The Underground struggles to contain the threat of a new refugee while Reed goes on an ages-overdue visit to his father that may change everything.
The Gifted – “threat of eXtinction”, Season 1, Episode 8
Airdate: November 20, 2017
Director: Steven DePaul
Writer: Carly Soteras
What You Should Know:
Sentinel Services, the government program in charge of pursuing and containing mutants, recently aligned with an off-the-books military contractor, Trask Industries. The program leader, Dr. Campbell, has turned mutants into mindless puppets he calls Hounds. Campbell and Sentinel Services Agent Jace Turner have spearheaded an initiative to set the Hounds into motion in order to flesh out the Mutant Underground.
Lorna (Polaris) and Marcos (Eclipse) have hit a roadblock in their relationship. In order to gain the information necessary to rescue Lorna, Marcos was forced to reconnect – and thereby do favors for – his ex-lover, head of the local cartel, Carmen.
Clarice (Blink) returned to the Underground after discovering what Sentinel Services had done to her foster family’s home as a result of her out of control portals.
The Underground finally unlocked the mysteries within a pair of stolen government hard drivers pertaining to the abduction and apparent brainwashing of their fellow mutants. This gave them the knowledge of Trask Industries’ involvement, and Reed Strucker revealed that his estranged father worked for Trask Industries for over thirty years before the company closed its doors.
What You’ll Find Out:
In London, England, in the year 1952, siblings Andreas and Andrea von Strucker are hiding out in an undisclosed location. Andreas is writing a note at a desk, surrounded by newspaper clippings about sibling mutant terrorists who remained at large. The in-room phone rings and Andrea comes out, demanding to know who has their number. Andreas confirms only “the Organization.” Screeching tires can be heard outside as multiple cars pull up. Andreas hangs up the phone, stating they have been found, moments before several police break the door in with guns drawn. The siblings step together and join hands. Their joined hands begin to glow ominously and Andrea grins.
Reed approaches his family on the heels of the revelation that Trask Industries is involved in turning mutants against their fellow mutants. He calls them together to tell them that he’s learned something and he wants them to hear it from him first. Though he struggles, he manages to explain Trask Industries’s involvement, as well as his father’s former association with the company. At first, Andy and Lauren are upset to learn that the story they’d grown up hearing – that their grandfather had run out their grandmother and father – was a lie, but Reed is able to also explain that lie was on purpose. That his father was a ‘hard man’ and even when he, as a child, got so sick he nearly died, his father couldn’t be bothered to visit him in the hospital. He adds he hasn’t spoken to his father since before Andy or Lauren were born.
Marcos finds Lorna settled in for the night on the couch and tries for another conversation, knowing she’s still upset. He reminds her he reached out to Carmen and the cartel to save her and their baby, to which Lorna responds with a harsh but honest answer of her concern about the world they’re bringing a baby into. As well as how hard it will be to protect the child when they can barely protect themselves. She turns her back to Marcos in a silent refusal to continue to the conversation that night.
The next morning Reed approaches John about taking a trip up to Chattanooga, where his father lives. John agrees but says it has to wait until his return, as he’s preparing a run to pick up some surviving refugees from a base that was just destroyed by Sentinel Services. John then runs into Marcos, who’s accompanying him on their mission to pick up the new refugees, and Marcos informs him that Clarice is coming instead of Lorna. John expresses concern but Marcos insists they’re fine. Outside, Clarice is finishing up preparing an SUV for the run when Dreamer approaches her with an apology for their previous situation. Clarice shuts her down, assuring her that while they’re on the same side, she still holds a strong grudge against the other woman.
John, Marcos, and Clarice arrive at the church that has taken in the surviving refugees and the pastor leads them to the building he’s hidden the refugees inside. Several mutants come out, with Marcos leading the exit, instructing them to grab their bags and take a seat in one of the two SUVs as quickly as possible. As the shed empties Clarice spies a young girl with blue-tinged skin hiding in the back who seems afraid to emerge and coaxes her out. While the rest of the refugees are filing toward the SUVs, a blonde woman approaches John urgently. She announces that she’s a telepath, briefly explains that that means she’s able to read the thoughts of others around her and states she’s been reading some rather concerning thoughts from another refugee. A slight, pale woman in ratty sweats who’s preparing to enter a vehicle. John catches her by the arm with the intent to ask her a few questions, but her sleeve lifts, revealing the same mark he’d previously seen on Pulse’s wrist. The mark of the Hound.
A fight breaks out as soon as the woman realizes her cover is blown. She reveals herself to have some level of superspeed, knocking even John back and tossing the telepath and a child refugee to the ground in the process. The chaos is short-lived before Marcos is able to contain her within dual streams of his heat energy, and with Clarice’s help, John finally succeeds in rendering her unconscious.
