Cuckoo Crazy – The Gifted: “eXploited”

Campbell has what he’s been chasing. What will he do with it? Will the Underground manage to save their people in time – or at all?

 

The Gifted – “eXploited”, Season 1, Episode 10
Airdate: December 11, 2017
Director: Craig Siebels
Writer: Jim Campolongo
Based on the Marvel comics Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

What You Should Know:

Sentinel Services Agent Jace Turner has been relentlessly pursuing Andy and Lauren Strucker, and their parents, Reed and Caitlin, since Andy’s powers manifested and accidentally destroyed a high school gym. He’s always claimed he does what he does in the name of justice – specifically justice against mutants on behalf of his late daughter, Grace. Sonia (aka Dreamer) of the Mutant Underground recently used her powers in an attempt to gather information from his memories, but the threat of capture and certain death forced her to leave before she was done. This resulted in Agent Turner losing the memory of his daughter’s death and having to grieve her loss as if for the first time all over again. Driven with renewed fury, Agent Turner made an off-the-books deal with Dr. Campbell of Trask Industries, creator of the Hound Program, in an attempt to find and eliminate the threat of the Mutant Underground. A deal which very nearly cost him his job, possibly his freedom, but instead paid off with the capture of four of the Underground’s members at a Trask Industries’ power substation.

Dr. Campbell, head of Trask Industries, has been performing less than ethical experiments on mutants. He’s tortured and brainwashed an untold number into becoming his Hounds. And he’s been particularly interested in acquiring Lauren and Andy Strucker since he first heard of the incident at the high school. He was nearly killed in the explosion caused by Otto Strucker, Lauren’s and Andy’s grandfather, but refused surgery in favor of having one of his mutant ‘assets’ heal him up.

Lauren and Andy, the latter of whom is still getting a grip on his individual powers, only just learned that they’ve inherited another and far more dangerous ability. They, like their great-grandfather and his twin sister, can combine their powers by holding hands. The extent of this power they don’t know, but Lauren described it as being able to bring down the entire compound in which the Mutant Underground resides. She and Andy also said it was as if they became one being, one person, seeing out of one pair of eyes.

The Underground, with Esme’s heavy and suspicious influence, launched a would-be assault on Trask Industries. Sonia led the way into the power substation with Clarice, Lauren, and Andy in an attempt to destroy the power grid so the other team could get in and rescue the captured mutants. But they got caught one at a time, with Andy being the one to refuse to use their new combined power and risk all the innocent lives in the building just to escape. Sentinel Services took them into custody and the rest of the team, including a helpless Reed and Caitlin, were forced to retreat.

What You’ll Find Out:

*Two Months Ago*

Senator Montez stands at his podium before a crowd, declaring his heavy anti-mutant stance as the primary reason why he should be re-elected. The crowd is full of mutant hate signs and everyone is either shouting or nodding their heads in agreement with the Senator’s words. When the speech is over, he steps into the building behind him, full of campaign signs and workers, telling his assistant about his displeasure at the diminutive crowd size. He wants a larger audience next time. His rant is interrupted by a young intern whose name he can’t recall. She strokes his ego, telling him how much she’d love to sit in on his next meeting to watch him work the room. The girl seems to be Esme, likely working her own angle. The flattered Senator agrees, against his assistant’s suggestion, but Esme is waylaid by sudden, urgent warnings in her head. The voices of her sisters, warning her to flee. Sentinel Services is on the scene.

Esme runs from the building while the crowd of mutant-haters is still dispersing, her sisters shouting in her mind. The shouts are no longer warnings, but pleas for help. They’ve been taken.

*Present Day*

In the immediate aftermath of the failed assault on Trask Industries, with four of their people having been captured, everyone is in a panic. Lorna, Marcos, Reed, Caitlin, and John are gathered in an effort to figure out the best and fastest solution. Lorna wants to barge in without waiting, reasoning she and Reed had both been locked up there and so they know the layout. Reed thinks the idea absurd. He fires back what he feels the craziest parts of the idea are, despite Lorna telling him not to use that word, and Lorna snaps back asking if she has to remind them their kids were two of the people captured. Caitlin jumps in furiously, assuring Lorna that she “sure as hell” doesn’t have to remind her of that, and as Esme watches silently, the argument devolves into a senseless screaming match between the couples.

