The Gifted Review by John Keegan

The Gifted 1.01: eXposed

The Gifted 1.01: eXposed

Written By:
Matt Nix
Directed By:
Bryan Singer

Setting up the stakes is an important function of any pilot, and the series premiere of The Gifted manages to do that very well.  There’s a sense of danger from the very start, and the tension never really ramps down over the course of the opening hour.  It’s precisely the kind of effortlessness that we have come to expect from Matt Nix, and actually some above-average work on the part of Bryan Singer.

 


 

I’ve been an X-Men fan for decades, having discovered the comics during the famed Chris Claremont era, when there were only two books related to the “franchise” on the shelves each month.  I’ve been both thrilled by the inception and disappointed by the chaotic mess of the film franchise and it’s muddy-at-best continuity, so I’m happy that The Gifted is essentially playing in that universe’s sandbox in the same way Legion does: alluding to the larger themes and characters of that world without directly attempting to link to specifics.  Trying to fit The Gifted into any point in the multiple timelines of the X-Men films would lead to insanity.

 

Suffice to say, then, that it’s a step on the road to a future similar to the one in Days of Future Past or even Logan.  The endless war between the X-Men and the Brotherhood has convinced humanity to step up its efforts to contain those with the “X-gene”, aided by the ominously named Sentinel Services.  Being a mutant means imprisonment, torture, and all sorts of even worse fates.  And it’s that sort of setting that makes a focus on family, similar to that in shows like Colony, a smart move.

 


 

Setting aside the oddness of giving the protagonists the name “Strucker”, a name that is fairly well-known as a villainous Hydra family in the Marvel lore, the family dynamics thankfully dodge the awfulness of what constantly held back shows like Falling Skies.  This is all about alienation of a familiar sort, as the teens with newly emerging powers must deal with the fact that just about everyone wants them arrested or worse.  And their parents were along with that philosophy until the consequences came home to roost.  It’s what the X-Men comics were often lauded for: using mutant status as a means to explore man’s inhumanity towards man.  And references to border walls and such make a timely contemporary statement.

 

Without the major players to handle the threats to mutantkind, the Mutant Underground serves as the resistance to the government suspension of civil rights.  Here, there are a few familiar faces from the source material: Blink, Thunderbird, and Polaris are all fair representations of their comic-book incarnations.  Eclipse, the leader of the Underground, is an original character, but he seems to have abilities similar to Dazzler.  It should be interesting to see how these characters are treated as the series progresses.

 


 

That’s not to say that this is a perfect beginning.  There’s a lot of expositional ground to cover, even if this is a series taking place in a familiar franchise.  And for all that the Struckers are a believable family, not everyone gets the screen time necessary to provide the viewer with insight into who they are; in particular, Amy Acker’s Caitlin gets very little to do.  Hopefully that will change in short order as the first season evolves.



Our Grade:
B+
The Good:
  • Solid series pilot that brings the X-Men franchise to the small screen almost seamlessly
The Bad:
  • Amy Acker’s character needs a bit more exploration

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The Gifted by - 10/4/2017 8:36 AM179 views

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