The Gifted, Marvel Television's small-screen exploration of mutant groups that exist outside of the X-Men, is currently in the middle of its second season on Fox. Episode 3, "coMplications" (yes, the capitalization is deliberate) will air October 9, but fans attending the show's New York Comic Con panel on Sunday didn't have to wait that long to see how the new episode kicks off, as the show's creator and cast brought a sneak peek along as...well, as a gift.
It's a tumultuous time for the series, which wrapped up its first season by dividing its protagonists between the mutant-saving Mutant Underground and the humanity-dominating Inner Circle, itself an offshoot of comic book favorite The Hellfire Club. That's plenty of conflict all by itself, particularly with new villain Reeva (Grace Byers) on the scene, but Season 2 will also deal with the emergence of X-Men staples The Morlocks, who dub themselves "the real underground," and the anti-mutant hate group known as The Purifiers. It's a lot to take in, but just like the X-Men comics, creator and showrunner Matt Nix promises there are key metaphors at work in all of it.
“Traditionally, the world of the X-Men is something that reflects a lot of the issues going on in our own world," Nix told the NYCC crowd. "we’re not the news … but we really wanted to use the show as a widow into what’s going on in our world now.”
Nix, who took the stage along with cast members Emma Dumont (Polaris), Amy Acker (Caitlin Strucker), Coby Bell (Jace Turner), Jamie Chung (Blink), Sean Teale (Eclipse) and Grace Byers (Reeva) teased a number of new ways we'll see the mutant world expand in Season 2, including looks at younger versions of Blink and the Frost sisters, and the "rise of the Purifiers," which we'll see in part through the eyes of Jace.
“Jace is having problems … his life is pretty much falling apart," Bell said. “Along come the Purifiers and things get really racist really quickly. He goes down a dark, dark path this season and it’s been fun to play.”
Nix used the mention of the Purifiers to once again highlight the show's relationship to social issues, which has been an X-Men tradition since the team's inception. In this case, it's an attempt to explore what actually drives someone to join a hate group, regardless of ideology, and the mental leap it takes to actually go that far.
“Our show’s really good at showing every vantage point of [differing] political opinions," Dumont said.
After that, it was time for a peek at the first act of "coMplications," which flashed back to six years before the current events of the show to focus on a younger version of Eclipse. In South America, Eclipse visits his dying father, and we learn his complicated family history, including the circumstances that led to his mother's death, before jumping back into the present day to learn that Eclipse's current, broken family is also in jeopardy. Polaris has delivered their baby, but it's very ill, and Eclipse's powers might be the only solution. The trouble is, the couple is divided right now, but that doesn't stop Eclipse from trying to find his child and Polaris. It's compelling stuff.
Season 1 of The Gifted was about establishing a corner of the mutant universe that we'd never seen in live-action before, the characters trying to carve out better lives for themselves even as things are going to hell around them. Now, things really have gone to hell, and it's time to see which mutant characters have the strength to continue the fight for what they believe in. If the show's NYCC event did anything, it drove home the fact that it's a fight worth watching.
The Gifted airs Tuesdays on Fox.
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