John, who was quietly bent over the end of the nearest table thinking, loses his temper with the argument and slams his fist down so hard the end of the table snaps off. Everyone shuts up and looks at him. John deliberately explains there is no more “theirs” and “ours.” Lauren, Andy, Clarice, and Sonia are all a part of the same team. This is everyone’s problem. Having taken a breath, Reed more calmly says that if they turn the jail cells into a shooting gallery it’ll only end badly. Lorna doesn’t disagree but adds that it’s only a matter of time before their friends are handed over to Campbell and turned into Hounds. And once that happens they’re all done for. As if letting an absent thought slip out, she more quietly suggests that perhaps they already are. Reed pushes there might be another way but Lorna’s anger flares again. She’d rather take the fight to the enemy now than wait for the enemy to bring it to them later.

Reed reminds Lorna that the last time the Underground attempted a prison break some of their own people nearly died, referencing Trader, who was shot during Lorna’s and Reed’s escape. Lorna takes a breath and Reed offers to contact some people he still knows in the government for help. To which Lorna points out that that, too, has resulted in them nearly being killed before. Caitlin cuts in, sharply reminding them that it was their “low-risk assault” which got them into this situation in the first place. Placing the entire blame on Lorna’s and Marcos’ shoulders. Marcos shouts over her, reminding everyone that “the enemy is not in this room.” Even Esme seemed surprised at the intensity of the argument.

With the yelling again at a pause, John takes over to emphasize Marcos’ point. They agree to send out scouts to try and get eyes on Trask Industries while they figure out a decent plan of attack to rescue their captured people. John makes a point to remind them, again, that they’re all on the same side. Caitlin gives a sidelong look at Marcos and Lorna before departing silently with Reed. Marcos and Lorna depart in a different direction. Esme’s gaze lingers after the Struckers.

Andy and Lauren are trapped in side-by-side cells, still collared. Andy’s freaking out, demanding a lawyer, pounding at the bars. Lauren tells him to stop and instead he tries using his powers to escape, learning the hard way what it feels like when the collar inhibitor kicks in. Subdued and frightened, he apologizes to Lauren for pulling away before, wondering how they’ll get out now. Lauren tells him he did the right thing, that he saved a bunch of innocent lives. That she’s scared, too.

Agent Turner is interviewing Sonia, who’s told Sentinel Services that the group wandered into the power station by accident while looking for the local aquarium. Turner declines to further push the story and instead directs their conversation to the time when they first met. He tells her how he knows she messed with his memory and specifically that she stole the memories of his last few days with his daughter, as well as the memory of her death. Sonia’s shock and horror are evident, but he keeps talking. Turner explains that he went home that night to read his daughter a bedtime story and his wife had to tell him how their only child was gone. He gets slightly emotional, which increases his anger when he continues that he had to deal with the grief of losing his daughter all over again. Tears in her eyes, Sonia shakily and earnestly apologizes. He slams the table, assuring her he doesn’t want an apology. He says he wants “you to pay,” though it’s not clear if he means her directly or mutants as a whole. Probably both. He goes to leave the room and Sonia stops him, surprised at the lack of further questioning. He pauses, telling her that no, they won’t get what they want from her that way. She pales when he asks if she’s familiar with the Hound program.

Turner leaves the room and makes his way to the viewing area for the other interrogation room to watch as his partner, Ed, tries to pry information out of Clarice. Clarice is claiming she was looking for a bathroom. Her snark is at an all-time high as Ed pushes for the truth. He threatens that she won’t be lucky enough to escape them twice, to which she taunts that it wasn’t luck and that she made them look like idiots. Ed warns she won’t like where she ends up if she doesn’t cut a deal immediately, but Clarice doesn’t budge. Watching Ed flounder, Turner makes a call to a newly-released Dr. Campbell.

Campbell brags for a moment about his ability to rush back to work despite the “painful process” of mutant healing before asking Turner about the prisoners he’s acquired. Turner tells him they’re not really getting anywhere with the mutants so he’s thinking it’s time to turn them over and he lists only Clarice and Sonia. But Campbell’s heard about the Strucker children and asks specifically about them, too. Turner says they haven’t been processed yet, hesitating. Campbell firmly reminds Turner of their deal, and of how he can help Turner with information and resources to take down the Mutant Underground, but only if Turner cooperates and keeps his end of the bargain. With a final flicker of hesitation, Turner agrees to put Andy and Lauren onto the armored transport vehicle as well.

