WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Gifted Season 2 episode “the dreaM,” which debuted Tuesday on Fox.
Although the producers of The Gifted established early on that, just as in the X-Men comics, Lorna Dane's father is indeed Magneto, they also made vowed never to mention his name, out of concern the television drama would stumble too far into territory staked out by the film franchise. Beyond, perhaps, the Season 1 finale, which touched upon Polaris' backstory, the fear of the M-word hadn't been too noticeable. But with this week's episode, it became the (magnetic) elephant in the room.
"The dreaM" is, on the surface, concerned with the fallout from the Inner Circle's big bank heist, which was pulled off flawlessly, at least until Rebecca, the unstable mutant with oddly specific powers (she can turn objects, and people, inside out) decided to go off-script and murder 37 people. The city is thrown into chaos as groups like the Purifiers seek revenge against mutants, and both the Inner Circle and the Mutant Underground search for Rebecca.
But the heart of the episode is the realization by Lorna (Emma Dumont) that her infant daughter isn't safe around Rebecca, the Inner Circle and what they've unleashed. Through a series of flashbacks, to early in her pregnancy and to her unhappy youth in rural Missouri, "the dreaM" explores Lorna's complicated relationship with a father she never knew, and whom she -- nor anyone else -- ever actually names. He's referred to as "Him," "Your Real Dad," "You Know Who I Mean," "The Guy They Say Is My Dad" and, perhaps most awkwardly, "The Mutant From the News," but never Magneto, or simply Erik. It's distracting, and unintentionally comical, and undercuts the emotional impact of what's easily the most genuine, and relatable, storyline of the second season.
Ready to take drastic measures to protect her child, Lorna seems as if she'll send Dawn off to a school for gifted youngsters in the Swiss Alps, as suggested by Esme Frost (Skyler Samuels). There, she'll be out of the reach of Rebecca, Reeva Payge, and anyone else who might do her harm. But as we're shown glimpses of Lorna's past as a bipolar teen with green hair and extraordinary powers, it becomes clear that her anger at He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been misplaced.
Returning to Missouri, Lorna leaves Dawn with the aunt who raised her (guest star Kathryn Erbe of Law & Order: Criminal Intent). It's then that Lorna realizes her aunt wasn't hiding her from her father, but rather for him (which certainly clarifies why a rebellious young Lorna was released from jail, with an apology, after a mysterious phone call).
With that, Polaris comes to terms with not only her feelings for her estranged father, but also for his legacy. While Magento is never named on The Gifted, he's spoken of in awe, by the Frost sisters, by Andy Strucker -- by virtually everyone except Lorna. But all of that changes in the closing moments of the episode, as Lorna uses her mutant power to reshape the little red medallion Magneto left for her on her 13th birthday into a headpiece that will be familiar to readers of X-Men comics.
It's obviously not merely a fashion accessory, but instead a symbol of who Lorna is, and of her connection to her father. You know his name.
Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT, Fox’s The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Eclipse/Marcos Diaz, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane, Blair Redford as Thunderbird/John Proudstar, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker, Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker, Skyler Samuels as the Frost sisters and Grace Byers as Reeva Payge.