Over the river and through the woods to grandfather’s house we go! It’s not Thanksgiving in the world of The Gifted, but family awkwardness isn’t confined to just the Day of Turkey. In the closing minutes of last week’s episode, we discovered there was an off-the-books mutant weaponizing program with a government contractor who just so happens to have employed Reed’s father. And you thought dealing with that aunt questioning why you’re still single was bad.
Grab a piece of family drama a la mode with your early Thanksgiving leftovers and settle in for the eighth episode and the last one before a brief Thanksgiving break, titled “threat of eXtinction.”
(Warning: contains spoilers)
1. How Do You Say “Mutant” in German?
Now this was an appearance long rumored since the show’s announcement. Many have suspected the name “Strucker” for the protagonist family was a tribute to the von Strucker family, who have made many an appearance in Marvel comics and television. With a postcard mentioning “Andrea” and a soundtrack heavy on the German opera, we meet Andreas and Andrea von Strucker, who seem to be in a spot of trouble as their 1950s London home is raided by police. But they’re not going down without a fight. Is there a deeper connection to Reed, Caitlin, Andy, and Lauren or is this just a nicely placed Easter egg?
(In case you’re curious, Google Translate tells me that “mutant” in German is…”mutant.” How anticlimactic.)
2. Fractured Family
Reed’s not the only one with relationship issues. Dreamer wants to use Clarice’s return to the compound to help make amends for that whole “you made out with my boyfriend but it wasn’t real” thing, and Clarice isn’t buying that one bit. She’s here for the mutant-human war or bust, not to make friends and influence people. Polaris and Marcos have a tense hashing-out of the other woman in their lives. Carmen isn’t just affecting their personal lives, but their management of the mutant underground. When another mutant weapon is taken into custody by the Underground, Polaris brings out the big knives to get some answers. This tactic does not sit well with Marcos, which in turn does not sit well with Polaris because Marcos has done much worse in his cartel days past and present. Cracks like this are not good for our X-Heroes. The more fractured they are, the more Cory Booker’s Evil Twin and his team can take advantage of the cracks to infiltrate the Underground’s ranks and turn more mutants against their own.
3. Family Ties
Just like Frank Castle, Otto Strucker is hell bent on burying his emotions. Unlike Frank Castle, he prefers the gentler art of antiquing to sledgehammers and construction sites. And absence did not make the heart grow fonder as Papa Strucker tears a new one into his son for (a) not visiting for many a year, and (b) accusing him of working to turn mutants against each other. Why would he want to destroy mutants when he is one himself?! That X gene is an inherited gene, and Otto received it from his own father . . . Andreas von Strucker?!
And now everything comes full circle, with credit due to the writers for taking this Easter egg and working it into the plot in a logical manner. Andreas and Andrea (remember we met them in the opening credits) are the supervillain Fenris, clasping hands to form their superpower. They weren’t exactly on the side of good and light; their father is Baron von Strucker, founder of Hydra. Otto’s discovery of this family secret led him to work at Trask to find a way to suppress the X gene to prevent another Andrea and Andreas from ever being born. His work only produced enough serum for one test case . . . his son. By now, we all know that serum didn’t work for Reed. (Could this have been avoided by a 23andMe DNA test? Sure, but that doesn’t make for compelling television.)
4. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Our Underground family may bicker and pick fights with each other, but when they team up, it once again becomes a glorious ballet. Andy and Lauren step up to help the adults dig into the identity of the weaponized mutant picked up from a hiding place earlier, subduing her long enough to allow Caitlin to apply an antidote to subjugate and sedate. Even worrywart Caitlin seems to enjoy working side by side with her kids! These kinds of matchups may be limited; Otto does not take it well upon hearing from Reed that brother and sister have been using their mutant powers together. That kind of dream team led to nothing but trouble for his father and aunt, and Otto does not want history to repeat itself.Continued below
5. The Persistence (or Resistance) of Memory
Memory plays a key role in this episode’s closing moments. Reed and Johnny bury Otto and Pulse, both of whom lost their lives in a Sentinel standoff. Reed’s memories are of regret for not reuniting with his father sooner. Could Otto’s knowledge, if known earlier, made a difference in the lives of his children? Johnny vows to use the memory of his friend — both the good days and the horrors of Dr. Campbell’s treatments — to take revenge against Sentinel Services. Dreamer and Clarice make a decision to take away memories from a young mutant who continually relives trauma of her life as a refugee. It’s the first two of these vignettes that will be the fuel for The Gifted’s final five episodes, the past as the spark to change the future. But with Andy and Lauren clasping hands at the very end just like their great-grandfather and great-great aunt . . . is the past returning, just as Otto feared?