Reed and Caitlin are pouring over old notes and paperwork, searching for someone from Reed’s past they might be able to reach out to in order to rescue their children. But every idea they come up with has a clear and unavoidable fail point. Esme, standing outside their partially closed door, listens to their conversation for a moment before reading Reed’s mind and learning about Jace Turner. She knocks on the door to make her official entrance and approaches them, telling them she’d been thinking about their argument earlier and she agrees. They both have family in those prisons and they don’t want bloodshed. She suggests that really this particular issue is a “human problem” in need of a “human solution,” and that no one else understands that. When Reed and Caitlin tell her they can’t find anyone in their network with reason to help, Esme proposes her plan – as a suggestion – of approaching Agent Turner. She says they’ve dealt with him before and at this point, he may be the only one who can really help. Because landing their families in prison would at least be preferable to them becoming Campbell’s newest “pets.”

Marcos finds Lorna perched on the edge of their bed in silence. Obviously upset, when he prompts her, Lorna reminds him that Sentinel Services has her best friend and they’re “talking to the Struckers about lawyers.” Marcos tells her not to be so hard on the Struckers, reminding her that they grew up in “that world,” the world of normal human lives and non-mutant problems. But she doesn’t think that entitles them to a permanent pass. He doesn’t argue but says their kids are locked up, too. She recognizes that point, in the same breath confessing she thinks about their unborn child, and the world he or she will be coming into.

At Trask Industries, Sonia and Clarice have been successfully deposited into their new cells and outfitted with their new prison uniforms. Neither knows what’s happened with Lauren and Andy. Sonia is disheartened, worried they’ve finally gotten into a situation they can’t get out from. She tells Clarice a story about how when she was younger before anyone knew she was a mutant, she worked a shelter for battered women. She would hear such horrible stories that sometimes, in secret, she would use her powers to remove a woman’s worst memory in an attempt to help her heal. Becoming emotional as she talks, Sonia admits she wishes she could take this memory from them now. Clarice tells her, no, not to let this get her down. How when she was first in the mutant detention center before she was so terrified she nearly portal onto a ten-lane freeway. But despite that terror, she escaped. She survived. She reminds Sonia that John will come for them, they just have to be patient.

Having decided that Esme’s idea of approaching Jace Turner is their best route, Reed, and Caitlin quietly discuss how they could possibly pull it off. There’s no doubt that no one within the Underground station would approve, let alone help, with the plan. Meaning they’ll have to do it in secret. Reed hesitates at the idea of such secrecy, but Caitlin points out how “they” don’t want them talking to anyone at all, so they have no choice. Getting through to Turner is their only hope, prison or no prison. The bigger problem is finding a way to talk to him that doesn’t also involve getting arrested immediately. So Reed suggests talking to him at home. Within the files the Underground previously acquired was the personal information of everyone involved, including Agent Turner. It’s their best option, so Reed heads off to get the file with the address while Caitlin heads off to prep a vehicle. Esme watches from a distance with a smirk.

Lauren and Andy are hauled into Campbell’s office, donning new, form-fitting suits. Campbell greets them warmly and, when Lauren asks about the suits, he explains that they’re to monitor hers and Andy’s vitals. He further elaborates that he knows they are the descendants of Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker and he’s incredibly curious to know if they possess the same gift. He believes they do. Lauren denies it, playing dumb to what he’s talking about. Campbell doesn’t indulge her attempt, explaining that he knows their father was recently looking into his past and indicating his own permanently scarred face as proof. Then he has the siblings taken to a place called “testing.”

They’re brought to a room with some kind of metal covering the walls, floor, and ceiling, even including the interior side of the door they came through. On the far wall are rubber spikes. There’s a monitor up near the ceiling across the room which clicks on, revealing Dr. Campbell standing in a lab while techs work at computer desks around him. The siblings ask about the room they’re in and Campbell explains that the walls are made of adamantium, a very rare and indestructible metal which he found a defunct military base in British Columbia. Making the room perfect for exploring mutant powers. And he wants them to do just that. He wants them to unleash their full power on the sensors. Their collars are turned off, but Lauren vehemently refuses. To teach her a lesson, she gets her turn at the shock collar. Andy rushes to her and she whispers to him that they absolutely can’t give him what he’s after, so Andy takes a stand, too. Daring Campbell to shock him. Campbell states that he wished they could have done this the nice way and the monitor goes black.

