By Michael Donelan

Marvel’s “The Gifted” is a fast-paced drama full of heart and politics that also stays true to its source material.

Set in a world where the X-Men have vanished, “The Gifted” focuses on one group of mutants, or evolved humans with extraordinary powers, who are running from the government. Such mutants include Clarice Fong/Blink (Jamie Chung), Marcos Diaz/Eclipse (Sean Teale), Lorna Dane/Polaris (Emma Dumont) and John Proudstar/Thunderbird (Blair Redford).

These characters are members of an underground network devoted to the protection and safety of mutants across the country. Mutants are considered dangerous by the government because many do not understand them, and therefore, they fear them.

Meanwhile, government employee Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) and nurse Caitlyn Strucker (Amy Acker) must come to terms with the fact that their children, Andy (Percy Hynes White) and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind), are mutants. When a government organization known as Sentinel Services tries to capture Andy and Lauren after an incident at their school, the Strucker family must team up with the other mutants in order to survive.

The pilot of “The Gifted” is an exciting adventure from beginning to end. There was not a dull moment in the episode, and the new and different characters were very interesting. Characters like Polaris and Eclipse have not been seen in live-action installments of the X-Men franchise before, and their powers were really neat. One of the coolest characters from previous X-Men movies, Blink, featured in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, is a main character in this show, and I am excited to see where the story takes her.

I also really enjoyed the fight scenes, where we see some of the mutants use the full potential of their powers. This includes Blink opening portals to safety or Eclipse blasting robots away with beams from his hands.

“The Gifted” is very timely in this tense political climate. Since their first appearance in the 1960s, the X-Men have been a powerful metaphor for the poor treatment of minority groups in the United States. There are anti-mutant groups that exist and government laws put in place to restrict the rights of mutants.

Certain scenes parallel real-life events, such as when one character calls a mutant “mutie” and another character calls them racist for using that term. We also see how difficult it is for mutants to tell parents or friends about their abilities, almost resembling the coming-out experience for LGBTQ+ people.

“The Gifted” fits very well into the X-Men universe. It is also not the first X-Men spin-off, as the show follows the success of FX’s psychedelic superhero show “Legion”.

“The Gifted” does a good job of telling its own separate story while giving enough X-Men references to remind viewers of the shared universe.

I am anxious to see where the rest of the season goes. If every episode leaves me with the same feeling of excitement as this one did, then I will definitely watch the entire 10 episode first season. The first episode ends on a tense cliffhanger, and I eagerly await next Monday’s installment.

“The Gifted” airs on Monday nights at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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