When dreams turn to nightmares.
Last week’s episode was a big one, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this follow-up was a bit underwhelming in comparison. On the plus side, there’s a new energy now that Reed and Polaris are back among friends and they’re all working together to figure out how Sentinel Services were able to turn Pulse against them. However, the weakest element of the show — Dreamer meddling with people’s memories — not only continued but became an even bigger part of the main story.
Emma Dumont and Sean Teale are bursting with so much chemistry as Polaris and Eclipse that it’s enough to make you blush. Whether they’re taking out a drone together and debating about interrogating Agent Turner or wistfully talking about their future together as parents and holding hands to make their lovey-aura appear, they’re just so darn watchable. There’s a tenderness to their relationship that balances out the whole tough-as-nails, mutant freedom-fighter part of their lives. And while they are enjoying being reunited in this episode, it surely won’t be long until Eclipse has to explain what it cost him to pull off that rescue mission.
Side note: X-Men comic readers will know that Aurora is the superhero name of mutant Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, a member of the Canadian team Alpha Flight. If there’s any connection between baby Aurora and the comic version, then Polaris and Eclipse might be having twins. Aurora’s twin brother in the comics is Jean-Paul Beaubier aka Northstar.
Capturing Agent Turner came about rather abruptly, and it felt like the mutants didn’t understand how important and valuable their hostage truly was. Admittedly, watching Polaris unleash her powers and easily disarm and capture him was pretty darn cool, as was hearing Eclipse and her have a heated conversation with the man who has been hunting them down. This episode we finally saw a flashback of what happened on July 15, from Turner’s point of view, making yet another topical parallel to real-world events. This played to The Gifted’s greatest strength, using the mutant metaphor to comment on society, but where it all led to was a major disappointment.
It was bad enough having to suffer through Blink pining for John due to false memories, but now Dreamer is at again, scrambling Turner’s mind so he has to once again face the fact that his daughter is dead. Everything about the use of Dreamer’s powers feels terribly forced and therefore carries no weight. Now that the main villain has been affected by Dreamer, we’re likely going to have to endure more of this on a larger scale. A subplot is one thing, but infecting the core of the story with this kind of fabricated drama doesn’t bode well for The Gifted. Legion, that other X-Men program, based a whole show on perception, memory, and deciphering reality, but The Gifted hasn’t invested even a fraction of the time and effort it takes to make it work.
The Strucker family didn’t have much to do this time around. Caitlin and the kids saved the life of a mutant and earned the respect of the other undergrounders, but there wasn’t much substance to their plight. Same thing for Reed: it was admirable of him to put his neck on the line in order to throw off Sentinel Services, but it just didn’t make any logical sense that they’d let him go on a dangerous mission after what they just went through to get him back, or that they’d have him rely on the one dude who clearly doesn’t trust him and wouldn’t mind seeing him dead. (And was anyone else confused about how his plan was supposed to work?)
The Struckers were stuck with some pretty bland scenes, which feels strange given they all started off the show with such rich material. Of course, this is an ensemble show with lots of characters to service, so here’s hoping they’re shuffled back to the front in a meaningful way. At least their final dinner scene set them on an interesting path (that is, not to Mexico).