Tonight’s episode of The Gifted, “
Armed with the knowledge gained from Caitlin’s brother that Polaris and Reed Strucker are being transported to a new location, the Mutant Underground goes on the offensive for the first time. Blair Redford, The Gifted star who plays Thunderbird, says its a moment for his character to shine.
“I think a big component of this episode is it's one of the first times you see the team, the Underground, go on the offensive and that's a big thing for me to play with Thunderbird,” Redford tells ComicBook.com in an interview. “John has the military background, Marine veteran, so whenever it comes to comprising a plan and putting something tactical together I think that's where he really flourishes and that's where in episode four you see a little bit more the team leader aspect come out in the character. It's just cool to watch, just fun to see the group get together and not just be on their heels, but actually turn around and take a stand.”
Thunderbird is gifted with more than just a tactical mind. He also has a mutant power that gives him enhanced senses, a tracking ability, and superhuman physical strength, which will come in handy in tonight’s battle between the Mutant Underground and Sentinel Services.
“It was a lot of physical stuff,” Redford says. “It was probably the most fun episode I think I had shot up to that point. Four was a blast and it was a monster of a shoot. It was several days just shooting the main battle sequence. It was Georgia summer, so it was very hot, I remember that, but just gritted my teeth and tried to get through it. Several days of stunt training went into it, fight choreography and a lot of work being padded up. We have a great stunt team and I had a great double. I was really happy that my double got to sit in his chair most of the time and I got to do most of my own stuff, which is what I always try to do"
“I had an absolute blast," Redford adds. "There's a lot of superhuman strength, practical effects that come into play, and that was fun too.”
Tonight’s episode also introduces the mutant called Pulse, who has the power to negate other mutants’ powers. Pulse is an old friend of Thunderbird’s who has apparently jumped to the other side of the fight for mutant rights.
“Pulse himself, the character is a really formidable opponent for the group to go up against,” Redford says. “He has the power to suppress other mutants' abilities that are in his vicinity. It's clearly something that can change the game if a guy like that gets involved in the fight. As far as Thunderbird's history to him, it's a pretty big story point so I think it's best watched live.”
While Pulse's history may be secret for now, the revelation that some mutants are working for Sentinel Services will a story that continues to run through The Gifted in future episodes.
"The fact that there is a mutant working with the other side definitely raises a lot of questions and is the starting point for a pretty big storyline in the first season," Redford teases.
Thunderbird isn’t just being tested on the battlefield. The actions of his ex-girlfriend Dreamer, who used her mutant ability to insert her own memories of her relationship with Thunderbird in Blink’s mind, has created some serious emotional strain within the Underground.
“I think Thunderbird is upset with Dreamer doing what she did,” Redford explains. “He also sympathizes with her reasoning that she was trying to save the team. He's not a very open guy with his feelings so I think it's the last situation he wants to be a part of. He doesn't want to have to explain to Blink what happened, but the fact that it's not explained makes it very awkward when she's around him because obviously, he knows that she has fake implanted memories of the two of them. It's a hard place for him to be in, but it makes it fun to watch I suppose.”
While it may be difficult to Thunderbird, it's an enjoyable dynamic for Redford to play with as an actor.
“It was just really fun,” he says. “At the core part of playing a lot of stuff on this show, when it's related to our mutant powers, there's such fantastical ideas and the story points that we get to delve into with the magic what-if question. What if this happened in real life? How can we make it grounded, how can you make it real and relatable? I think everyone on the show does such a good job of that. I guess that's why it feels different than a lot of other superhero shows, it feels very grounded.”
That sense of being grounded is part of what sets The Gifted apart from other superhero shows on the air, and Redford says that four episodes into the show, it seems like audiences have been connecting.
“I'm just really pleased with what I've read,” Redford says. “I'm not trying to filter it to go our way or anything, but it's just been a pleasant surprise to see an overwhelming amount of comments on various social media platforms where it's just a group that's taken an instant liking to the story we're telling, and especially to the characters. To have so many characters and still have it seem like everyone is a favorite to someone just feels like a real accomplishment.”
While the show is grounded, it still offers plenty for X-Men fans to chew on, from Easter eggs to cameos to references to characters and groups from the comics. Redford remains committed to hitting that sweet spot between fan service and realistic storytelling.
“I think the fact that it's on a big network like Fox, if we can still do it justice to the comic fans and at the same time make fans out of the people who don't know anything about the comics, I think that's a huge win,” he says. “If we've done that, which I think we have already, then that feels great. Hopefully, that works. That's been a goal of mine since I knew the project was actually happening. Hopefully, in the future, we keep doing that.”
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.