proud and free instead of hiding and wasting away in sewers.

It’s in that spirit that Urg gives Clarice a mutant name, something to distinguish her from the world above: Blink.

Urg, at least, is clever enough to handle the problem efficiently. In exchange for taking in the refugees, he asks for Clarice’s help in getting supplies with which to feed them. It’s a fair trade, help for help. But he also asks a price of whoever wishes to stay with them, namely that they take the mark. Marcos is most unhappy with that, but they agree.

One of the new refugees, the one who voices their agreement with Urg’s terms, has an ability somewhat like Marcos, to create light. But she can create floating spheres, and her entire thing is about finding the light in the darkness. She was arrested for being a mutant, only spared prison because one juror was not afraid of harmless floating balls of light. So they trumped up some psychological disorder and imprisoned her that way. Yet she refrains from hating the humans, even forgives them. There were people among the staff who were kind to them, helped make life more bearable. There was even jello!

Satisfaction with that might not be very impressive, but it does make it easier for her and the others to accept the brand and to accept living underground.

So, Lauren is fine, the refugees join the Morlocks, everyday people are proven to be heroes, the Underground has a trail to follow after the Inner Circle through Rebecca, and their friends in the Inner Circle are having some doubts. That’s all good. But the Inner Circle is also gearing up for something big, Andy’s first girlfriend is crazy, and Turner is taking charge of the local Purifiers, undeterred by their failure to find the mutants and now proclaiming that they’re going to hit them where they live, which just can’t be good.

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