Reed and Caitlin are driving down Turner’s block, regular suburbia, and Caitlin remarks that it reminds her of their old neighborhood. Reed wonders if it would make a difference to any of them if they knew that innocent people were being tortured just a short ways away. Caitlin comments that it would seem like it’d be impossible to bake cookies or put up holiday decorations, or just live normal, but she thinks that they wouldn’t care. Because she never did, never gave it a thought before it happened to her. She turns to Reed, then, admitting that what they’re about to do is crazy. But Reed thinks it’s worth a try. He believes that, on some level, Turner’s a good man. Angry, but good. When they get closer Caitlin pulls a gun from the glove compartment and when Reed expresses surprise she assures him she knows what she’s doing.

Marcos and Lorna are going over the layout of the prison area again, trying to find a way to rescue their friends. Esme sees them and makes her way over, cautiously interrupting them before saying that they might have a problem with the Struckers. She backtracks to the earlier argument regarding how they wanted to talk to a judge or a lawyer, and at Lorna’s near growl of confirmation she adds that she doesn’t think they were convinced. Stammering a bit she says she knows people sometimes are uncomfortable around telepaths and she tries not to read people’s minds without permission, but when people think too loudly sometimes she picks things up. Lorna cuts her off to make her get to the point and Esme says she thinks they’ve gone to Agent Turner. That she can’t find them and she’s noticed a car missing, too. Infuriated, Marcos and Lorna take off to find John.

Jace Turner is at home, unwinding from “not” a bad day, despite his wife, Paula’s, suspicions. He tells her it’s work stuff, which he can’t tell her about, she reminds him not to work himself into an early grave – like his father apparently did. He teases her that she’d make a hot widow right before the doorbell rings. She says she’ll get it while he makes her a drink, to which he agrees. He goes to pour her drink, pausing for a moment, but before he can pour anything she calls out to him with an odd, calm urgency. He rushes around the corner to find Reed and Caitlin Strucker in the doorway, and Caitlin holding a gun.

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Lorna, Esme, and Marcos explain the situation to John. Now Esme is more vocal in her disgust of the idea, slamming every point she’d previously made to the Struckers. Saying how they’re just human, they don’t understand. “As if a life in prison is any better,” John asks if they think the Struckers could pull it off. Lorna and Esme, to varying degrees, admit, perhaps, but with heavy doses of skepticism. Esme says something about trying to get the kids moved tonight and John jumps in again, cutting off the conversation at the opportunity. If by some miracle Reed does manage to talk Turner into moving the prisoners tonight, that would be their best chance to rescue them. But it doesn’t give them a lot of time.

In defensive mode, Jace Turner assures Reed and Caitlin that kidnapping him and his wife will not gain them any favors. The Sentinel Services does not negotiate with terrorists. Everyone has gathered in the living room at this point, with Caitlin the last to sit down. Reed deliberately assures the Turners that this is not a kidnapping and they are not terrorists. They just want to talk, and then they will leave. Peacefully. But that they’ve come to talk about their children, and the other people recently were taken into custody. Jace attempts to cut them off but his wife stops them, suggesting instead they hear the Struckers out. Reed takes the initiative again to say, specifically, that they’ve come because he’s read Jace’s file and he believes Jace is a good man. And he wants to talk to him parent-to-parent. From the perspective of two sets of parents whose children have been innocently swept up into a war, they didn’t start. Reed goes on to say that their problem is with Campbell’s experiments and the mutants being tortured there. Jace jumps in, assuring them there is no way he’s going to let an entire prison full of mutants go free because they broke into his house, pointed a gun at him and his wife, and asked politely. He adds that everything going on in Campbell’s lab has been approved by Congress, anyway.

Still upset over what the Struckers have done, and the position they’ve been pushed into, Lorna and Marcos are stuck waiting until the moment to move comes. Lorna still wants to go in and attack, despite Marcos’ insistence it would turn into a bloodbath. He argues that Reed and Caitlin are just trying to save the people they love, that he of all people can understand that, but she disagrees. He came to rescue her – to set her free. Reed and Caitlin are settling for their children going to prison. She asks him point blank if he could have accepted that for her and he admits he couldn’t have. But he won’t let her risk her life, let alone get herself killed, in a “stupid war of vengeance,” either. She asks if he wants her to live in fear for the rest of her life, which of course he doesn’t, and she assures him she refuses to do. She doesn’t want that, not for herself, not for him, and not for their child.

