You know that creepy Folgers commercial from a couple of years ago that made it seem as if the brother and sister had an inappropriately close relationship? That’s more or less what this week’s episode of The Gifted was like. Only, you know, with superpowers and cheesy special effects.
From the moment it was announced that the Strucker family would be one of the main focal points of The Gifted, we all knew the time would come when Lauren and Andy Strucker, the series’ two teen MacGuffins, got into some creepy mutant sibling weirdness with one another.
Even though the show is at its strongest when it’s focused on the other members of the Mutant Underground, The Gifted’s always been deeply invested in trying to make us care about the Struckers even though they aren’t particularly interesting. This week’s episode, “outfoX,” was all about making the connections between Lauren, Andy, and their supervillain great-grandparents that much stronger in hopes of making them more compelling characters.
By and large, the episode falters on that front and instead introduces a somewhat creepy dynamic between the siblings that may or may not have been accidental. In the episode’s opening flashback, we see that at least once before the events of the series, Lauren and Andy had physical contact with one another while using their powers, triggering their unique ability to... glow and possibly destroy things. The moment only lasts for a few seconds and neither of the kids reveals to one another that they’re mutants, but the scene establishes that there’s something developing within them both that could prove to be dangerous down the line.
After the events of “eXtreme measures,” we know that Lauren and Andy are more or less the reincarnations of Andrea and Andreas, Reed’s father and aunt who operated as the mutant terrorist duo “Fenris” in the ‘50s. In Marvel’s comics, the Fenris twins are usually depicted as being unnervingly close and incestuous in part because they’re at their most powerful when they’re together. While the nature of how Lauren and Andy’s gestalt power works is left woefully undefined, the elder Strucker twins’ power seems to be a direct callback to their comics counterparts, who could create beams of concussive or dissolving energy:
The kids are understandably fascinated at the idea that they might be the most powerful and destructive mutants on the planet. But the direction and dialogue in the scenes where they experiment with their abilities is charged with a uncomfortable energy that’s compounded by the fact that they have the same powers as Fenris, Marvel’s equivalent to Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
While the Strucker kids are busy holding hands and thinking about their creepy granddad and great-aunt, the rest of the Mutant Underground is in battle mode, planning an attack on Track Industries where they know mutant prisoners are being held. After weeks of intense awkwardness between Blink, Thunderbird, and Dreamer, the trio have begun to get their respective shit together, which is a relief and a half.
At some point, the schisms within the MU were going to take a toll on the group’s ability to properly accomplish their missions and, for at least a while, it seemed as if their attack on Track was doing to be successful. That is, until “outfoX” ultimately trips on with some of the weakest narrative choices The Gifted’s made so far.
Nine episodes in, The Gifted’s established that the Mutant Underground has a history of mounting successful attacks on the people hunting them because the mutants know how to collaborate and use their powers properly. As Blink, Dreamer, Andy, and Lauren break into Trask, one imagines that the kid who can create shields might, like, create shields to protect everyone from the armed guards and killer robots trying to kill them, and yet no.
Instead, one by one, the mutant adults are captured until it’s just the kids left and they briefly consider using their Wondertwin powers to bring the whole compound down. Andy’s decision not to go nuclear was a surprising moment of maturity, but the episode’s final moments all felt like everyone made stupid choices that got them collared and thrown into prisons. More so than superpowers, it’s smart decision-making that’s probably going to save whichever of The Gifted’s mutants makes it to the end of the season. At this point, though, there’s no telling who that might be.
- Lorna’s makeshift brass knuckles were a badass substitute for Janky Danger Room this week.
- It seems highly implausibly that Caitlin, a nurse, wouldn’t understand how and why the X-gene could be passed down from parent to child and why the gene might skip a generation or two.
- Esme’s desperation to get into the Trask building to get back to her family there really makes me hope that whenever the Mutant Underground eventually frees the captive mutants, we learn that she’s a Stepford Cuckoo. All of her shady skulking around suggests she’s not who she seems, but we’ll see.