After The Gifted premiere, I questioned whether the series would follow through with the themes of social justice. Would The Gifted challenge America’s narrative of racial inequality beyond a surface level? After speaking with cast at New York Comic Con, it's clear the same core values that define the X-Men comics will define the series.
“Actively participating in creating this disparity in society, I don't think he thinks he’s doing that,” Stephen Moyer, who plays Reed Strucker, told Player.One. When we first meet Strucker, he’s a federal prosecutor who takes cases from The Sentinels, an organization that hunts down mutants and who are now hunting down his two mutant children.
“I think he thinks he's doing what he does is for the good of society. To keep people safe. To keep people with the mutant powers who cannot control using them in public away from everybody,” he said. “So he thinks he’s doing the right thing.”
Moyer said it’s the discovery his children are mutants that acts as the catalyst for Strucker to reconsider the choices he’s made. This includes his wrongful imprisonment of Polaris whose unborn child’s life could be taken against her will.
“He knows that when people go into the mutant detention center they are not going to get seen again,” Moyer said. “They are moving into a very different place and he doesn’t want to lose his kids. Good drama makes you question your life choices and that’s what he has to do.”
It’s all about perspective and willingness to understand, themes The Gifted will explore moving forward and a lesson the series cast hopes resonates with viewers.
“It’s good stuff isn’t it?” he said. “Because it’s talking about what it means to be different and if we are living in a box where our kids aren’t different and our society isn’t different and we are in some sort of gated community … then is that living? Are you participating in the world? I think they are good questions.”
Reed’s wife confronts him about his willful blindness in one of the most impactful pieces of dialogue in the episode. “Did you know this was happening?” Kate asks him after their family flees to safety on the run from The Sentinels seeking help from Polaris’ friends, the Mutant Underground.
“Just because something doesn’t affect you, does it mean it’s not worth fighting for?” said Amy Acker, who plays Kate Strucker. “I think the complacency they had with their lives-- they are living a privileged life, wanting for nothing--and now all of a sudden you have someone at your door saying they are going to take your kids away.”
As the Sentinels barge in the Strucker home to take their youngest son away after an incident at school Kate screams, “But my husband is a prosecutor!”
“They were like, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to help.’ So it is a quick turn and from this point, the questions are, where did we go wrong? Why didn’t we ask the questions earlier? How do we change? It goes different directions to figure out how to make other people see this light we started to see,” Acker said.
It will be interesting to see how Kate and Reed approach enlightening others about issues that don’t affect them. If they are successful, we can only hope it can inspire others to rethink their understanding of identity and racial politics in the real world.
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.