The Gifted: “Pilot” – Review

The Gifted premieres October 2, 9pm on Fox.

I recall my first thoughts were not positive when hearing about a show being set within the X-Men universe that followed a completely different cast and narrative than that of familiar characters we’ve previously seen portrayed. On paper, it appeared doomed to fail having so much existing iterations and history behind it that required homage as well as the undertaking of a similar, yet new pathway of story that audiences haven’t seen before. All of these aspects came together to form what looked to be an insurmountable task for this show to overcome to the point where I maintained a very skeptical wait-and-see attitude, thinking that I would let the first couple of episodes air and then if the reception was positive I would then give it my attention. What reinforced this line of thinking was that it was Fox who was helmed as the distributor, a network in my opinion that continually misses the mark when attempting to tell tight, well-written and strong stories within their shows.

Naturally, when I was given the chance to watch the pilot and bolster my position on why this show would fail I jumped at it. After having seen the pilot for The Gifted, I can safely say that all of my fears and skepticisms could not have been further from the truth. In short, I was wrong. The Gifted manages to tell a very engaging and exciting story within its first episode. Typically, I believe pilots to serve as a very small window that hardly captures what a show’s true essence and vision really is, however, this pilot has proven me false at every turn by successfully establishing characters that I could quickly become invested in and a plot that is extremely relevant and relatable.

The Gifted introduces us to the Strucker family; Reed, Caitlin, Lauren and Andy, who is on the run from the government after the discovery that their children have special abilities. They seek the assistance of a network comprised of both new and familiar mutants; Blink, Polaris, Thunderbird, Eclipse and more, who to survive operate an Underground Railroad-esque system within the shadows of everyday society in the hopes of helping new and persecuted mutants live safer lives.

From the very beginning, the well-built ensemble casting was noticeable and kept my attention throughout the episode. In providing a strong central cast, the showrunner, Matt Nix, was free to put supporting actors around them that helped carry the emotional aspects of the central plot as well as provide the means to explore side stories and various subplots rather than waste precious screen time becoming bogged down with information regarding all of the characters. Within its first episode, The Gifted manages to find a perfect balance of introducing new characters in increasingly dire situations while simultaneously allowing you to become accustomed to and understanding of their conflicts all while continually moving their intertwining stories forward in a manner that keeps the viewer engaged.

I can say with confidence that not only am I impressed with the direction and vision for this show, but I have a genuine interest on where this story will end up. I believe that The Gifted will manage to hook both existing fans and newcomers alike almost immediately in telling a very familiar story of mutants discovering their abilities while still trying to maintain normal lives amongst the backdrop of persecution, however, this show chooses to explore that storyline a bit deeper by showing what a family that has experienced this upheaval in their lives would realistically go through in order to secure a future for the ones the love. I am excited to see how this season unfolds and will be a weekly viewer from the premiere onwards. Take my opinion as proof that not only can you not pick all winners, but sometimes the shows that don’t sound like they are worth much time can often surprise you.

I give The Gifted an A-.

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