By Shirley Li
September 24, 2018 at 02:22 PM EDT
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Mutants are about to raise their voices — with the hypersonic-scream-producing Reeva Payge (Empire‘s Grace Byers) leading the charge. In season 2 of Fox’s X-Men drama The Gifted, Reeva, the leader of Inner Circle, a formidable arm of the Hellfire Club, pursues a grand plan that involves recent Inner Circle recruits Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Andy (Percy Hynes White), as well as her right-hand women, the Frost sisters (Skyler Samuels).

Meanwhile, Reed (Stephen Moyer), Caitlin (Amy Acker), and Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) continue their hunt to bring Andy back; the splintered Mutant Underground — including Blink (Jamie Chung), Thunderbird (Blair Redford), and Eclipse (Sean Teale) — attempt to save as many mutant refugees as they can; and Jace (Coby Bell) searches for a new mission after leaving Sentinel Services.

Below, The Gifted showrunner Matt Nix teases the dawn of the mutant age in season 2.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Reeva Payge is a crucial new addition to the story. Why did you want to introduce her of all characters from Hellfire Club lore?
MATT NIX: I was interested in Reeva because she was one of the least explored leadership figures associated with the Hellfire Club. Just on a practical level, if you’re going to have someone take over a group that is made up of very powerful mutants, that mutant better be in a position where they can overpower a bunch of people with pretty significant powers themselves — and Reeva’s ability is particularly well-suited to dominating not just humans but other mutants. We selected her carefully.

FOX

What were your goals going into the season? How did you decide what issues you wanted to tackle?
One of the goals was humanizing all of the different perspectives. Jace [for example] isn’t just a bigot or anything; he cares, he wants justice for his daughter, he believes in the law. This season, he’s going to encounter the Purifiers… The other thing was really exploring, with the Inner Circle and with Reeva and with Polaris and Frosts and Andy, the idea that on the mutant side, if all you do is focus on what you deserve and what will make you safe forever, on some level it may be right, but you are heading down a very dangerous path toward [the idea] that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

You’re also introducing the Morlocks. Why bring in so many different factions this season?
What’s been interesting this season in introducing all these characters and working through all these characters and perspectives is just really having sympathy for all of them, even the villains, on the basis that they’re doing something that they really believe in. They’re doing it for completely unselfish motives. But at the same time, the season premiere begins with a raid on an apartment complex with a lot of mutants in it, that sure looks a lot like an ICE [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] raid. That’s another thing that we’ve been exploring over the course of the season, like how is this relevant to our world.

We’re not just introducing the Morlocks as “this group over there.” They have a philosophy that connects to some of our main characters and will sorely test some of those relationships. We’ve been very cautious not to be like, “And then there’s a group over there, and another group over there!” We want to explore all the characters and part of the way of exploring these characters is exploring what ideologies and associations they’re attracted to and what they do in response to these conflicts… This season’s really been about doubling down on the characters and the themes.

What about the Struckers? Are they attached to any ideology in particular?
[With them], we’re exploring what happens when families are divided against each other. Caitlin and Reed and Lauren have stepped up to take more of a role in the Mutant Underground.

FOX

Will we see more into the iconic X-verse characters going in? The season 1 finale teased Magneto’s relationship to Polaris pretty heavily with that medallion.
What was initially a “we’ve got to stay away from the movies” kind of thing has become an interesting and kind of fun creative challenge. With Magneto, it’s not so much a matter of whether we say the name. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at that medallion and go, “Oh, that looks awfully familiar.” But we also don’t want to confuse fans with the idea that someone’s going to show up, who’s not going to show up. And, if we started implying to fans that Magneto was going to show up, well which Magneto? How old is he? Frankly, I love the movies enough that I don’t want a knock-off Wolverine in my show. That’s important to me.

So basically when we think about those things, we think about them like, Polaris, she has really, really mixed feelings about her father. She doesn’t want to talk about him because he should have been around, but all he ever really gave her was this medallion and a family legacy. We definitely want to explore those issues, and even getting into the Frost history. The Frosts have a rather significant character [associated with them]. And similarly, as we explore their backstory, Emma Frost is out of the picture for different reasons and they have really significant feelings about that.

We’re not pretending [the major X-Men characters] don’t exist. The subject of Thunderbird’s brother comes up. The fact is, the X-Men and the Brotherhood are gone, and these characters are struggling in the wake of that. How do they accept that mantle? What does Thunderbird owe to the legacy of the X-Men? We want to hit on all those things, and it’s certainly very important to us and we’re cognizant of all those connections. At the same time, we don’t want to turn this show into a discussion of a movie.

The Gifted returns Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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