WARNING: This article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Gifted, “eXodus,” which premiered Monday on Fox.
The X-Men are perhaps defined as much by their dedication to protecting a world that hates and fears them as they are by the conflicting philosophies of their founder Charles Xavier and their sometimes-enemy Erik Lehnsherr. The former envisions a future in which mutants and mankind peacefully coexist while the latter sees no reason to pacify their human persecutors or suffer a single abuse at their hand. Although it’s unclear on The Gifted whether Andy Strucker is aware of either figure, let alone their warring ideologies, the angry young mutant would undoubtedly agree that … Magneto was right.
Played by Percy Hynes White, Andy is introduced in the premiere of Fox’s X-Men drama as a sensitive loner who’s perpetually bullied at a school where administrators are content to blame the victims and do nothing to address the problem. Despite his most recent troubles, and an inexplicable grounding, Andy sneaks out to tag along with his popular sister Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) to attend a school dance, thus setting the stage for the show’s inciting event: Spotted by his tormentors, Andy is dragged into the locker room and forced into the communal showers, where his anger and fear combine to unleash his destructive mutant power, damaging the school and exposing to the world the secret of the Strucker children.
“I was just so angry,” Andy, still shaken, later tells his bewildered mother Caitlin (Amy Acker), mere moments before the appearance by Sentinel Services transforms the family into fugitives. That anger festers as they’re pursued by the government, rescued by the Mutant Underground, separated from their father (Stephen Moyer) and forced into hiding. In this week’s episode, “eXodus,” it erupts into full-blown righteous rage.
When Caitlin decides to sneak away from the Mutant Underground’s hideout to travel to the affluent suburbs, in hopes of enlisting her well-connect brother to help locate her incarcerated husband, Lauren and Andy insist on tagging along, for protection. Sentinel Services, the police and vigilantes are all searching for the Struckers, so it makes sense. However, Caitlin hadn’t thought through her plan; with the family’s bank accounts frozen by the government, she doesn’t even have enough money for a taxi to her brother’s home. Without skipping a beat, Andy suggests he use his powers to simply “unfreeze” them.
Her son’s pragmatic solution — robbing a bank, or at least its ATM — alarms Caitlin, but Andy once more has a response: “Why should we have to hold back when nobody else does?” It’s a logical question, for both a young boy whose life has been turned upside down and for a mutant who’s treated as a second-class citizen (at best). Indeed, why play by the rules their persecutors forced upon them? Lauren fumbles her way into something resembling a simplified version Xavier’s stance, offering, “If we’re ever going to have a chance at a normal life again –”
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