They bring her, as well as the rest of the refugees, back to headquarters and lock the unnamed mutant in a detainment cage. In a roundtable-esque discussion including Sage, Lorna, and Dreamer, John and the others discuss the situation. Marcos reveals he found a tracking beacon in the woman’s bag that, if activated, could have brought Sentinel Services straight to them. Rumor has also started leaking that another such mutant was ultimately what brought down the previous station. Sage suggests they stop taking in refugees as a precaution, but John shoots the idea down. He turns to Reed, emphasizing that in light of this turn of events they need to talk to his father now more than ever. As a result, he leaves dealing with the infiltrator to Marcos and Lorna, again expressing a flicker of doubt about their current situation which they deny. Reed takes a moment to let his family know they’re heading out before he and John depart for a long overdue reunion with his father, Otto Strucker.
Clarice finds the blue-skinned little girl sitting alone and stops to check on her, though the girl is clearly reluctant to talk. She gets the girl’s name, Norah, and gives her a blanket, telling Norah she can come find her if she wants to talk later. Meanwhile, Caitlin is patching up the refugees who were wounded when the Sentinel Services infiltrator attacked. After popping a boy’s arm into place and leaving Andy and Lauren to help him settle, she moves on to the blonde telepath. The telepath offers to wait if others are still in need, but Caitlin assures her it’s her turn, praising her help earlier in the day. She inquires about the woman’s abilities, prompting her to demonstrate by using them on her, and the telepath reveals that Caitlin is worried the conflict between mutants and humans will drive a rift between her, Reed, and their children. Caitlin is obviously startled but doesn’t deny her words, instead of asking for her name, and the telepath introduces herself as Esme.
Downstairs, Lorna and Sage have proven unable to get their new guest to talk, so Lorna asks Dreamer to read the woman’s memories. Dreamer expresses doubts, saying the woman’s metabolism would likely burn out her influence too quickly even if she could catch her to get her to breathe it in. Acquiescing, Lorna tries an intimidation tactic with several large knives until Marcos walks in and calls her off. Lorna pulls back the knives but challengers Marcos’ argument, pointing out that he was ‘the inquisitor’ with the cartel before. He tries saying this situation is different and hard to explain, but Lorna is obviously dissatisfied with his answer and walks away. He follows after her, explaining that he wants to get the answers, too, but he doesn’t want to go back down the path he’d once followed in the cartel. He indicates the woman in the cage, saying he did what he had to do in order to rescue her before they could do that to her. Lorna argues, more emotionally this time, that they’ll do that to her, him, and even their baby if they don’t start getting some answers and getting ahead.
During their conversation, Marcos notices some familiar behavior in the mutant woman. She’s behaving as if she’s an addict in need of her next fix. He and Lorna go to Caitlin, who confirms that she’s exhibiting signs of withdrawal. They theorize she might be hooked on a mutant drug called Kick, which Lauren describes as being known to boost a mutant’s powers for a short while. Marcos points out that it also has some severe drawbacks, making it dangerous. Caitlin suggests they try treating her, which Lorna objects to, but Marcos says it might incline the woman to cooperate better than death threats.
They come up with a plan to have Andy and Lauren use their powers to hold the woman still long enough for Caitlin to get around behind her and inject her with a sedative. Once that’s accomplished they remove her from the cage and secure her to a medical table with makeshift restraints courtesy of Lorna and Marcos. But while Caitlin’s preparing to try helping their would-be destroyer, some of the other new refugees see her free from her cage and get angry. One, in particular, a large man, takes the lead in the makeshift protest and angrily comes up to them, demanding she be put back in her cage before she hurts someone. Lauren intervenes, trying to talk him down, but he refuses to listen to her, instead of using his size and anger in an attempt to bully past her. Andy sees this and steps between them, standing his ground in front of the larger man. He tells the man essentially to deal with it and the area around them starts to rattle, possibly on purpose. The large mutant and Lauren both take note of this but Andy’s challenging stare never wavers. The man backs down, saying he just wants everyone to be safe and walks away. Lauren thanks her brother for coming to her defense, to which he replies ‘of course,’ and that only he can talk to her like that.
Sage comes up, saying she found information on their mutant infiltrator. The woman’s name is Chloe, and she was captured by Sentinel Services after destroying her child’s doctor’s office when the doctor refused to treat her sick child. At this news, Lorna’s hard expression visibly softens with sympathy. When Chloe wakes up Caitlin cautiously approaches her, calling her name, asking her what happened. What Sentinel Services had done to her. At hearing her name Chloe seems to listen and opens her mouth wide in some attempt to speak but is clearly unable to make more than guttural sounds. So Caitlin calls in Esme in an effort to communicate.