Andy and Lauren are still locked in the testing room, having no idea how long they’ve been there or how long they’ll remain trapped inside. The one thing Lauren is sure of is that giving Campbell what he wants is the wrong move. Andy doesn’t disagree. The monitor clicks back on, with Campbell front and center, and he asks again if they’re willing to cooperate. Lauren immediately stands and forcefully suggests he give up. He responds that he thinks they’ll be cooperative with the right motivation and waves in someone off camera, which turns out to be several guards escorting two more prisoners: Clarice and Sonia. Lauren shouts to leave them alone, that they’re not part of this, but Campbell says the siblings have dragged them into it. He adds it can be easy if they simply show him what they can do as he borrows one of his guards’ side-arms and primes it. Andy and Lauren are in shock. Seeing this, Sonia tells them firmly not to do anything for him. Campbell closes his eyes as if frustrated and requests them to join hands. They stare at him, uncertain and afraid. Sonia calls out again, to tell them not to do what he says. But Campbell loses his temper and shoots her in the chest without ceremony.

Sonia falls, dead.

Clarice lurches, half collapsing, half struggling to run to Sonia’s side, as she screams for her fallen comrade. Lauren and Andy, watching through the monitor, cry out in shock and horror and stumble back until their backs are literally against the wall. Eyes wide with horror and fear. They can’t believe their captor really just killed Sonia, all in the name of getting what he wanted from them. Campbell turns back to the monitor, ignoring the commotion behind him, and asks the siblings if there’s a need for more bloodshed. When they don’t react he turns and points the gun squarely at Clarice’s head, demanding they face the sensors.

Andy gathers himself and turns to Lauren, who seems to still be in shock. He shakes her to get her attention and she looks to Clarice, seeing her held at gunpoint, with two guards making sure she has nowhere to run. Andy steps to the middle of the room and holds out his hand. He doesn’t want to let anyone else die. Lauren seems to make the same choice and she takes his hand with determined purpose. Everything slows down as their power merges, the unity overtaking them. It flows from their joined hands, visibly traveling up and over to their extended arms, aimed at the sensors. Campbell’s lab tech, working the monitors, cautions that they’re at the limits of the sensors already, but Campbell assures him the room’s indestructible and insists they proceed. Clarice watches through the monitor in awe until the power bursts from Andy and Lauren’s outstretched hands and everything goes into chaos. The adamantium wall begins to bend and melt beneath their assault, wires, and pipes bursting. The guards, as well as Campbell, quickly move away from the wall before Campbell calls to have the Struckers’s collars turned back on. They’re to be returned to their cells and brought something good to eat, as he is most pleased with their contribution.

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Back at the Turner house, Reed and Jace are arguing. Jace is still refusing to back down on his stance, standing by the authorized and legal position of his actions. Reed argues the ethics, argues that they’re just children. Jace points out that no matter how bad off Reed’s kids are, at least they’re still alive. Reed starts in on what a terrible justification that is for torturing a fifteen and seventeen-year-old, but Caitlin, seeing how uncomfortable the whole circumstance is making Paula, cuts her husband off. Caitlin looks straight at Jace and tells him, tells them, that she knows how upsetting the situation is. She says when he broke into her house with a gun she was terrified. Jace seems surprised and bothered by the mentioning of that incident, and glances to his wife, who seems less than pleased as well. Caitlin continues, adding that she’s going to say one more thing, and then she and Reed will leave. Reed agrees with a silent nod.

She tells Jace, but mostly Paula, exactly what the Hound program does as she’s seen it. How the mutants are tortured, pumped full of drugs, beaten into submission and conditioned to such a degree that once they are released they’ll do anything. And then they’re sent to kill the people they love. She says they may be alive, but that that life is worse than death. She and Reed leave without another word, just as promised. As soon as the door shuts behind them Jace gets to his feet, ready to go to war. He gets out his phone and his gun, prepared to call in backup and raise hell for having had this come to his home. But before he can make that call his wife catches his attention, having to yell at him to get through his tirade, and with tears in her voice, she demands to know what he’s been doing in their baby’s name.

