Visimag's Starburst 1/04: Peter Mohan
Going to Extremes
Things did not look good for Adam Kane and his genetically-enhanced teammates at the end of Mutant X's second season finale Lest He Become. In this episode, their arch-enemy Mason Eckhart, who they thought was still a prisoner at Genomex, returns with a plot to crack the Human genetic code. He tricks Shalimar's father Nicholas Fox into using his company Naxcon to help him. Fox eventually discovers taht he's been duped and, during a showdown between Mutant X and Eckhart's mutants, sets off a chain reaction that will destroy his firm's headquarters. Our heroes were last seen holding on for dear life as the floor beneath them began to collapse into the ocean. Coming up with such a cliffhanger was no easy task for series head writer/executive producer Peter Mohan.
"The biggest challenge was taking character relationships -- which had become increasingly strained over the latter part of the season -- to a point where we left viewers wondering if Mutant X could ever exist in the same way again," says Mohan. "I think we did just that. Certainly there were trusts broken that wouldn't be easily repaired. Emma (Lauren Lee Smith) used her empathic abilities to force Adam (John Shea) to tell them the thruth. And when the truth came out Brennan (Victor Webster) and Shalimar (Victoria Pratt) were ready to leave the team. It took each of them to the breaking point and left everyone in quite an unsettled state.
"Overall I thought year two was a successful and exciting one. We delved deeper into who our characters are and took them as individuals as well as a team to some interesting places. There was the constant threat of their powers spinning further out of control and killing them, which they saw happen to Adam's first patient, Gabriel Ashlocke (Michale Easton). You also saw their growing discontent with Adam and his autocratic way of doing things and keeping secrets from them. They wanted to be more in control of their own destinies, and in Lest He Become, they found out their world wasn't what they thought it was. Adam had continued to involve himself with Human genetic experimentation right up until the time he left Genomex. That's another genie he let out of the bottel and a Pandora's box that our team must now try to close."
Mutant X's ranks are depleted by two when the show returns for its third year. In the season opener In the Pale Moonlight, written by Mohan, it's revealed that Emma died in the aftermath of the explosion at Naxcon and that Adam is missing. "The team starts off from basically the same kind of unsettled place they wound up in at the end of last year," notes the executive producer. "To some degree we keep them moving in their own directions. In Season Two, Brennan had control issues and wanted at times to run the team. This year, he begins to pull back a bit and reverts to his bad boy role. Meanwhile, Shalimar is struggling with issues of her own and one of the way she's dealing with them is by trying to stop women from being preyed upon on the streets. As for Jesse (Forbes March), he's a true believer and an idealist as well as our technical guy. He steps up to the plate and really becomes involved in trying to keep the group together. So in some ways they're pulling apart but at the same time trying to find a new team dynamic within which to work."
Having just lost one, possibly two friends, the rest of the Mutant X team are far from ready to invite someone new into their fold. They have no choice, though, when Lexa Pierce (Karen Cliche) turns up unexpectedly at their secret mountain base Sanctuary. Like them, she was also the subject of genetic experimentation and is a light molecular.
"Lexa was a protegee of Adam's prior to him creating Mutant X and is another one of the secrets that he kept from them," explains Mohan. "She had a whole history before ever coming to work with Adam, which includes doing dirty work for Mason Eckhart as well as a host of other agencies. Lexa's past is a dark one and is always in the background of whatever she's doing. She has some secrets in her life that we'll find out about later in the season. These are things that are driving her and that she's looking to make right in her life."
Not surprisingly, