Rebuilding – The Gifted: “3 X 1”

In the wake of Esme’s attack, the enemy is redoubling its efforts to bring down the Mutant Underground. But Esme’s heavy-handed manipulation may have done it for them.

The Gifted – “3 X 1”, Season 1, Episode 11
Airdate: January 1, 2018
Director: David Straiton
Writer: Melinda Hsu Taylor
Based on the Marvel comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

What You Should Know:
Clarice (Blink), Sonia (Dreamer), Lauren and Andy were caught by Sentinel Services while on a mission to disable a power station in an effort to rescue the mutants being held by Trask Industries. Dr. Campbell, head of Trask, had the four mutants transferred to his lab so that he could finally experiment on the siblings Lauren and Andy. When they refused to cooperate he murdered Sonia in front of them, then pointed the gun at Clarice, forcing their hand.

While their children were being held at Trask Industries, and fearing they would be turned into murderous Hounds, Reed and Caitlin took Esme’s advice and bullied their way into Agent Jace Turner’s home in order to have a hard conversation. Their words got through to Jace’s wife, who convinced him that what was happening to the mutants was wrong, and Agent Turner took a team of Sentinel Services men to remove the mutants from Trask labs.

Once she’d convinced Caitlin and Reed to sneak off to talk to Agent Turner, Esme ran to Marcos (Eclipse) and Lorna (Polaris) and lied about how she’d learned what the Struckers were up to. But there was nothing they could do until they heard that mutants were being moved at Trask when they rushed over in an attempt to extract their comrades. Esme made her move, tasing Marcos before taking control of Agent Turner’s partner’s mind to turn off the mutant collars. She had him kill himself, then had as many Sentinel Services agents as she could find kill each other as well before finally reuniting with two of her sisters as the mutants on the bus stepped free.

What You’ll Find Out:

*Two Years Ago*

Clarice is leaving the local theater with a man, presumably her boyfriend, both in good spirits. They’re joking about ‘making it a thing’ by having her leave a toothbrush at his place when they’re suddenly surrounded by imposing men in matching black shirts sporting large, white crosses. They proceed to vandalize Clarice’s car, declaring her unwelcome in “human” company. When they put her boyfriend on the spot, asking if he’s a mutant, too, he awkwardly says no, he isn’t. He further encourages Clarice to just turn and run instead of standing her ground and defending herself against the gang of men, known as Purifiers. Horrified and frightened, Clarice heeds his advice and runs away.

*Present Day*

At an undisclosed, remote location Esme and her recently freed sisters have a meeting with a man of obvious wealth and importance. They discuss the sisters’ recent escape from Trask Industries, including the mess they made by killing so many Sentinel Services agents. The unnamed man asks about the Mutant Underground and the Struckers, to which the sisters say the scene was rather chaotic. The three of them went one way, the Underground took the Struckers and went another. “Without so much as a thank you.” The loss seems to displease him.

He adds that sources tell him despite their efforts the Hound program remains strong. That he, and they, were recruited to rebuild the Hellfire Club and this could have made that more difficult. They remind him they saw the problem first hand, “most of us, anyway,” with a pointed look at the middle sister who presumably is Esme. He tells the sisters their associates don’t think the organization is yet strong enough to handle the Hounds and the sisters confidently assure him they know where to find help. The Mutant Underground.

Both Sonia, aka Dreamer, and Agent Jace Turner’s partner, Ed, are laid to rest in the days following the attack at Trask Industries.

Agent Turner stands at the front of a group of friends, family, and colleagues in remembrance of his partner, with the flag-covered coffin behind him. He speaks of Ed’s good qualities before telling a story of Lucifer, once God’s favorite angel. An angel who received special gifts but became arrogant and greedy, turning evil and undeserving of mercy. He compares mutants with Lucifer, saying they are people who’ve been given these ‘special gifts’ and implying these gifts make them evil. He vows he’s done showing mercy. That he will bring the mutants responsible for Ed’s death to justice. As he makes this vow, the flag is folded and handed over to Ed’s widow.

Elsewhere, the mutants of the Underground are gathered around a stand to represent their lost friend – a friend whose body they don’t have the ability to bury. Each holds small bundles of flowers in their hands. Lorna speaks first, of Sonia’s dedication to them and their cause. Of how she chose to fight alongside them when she didn’t have to because they – the mutant community – were the ones who really needed her. They became her family. When Marcos takes his turn he talks more of how “in moments like this” it’s a reminder that humans don’t see them as fellow human beings. They don’t recognize the truth – that mutants love, and die, and grieve, just the same as ordinary humans. He also vows to find justice for Sonia’s death before depositing his bouquet and stepping back, pulling a sobbing Lorna into his arms. The rest of the Underground, including the Strucker family, come up to rest their gifts over the memorial. John stands back, waiting until the others are done before placing his own. Lingering silently before following everyone home.

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Before stepping back into the building that serves as their headquarters, John takes a moment alone to let himself grieve. It’s clear he doesn’t want anyone else to see him cry, but he can’t contain the pain entirely. Behind him, Clarice comes outside, patiently waiting until he’s done. He turns after a moment and startles, having not realized she was there. He walks up the steps, intending to ignore what she may or may not have seen, but she stops him to ask how he’s holding up. John doesn’t want to talk about it, which she picks up on, but she makes sure he knows she wants to help however she can. He accepts her declaration by changing the topic grief and Sonia to the fact that their own members can’t agree on whether or not what Esme did was a miracle or a tragedy. Either way, the result is chaos. Clarice asks what their next move is and he admits he doesn’t know for sure, but their goal remains the same: they need to take down the Hound program. In the meantime, all he really knows at the moment is that he isn’t prepared to lose anyone else.

The Strucker family retreats to their private space within the headquarters, both Andy and Lauren particularly gloomy after the funeral. Caitlin asks if they want to talk about what happened and Lauren shuts her down. Reed declares that, given all of the difficult things they’ve gone through and the bad memories ‘here,’ it’s time to move on. Go to Mexico like they’d originally planned. Andy and Lauren immediately speak out against the idea, agreeing that they don’t want to leave. They want to stay and fight. Andy likens leaving or running away, to quitting. Caitlin tries to argue that it’s not quitting, that they’re always going to be a part of this fight now. Reed even suggests that the refugees in Mexico could be in more need of their help than the ones here. Still, Lauren and Andy aren’t sold. This is the fight they want to be part of. Seeing that their children are set in their choice, Reed simply says “I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, then.” Ending the argument and vetoing Andy’s and Lauren’s chances of being heard.

Immediately after Shatter can be heard shouting throughout the building for everyone’s attention as he barrels down the stairs. He barely has time to warn Marcos that “they’re coming” before Esme and her sisters stride into the building. With everyone watching they tell Marcos to calm down, as they’re there because they need the Underground’s help. The Hound program isn’t just still going, it’s “looking to expand,” and they very bluntly tell John and the others they need the Underground’s strength to take it down. Esme offers an explanation in lieu of an apology to the Strucker parents as well as Marcos, saying yes, she manipulated them and pushed them into the positions she wanted them, but in the end, she saved their lives. And their children. The sisters add that in exchange for the Underground’s assistance they’ll offer up intelligence and resources. Many of the mutants start murmuring amongst themselves, intrigued, and Caitlin takes offense, stepping up in horror to ask if they’re really considering this offer. John steps in and says no, they’re not considering or discussing anything. Not now. He tells Esme they’ve heard her out, now she and her sisters need to leave. The sisters heed his request, with the parting words not to take too long thinking it over.

Agent Turner is visiting his daughter’s grave when Dr. Campbell approaches him. Campbell says he admires Turner for what he did before. That he recognizes his research is inhumane, and while he views it as necessary, he can also respect a man with mercy in his heart. Turner makes a bitter comment about how his partner died as a result, and Campbell reminds him that, unfortunately, the time for mercy is over. Then he dives into what he really wants, telling Turner that his research has entered a new phase and they’d like to regain the support of Sentinel Services.

Lauren finds Andy upstairs, sitting alone with his notebook. She’s come to bring him back to ‘school,’ which Andy thinks is particularly funny since their mother – who made such a stink over creating it – is now going to bail on it. Lauren admits it’s not her desire to leave, either, but in light of everything going on a part of her suspects, it might be the right thing to do. This surprises Andy. Lowering her voice, Lauren explains that even though Clarice didn’t tell everyone precisely what they did in the lab, people still know that something happened and they were the focus. When Andy doesn’t seem to get it, she adds that she doesn’t think it’s safe for them to be around Esme and her sisters. Andy disagrees, saying perhaps that makes it the best time to be there. He puts down his pencil as he walks away, revealing that he’d been sketching an angry, black wolf.

That night Sage reveals to Clarice and John what she’s learned about the sisters. She says as far as she could find there are three of them: Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe. Last name Frost. She adds they use several aliases, like when Sophie and Phoebe were arrested they gave their last name as Cuckoo “probably just to piss off the cops.” The Frosts are listed as well-off, politically connected, and Sage explains their power is described as a HIVE mind with limited telepathic control, provided they have visual and their target doesn’t see it coming. She pulls up an image from Senator Montez’s campaign Esme had previously infiltrated, and Clarice jumps in declaring Montez to be a Purifier. If nothing else this shows her the sisters have good taste in enemies.

John argues their choice of enemy doesn’t mean they can trust them, and if they make the wrong choice it’ll tear the Underground apart. Sage indicates a nearby argument, saying the place is already starting to come apart. But before John can go play mediator she gets up to handle it herself, leaving Clarice and John alone. John asks Clarice what she thinks, and Clarice says that she honestly isn’t sure. She just knows she’s done running away, done worrying about why she feels what she feels. John gives her a strange look, without saying a word, and in the silence, Sage calls him over to help with the dispute after all.

Meanwhile, Lorna and Marcos are also arguing over what to do with the Frost sisters. He has no interest in trusting them, but Lorna isn’t quite willing to dismiss them. She declares she isn’t “crying” over the Sentinel Services’ deaths, and in the end, the sisters got the job done. Marcos asks her if that’s really all that matters and she replies that in this circumstance it might have to be. But in the midst of their argument, Lorna paused and rested a concerned hand over her belly, slightly hunched forward. She lifted her other hand and rolled it around as if she were using her power, but without actually activating it. When Marcos asked if she was all right she brushed it off, assuring him she was, and when she was done making her point she left the room.

Marcos attempts to pursue her down the hall, but he’s cut off by another passing mutant just long enough to overhear Andy complaining about leaving. He looks to the side, as he’s standing across from the Struckers’ open door, and sees them packing up their personal belongings. He goes in to ask if something’s wrong and Caitlin and Reed tell him of their intent to leave. Marcos is dumbstruck, so Reed explains that they’ve decided to go to the Fairburn station, and from there they’ll head to Mexico. Marcos argues that the Underground needs them, that they’ve been a big help with the school and the kids, but Caitlin dismisses it with a quiet “it was a hard decision.” The parents further state that they can’t risk the Frost sisters turning more of the mutants against them when some of the mutants are already angry with them “just” for talking to Agent Turner. Marcos declares that he wants them there, but it isn’t enough to change their minds, so Reed merely offers him an awkward apology.

The next morning Marcos helps Caitlin and Reed load their supplies into a car, reminding them of the tips they can use to best stay under the radar while they travel. The Strucker parents thank him before Reed turns to check on Andy, who’s sitting and sketching in his notebook in the backseat, and asks where Lauren is. Andy says she’s inside, and when Reed asks if Andy told her they were ready Andy replies “it’s almost like she doesn’t want to leave” and pulls his door shut. Inside, Lauren is slowly trudging her way upstairs when Clarice calls out to her. She’s heard the news, of course, and attempts to impart some of her own hard-earned wisdom on Lauren about the realities of running away. Lauren declares it wasn’t her idea and Clarice pushes, saying sooner or later she’ll need to learn to stand her ground. Lauren says she tried that, and it got Sonia killed. Recognizing what Lauren is really struggling with, Clarice’s expression softens and she firmly tells her that what happened was not her fault. She adds that she learned, over the years, that fear breeds hate, and running feeds the fear. Lauren seems to realize what Clarice is saying, but she isn’t ready to hear it, so instead, she steps away and leaves to find her family.

Dr. Campbell takes Agent Turner to see some of the mutant Hounds, all the while explaining that he’s done research proving that mutant siblings such as the Struckers and the Frosts have a much stronger connection and power when together than when apart. He explains some finer parts of his new experiments, and Turner interrupts him to ask about the legalities. Campbell replies that he’s certain everything will be worked out once the powers that be see what his program can do for them. He shows Turner a pair of specific mutants, explaining that when he combines their powers they become exponentially stronger. But words don’t do it justice, so he asks Turner for a chance to demonstrate this claim in the field. Turner hesitates but relents when Campbell reminds him of his desire to take down the Underground. Satisfied with Turner’s agreement, Campbell shows off one of his methods of control by pulling out a small vial and wiggling it in front of the glass for the mutant to see.

The Struckers arrive at the Fairburn station and walk into what appears to be a large, empty stone building. Just as the haunted building vibe starts to hit an illusion fades as Wes’ voice teases that they ‘had to make sure they were good people.’ With the illusion dropped the building is suddenly much livelier with over a dozen mutants spread out beyond him. Lauren’s spirits skyrocket and she runs to give him a hug. Reed and the rest of the family greet him warmly as Wes explains this is what he does now, they have him using his power to shield them from unwanted attention. Lauren explains they’re there for transport to Mexico, so Wes tells them they have several mutants, they’re just still arranging a ride. He brings them in to show them where the food is and while no one is looking Andy turns and walks down another, seemingly empty hall.

Sitting by himself in a dark room, Andy stares silently out a window until he hears a woman walking up to him. He sighs as though expecting it to be his mother or sister, but the speaker startles him by revealing herself to be a Frost sister. When he asks her which one she is she brushes it off, saying they’re “three in one,” before bringing the conversation to him and his family’s flight from Atlanta. In a depressed tone he declares it was his parents’ decision, he supposes they were just trying to protect him. The unspecified Frost replies that he isn’t exactly in need of protection. She tells him to speak to his parents, which he interrupts to say he tried, so she specifies he needs to speak to them as Andrew Von Strucker. He looks taken aback so she asks if he’s surprised she knows his real name. She adds that she knows many things, about him and his family, and when he gets up to leave she catches him by the arm to tell him plainly that they need him. They might even need him “most of all.”

Meanwhile, Lorna’s asleep in bed when she suddenly wakes up with the inescapable need for some fresh air. As soon as she gets outside another of the sisters walks up, saying she needs to know what the Underground is going to decide. When Lorna asks why she’d reveal that, Frost calls her out, saying she knows Lorna likes the idea of teaming up. So Lorna points out that a lot of them dislike the idea of being puppets. The sister dismisses the concern, enticing Lorna to argue that there’s also a rumor going around that the Frost’s are connected to a terrorist group: the Hellfire Club. Frost scoffs as if the accusation is funny but when Lorna doesn’t flinch she seems genuinely shocked and asks if it’s possible Lorna really has no clue.

Before Lorna can ask what she’s talking about, the sister specifies that she’s asking about Lorna’s father. Lorna argues that her father was a pilot, but she’s interrupted by Frost who says she means Lorna’s real father. Lorna says she doesn’t want to talk about it, but Frost presses on. Lorna’s father was a member of the Hellfire Club – a King. Which makes Lorna royalty. Now it’s Lorna’s turn to scoff, claiming just because some guy got her mother pregnant doesn’t make her anything. She goes to walk away so Frost changes the subject, asking about Lorna’s pregnancy. She can tell it’s changing Lorna, and she tells Lorna if she wants to protect the baby she, and the Underground, need to join them. Lorna reminds Frost that a lot of the mutants inside the building beside them hate her and her sisters, but Frost explains that war isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about what matters the most. After Frost walks away, her point made, Lorna holds up her hands and activates her power, watching the familiar light, vibrant green changes to a darker, deeper green with maroon tints. Emphasizing everything Frost just said.

In the morning Lauren helps Wes stack and reorganize boxes in a stockroom. Wes suggests she could go back for more sleep but Lauren admits she hasn’t been sleeping well, anyway. Wes puts down the box he was holding and admits he heard about what happened with Sonia. Quietly, Lauren confesses that she keeps wondering what she could have done differently if there was a way she could have prevented Sonia’s death. Wes grabs her hand, startling her, and tells her not to think like that. That life throws bad things at people, but he likes to think that they’re necessary, because you have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good. Like how his difficult times led him to this moment, stacking boxes with her, giving him another chance to see her again.

Polaris PowerUp G11-9

Lorna’s sitting on the stairs, examining the changed aura of her powers. With an experimental flick of her wrist, she slams the heavy vault door that’s all the way across the main space. All of the mutants in the area, including Marcos, stop and stare in startled shock for several seconds. Marcos looks over at Lorna, cautiously asking what that was about. Lorna explains how she would never have been able to pull off a stunt like that without even trying before, and she smiles as she says she thinks the change is because of the baby. After assuring him the baby is fine she adds that she feels “amazing,” which seems to alarm Marcos. He carefully asks if she’s okay, so she interrupts him to say she knows what a bipolar episode feels like and this isn’t that. This is a change. She says everything’s changing, to which Marcos resignedly admits he knows before declaring that John needs to be made aware of Lorna’s change in power.

John, Clarice, Marcos, and Lorna discuss what to do about the Frost sisters’ impending arrival. John is hesitant to trust them. Marcos is against it. He doesn’t agree with their tactics of mass murder. Lorna sees the benefits of working with them, of the things they could accomplish together. She’s willing to get her hands dirty if it means taking down their enemies. Clarice recognizes the Frost’s success from before. She credits them for having saved their lives, regardless of the how. John points out that the increase in public outrage could persuade the government to declare martial law, but Clarice argues Sentinel Services didn’t need martial law to murder her foster family and the children living there. Marcos holds to his point, however, insisting they can’t just throw away their principles. He says the X-Men chose them for a reason and they have to be better than that. They have to find a way to end the Hound program without the death toll. Sage rushes in, interrupting their argument to tell them she heard on the police banner that something big is about to go down.

At the Fairburn station, Reed comes in saying he found a trucking company that might be able to help them cross the border. Lauren perks up, hoping the opportunity falls through and she’ll have a chance to spend more time with Wes. Andy approaches his parents saying if it doesn’t come through he’ll have time to run back to Atlanta to help out. Caitlin tells him they came all this way to get away from Atlanta, she doesn’t understand why he’s fighting them. He begins to argue that no, they don’t understand, but before Andy can finish his argument the two mutants Dr. Campbell had previously shown Agent Turner, now connected via a single set of high-tech, gauntlet-like cuffs, pull the outer wall of the building completely down.

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Several mutants scatter from the room as Wes and Lauren throw up an illusion and a shield respectively. In a van somewhere behind the commotion, Dr. Campbell, and Agent Turner watch through several monitors. Turner is astounded at the combined abilities. Campbell explains that with this technology his Hounds could flush mutants from hiding without risking Sentinel Services agents, potentially saving hundreds of lives. Back inside, the Struckers call to Lauren to run and Andy moves closer in an attempt to fight back, simultaneously calling to his sister to fight with him. He barely gets her name out before the next blast from the Hounds sends him flying and he cracks his head on a wall. Lauren’s concentration breaks, but she looks back at the Hounds and notices the device and how it’s positioned. Holding the mutants side-by-side by their hands and forearms.

The Struckers and Wes have taken shelter on the southwest side of the building, with Wes’ illusion essentially the only thing between them and the enemy. Reed’s on the phone with John, who’s en-route in an SUV with Lorna, Marcos, and Clarice to come rescue them. Reed tells him Andy’s unconscious and his head won’t stop bleeding, adding that Wes is about at his limit and most of the other mutants have already surrendered.

Dr. Campbell praises Agent Turner’s choice of target and Turner admits he caught a break, having received a tip from a truck driver. Accepting the response, Campbell explains his own process. He says the shackle connecting the pair of Hounds actually mingles their bloodstreams, essentially merging both the mutants and the powers. He adds “with the rights mutants, the possibilities are endless.”

John and the others arrive as Sentinel Services prepares to set up its final assault on the building, rounding up the hold-outs. Clarice portals they into the building and John takes the lead as they run to find the Struckers. The Hounds outside continue to tear the building apart blast by blast while Reed and Caitlin plead for Andy to wake up, piles of bloody tissue or cloth around them. Andy finally, groggily slurs something about his head hurting at the same time as Wes collapses from exhaustion. With Wes down Lauren is their only defense, so she throws her shield into place just as the Sentinel Services agents on the other side of the building start shooting. In another part of the building, John and the others have made it upstairs amidst the chaos, finally finding the Struckers.

They make a run for it and moments later are caught up in another blast. Marcos and Lorna are both hit. Marcos hits a wall with the side of his face, which dazes him, but Lorna goes flying. High and back, out of control. John sees her flailing and barely manages to predict her landing trajectory, catching her as she falls and preventing certain injury. Everyone gathers themselves and John shouts for Clarice to get them out as soon as possible. They make it out into the woods around the building, but with the area crawling with Sentinel Services, they have to proceed slowly. John pauses to check ahead and learns the SUV’s been found. They have to find another way.

Before anyone can formulate a plan Andy regains consciousness once more, coherent this time, and says to follow him, “they said it was safe.” Instead of explaining he rushes off into the woods, forcing everyone to follow after him. They run blindly, Andy barely conscious until they come to a road with several Sentinel Services agents on the ground holding their heads and all three Frost sisters waiting by two shiny black SUVs. Reed demands to know what they’re doing to the agents, so one sister assures him they’re just giving the men some distracting thoughts before all three shrug and say they “know you’re squeamish about killing.” With time short and the enemy still chasing them, the group has no real choice but to take the sisters’ offer and get into the SUVs. Marcos’ distaste of accepting their help is palpable.

Agent Turner and Dr. Campbell have a sit-down meeting with an unnamed man of importance, pushing to get Dr. Campbell’s program up and running. Turner declares he’s seen it in action and it’s more effective than anything they’ve tried before, even the Sentinel robots. The man is hesitant at first, reminding both that there’s a reason they’ve kept such research and programs quiet. Turner calmly argues that he understands, but at the end of the day, the people want to see results. They want to see their government taking action. He’s confident they’ll get the support they need if they’re given the chance. So the man agrees, telling Dr. Campbell to put together what he needs for a demonstration by the end of the week. He asks if Campbell can take it national, to which Campbell replies that with the right resources and support he could even take it global.

Back at the Underground headquarters in Atlanta, Caitlin is setting up an IV for Wes while Reed sits with the once again unconscious Andy. Lauren comes over to ask about Wes and Caitlin explains that his body’s exhausted, but that once he’s rehydrated he should recover just fine. Clarice comes over, adding that Wes is strong – just like Lauren. She praises Lauren for staying strong and Lauren smiles, telling her that she had to, because hatred feeds on fear. Caitlin watches their exchange with a strange expression as Clarice claps Lauren on the shoulder and says she’s glad Lauren is back. Behind them, Reed sits watch over Andy as Andy finally rouses. Andy sits up and Reed calms him, telling him not to worry, that they’re safe and they’re back in Atlanta. That he needs to rest, and he’s earned it. Andy looks confused so Reed reminds him that Andy saved their lives before, but Andy says no, it wasn’t him who saved them. He looks past his father and says “it was them.” Reed turns to see who he means, finding the Frost sisters talking quietly with John, Marcos, and Lorna.

Marcos asks the sisters how they found their group out at Fairburn and the sisters replied that, as they’d said earlier, they have sources. John asks if those Hounds were what they’d been warning the Underground about, but the Frosts say no, that was just the start. Worse is coming. Lorna asks the big question – can they get the Underground to Campbell, and can they really end the Hound program? The sisters assure them that they absolutely can.

The Frost sisters return to the remote castle and their Hellfire contact, who is none too pleased with their methods. He snaps at them as soon as they arrive, claiming he’s been taking calls for hours and that the Inner Circle is very unhappy. The girls risked some rather important lives with their tactics. The sisters dismiss the Inner Circle’s ire, one asking if “those fossils” had a better plan, before claiming that sometimes one must take a large risk to gain great reward. Their contact points out that they nearly lost the Struckers, but the sisters argue that a little brush with death is good for driving a point home. Besides, what really matters is the payoff. The Mutant Underground is in.

What Does This Mean for the Future?
Given that the next episode is the season finale, it’s safe to say the real battle is about to begin. Of course, it’s not likely to truly end the conflict between mutants and Sentinel Services, or Trask Industries. But perhaps it will provide a solution to the conflict between the Underground and Jace Turner, or Dr. Campbell. Doubtful both. The other will survive or continue on, possibly more determined than ever. Definitely to be seen again – in season two.

Speaking of season two, probably a lot of this Hellfire Club build-up is designed to be more pertinent in season two. It’ll undoubtedly come up in the season finale, perhaps as an ally – the way Esme presented herself to the Underground before finally rescuing her sisters. But, like Esme, in the long run, the Hellfire Club’s true colors (or just identity) will come to light. And the Mutant Underground doesn’t want anything to do with that.

Lorna’s pregnancy is changing her body, increasing the strength of her powers. That will certainly catch Sentinel Services off-guard since they think they’ve seen what she can do. The increase in power will be a great help in the fight. If it isn’t also a warning sign of the mental instability her comic book counterpart once displayed.

One can only hope that after whatever big conflict awaits in the season finale, Reed and Caitlin Strucker will actually remain loyal to the Underground. Perhaps Lauren and Andy will fight alongside their mutant family, even having to use their joint power, and Reed and Caitlin will actually see with their own eyes that the other members of the Underground won’t turn on their children. Or maybe when the dust settles they’ll throw their kids back in the car, opting to just drive themselves to Mexico, and boom, there’s the finale cliffhanger. Hopefully not.

Of course, whatever the X-Men “left behind” could change the whole game….

Rating: 8.5/10

Final Thought: There were a lot of really good, forward-moving, enjoyable things in this episode! The parallels between Ed’s and Sonia’s funerals were done really well. They evoked feelings of sympathy for both sides and a sense of frustration and even infuriation, yet a level of understanding. It’s a strange thing to feel all of that simultaneously, but it worked! John’s attempt to hide his grief, and bury it with work, was in perfect character. I also loved the way Clarice chose to step up in an attempt to help out, to fill the void of leadership and offer a supportive shoulder – not just for John, but for the Underground as a whole. It was nice to see this softer, warmer side of her offered more freely. It was also nice to see her reach out in support of Lauren, showing without simply reporting, that she neither resents the siblings nor fears them.

Speaking of the Struckers, some of you may recall my prediction that Caitlin and Reed would probably freak out and opt to leave the Underground as a result of everything that happened. I hate when I’m right. First, let me say, I appreciated seeing Lauren’s and Andy’s respective disagreement with this choice. Their individual ways of handling it, as well as how they were struggling to silently process what had happened while they were being held at Trask, was well handled. But their parents’ more predictable, selfish reactions … I cannot express my frustration properly in polite company. Once again not caring about any of the other people around them, blaming someone else for their circumstance, refusing to listen to their heavily-involved children on any level whatsoever. Planting their heads in the sand and reverting to ‘this is a problem we can run away from.’ Because really, they were originally going to go to Mexico for safety, now suddenly Reed tries selling it might be even worse for mutants down there? Completely disregarding the fact that his children want to help fight the enemy in Atlanta. The enemy who is after them specifically, who hurt someone in their name. And unsurprisingly, their flight was a failure, they were brought back to the station in Atlanta with zero repercussion (as far as we’ve yet seen).

Let me be clear, I don’t think Andy or Lauren did anything wrong. They could have put their feet down and refused to leave, causing a scene. Reed and Caitlin certainly couldn’t have reported them as runaways. But it makes sense they wouldn’t go that far, especially in an angry-yet-vulnerable state. The fault is with Caitlin and Reed, who were uncomfortable (themselves) because not all of the mutants around them had forgiven them for talking to a Sentinel Services agent (reasonably so). So they forced their fear-driven choice onto their children, ran away, and fell back on their friends in Atlanta when they came under fire. Unnecessarily endangering over a dozen lives, getting many mutants captured, overextending Wes, and even endangering the lives of their rescuers. All avoidable if they’d simply stayed put. But I could rant about Caitlin’s and Reed’s major leap backward for a much longer time than any of us want me to, so I’ll move on!

I have to admit to being disappointed about something, at least if what we were presented with is true. Supposedly highly-educated Dr. Campbell, surrounded by other incredibly sharp minds in the medical and technological fields (I assume), needed to see a visual of a brother and sister holding hands and blasting a wall … in order to come up with the idea of shackling two mutants together (by the forearm), essentially giving them a transfusion of each other’s blood, and telling them where to aim? Except it was already well established that before he ever met Lauren and Andy he knew they had to hold hands to use their joint power, knew they were siblings (ergo the joint blood thing), and had old newspaper clippings of the Fenris twins showing him their ‘stance,’ so what else did he need for that ‘genius’ idea? I really do hope the device he showed Turner was some sort of ‘lure him in’ decoy, a set up for a trap to later repay Turner for turning on him. Otherwise, this is, while visually imposing at first glance, not particularly astounding. As a weapon designed to permanently solve the mutant problem, I have to say, that little toy does not live up to its promise.

Now let’s talk about promises and teasers, and what I really loved most about this episode. All. The. References! Including Lorna’s power changes, which come heavily tied in. I don’t even know if I can break them all down for those of you who don’t follow or recall the comics as clearly, but let me try: First came the Purifiers. The gang of mutant-hating bullies in the beginning flashback sequence, wearing the black shirts with the massive white crosses. Purifiers are notorious foes of the mutant race, believing mutants to be an abomination who need to be, well, purified from humanity. To put it nicely. They’re not afraid to crucify an entire group of mutants and leave them on, oh, say a private school’s front lawn … but fortunately, they didn’t try that here.

Beyond them, we got several scattered and blatant Hellfire Club mentions. The Hellfire Club has officially gone from a teased mention in reference to Strucker family history to active and relevant, people! Esme, Sophie (fun fact: she was the first Cuckoo to die in comic book history), and Phoebe are apparently working for/with the Hellfire Club, but are not a part of the Inner Circle – the elite group of powerful, and arrogant, mutants that run the Club. Given some of the girls’ lines by the end of the episode, I have a few theories about who the reigning Inner Circle contains – and once contained – too. “Corpses,” for example, basically convinces me that infamous Black Queen, Selene, is an active member, as Selene has proudly lauded herself as the first and therefore oldest mutant for as long as I can remember. Probably Black King Sebastian Shaw, too, but that’s less of a certainty, and more based on the fact that he is likely the most memorable Black King. I admit to wondering if the Frost sisters’ mother (biological here? I want to know!), Emma Frost, is an active or former member. And if she has any history as a member of the X-Men. If you don’t know, Emma Frost was introduced in the comics as the White Queen, and many years and several trials later became a core member of the X-Men. But we did learn a couple of other very interesting things.

Esme, or perhaps a sister, confirmed in one breath two beautiful details: Magneto, arguably the X-Men’s most notorious enemy, once held the seat of White King of the Inner Circle (as he did in the comics). And he is, for sure, a part of Lorna’s biological past. Lorna even seems to know it and just loathes talking about it. Which begs the ‘does Marcos know?’ question. I can’t imagine she’s ever told anyone else. And speaking of things we didn’t know about Lorna, I liked the sneak in message of her being bipolar. I think it was a simple way to explain some her habits and attitude flips so far. Although perhaps one they should have worked in earlier in the season, I think. More than that, though, I am beyond interested to see how much like her father’s her power will become now that it’s increasing. For a moment in this one, I even thought she might fly! This power adjustment explains why she hasn’t made any of the big moves I’ve been constantly waiting for, too.

Lastly, the triplets. Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe. We still don’t know if the other two are alive or dead, though they were alluded to with the comment “most of us, anyway.” Also alluded to was the diamond portion of their power when they were given a diamond as ‘compensation’ by their Hellfire Club contact. The best part, however, was the official revelation of their name. Frost. With the comment that they listed their name as Cuckoo likely to irritate their captors. Just by giving them the name I think it’s safe to say these girls maintain a comic book-like connection to their biological mother, Emma Frost. Whether or not it’s through underhanded, secretive cloning or more natural methods is another question. Plus, it was great to hear her say “we’re kind of three-in-one.”

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