This Week on TV, Dec. 1, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

With Thanksgiving last week, there was nothing to report on last week, but The Gifted returned this week, after the horrific cliffhanger of the previous episode, and it came out swinging. Skipping straight to it:

The Gifted

1.08 “the dreaM”

So, after their moment of triumph was turned inside-out, the Inner Circle is reeling as much as the world around them, none more so than Lorna.

Andy is in denial, trying to say that Rebecca “lost control,” when she obviously did not. Between his feelings for Rebecca and his delusions about the original Fenris being anything but monsters, he’s quick to make excuses for her, no matter the massacre she just enacted with a smile before his eyes.

The rest of the Inner Circle are a bit more realistic. When Rebecca ditches them during their escape, most of them bend their efforts into finding and catching her. What was supposed to be a lightning rod to attract more followers has instead become the opposite. Like the Alamo, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11, it strikes a match to hostilities against the party responsible, which, as most people know nothing about the Inner Circle, becomes all mutants in general. The entire region erupts in flames and anti-mutant violence, including, but not remotely limited to, the torching of a foster care facility with mutant children inside. All because of Rebecca. So, yes, the Inner Circle is after her.

Most of them, anyway. Lorna is all too happy to see the crazy girl go, and she’s shaken unlike ever before. I mean, she’s not the most innocent person, what with that airplane she tore apart in flight, but simply tearing thirty-seven random people to pieces, smiling, just because, and before any of them could lift a finger to stop her? Lorna is horrified, and scared for her daughter. Dawn is her first priority, and if she’s not safe with the Inner Circle, especially with Rebecca around and the world rioting around them, then something needs to change.

That goes into this episodes flashback. Or, rather, multiple flashbacks, this time.

Lorna knew very little about her father growing up, but gossip in her small home town indicated that he was a powerful mutant with the Brotherhood. About the nearest thing to contact they had was one present, an M-shaped medallion, on her thirteenth birthday. On top of her abandonment issues and her shame at a connection to a villain, she was the weird, bipolar, green-haired mutant girl. That’s a lot to be angry about, which wasn’t helped by how much she stood out in her small home town. She got into trouble pretty regularly, and did not make anything easy for her adoptive mother.

Later, as she and Marcos contemplated their child, Lorna had one overwhelming desire: that they not be like their fathers. Marcos certainly wouldn’t be like his, that much has been clear from the outset. Lorna, on the other hand, is becoming very much like hers. She joined Hellfire, an enemy of the X-Men, to fight for mutants against humans, and she has blood on her hands, so that’s plenty of similarity already. But now, she has to contemplate doing as her father did: parting forever with her daughter.

The world is burning around them, Rebecca is dangerous, and the Inner Circle has limits. Lorna has due cause to worry for Dawn’s safety. Esme conjures an option of sending Dawn to Switzerland, as the USA is highly dangerous. Lorna almost does that, even taking Dawn to Marcos so he can say goodbye. That is one of the most painful and heartbreaking scenes yet on the show, but what option to these two parents have? Lorna can’t protect her within the Inner Circle and Marcos is part of a disintegrating Underground, so how can they possibly keep her safe? But… Switzerland?! Who’s going to be her parent over there?

I think that’s when Lorna really decides. She does as her father did, entrusting her daughter into the hands of her adoptive mother. She understands more than she did, and is able to admit that she took her frustrations out on the woman. She’s sorry about that now. This, which she once resented her father for, is the best idea she can come up with. At the very least, she knows Dawn will be loved. Sometimes that’s all that really matters. It’s a small solace to Marcos, but Lorna takes another step towards being like her father. She takes her father’s medallion and reshapes it into a head ornament, a crown or tiara or whatever it is, a’la Polaris from the comics.

Of course, turning it from red to green wouldn’t be covered under her magnetic powers, but whatever, it’s TV.

Over on the Underground’s side of things, they, too, are reeling from the news of the massacre. John goes on the Inner Circle’s trail, with Clarice following despite how she’s fairly certain it’s a stupid idea. They pick up on Rebecca’s trail, and eventually catch up with her. She tells them the Inner Circle was after something called Regimen and, somewhat hilariously, warns them that they don’t know what they’re in for. I mean, seriously? The mass-murdering psychopath is is warning them like that? Wow.

John is stoked to have another lead to follow, but Clarice is less enthusiastic. She’s tired, weary from the night of pursuing Rebecca, and weary from the fight, and the worry for John. She’s just so tired, and a part of her is closing off from John, as surely as she closes the bedroom door between them. Trouble in paradise.

Finally, the Struckers have more success in their endeavor than they ever dreamed of. The doctor lady remembers Reed, remembers his condition, and is able to help in every way. She’s built a career and a school on the idea of helping mutants whose powers are so dangerous and difficult to control that they’re more like high-risk disabilities. She and the people working for her apply all their knowledge and skill towards finding answers and creating solutions for people in otherwise untenable situations, like Reed.

For the short-term, she’s able to recreate the serum that suppressed Reed’s powers to begin with. They need something better, though, because if his powers manifest for a second time despite the serum, it will probably kill him. That’s where Lauren comes in. With samples of her blood, they can figure out something more effective and permanent for her blood. And, hey, that lab tech had good manners and wasn’t too bad to look at! He even takes Lauren around the campus, shows her the virtues of “normal” life.

I have to say, what he doctor and her people have built, it’s not a bad thing. It’s safe, they live in peace, they can do all the normal things that normal people can do and take for granted, and she clearly doesn’t see mutant-kind as something to cure. It’s not a bad thing. But, like the Morlocks, there’s something off about it. There is such a thing as valuing “normal” a bit too much. The Morlocks are themselves, but they hide in the sewers. This institute is above ground and normal, but there’s something just a bit suppressive of individuality about it.

Mutants are gifted, after all, and a quick and easy fix for their problems comes with a subtle cost.

Still, I was waiting for the real other shoe to fall. Especially as the doctor’s virtue was quickly extended to inviting the Struckers to her home for dinner. She was feeling towards them and Reed’s father. She even had a music box that once belonged to Andrea von Strucker, the only memento Reed’s father kept of his family. She gives it to Reed, now.

All in all, she seems like a veritable saint, right?

The shoe fell only right at the end of the episode. It turns out Lauren and Reed’s unique situation can yield unique fruit, namely: the means to suppress the X-gene across the board. The doctor’s brother, it seems, founded the Purifiers, and earned his sister’s hatred for it. I mean, hating fellow humans for something they have no choice about? But what if they did have a choice? What if she could provide that choice?

That… that is horrifying.

The means to undo mutantkind? To make everyone “normal,” by their definition of such?

I can hear it now. “We just want to help them!” By taking away what’s unique and powerful about them.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

So, Marcos loses her daughter, Lorna loses a bit of herself and steps further into the darkness (without Dawn… ah, I see what they did there), Clarice is in the dumps and shutting down, John is driving onward with stubborn enthusiasm, Reed and Cait have overwhelming hope for the first time in awhile, which their daughter has to contemplate robbing them of in order to stop a quietly rising nightmare advanced by people with noble intentions who are trying to help them, Rebecca is on the outs with the Inner Circle after committing mass murder, and they catch up to her right at the end, with a knife at her throat, and all of this while the world around them is burning.

Not a good day for pretty much anyone except the Purifiers.

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