WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the series premiere of The Gifted, which aired tonight on Fox.
The marketing for The Gifted has been remarkably consistent since the first teasers for Fox’s X-Men drama debuted in May, with footage depicting the Strucker family on the run, the Carrie-style calamity at the school dance, members of the Mutant Underground defiantly using their powers and, later, the robotic spiders of Sentinels Services. However, at least one element changed dramatically between those early trailers and tonight’s series premiere: the scenes of Polaris’ incarceration.
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Our first look at Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, arrived in early May in an otherworldly set photo from pilot director Bryan Singer showing actress Emma Dumont wearing some kind of headdress and light-colored prison jumpsuit, and encased in plastic sheeting; she looked virtually alien. Within days, with the release of the first full-length trailer, we were provided some context for the image, as Stephen Moyer’s Reed Strucker entered what appeared to be a dark, cavernous warehouse to offer help to the “very troubled young woman.”
Glimpses of that scene, showing Polaris suspended in what was essentially an enormous Ziploc bag, continued to crop up through at least July’s Comic-Con International trailer. But the following month, that scene vanished, and was replaced by something more down to Earth, even mundane. By August, she was just another inmate in an orange jumpsuit, albeit confined to a Plexiglass cube. Think Magneto’s prison cell from 2003’s X2, albeit on a television budget.
And it remained that way through the series premiere of The Gifted, in which Moyer’s Reed Strucker speaks some of the same dialogue heard in those early trailers, only in a drastically different setting. While the threat of incarceration in a mutant detention center, from which most inmates don’t return, is certainly troubling within that fictional world, it’s nowhere near as visually unsettling as that Ziploc cell, with its air tubes and vast, shadowy surroundings.
We’re left to guess why those scenes, which were surely costly and time-consuming to stage, were re-shot. Perhaps they didn’t test well with viewers or network executives. Admittedly, the bizarre images from the early trailers brush uncomfortably close to torture; that unease is amplified by the revelation in the premiere that Lorna is pregnant, information Reed intended to use to ensure her cooperation. That is, until his own children are revealed to be mutants, and he turns from district attorney to fugitive.
That earlier version likely did no favors for Reed’s image, either. It’s difficult to view him as a mere cog in the legal machine who now must do whatever he can to protect his family when, just a few scenes earlier, he didn’t blink at Polaris’ treatment. In the end, the reshoots were probably the best for everyone.
Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz/Eclipse, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont cast as Lorna Dane/Polaris, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong and Blair Redford as John Proudstar/Thunderbird, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.
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