Clarice is back in her cell, angry and devastated over Sonia’s death. With no powers and no one to talk to, she’s left to pound helplessly on the glass before she sinks to the floor, crying. Back in their own cells, Lauren and Andy are trying to deal with Sonia’s death, too. Lauren thinks it’s their fault. Campbell killed Sonia because of them. Andy tries to make her feel better, saying she told them not to, and Lauren sharply reminds him they did anyway. So her death didn’t mean anything. She’s shaken by how easily Campbell killed Sonia. “Like her life meant nothing.” Andy tries again, with a different tactic, trying to hold onto some optimism, but Lauren can’t see it. She knows that whatever Campbell was after, whatever he wanted from them, he just got.

Dr. Campbell meets up with his lab tech, who confirms they got the data they needed from Lauren and Andy’s demonstration earlier. He says something about having a permanent “cure for the mutant problem” moments before getting a call that Sentinel Services has arrived. Campbell meets up with Turner and several Sentinel Services agents in his main lab, the room still in shambles after Lauren and Andy’s display of power. Turner’s surprised to see the mess, and the wall just barely still standing and asks what happened, but Campbell brushes it off like no big deal. Then he gets to business, saying he’s been reviewing the status of the detainees and he’s no longer satisfied with the legalities, so he’s there to take the mutants. Campbell reminds him that they’d had a deal, to which Turner agrees, but says he’s “revisiting” their deal. Turner looks at the observation monitor, quickly notices that Sonia’s room is empty, and asks where she is. Campbell says there was an ‘incident’ during an ‘experiment’ and she ‘didn’t make it.’ Displeased with this news, Turner promises to return to that discussion, and orders his men to round up the rest of the mutants.

John rushes down the stairs to find Lorna and Marcos, with Esme close by, telling them he just got word from Shatter, who’s been keeping watch over Trask Industries. Sentinel Services is there and it looks like they’re loaded to transport prisoners. Esme comments a level of shock that the Struckers must have succeeded. Lorna seems genuinely, but pleasantly, surprised. Marcos lays out the best battle plan, based on the idea that they’ll only have a few minutes tops, and they could well end up with Hounds after them. Esme volunteers to go in, saying if she gets close enough she could read a guard to get the info they need. Everyone agrees and rushes out to get into position.

Once they’re at the perimeter, Shatter meets up with them to let them know how many vehicles to expect. John does his thing and verifies that the transport bus has loaded, but it’s hard to tell if all of their friends are onboard, as there was a larger group. But it’s time to get moving, so Marcos takes Esme in closer as planned to get a bird’s-eye view.

Still recovering from the gunshot wound weeks before, Trader has stayed behind at headquarters. He was able to intercept Reed and Caitlin when they returned, pulling them aside to light into them for having the nerve to come back after running off to Agent Turner. Caitlin and Reed are shocked to find out the others new, and more shocked to learn Esme was the one who told them. Trader defends Esme, saying maybe she just didn’t agree with the idea, but Reed says no, she came to them with it. Caitlin backs him up, echoing that Esme was the one who suggested they go to Agent Turner in the first place. Trader is taken aback and admits that’s not what Esme told them. Reed asks where the others are, and when Trader tells him they’re at Trask, Reed declares that they’d promised not to attack. Trader tells them “Esme said she had a plan,” and Reed and Caitlin exchange looks of worry.

Turner, the lead car in the exit caravan, pulls up the gate at Trask Industries and gives some paperwork to the guard. The guard seems surprised that he’s taking all the prisoners. Watching from the other side of the overgrown chain link fence, Marcos whispers that they have more manpower than he’d expected. Behind him, Esme responds she thinks it’ll be all right. He turns around in preparation to lecture but is cut off by the taser Esme jabs into his chest. When he falls she drops it and moves up to the fence for a better view. Turner’s still busy with the Trask guard, but his partner, Ed, is standing alone behind him.

Esme’s eyes glow as she takes control of Ed’s mind and persuades him to turn off the collars. He pulls out a remote, highlights all the collars, and disables them. Moments later gunshots are fired inside the transport bus, alerting Turner and the guard to a problem. Inside the bus, the mutant prisoners are shouting, scared, as one guard is behaving as though he’s being controlled and is holding a gun. He lifts it and kills himself. Turner shouts for the agents to get to work, figure out what’s going on in the bus, agents start scrambling, and Ed shoots him in the arm. Fallen against the side of the guard’s outpost, Turner looks to Ed in shock in time to see Ed put the gun to the underside of his jaw and pull the trigger. Turner watches the area in numb shock as agents seem to be shooting each other instead of controlling the situation. One of his men, standing beside a car, lifts a grenade from his belt and, with the prompt of a female voice in his head, pops the pin, holds onto the grenade, and gets into the car. Turner tried to stop him, but only managed to get thrown back by the explosion.

