NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Gifted”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review

 

 

It all comes down to this. The Gifted is almost certainly done now, between its highly diminished ratings and the completion of the imminent Disney-Fox merger, which would see the X-Men movie rights, and whichever television rights were previously lent out, fully returned to their home at Marvel. This leaves a lot riding on the show’s Season Two finale, which is practically guaranteed to also double as the series finale, despite FOX not formally cancelling The Gifted yet. This is a bit weird, since FX has already announced in advance that the upcoming third season of sibling X-Men spin-off series, Legion has already been confirmed to be the final season for that show, and unlike The Gifted, Legion doesn’t appear to have a viewership issue.

Thus, “oMens” has a lot to wrap up and sort out before we no doubt bid farewell to this corner of Fox’s live-action X-Men universe for good, along with the rest of it throughout the year, as Disney finishes acquiring Fox, and Marvel finishes re-acquiring the X-Men cinematic license. How does it turn out? Well, it was pretty much inevitable that the show wouldn’t perfectly wrap up every story turn here, since the thoroughly massive scale of Season Two suddenly has to come to a very hasty, clumsy conclusion in this season finale. This likely final episode is still fairly good overall though, definitely providing no shortage of action and character drama, which at least sends The Gifted out on an exciting note, if not a fully satisfying one.

The episode begins strongly enough, with Reeva ordering the Purifiers to surround the Mutant Underground’s base at Westlake Apartments, and Turner personally coming to help oversee vengeance for Ted’s death at Reed’s hands. The Washington PD completely looking the other way throughout this operation simply because one of their cops were killed by a mutant is a pretty massive stretch, especially since the Purifiers would logically not have authority to move on mutants, particularly with the Sentinel Services offices being right there in town! Why the hell have Sentinel Services never stepped in with the Purifiers anyway? Aren’t the Purifiers technically vigilantes?! Regardless, this begins the first in a series of quick wrap-ups that are obviously throwing up their hands, since this is likely the end of the line for The Gifted, and there’s no sense dragging things out. This of course includes John attempting to sacrifice himself to allow the other Mutant Underground members to escape the Purifiers, since he doesn’t want to live without Clarice.

This moment with John should be a pretty big one, and the action element here was at least pretty awesome, as John single-handedly takes on a small army of Purifiers to provide the necessary distraction for his friends! Overall though, John’s final confrontation with Turner ended up being a let-down, especially since Erg ends up showing up as something of a Deus Ex Machina, delivering the weak excuse that he, “Knows every tunnel in the city.” Yeah, that still doesn’t explain how you knew where John specifically was, dude. Anyway, once John subdues Turner, the episode cuts away until its final minutes, leaving whether or not John killed Turner ambiguous for that time. Had The Gifted possessed any real chance for a third season, it would have been cool to see the episode possibly never reveal whether John killed Turner, or ultimately agreed to mend fences with Erg, and leave that as a cliffhanger. Instead, we do get proof in the epilogue that John spared Turner, and did decide to try and learn to work together with Erg. We do get another cliffhanger, mind you, but I’ll get to that later, and boy is it going to hurt for Marvel/X-Men fans!

Outside of John’s final stand against the Purifiers, the Frost Sisters capture Andy and Lauren, force them to destroy the Sentinel Services building with their Fenris powers… And that’s it. This should be a horrific development with tons of emotional fallout for both of the Strucker siblings, but since The Gifted is on its last legs, this destructive turn just can’t hit with the proper impact. The same is true of Esme ultimately defecting from her sisters, and joining the Mutant Underground, which is clarified after the other final action sequence. This also provides a convenient excuse to wrap up the Benedict Ryan storyline, wherein Esme psychically forces him to confess that he secretly led the Purifiers for years, and was indeed complicit in Sentinel Services HQ being obliterated. Considering that Ryan and the Purifiers ended up becoming such a big presence on The Gifted this season, it sucks to feel like the Purifiers’ leader was taken down this easily, even if Esme’s defection was nicely set up and executed on paper, if left a bit wanting in practice. Too bad we’ll no doubt never see what comes of the ‘good’ Frost Sister joining the Mutant Underground, which would have been a great throwback to Esme’s undercover work during the show’s first season.

