Every conversation, every scene in The Gifted has a larger meaning. It’s what makes the X-Men series feel so big, despite being filled with lesser known characters. The fall finale was no different. The Stepford Cuckoos make their debut, telepathically forcing more than a dozen Sentinel Services agents to open fire on one another. This happens only hours after Agent Turner’s lengthy, and somewhat enlightening, conversation with the Strucker parents that culminated in an agreement to transport the captured Mutant Underground’s allies away from Trask Industries where Dreamer was murdered.
“It was very important the conversation included the wives,” series star Emma Dumont told Player.One. “We’ve seen conversation between Jace and Reed. It’s bigger than just these men and their egos, there are bigger risks. And it foreshadows that the X-Men say a war is coming — this scene specifically shows it may not just be a war between two parties. What does that mean for the mutant underground and the Struckers, and what does it mean for Lorna? There are so many factors that we get into in the last three episodes.”
At this point in the series, we don’t know much about the deadly “7/15” event that is tied to the disappearance of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, but the nature of the Stepford Cuckoos’ introduction was so ruthless, so dark, there’s no doubt Agent Turner is done hearing out the Mutant Underground.
“We can talk about 7/15 all day long and obviously understand what it’s a reference to, but until we actually see a mutant commit a horrible crime like this, we aren't gonna understand why Jace is the hero of his own story,” she said. “The fact that this sweet little blonde girl could make armed, trained men do these things — it's terrifying. But not only can she can do it, she will do it. We could kill each other every day of our lives, but we don't, because we have empathy. That's what makes us different than other animals. But to see someone who really doesn’t have that… The audience needed to see it.”
Dumont explains the scene highlights The Gifted’ s ongoing exploration of prejudice. You cannot blame an entire group, especially an entire minority group, for the terrible actions of one person. But for Polaris, the incident was particularly jarring because the Stepford Cuckoos actions are sort of an irrational version of her own Magento-esque mutant code. It’s a kill-or-be-killed world, but there are rules.
“If you are using your mutant ability, using mayhem and violence and chaos, and you are not saving someone… Lorna thinks it’s fine, kill Hitler, it’s totally fine, but if you are doing things that don't benefit other people, that is disgraceful. Reed, in her mind, isn't helping anyone. Putting those mutants away, ripping up families, those are bad things and they are not redeemable,” Dumont said. “However, if someone like Magneto were to kill one bad human and save hundreds of innocent mutant lives, that is okay with her, she sees the good in that. It’s a very sketchy fine line, but to her it’s very clear thinking. Lorna thinks it makes total sense.”
Eclipse doesn’t see it that way, and his relationship with Polaris illustrates the dynamic between Professor X and Magneto (and their real life counterparts) from the comics and cinematic universe.
“It’s an exact parallel to Professor X and Magento. Marcos wants peace. He will sit by and have change happen slowly. He thinks any change is good change, and Lorna won’t have it. She definitely believes if we all started acting a lot more, using our powers and taking a stand. If that means violence than so be it. But if things continue the way Marcos wants them to continue, then things will never change,” Dumont continued.
“The difference between slavery and current-day hate crime, it’s a difference but we are still living in a world where horrible things happening to minority groups — innocent people being hurt and killed — and it's not okay. And Marcos sees those two time periods and says, ‘Oh, but look how different it is now? Now, people don’t own mutants, they just abuse them and hurt them.' But to Lorna that's an awful way of thinking. She thinks if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. She has a very Magento way of thinking politically. In the eyes of justice, that's the right thing to do.”
Like Magento, Polaris isn’t even sure there is a place for people like Strucker — who have only recently displayed a willingness to understand the mutant cause — to be part of the way society moves forward to create equality.
“Someone that’s been raised up in bigotry, who now works for the government, not only do they do that because they are passionate about ‘protecting the general public,’ they are paid to do this. They get paid to hurt people. So, of course, the end goal we all say is to make this a peaceful environment for mutants and humans to live in together. But Lorna doesn’t know if that is possible. She’s almost to the point where she thinks these people need to be taken away,” she said.
The X-Men universe is defined by what exists between love and hate. Mutant discrimination never stops, political initiatives are never enough to incite real social change, the scientific experiments only get more invasive — and The Gifted will be no different.
“There will never be a happy ending, especially in the X-Men universe,” said Dumont. “The fall finale was heartbreaking in every way imaginable. On an individual level, people start to get what they want, but then in the overall goal of making peace between mutants and humans, it sort of falls apart.”
Dumont teases big things for the last few episodes, including an internal struggle about her character’s place in surviving such an oppressive world — a story arc Dumont isn’t shy to compare to that of Magneto. With a child on the way, Polaris will finally come to terms with what she believes needs to be done.
“She has this reputation, but finally now she’s at a place where she doesn't care. She doesn't care if you don't like things about her because she is right. And she hates that she’s right — we will see this in the last few episodes — she hates that Magneto was right. She wishes it wasn't this way, but it is, and she has to do what she has to do.”
The Gifted returns Jan. 1.