NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Gifted” are present in this review
It was frustrating to see The Gifted fumble its midseason finale a few weeks ago, mainly due to a dogged pace and an unsatisfying payoff. Fortunately, the show didn’t waste any time kicking off its 2019 run, which begins right from New Years Day, with a midseason premiere that thankfully delivers a better storyline all around. “eneMy of My eneMy” very nicely capitalizes on the capture of John by the Purifiers, namely by motivating the Mutant Underground to form a temporary alliance with the Inner Circle, or at least, some of their old friends, as Andy and Lorna are talked into coming along on John’s rescue effort.
Originally, John being the one to get captured by the Purifiers in the midseason finale felt a little contrived and illogical, considering the nature of his powers, but I do have to admit that the midseason premiere very effectively justified why it was John that got captured, and not Marcos, which initially might have made more sense. As much as the Mutant Underground and the Inner Circle continue to challenge the supposed ‘right ideals’ behind mutant freedom in Fox’s X-Men universe, John has very much remained the stubborn and resolute hero of the show. In being interrogated by Turner and Ted, with Turner actually being the voice of reason pleading for a fair inquisition in this case, John has to confront where his decisions have led him, with the episode very effectively spotlighting how John is ultimately the only one still shouldering the burden of the X-Men’s mission by this point. Does the supposed, “Dream” of the X-Men even work anymore, now that the world has fallen so far in the seemingly permanent mutant war?
The scenes shared between Turner and John often made for the dramatic highlights of the episode, even considering some similarly great tension shared between Andy and his family, and Marcos and Lorna. John tries to tell Turner the truth about the Inner Circle, and how Lorna and Andy left the Mutant Underground to join it, but Turner, and especially the other Purifiers, refuse to believe that the Inner Circle is even real. Turner eventually comes around to a degree though, when he puts together that John’s claim that Lorna and Andy left the Mutant Underground logically helps events line up, and explains Lorna and Andy being present for the massacre at Creed Financial. The tragic irony here though is that, after Marcos and Lorna are captured on camera together, on account of their teaming up to rescue John, Turner becomes furious, immediately assuming that John has lied about the existence of the Inner Circle. Seeing a distraught and broken Turner constantly unload a shotgun on John’s chest was an awesome moment of anguish, one where Turner’s rage towards mutantkind is laid bare, under tragic and ironic circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control.
I was very happy to see that The Gifted has once again found a way to smartly muddy the political waters for all factions, escalating the continued battle between mutants and humans through no one’s specific fault, but by unfortunate circumstance and misunderstanding. This misunderstanding was also beautifully realized with Andy this week, who is shut out by Lauren, after trying to come to Lauren in her dreams to ask for comfort. Speaking of Andy’s recent actions, the one sore point in this otherwise great midseason premiere is that Andy and Lorna destroying the mutant collar server, and freeing every mutant prisoner in the country, is frustratingly overshadowed, with the surely massive fallout of this barely being mentioned beyond one quick Benedict Ryan telecast that Andy talks over at one point. Still, I understand that the strong John rescue storyline had to take focus here. The series will definitely want to cause some real fallout from the mutant prisoners being freed across the U.S. as soon as next week, but I don’t mind getting a real payoff to John’s capture in the meantime, especially when so much of The Gifted’s midseason finale ended up falling short.
As much as the drama between Lorna and Marcos was plenty strong, as the two try to reconcile their differences while still being very much in love (the early days of Marcos’ and Lorna’s relationship was also effectively glimpsed in another solid cold open flashback), Andy was the other MVP of the episode in the end, alongside John. Andy’s continued efforts to appeal to his family, only to be distrusted and rejected by his sister especially, due to his differing beliefs on mutant rights, is a very nice catalyst to seeing Andy start taking more of a serious dark turn in the coming weeks. Andy accidentally killing his first love during the midseason finale, even if she was a psychopath, is clearly ebbing at his morals and his sub-conscious mind, and with his family no longer providing him the support he needs, he starts going off the deep end, becoming even more violent and seemingly unstable than he was before!
The payoff to Andy’s ongoing drama beautifully caps off a strong, action-packed climax for the episode, as the combined forces of the desperate Mutant Underground agents, and their Inner Circle guests, attack the heavily guarded Purifier compound where John is being held. Things proceed well enough, providing plenty of great excitement on an intense and cool rescue mission, which eventually has everyone rescuing John as planned. After observing some of the improvised torture devices, and nearly seeing Lauren get shot by an ambushing Purifier however, Andy loses it, brutally breaking the man’s limbs, and eventually angrily confronting his family when they clearly judge him for that violent act. Andy screaming about how Purifiers shouldn’t be allowed to live or breed, because they’re a poison that needs to be corrected, was another of the episode’s best scenes, particularly thanks to the potent irony that Andy was spouting the very same rhetoric as the Purifiers in the end, but from the other direction. Again, when The Gifted really nails the sense of tragic irony throughout this universe’s morally interpretive mutant conflict, the show truly soars. This was exceptionally put on display with Andy slipping even further away from his family this week, to the point where even Caitlin resigns herself to the fact that the only way she’s getting her son back is if the Inner Circle is destroyed.
I have to commend this episode for so effectively elevating the dramatic stakes between the established factions, even when it had to weirdly gloss over the fact that every mutant prisoner in the U.S. is now running loose. Andy does raise the point that many mutant prisoners are innocent, but there’s no way that all of them are, and you have to assume that they’re doing quite a bit of damage by now! Still, that’s a problem for next week. For now, The Gifted starts 2019 off strong, thanks to an exciting, dramatic and smartly-executed midseason premiere this week. All of the characters’ emotions are running hotter than ever now, particularly those of Andy, Turner and Caitlin, and the brief respite of the Strucker family reuniting with their lost son inevitably gave way to more hatred and tragedy, even as the Mutant Underground managed to successfully liberate John from the Purifiers, with no casualties on their end. There’s only a handful of episodes left in the season, but it definitely seems like The Gifted is going to be making the most of them, if it can keep up this strong momentum. Even as the newly-minted Disney-Fox merger continues to threaten Fox’s X-Men universe with imminent termination, as Disney starts inevitably enacting plans to reboot the X-Men characters for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Gifted at least seems like it will be facing its probable death in 2019 with plenty of emotional, and literal, fireworks!
- Exciting mutant team-up and rescue mission
- The rescue alliance destroying Turner's last shred of decency towards mutants
- Andy becoming more extreme and violent in the wake of Rebecca's death
- Glossing over the country-wide mutant prisoner liberation feels clumsy