As of the day I’m typing this review, The Gifted, FOX’s entry into the Marvel mutant sweepstakes, has not been renewed for a third season.
Whether it gets renewed or not, I’m tapping out after this season.
It’s not that this has been a terrible show. It is an okay superhero series, with some honestly impressive moments. If you’re a fan of the Marvel mutants in the comic books, you should probably watch both seasons. You’ll find plenty of things to like about it. It’s okay—even good.
But, I’ve heard it said before that “good” is the enemy of “great.” Even before the Season 2 finale, I understood that, within the constraints of this show’s format, it could never achieve true greatness. At this point, I doubt it could rise above the level of mutant outcast soap opera, which is where it dwells mostly. I guess I want more super heroics, like the comic book stories of my youth, and less angst and discrimination and redneck militia types (in this case, the term “redneck” includes multiple races and creeds).
The Gifted is not alone in this type of story-telling. The current season of Supergirl, with its Agent Liberty storyline, is telling a similar tale of hatred and bigotry against alien lifeforms. It’s almost as if xenophobia and isolationism were a huge part of the current zeitgeist. It’s enough to make you want to build a huge, ineffectual wall around yourself.
You might argue that it’s a case of art imitating life. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. I’m probably just looking for more escapism in my speculative fiction, and, while I’m not against some dystopian fiction, I tend to favor entertainment that is at least somewhat positive at its core. I’m not talking about an endless fountain of rainbows and puppy dogs here. Just the occasional ray of sunshine cutting through the clouds. For me, with The Gifted, that has been lacking.
The entertainment horn o’ plenty is overflowing, and my allotted time on Earth is limited. So, I’m moving on.
Season 1 had its best moments when it centered around the Strucker family drama. Since Andy left at the end of the season, along with Lorna Dane AKA Polaris, to join the Hellfire Club—excuse me, the Inner Circle—the family dynamic was, by necessity, changed. I’m still not a fan of the Strucker children in Season 2, with their Disney-ready good looks and questionable acting abilities, but I still like Reed and Kate Strucker, played by Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker, the only two actors I was familiar with going into this show. In this season, Reed is also struggling with his own emerging mutant abilities, and while this is often entertaining, it becomes repetitive, as if we were setting up some sort of bombastic finale. ‘Nuff said.
The bulk of this season’s story, about the Inner Circle’s nefarious plans, and the Purifiers, a hate group militia driven by alt-right media and newly led by first season favorite Jace Turner, formerly of Sentinel Services, is ambitious but muddled. Veteran actor Peter Gallagher portrays the Sean Hannity-like TV host Benedict Ryan, who is using his bully pulpit to fan the flames of mutant hatred. But, it turns out, Ryan is also a tool of the evil mutants, led by Reeva Payge. Meanwhile, the Morlocks, led by the eyepatch-wearing Erg, are introduced, as is their kingdom in the sewers below the city. The Morlocks represent yet a third faction of mutants.
In the end, the Inner Circle plan is huge but fairly straightforward. Reeva plans to destroy Sentinel Services and then the entire US Government. Let me review my notes. Yes, that seems to be the plan. Once the government collapses, the mutants will . . .
Okay, that part is a little murky. The mutants will take over? Anarchy will rule? I’m not sure. Doesn’t matter anyway, really, does it?
Everything else in the season is mutant childbirth, various romantic entanglements and disentanglements, and getting Polaris and Andy back safely from the Inner Circle. In order to not spoil everything for you, I’m just going to say that at least one main character sacrifices him/herself to save everyone else. While this is satisfying on one level, it’s ultimately anticlimactic. I went into Season 2 with the highest of expectations, only to discover that the show couldn’t deliver on them.
But it does wrap a huge bow on the story that took two seasons to tell. This is a good place for me to jump off the bandwagon.
The little epilogue that followed, just in case a third season is in the offing, reeks of “Days of Future Past,” and I’m just not ready to see that story rehashed on television. Not now, and not with this group.
If this series doesn’t get renewed, I look forward to the future work of several of the actors on this show. Aside from Moyer and Acker, who always do good work, Sean Teale (Marcos/Eclipse), Blair Redford (John/Thunderbird), and Coby Bell (Jace Turner) were also standout performers on the series. The female actors were less impressive, but that could be because the writing was weaker for their characters.
Season 2 Report Card: B-minus