*From here on out I might be including spoilers. Reader beware.
Episode 2 launches with a flashback of the Strucker family out doing family things and father Reed fails to be a truly good person by partially protecting a mutant child and her father. At this point daughter Lauren probably already has her powers. Reed does break up a bullying situation. But then he intimidates the parent and child into leaving the public situation “for their own good” rather than truly defending or even acknowledging their right to be a part of society. Lauren immediately calls this out. (Good for her!)
Then it goes to the present, where Sentinel Services has captured Reed and proceeds to break all kinds of laws in an attempt to terrify him into giving up the location of his “fugitive terrorist” kids. The question from then is how long will Reed continue to blindly believe “the system” works right and will defend him and his family? And how much damage will he do to the people around him in the process?
In prison, Lorna learns about some of the less obvious steps the system is taking to control mutants, namely collars that somehow negate their abilities, but also mark them as mutants to other prisoners.
At the MU secret headquarters, Blink is sick from overusing her powers. Convenient Nurse Mom Cait thinks she can help, but Blink is a wanted fugitive (who, in her fever, is opening random portals to the super secret MU hideout.) So Cait and Eclipse go to steal supplies from a hospital.
The tension seems forced, but we do get a few more subtle demonstrations of how prejudice the world is (like the medical system refusing to include mutant in their education or treatment systems, and the assumption that Eclipse is abusive, just because he is a mutant) and the gem of the moment when Eclipse points out that Cait’s “good husband” was/is an active part of enforcing prejudice against mutants. Cait tries to defend him, because of course he has been god to her and her kids, but Eclipse’ too-tired-to-be-snarky response “But some of his best friends are mutants?” cuts brutally right into the cliche defense many people use of their own blindly prejudice behaviors. That Eclipse continues to hold the Strucker parents responsible for their past actions (unconscious racism) and his refusal to just accept them as white saviors is a big win for the show (in my opinion). He welcome their attempts to help, but he also isn’t going to risk his life to trust them yet.
This episode is rather painful since the overblown tension is a vehicle for convincing the Struckers (and the viewer) about the depth of bias against mutants and anyone who might be sympathizers, but honestly, a lot of us viewers already know at least some about how bad it can get. Sentinel Services goes so far as to threaten and harass Reed’s coworkers and mother, just for knowing him.
Likewise, this episode shows that mutants can’t even trust or depend on each other, as desperation threatens their loyalty to each other. Pretty much anyone could very easily become a Judas, and viewers might not even think less of the character for protecting their own lives.
While these themes might be cliche and seem overblown to some viewers, no doubt these first two episodes work to build a complex, more realistic world setting for the show.