The Gifted: eXtraction (Season 1, ep 12)

There’s a classic storytelling trope that you never want your bad guys to be 100% bad. Folks will be too put off and it’s just not that interesting. It’s a notion so pervasive in writing that whole books have been written on the subject. Seriously. One of them is even called “Save the Cat” after the idea that you can ‘soften up’ a villain by making him kind to animals. Or give him a tragic back story (Frank Castle for example).

So too, even nasty Dr Campbell isn’t pure evil. We see him, just a few years ago, trying to take care of his extremely ill brother. A brother who was the victim of the cruel nature of genetics. Someone like Wolverine has a gene go this way and can heal from basically everything, or it does the other way like poor Jack Campbell, and he’s doomed to live a painful life of illness where he’s lucky that he survived into his 30s much less beyond. The point of the story moment is to show us why Campbell is so obsessed with genetics, especially errant genetics, and how it all got twisted up by his grief into something so nasty. He’s a man whose brother’s death was caused by a mutation so Campbell views all mutations as nasty, evil things.

Campbell even gives a lecture (?) focused on how cruel genetics can be and how homo sapiens did outwit the ‘better’ neanderthals and can do it again with the so called ‘homo superior’. The tone is very political stump speech and it is very successful in invoking the right reactions from the audience. It is also labeled as being “four years ago”, right in the same time as the infamous July 15 incident that lead to multiple deaths, decimated mutant rights and may have been directly connected to the two most famous mutant groups, the X Men and the Brotherhood, disappearing.

Return to the present and the Frost sisters have come back to Mutant Underground HQ to ask for help in keeping Dr Campbell from taking his experimental Hounds program nationwide. While Marcos and the others want to put the kibosh on Campbell’s program, they aren’t immediately trusting of the sisters. After all, they are not opposed to living side by side with humans, as long as the humans give them equal rights etc. But the Frosts and their Hellfire Club seem to be of the belief that they can and should rule the world. It’s very much echoes of the Xavier/Magneto dichotomy of thought laid out in the early movies. And the Frost sisters murder spree, albeit while trying to break free from the evil lab, goes against the ‘good guy’ code of conduct.

The Frost’s plan, at least as presented, is to kidnap Campbell and force him to shut the Hounds down before anyone else finds out the program even exists. With no other real moves to make, the MU agrees to the plan. But John isn’t banking everything on the kidnapping. He goes to Reed and asks him and Caitlin to keep trying to figure out the Senior Strucker’s journals, in the hopes of finding a way to neutralize the Hounds. It would seem that John’s thoughts are if they can’t stop the program from going live they will need a way to defend themselves. And he’s not the only one with doubts. Marcos is clearly anti The Frosts to the point that Lorna calls him out on it (privately but still). She’s not afraid to say they are ‘off’ but they are, to borrow the term, a ‘necessary evil’

But the game plan hits its first hitch when the Sisters drop a hint that Clarice is hiding something from her past. Clarice admins the truth to John and he’s not happy. It’s less about the fact that Clarice spent time rolling with some members of the Brotherhood and more about the fact that she withheld from them. It’s the same ‘crime’ Wes was guilty of but John isn’t so forgiving. Trust and truth seem to be very big in his mind, in the group mind. It will be curious to see the repercussions of who they are giving their trust to and how they are walking away from over ‘lies of omission’.

Campbell heads for the big “Humanity First” summit to announce the existence of the Hound program while back at the homestead, his people are trying to figure out how Otto deactivated his son. But they are missing the key data (maybe because Otto gave it to Reed) and like the galaxy looking for Luke Skywalker, they can’t sort it out without the missing part of the map. However Campbell’s motives are made very clear. Ultimately he wants to wipe out the X Gene but he’s settling for turning the mutants against each other and destroying themselves. And he’s not above going after Grandma Strucker on the belief that she has pieces of the research in her care and safe keeping.

And speaking of turning the mutants against themselves, Andy and Lauren are brewing their own conflict of thought. Andy has become rather obsessed with the history they found of the twins, even defending them from what he says is writer’s bias. And he’s jumped on their notion of building a place for Mutants to live apart from humans (sounds like some of the versions of Genosha from the comics). And he’s not above the idea of using the Fenris powers when attacked. Lauren on the other hand is basically of the opposite thought on every count, including hurting others if its not really needed. Lauren even suggests that the Frost Sisters are messing with Andy’s head but he blows off the idea.

But the Frost Sisters aren’t above getting into heads. When the game is on, they take the main squad (John, Marcos, Lorna and Clarice) to their safe house, a posh little mini mansion that they say was provided to them by their founders, which they let everyone believe was the Brotherhood (in contrast to the X men who gave their team nothing but a mission.) And then Esme(?) gets Lorna alone for some girl talk full of ‘you know what has to be done’ and ‘you have something to fight for’ accolades. Seems one of the others tried the same with Clarice, but she didn’t fall for it and says as much to Lorna. The gang kidnaps an attendee for the Summit and the Frosts mind mojo him into naming the Mutant Foursome as his security team. And pulls a little torture along the way. But the plan doesn’t existing go according to plan. Seems that Campbell still has that nasty mutant on his personal security team, nor is he above using kids as shields. He gets away, leaving John, Marcos and Clarice pinned down by security.

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