Esme walks past the bodies of the fallen officers once her path is clear and meets up with the first two mutants off the bus. Her sisters. Marcos wakes up as the three Cuckoos use their joined telepathy to have another group of Sentinel Services men kill each other, witnessing the whole thing. He runs back to Lorna and the others, startling them, exclaiming “they’re killing everyone!” While Lorna tries to get him to calm down enough to tell them who “they” are, the rest of the mutants step off the bus and huddle together, facing the sisters in semi-horrified shock. In synch, the telepaths tell them it’s time to go, that the fun’s just begun.

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What Does This Mean for the Future?

John, Polaris, and the rest of the Underground are about to have their foundation shaken up in a couple of ways. Sage made it clear a while back that they expect honesty and trust from the refugees they take in so the discovery that their new telepath has so flawlessly played them won’t settle well. Especially considering their no killing policy and the bloodbath Esme’s happily masterminding. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. John and Polaris, in particular, are going to have a hard time learning and then dealing with, the reality of Sonia’s death. Polaris is going to want blood. John … has managed a tight, though occasionally slippery, grip on his control. The cold-blooded murder, in conjunction with the betrayal and the manipulation of the kids, could just tip him over the edge into vengeance. At least briefly.

They may or may not take the rest of the rescued mutants in as new refugees in light of what happened with Esme and the Hound before.

Agent Turner is undoubtedly going to come back angrier than ever after this stunt. He’ll blame the Struckers, of course, for lying or manipulating him into playing their game. This will all spill over into an even harder struggle for the survival of the Underground. High chances this mass attack against Sentinel Services will reunite them with Trask Industries, but a slim chance that Trask (Dr. Campbell) will resist, holding a grudge against Turner for taking his prized mutants.

John and the others, likely through a more level-headed Marcos, will apologize for believing Esme and mistrusting the Struckers. Despite that, the Struckers actually did do the thing she accused them of. Because that’s basically how it goes. But Caitlin, and possibly Reed, will be more fearful than ever of endangering their children in this war. They may even seriously consider leaving the Underground under the delusion that they’re safer on their own.

And when the Cuckoos come back, since we already know they will, at least one person is guaranteed to chuck something at their heads. Likely something large and metal. Beyond that the entire group will surely meet them with resistance, and who could blame them?

Rating: 9/10

Final Thought: Holy wow. The Cuckoos have landed! Not quite how I expected, and boy was it dramatic! But I probably shouldn’t jump straight to talking about the ending. So much happened, and while I wanted to smack some compassion and reason into a few of the characters at times, that doesn’t mean it was bad. In fact, that means the opposite most of the time – getting a reaction like that is good writing! Still, let’s see if I can start at the beginning.

Chill. Your. …Errr, I mean, calm the hell down, Caitlin. Everyone you’re yelling at knows those are your kids. The same two *young adults* that you’ve been Mother Henning since you arrived in like episode two. The same two that have shown you, repeatedly, that they want to contribute and be treated as equals, not babies. The same two who volunteered, and *you* agreed, to partake in this last mission. Of course you’re upset, and yes you should be, but honestly, do you not at all care that two other people got captured, too? Do you think it’s seriously okay to be yelling in the faces of the people who are good friends with them, *blaming* said people, who, hey, by the way, wasn’t even *present* when the capture went down?

Who was supposed to be watching the entrances? You. Who was too busy making goo-goo eyes with her husband? You. Who’s responsible for your children’s capture? Sentinel Services. Possibly Esme.

Yeah, if you can’t tell, Caitlin’s belligerent, in-your-face, full-on screaming at Polaris (and others, but mostly Polaris) that it was her (Polaris’) fault, etc, really irked me. Refusing to even acknowledge that other people went missing, other people are in danger, too, or her own part in the entire event. Even when John shouted at her – all of them – to shut up and recognize that they’re all on the same side, they’re all one team. It was just a huge emphasis that she (and Reed, but she’s seemed like the worst of it to me) has always behaved as if her family is an island, living in their own little world that just happens to reside under another group’s roof. But the others aren’t her concern until her family decides to help them out. Like she still can’t accept that her kids are part of a bigger, scarier world now. No, it’s not fair, but neither is sticking your head in the sand and shackling them to you while you refuse to acknowledge reality. Every time I see a glimmer of progress in Caitlin – on her own – something flickers in the direction of her kids and that progress is slammed back to zero in the blink of an eye. That is probably my biggest criticism, actually.