When Esme arrives, agreeing to do whatever she can, Lorna asks her pointedly if she understands what they’re really fighting for. Esme looks at her and clearly states that Sentinel Services has her family and she intends to fight back. Esme uses her telepathy on Chloe, at first reading only ‘need’ and ‘pain.’ Then she gets clearer memories. Sentinel Services killed Chloe’s husband and took her daughter. Chloe gives Esme a vision of the Trask Industries building, which Esme describes as being north of their location. In her vision, she sees the day Dr. Campbell took Agent Turner to meet the Hounds. Esme says she thinks she can find the building. Caitlin attempts to reassure Chloe that they’ll find the people responsible, but Chloe dies before she can finish. That night Lorna returns to Marcos, emotionally shaken from the day’s events.
Meanwhile, Clarice sees Norah sitting on her bunk with the Underground’s resident dog. Taking it as a sign that the girl is ready to talk, she starts with light commentary about what she and Norah have in common with the dog – that they can’t pass for human. Then she asks the girl how she ended up at the church, how she ended up a refugee, and Norah starts to say something about herself and “Mama D,” but Clarice cuts her off. “Mama D” was the nickname for Denise, the woman who ran the foster home Clarice used to live in. And Norah was there the night Sentinel Services attacked; she witnessed the entire massacre. Norah confesses to Clarice that she can’t sleep at night because those memories come back as nightmares.
Clarice seeks out Dreamer after her conversation with Norah. Consumed with guilt over her part in the massacre, Clarice apologizes for her attitude previously and asks Dreamer for her help. She explains everything and asks Dreamer to take the traumatic memory away from Norah because she can’t do it herself. Dreamer agrees.
While the Underground is busy dealing with Chloe, Reed, and John arrive in Chattanooga to talk to Reed’s father. Reed takes them to his father’s antique shop, quipping that his father loves to live in the past. They enter the shop, finding only Otto inside, and Otto recognizes his estranged son instantly. Otto greets his son distantly, telling Reed he should have called so Otto could have saved him the trouble of coming. He asks John’s name, and while John introduces himself proudly, Otto dismisses him with a snide comment. Reed steps in, explaining who John is and that he’s been helping Reed and his family. Otto says Sentinel Services called them terrorists. He also says he knows about what happened at the school because Sentinel Services interrogated him and he gave them the truth – that he’d never met his grandchildren and hadn’t spoken to his son in years.
Reed cuts into his father’s diatribe, stating that they need to talk about his work at Trask. Otto returns that his work was classified. He also says it’s a crime to harbor fugitives, insinuating his unwillingness to keep Reed or John in his home. The argument escalates until Reed loudly exclaims that Trask is open again and working on anti-mutant research, as he believes his father was. He adds that he has doubts it’s a coincidence that Otto’s very grandchildren are mutants, and John steps in to explain what they do know about what Trask is doing to mutants currently. Otto relents and takes them upstairs to his living area.
After an awkward moment, Otto asks to see a picture of the children, Andy and Lauren, also inquiring as to their ages. Reed assumes this is an old man’s curiosity and indulges, but begins to press again as to his father’s work at Trask, saying anything he could tell him would help. Otto absently says his research was “peaceful” and whatever Trask is doing isn’t his fault. Reed tells him it’s not about blame, further saying he knows he never meant much to his father, to which Otto takes immediate offense. He angrily tells Reed to never say that, claiming that everything he ever did in his life was for him. Reed is very taken aback, but instead of explaining Otto asks what their powers are, so Reed tells him simply that Lauren describes her power as pushing the air together, which creates shields, and Andy basically tears things apart. Upon hearing this Otto begins repeating “No no no,” and takes a seat on the sofa, clearly distressed. Reed asks him what’s wrong and Otto says, “I failed. It’s come back.”
Gathering himself, Otto retrieves an heirloom box and declares that it’s time Reed knew ‘everything.’ He hands Reed two old photographs and introduces his father and father’s sister, Andreas and Andrea von Strucker – mutant terrorists. Otto pulls out multiple old newspaper clippings, like the ones from 1952, including an Interpol wanted poster describing them as mutant twins wanted for crimes against humanity and genocide. Otto says that individually each sibling had the same powers as Reed’s children possess, but together they had power beyond imagination. Together Andrea and Andreas were known as Fenris, like the wolf from legend. When Reed finally processes that this means his children’s powers were inherited Otto confirms not only that but that he, too, is a mutant.
Otto further tells Reed that when his father, Andreas, tried to raise him to follow in his footsteps Otto ran away from home. He hid his powers from everyone, even Reed’s mother. Otto claims their family’s powers set them apart, even from other mutants, and that his goal was to put an end to that. This statement baffles Reed. Otto says it was this idea that brought him to Trask Industries, to a research project to eliminate the X-Gene. And though he never found what Trask wanted – a serum which would eradicate all mutant genetics – he managed a smaller version capable of working on one mutant. He gave that one dose to his son. Enlightenment dawns on Reed as he realizes that must have been the time he became deathly ill, the time his father never visited him in the hospital. Otto explained it had to be done before any powers manifested, which was why he was so young. He adds he hated himself for putting Reed through such misery, and it’s clear the anger is welling again as he realizes now it was all for naught.
