Emma DeLauro's Death
In the second season finale, "Lest He Become," the Mutant X team has a final showdown with Mason Eckhart and his newly created mutants at Naxcon Corporation, the company belonging to Shalimar Fox's father Nicholas. Nicholas turns the tables by venting all the building's steam valves simultaneously, creating a catastrophic series of explosions which rocks the entire structure from its foundation. Mason and his minions escape in the nick of time, but Mutant X is trapped inside with Nicholas. The episode ends with a cliffhanger (literally), with all six people clinging to the tower's outer ledge as it teeters precariously over the sea below.
The Season 3 premiere, "Into the Moonless Night," reveals that Shalimar, Jesse Kilmartin, and Brennan Mulwray have survived the Naxcon blast, but Adam Kane is missing and Emma DeLauro (played by Lauren Lee Smith), has been killed. Jesse, Brennan, and Shalimar watch in horror as a paramedic pronounces Emma dead and covers her body with a yellow blanket. Her face is never shown. As her gurney is wheeled away, Emma's arm slips out, dropping her comlink ring onto the pavement for Shalimar to retrieve. The three remaining Mutant X team members return to Sanctuary, where Shalimar and Brennan grieve at Emma's bedside, over a photo album of happier times with their friend. At the end of the episode, Jesse, Shalimar, and Brennan hold a silent memorial service for their fallen teammates at the top of Stormking Mountain.
Jesse, Shalimar, and Brennan weren't the only ones feeling stunned. Many Mutant X viewers felt that Emma's demise was forced, rushed, and unnecessary. To make matters worse, the writers didn't devote much time to her memory in subsequent episodes. Despite Emma's integral role in their lives throughout the first two seasons, her teammates only mentioned her in two episodes after "Into the Moonless Night": Jesse obliquely refers to her death in "The Taking of Crows," and Adam briefly discusses his sorrow with Shalimar in "A Normal Life." Emma is also shown in flashback scenes during the season three montage episode "In Between."
Tribune Entertainment never released an official explanation for actress Lauren Lee Smith's departure from Mutant X. According to Tribune's erstwhile producer Seth Howard as late as February 2003, no cast changes had been in the works. Had the writers reached a dead end with Emma's character? Were the producers looking for a sexier actress? Were there problems between Lauren and The Powers That Be? Fandom conjecture ranged from the notion that Lauren decided to leave to free up time for upcoming projects, to speculation that she didn't leave by choice, noting the surprised tone of Lauren's post on her official website's forum:
Hello everybody! i'm sorry i have'nt written sooner, my shedule has been crazy, and i did'nt want to post anything until a few things were 100% certain. which they are now. but i want to thank everybody here for being so supportive, and for all the awesome things you guys post!! and i promise i will start answering some questions, and posting more things whenever i possibly can. so for starters i should tell you all that i will not be returning to mutant x for season 3, other changes have been made on the show that you will find out eventually...don't ask! believe me this came as a shock to me as well! i truly enjoyed the two seasons i got to play emma, and had such a great time, and you guys made it all worthwhile...so thank you. i'm currently working on a new series which i'm really excited about, but i'm not gonna give to many details just yet!!! so that's the big news for now, and if you guys have any questions(within reason!!) i will do my best to answer asap!!! lot's of love lauren
Efforts by devoted fans to bring Emma back, such as this petition, were unsuccessful. More recently, the actress Karen Cliche (who played Lexa Pierce in season 3) reportedly stated that the producers let Lauren go to "mix things up" for the third season. Karen also said that producers approached her to play Lexa Pierce before warning Lauren of Emma's fate.
During a fan question and answer session at a London L Word convention in March 2008, Lauren Lee Smith herself finally resolved this five-year-old controversy with the following explanation (watch a clip from the interview here):
Claire Mcbuffy: Mutant X. Your character left kind of unexpectedly. Um, and there’s a lot of rumour about how you left and why you left, I don’t know if you’re allowed to talk about it or not?
Lauren Lee Smith: Sure.
Mcbuffy: What exactly…
Lauren: I haven’t been on that show for years. I can say whatever I want!
Mcbuffy: Oh, that’s cool. What happened with your character? Did you leave or…?
Lauren: I did. Yeah.
Mcbuffy: You did. It was your choice.
Lauren: Yeah. It was, it was my choice. Um, I had done 44 episodes, um, and that’s a lot! A lot of…
Mcbuffy: It wasn’t the best show in the world…
Lauren: And it wasn’t the best show in the entire world. The expectations for the show were fantastic. And going into the show they had some really great ideas. And then half way through our budget went from like here *indicates high* to here *indicates REALLY low* And it just got… And they kept asking like, they kept asking me if I would wear less and less clothing in every episode. I was like yeeeah, I mean…yeah. When there’s not much else happening, going on in the show. And if you have to start…*Puts on a voice* Maybe if you start to wear a bikini throughout the whole thing we can get more people watching.
Anne Ramsey: Wow, did they really start doing that?
Lauren: Yeah. It was pretty crazy. So I was kind of like…It was a mutual thing. They were very nice about letting me go.
Mcbuffy: Well that’s good.
Lauren: Yeah, yeah. No hard feelings.
Mcbuffy: Well you and Ada…umm, I forgotten his name. John?
Lauren: John Shea.
Mcbuffy: John Shea were kind of like the best things about the show, and you both left at the same time.
Lauren: Yeah, John was sort of in the same boat I was. We were both lead to believe we were…
Mcbuffy: I think you were both too good for the show to be honest with you.
Lauren: Oh *Laughs*
Mcbuffy: From a non fan-girl perspective. I think you were. You were the best thing about it. You had the weight of the show.
Lauren: Right. Well, quite honestly I had the strongest power. Sorry! But like I could have kicked everyone’s ass! So like… *Laughs*
Mcbuffy: That was the only sort of disappointing thing about you going, was the fact that they sort of started going to a dark place with your character.
Lauren: Right and they kind of got stuck.
Mcbuffy: And it was interesting to see where it was going. And then of course you both left.
Lauren: Right. It was time. It was time to move on.
To find out what Lauren Lee Smith has been up to since Mutant X, look here.
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