Moving on from Mrs. Strucker. So many interesting and significant things happened in this one! Not all of them happy, unfortunately. As some of you may recall, several episodes (and therefore reviews) back, I declared I did not like Dreamer. That was true at the time. Honestly, the entire season thus far I’ve been hot and cold with Dreamer. Though in the last few episodes she’s been much more likable for me. The creepy, obsessive vibe thing that I didn’t like stopped being so played up and we got to see more of her usefulness for the Underground and her overall sympathetic but determined nature. I was even reconsidering my generic stance, provided the focus remained as it was. Then Dr. Campbell went and lost his temper. As if we didn’t all hate him already. While I’m not surprised someone from the Underground (a face we recognize, I should say) died in the mid-season finale, I am a little shocked it was Dreamer. I was expecting it would more of a side-but-familiar face, like Shatter. Dreamer, Sonia, died fighting (as best she could in that situation), trying to keep her enemy from getting something he seemed desperate for. One gunshot later and she was down, gone forever (probably). Clarice’s reaction was wonderful in an emotional way, especially considering the struggle the two had had for the bulk of the season. Plus it’s almost always the reactions of others, as opposed to the death itself, that really gets me tearing up. I’m usually in shock over the death, especially a sudden one. But watching another character’s face contort with horror or sadness, watching and/or hearing them scream, it slices through me. If only Andy and Lauren had pushed a little harder and managed to blow apart Dr. Campbell with that power he was so desperate to see…

Speaking of Andy and Lauren, did anyone else recognize where Campbell found the adamantium for their cell? Direct reference Wolverine’s history and X-Men 2’s main setting. Very fitting acquisition for a character like Campbell.

Esme’s Plan #1: Send Reed and Caitlin to deal with the problem from a ‘human perspective.’ For one thing, I’m not sure if she legitimately thought it would work or if all she cared about was getting them to leave in secret so she could throw them under the bus. Either way, leave in secret they did (refer to the above ‘island’ comment). And I gotta say, this may just take the cake for Dumbest Idea Ever, Strucker Ed. In all of their combined experiences dealing with Jace Turner, before or during this ordeal, what on earth convinced them this was their only choice? In my opinion, they (Caitlin, if you can believe it) only did two things right. 1) Bring a gun. 2) Make a point of referencing, in front of his wife, the time he bullied his way into her home with a gun and how terrified she was. But seriously, Reed’s kind of a hothead. He outbursts in anger more than one might expect from a prosecutor and loses perspective on the point he was almost making. And Jace might bite his tongue in the moment, but he’ll also blow up in a big and terrible way later on. So thank goodness Reed listened to his wife and they left when she said to. More importantly, Caitlin earned a couple (just a couple) points for the argument that got Jace’s wife to talk some kind of sense into him.

Esme’s Plan #2: This one might’ve been called ‘Blow Everything Up, then Blow Everyone Away,’ but I’m not entirely sure. It definitely started with selling out the Struckers and playing dumb, since she still had everyone fooled. Putting John and the rest into a position of needing to watch Trask without being seen and crossing their fingers, because they absolutely couldn’t go after Caitlin and Reed at Jace Turner’s house. Everyone was on edge, trust for the Struckers at an all-time low, and when word broke that Sentinel Services was moving in with enough trucks to extract prisoners they jumped. Rattling the team was the psychological blow-up. Blowing everyone away was much more literal. Thankfully she didn’t want to kill, or seriously incapacitate, Marcos (I like him, and none of us want to see full-crazy Lorna.) I felt bad for Turner’s partner, though. Then the most amazing, yet amazingly terrifying, thing happened: two more Cuckoos joined Esme’s mass killing spree. We officially have a Three-In-One.

For those who don’t follow the comics, ‘Three-In-One’ is another name or title that the Cuckoos went by after the death of two of the original five sisters. Ironically the two deceased sisters were Sophie and Esme, but hey, shows take liberties.

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