Set in a corner of the X-Men universe, “The Gifted” is the latest show based on a Marvel comic to hit primetime television. Written by Matt Nix, a household name in the world of network television with hits such as “Burn Notice” and “The Good Guys”, there are no signs of a young show figuring itself out. In a genre cluttered with productions that struggle to integrate quality special effects with a substantive plot that doesn’t rely on quick cuts and meaningless action sequences, “The Gifted” stands out as an exceptionally sleek example of sci-fi done right.
Fast-paced storytelling makes this hour-long episode feel quite dense with exposition, but in a way that is constantly engaging and excited rather than overwhelming. We are first introduced to a group of three previously-seen X-Men C-listers plus one series original named Eclipse whose powers are not entirely understood, but appear to involve the ability to manipulate light. We encounter them as they are trying to live off the grid to avoid the anti-mutant hysteria that is sweeping their city.
These characters and their stories are tactfully woven in with the show’s main event, the Strucker family. A prominent family in the community due to the father’s position as a high-ranking official on the mutant-hunting task force called the Sentinel Service, the Struckers are suddenly thrown from their comfortable lifestyle when they find out through a school bullying incident that both their son and daughter are mutants. The two groups then reluctantly join forces to escape their impending capture by the agency Mr. Strucker once worked for.
This first episode is carried by a strong performance from the mother/father duo of Caitlin and Reed, played by Amy Acker and Stephen Moyner, respectively. Both are fan favorites from their past roles as Root on “Person of Interest” and Bill Compton on “True Blood.” Moyner perfectly conveys the feelings of denial, contradiction and eventual acceptance Reed experiences as he begins to realize that his own children are the very kind of people he ruthlessly hunts and holds prisoner every day. Him and Acker have an undeniable chemistry on screen, as she plays the role of a quick-witted wife who is willing to do anything to save her kids.
Even the youngest and least experienced of the cast members Percy Hynes-White, who plays Andy, the troubled teenage son in the family, does a commendable job at navigating a tricky role. There is a lot of screaming in pain, lashing out in anger and other expressions of anguish as his character struggles to hone his new-found powers that are not easy to pull off, but he does so quite believably in a way that isn’t as cringe-inducing as it had the potential to be.
The casting department really deserves a pat on the back for their job here because it is genuinely difficult to pin-point any flaw on the part of the actors and actresses; it all flows very naturally and seamlessly. Launched only a few days after ABC’s “Inhumans” absolutely bombed in its pilot, a show which falls in the same Marvel universe genre, “The Gifted” is a refreshing reminder that good superhero shows still exist.
Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.