After taking a few minutes to process this bombshell of information, Reed and Otto discuss – and argue – over the years lost. Reed says Otto had no right to keep that information secret, but Otto believes it was his duty to protect his family and this was how. Otto admits it was ultimately those secrets which destroyed his marriage as well, as Reed’s mother never knew the truth, either. Otto then asks Reed if Andy and Lauren have ever used their powers together, specifically, if they’ve ever held hands. But before Reed can try to answer John comes running into the room with bad news: Sentinel Services has arrived.
Outside, Dr. Campbell and a squadron of agents is prepared to enter the antique shop. Dr. Campbell has brought along John’s old friend, Pulse, and before he sends Pulse to ‘lock down the area,’ he gives the mutant a dose of an enhancing drug – presumably Kick.
Watching from the upstairs window, John can immediately feel his powers weakening as Pulse’s eyes begin to glow. With no other route of escape, Otto volunteers to go downstairs in an effort to get them a way out. Reed tries to stop him, but Otto reminds him that their family is different. He stops to apologize for everything he put his son through, and to offer haunting words of advice about Andy and Lauren: “Protect them, son. Protect the world from them.”
Downstairs, Otto greets his unwelcome guests. Dr. Campbell introduces himself formally (Dr. Roderick Campbell), claiming he is a ‘huge admirer’ of Otto’s work at Trask. He praises that Otto’s work at suppressing the mutant X-Gene was brilliant and boasts that it led directly to his own – enhancing it. Dr. Campbell proceeds to explain that he’s there for Otto’s son and insists on searching the building, but Otto refuses and triggers his mutant power despite Pulse’s presence in the room. The power seems to be building from his core, connected to his glowing hands, and when Pulse fails to cancel it out Dr. Campbell orders his men to shoot Otto before fleeing the building. Otto remains standing through two shots as the power builds before finally blowing out the antique shop and everyone still inside.
When Reed and John, knocked briefly unconscious despite being upstairs, awaken, they find both Otto and Pulse in the debris, dead and abandoned. Before leaving Chattanooga they take the time to bury their lost family. Reed returns home late, unable to form the words of what happened during his visit to his father. Sensing his turmoil, Caitlin embraces him. Andy and Lauren stand silent, supportive, and holding hands.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
In short, this means things are about to explode.
More specifically, family turmoil is almost sure to ensue if Reed tells them what his father said. But he needs to if he’s truly learned anything in the first eight episodes of the show. None of this is going to help Andy’s flaring ‘let’s just blow it all up’ tendencies, and it could easily spark more distance from Lauren. At the very least it might cause the Struckers to feel a hopefully unnecessary tension within the rest of the Underground.
John isn’t likely to turn on the Struckers over this legacy revelation, but it could spark uncertainty and discomfort among some of the other Underground leaders if word were to spread. Particularly Sage, who is more apt to looking at statics than emotions. Ultimately, however, the Underground is likely to still recognize that the power Andy and Lauren possess is best kept on their side in the fight against Sentinel Services.
On the flip side, Sentinel Services lost two Hounds in one episode. Dr. Campbell and Agent Turner are sure to up the ante. Perhaps send in stronger Hounds who blend in a bit better. Or perhaps they’ll make even more reckless moves.
Final Thought: Wow. This episode finally tackled the history that so many comic book fans were waiting to learn in the Fenris heritage, and it did not disappoint! Revealing that the mutant twins known as Fenris, more directly inspired by the X-Men comics, were technically Andy and Lauren’s ancestors open up so many possibilities for the show’s direction with these new characters. I’m excited to see where they’ll take the siblings in light of this. I was honestly shocked to learn that Reed would have been a mutant if not for his father’s desperation – what a twist!
In light of all that, a part of me was almost more excited by the unexpected additional comic book tie-ins that popped up this episode. First, the drug Kick. Originally appearing during Grant Morrison’s controversial but undeniably infamous X-Men run in the early 2000s, Kick promises to be an underdog threat that could rear its ugly head at any moment. But a mutant-gene-enhancing drug wasn’t the only introduction from Morrison’s era. This episode also introduced Esme, who, in the comics, was one of five quintuplet telepaths with a “hive mind.” Whether or not Esme’s sisters are the ‘family’ she mentioned briefly in this episode remains to be seen, but their all-in-one telepathy would be a big advantage to the Underground. And is a huge thrill to comic book fans looking for surprise inclusions.
Based on the Marvel Comics Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby