The Gifted, FOX’s X-Men show, is only 4 episodes into season 2 but it has already created some major questions and mysteries to resolve. The FOX series about mutants trying to survive in a world without the X-Men shifted the action from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.. While the core of the series remains the Struckers’ family drama, its scope has widened into an open conflict between the heroic Mutant Underground and the sinister Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club.
Season 2 jumped ahead six months after the schism that divided the Mutant Underground at the end of season 1. A pregnant Lorna Dane/Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White) left their families and friends behind to pick up the pieces as they joined up with the Inner Circle’s new leader, Reeva Payge (Grace Byers), who is described as one of the most powerful mutants since the catastrophe known as 7/15 led to the X-Men’s disappearance. Reeva’s master plan is to save all mutants by creating a mutant nation – a homeland for her people. Like Polaris’ father Magneto, she looks to accomplish her goal by any means necessary.
After the events of episode 4 ‘outMatched’, The Gifted has gone into brief hiatus as Fox airs the World Series, so it’s an excellent time to take stock of where things stand in the mutants’ volatile world. Here are the major questions the series needs to answer when it returns for the rest of season 2:
WHO IS THE MYSTERY MUTANT THE INNER CIRCLE BROKE OUT?
‘outMatched’ left behind a huge cliffhanger: Who is the mystery mutant the Inner Circle broke out of Lynwood Hospital? Throughout the episode, Mutant Underground members John Proudstar/Thunderbird (Blair Redford), Clarice Fong/Blink (Jamie Chung), Marcos Diaz/Eclipse (Sean Teale), and Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) chased Polaris and Andy Strucker in a psychiatric hospital where mutants were being secretly imprisoned. It seemed like the Inner Circle was there to liberate their fellow mutants, but it was all a cover for their true goal of saving one particular mutant prisoner.
Unfortunately, ‘outMatched’ offered no info on who this mystery mutant is or what his or her powers are; the prisoner in question was merely shown covered in a blanket in the final shot of the episode. Whoever this is, the mutant is clearly a vital-enough component to the Inner Circle’s plans that they went to the trouble of staging a prison break. However, the cast list for episode 5 includes Angelica Bette Fellini in a guest-starring role as Twist, who is described as “a mutant who initially comes across as a sweet and wounded bird but reveals herself to be a sociopath who lives for chaos.” If Twist is indeed the mutant the Inner Circle broke out of confinement, she sounds like a terrible escalation to the danger the Hellfire Club already poses to the Mutant Underground.
HOW ARE ANDY AND LAUREN CONNECTED BY DREAMS?
Andy and Lauren Strucker are not just mutant siblings, but they are further connected by their family’s mutant bloodline. The Strucker kids in the comics are descendants of Andreas (Paul Cooper) and Andrea Von Strucker (Caitlin Mehner), twins known collectively as Fenris who could combine their mutant powers to cause destructive blast waves. Lauren and Andy have shown that they can also combine her ability to push molecules together to create shields and his powerful kinetic emissions to create similar blast waves that can even melt Adamantium. Though they are not twins (Lauren is two years older than Andy), the Strucker siblings are clearly more powerful together than apart.
Season 2 added a new wrinkle: somehow Lauren and Andy are able to see and speak to each other through their dreams. After six months apart, Lauren didn’t know Andy bleached his hair until she saw him in their mutual dream. So, the Strucker kids seem to share a strong psychic connection – but how? Is this an offshoot of their mutant abilities that the Von Strucker twins weren’t known to have? Or are they being psychically manipulated unbeknownst to them, possibly by the Frost Triplets (Skyler Samuels)?
WHY ARE THE VON STRUCKERS SO IMPORTANT TO THE INNER CIRCLE?
The Von Struckers are founders of the Hellfire Club, so Andy Strucker was a major acquisition for the Inner Circle. His bloodline is among the oldest of the mutants, and his powers are obviously very important to Reeva – so much that she puts Andy through rigorous training so he can master them. But is there another reason beyond his pedigree why Andy is so vital to the Inner Circle’s plans? When he was disturbed by seeing Lauren in his dreams and rebelled by contacting his family, the Inner Circle quickly moved to pacify him. Clearly, Andy remaining in the Inner Circle is a priority.
But if that’s the case, why isn’t the Inner Circle also trying to recruit Lauren? Together, the Struckers are incredibly powerful, and Lauren is also more mature than her brother so she could help keep him in line. Yet in “outMatched”, when the Struckers dueled with their powers and Andy knocked Lauren out, the Inner Circle just left her behind. Why didn’t they take her with them so that the Inner Circle would have the awesome power of both Strucker kids benefiting them? In addition, their father Reed (Stephen Moyer) is manifesting mutant powers – he could also be a prize recruit for the Hellfire Club.
HOW DID ECLIPSE NOT GIVE AWAY THE MUTANT UNDERGROUND’S LOCATION?
Despite moving their operations to Washington, D.C, the Mutant Underground faction led by Thunderbird remains in hiding from Sentinel Services. Meanwhile, being separated from Polaris and his newborn daughter, whom Lorna gave birth to in the season premiere, has been torture for Eclipse. His main goal is to reunite with his family and get them out of the Hellfire Club. In episode 2 “unMoored”, Marcos was so drunk and despondent he shined his light from the rooftop of Mutant Underground headquarters so Lorna could see him and know he was thinking about her and baby Dawn.
This was a huge blunder because essentially, Eclipse gave away the Mutant Underground’s secret location. Marcos’ ‘Eclipse Signal’ wasn’t just seen by Polaris, it was also seen all over D.C. Yet somehow, neither Sentinel Services nor the Inner Circle pounced on the Mutant Underground, despite Marcos essentially shining a light on where they’re hiding. Eclipse was scolded by his friends for that stunt he pulled, but The Gifted didn’t follow up on the logical reaction by their enemies that should have occurred.
Season 2 introduced Evangeline Whedon (Erinn Ruth), an attorney for the Mutant Underground, who led the heroes to the Morlocks living in the sewers of Washington, DC. When Thunderbird and Blink went to ask the Morlocks for help in finding the Inner Circle, they met the Morlocks’ leader, Erg (Michael Luwoye), a mutant separatist who believes that mutants shouldn’t coexist with humans. In the sewers, the Morlocks have created a free mutant society. Erg then recruits Blink to spy on the Mutant Underground for him in exchange for his information on the Inner Circle.
But why would Erg need a spy in the Mutant Underground to begin with? Evangeline said, “nothing happens in DC he doesn’t know about.” It seems like Erg already has a vast information network – why does he need Blink? And why would Blink go along with this and spy on the Underground when Thunderbird, its leader, is now her boyfriend? Clarice didn’t even ask what info Erg had on the Inner Circle.
WHY DOESN’T THE MUTANT UNDERGROUND HAVE AN OVERALL PLAN?
The Mutant Underground is a questionable organization that doesn’t seem to have a long-term overall strategy to benefit mutants. The network was founded by the X-Men before their disappearance and is set up nationwide, operating as cells within individual cities to help mutants in need. Mostly, they rescue persecuted mutants and grant them sanctuary, but everything they offer is temporary. The Underground is underfunded, always scrounging for supplies, and because the network itself has to remain in hiding, they offer no political or legal support for mutants to have them gain a foothold in society.
The Underground is regarded as a criminal organization by the humans, who remain the dominant political force in society. So, outside of refuge, the group is a dead end. There’s little advantage to remaining with the Underground unless a mutant simply has no other options. But the Mutant Underground doesn’t seem to have any means to work politically to better mutant lives. While The Gifted’s heroic characters are part of the Mutant Underground and are thus the ‘good guys’, can anyone really blame Polaris and Andy Strucker for joining the Hellfire Club, which offers political protection, financial support, and the means for mutants to exist in society?
WHAT ARE BABY DAWN’S POWERS?
Lorna gave birth to her daughter in the season premiere and named her Dawn Dane Diaz. However, in episode 3 “unMoored”, Dawn came down with a severe case of jaundice that normal medicine couldn’t treat. The Inner Circle then brought Eclipse to meet his daughter, hoping that his mutant powers of light manipulation could cure Dawn’s jaundice, which they did.
The big question now is what Dawn’s powers will be as she matures? Her parents control magnetism and light and have shown to combine their abilities to create an Aurora Borealis-like effect. Will Dawn’s powers be linked to them? Although mutants typically manifest their powers in adolescence, a grown-up Dawn was seen in a projection of the future created by the Frosts and implanted in Polaris’ head. Unfortunately, Dawn’s powers weren’t revealed in that future vision.
WILL ESME BETRAY THE OTHER FROST SISTERS?
Despite outward appearances of synchronicity, not all is harmonious between the Frost Triplets. More and more, Phoebe and Sophie are growing suspicious of Esme, who doesn’t seem entirely onboard with the machinations of the Inner Circle. Granted, Esme has had a different experience from her sisters; she was imprisoned by Sentinel Services and spent time infiltrating the Mutant Underground, where she recruited Polaris and Andy Strucker, among others. But that time away seems to have given Esme a different perspective so that she increasingly argues with Reeva and is reluctant to go along with the Inner Circle’s schemes, to Reeva’s chagrin. The Gifted looks to be planting the seeds for Esme to break free from her sisters and the Inner Circle, but at what cost?
IS THE INNER CIRCLE RIGHT?
Reeva’s introduction in the season 2 premiere saw her massacre the other leaders of the Inner Circle, leaving her in complete control of the Hellfire Club. This frees her to implement her master plan: to create a mutant homeland. Unlike how in the X-Men comics and movies, the island of Genosha is the free mutant nation, the future vision created by the Frosts showed the triumphant Inner Circle celebrating in Washington, D.C. Does this mean Reeva is planning a takeover of the U.S. capital and government? It hasn’t been made clear how Reeva plans to forge the mutant homeland, but it seems like she doesn’t intend to go anywhere to create it. The Gifted will likely not depict Genosha; thus, the most probable scenario is the Inner Circle will try to found their own mutant nation within the United States.
Though the Inner Circle wants to accomplish its plans via nefarious ends, for the mutant population, is the Hellfire Club’s dream of a mutant nation a worthwhile goal after all? Reeva isn’t interested in Charles Xavier’s dream of co-existence, and the way The Gifted universe is set up socially and politically, neither is anyone else, including the Mutant Underground. The future of mutants may well be in Reeva’s plan to create their own homeland – though she plans to kill untold numbers of humans and seemingly attempt a hostile takeover of United States territory. The macro question of whether the Inner Circle’s scheme is ultimately the only way for the mutant race to rise up is one The Gifted needs to address – or the Mutant Underground needs to at least present a compelling counter-solution that will benefit mutants in the big picture.