All that’s left then is the inevitable final confrontation with Reeva and the Inner Circle, which, again, is at least packed with tons of exciting action. Marcos, Lorna, Caitlin and Reed all take on what remains of the Inner Circle’s forces, with Andy and Lauren getting to sit out because of the Frost Sisters’ strain on their minds. Yes, this is a lame excuse for why Lauren and Andy can’t just level the building and instantly kill Reeva very efficiently (which was even discussed at the start of the episode), but I suppose we wouldn’t have a climax for the season (and likely the series) that way, even if that’s the logical route to take. Instead, shortly after Caitlin shoots Fade dead, after he attempts to strangle Reed to death (that was his plan? What an idiot!), Reed decides that the only way to kill Reeva is to trick her into trying to kill him, which will result in his suppressed mutant energy being unleashed, destroying all of the upper floors of the Inner Circle’s building. It’s a pretty badass plan, I have to say, and one that actually does hit with the desired emotional gut punch for a change, as the decision is quickly made, and Caitlin has no choice but to let her husband go.

It would have been very easy to hold back here, but surprisingly, The Gifted goes all the way with this big sacrifice by Reed! The episode is periodically layered with flashbacks from Reed’s time after 7/15, when he first decided to become a mutant crime prosecutor, thinking it was the best way to protect his family. The dialogue about Reed’s place in a world that is constantly under threat and fear of mutants is also very well-written, ironically tying in to his renewed and actual purpose at the Mutant Underground. This eventually culminates with an all-too-brief dialogue exchange between Reed and Reeva, before Reeva falls for Reed’s ruse, and Reed’s out-of-control powers make him explode, killing them both! Yes, Reed is dead, the patriarch of the Strucker family, providing real consequences and real costs behind what was necessary to stop Reeva. The show leaves the other Inner Circle agents aside from Fade unaccounted for, possibly in case of some miracle that grants it a third season, where they could once again pop up as villains. Like I said however, I seriously doubt that this will happen, given all of the factors that are rapidly eating away at The Gifted’s chances for survival after this season.

This brings me to that painful cliffhanger that X-Men fans in particular are going to be livid about. Turns out, Clarice actually did survive being shot by Turner and disappearing into that mess of portals, as revealed while the episode ends on the heroes, now with Esme among their ranks, deciding to rebuild the Mutant Underground, while Erg talks about other mutant factions, good and bad, that were inspired to act after Reed’s sacrifice, and the apparent destruction of the Inner Circle. When Clarice re-appears, seemingly older and with more control over her powers, she says that she has to, “Show everyone something.” What does she need to show? I have no idea. This is obviously meant to be a tease for a potential third season for The Gifted, with the portal seemingly indicating that Clarice may have been sent to some sort of alternate timeline or dark future, something that would fit not just with Marvel’s various X-Men comic books and their numerous spin-offs, but also Fox’s own live-action X-Men movies, which have already set up a mess of alternate timelines, alternate futures, and dismal final results from the efforts to suppress and destroy mutants.

If there’s a theme that you’re likely noticing throughout this review though, it’s that The Gifted has pretty much no chance of getting a third season, especially with the Disney-Fox merger soon being completed, thus leaving the show to end on a series of rather massive cliffhangers. That really sucks for Marvel/X-Men enthusiasts, many of whom are already anxious about the prospect of terminating Fox’s standalone live-action X-Men universe, in favour of rebooting the various X-Men personalities, and any of Marvel’s mutant characters in general, for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Adding insult to injury is the fact that, “oMens” is quite clearly evidence of a tragic conclusion to a dying series that is being forcibly ended too soon, much like the FOX network’s other definitely-ending comic book drama, Gotham. The excitement and drama is definitely here for the most part, but The Gifted clearly isn’t ready to wrap, forcing along hasty conclusions for Season Two’s many large-scale threats, while leaving no room to really explore the fallout from so much high-profile death and destruction. Worse still is the cool hook that was teased for a third season that will pretty much definitely not happen, which just feels like the final insult for those who are still heavily invested in Fox’s standalone X-Men universe. I can tell that the actors, writers, directors and showrunners tried their best with what they had to work with, and this season finale is at least fun and exciting to watch for sure, but considering all of the early promise that The Gifted first launched with in 2017, this series really did deserve a proper, more satisfying conclusion.

The Gifted 2.16: "oMens" Review
The Gifted's second season finale is plenty exciting and dramatic, though it's also dragged down by several rushed, unsatisfying story resolutions.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • John taking on a whole army of Purifiers
  • Exciting climax in the Inner Circle parking garage
  • Reed sacrificing his life to destroy Reeva and the Inner Circle
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Destruction of Sentinel Services HQ basically doesn't matter
  • Benedict Ryan is brought down pathetically easily
  • Clarice's survival is pretty much a moot point now
75%Overall Score
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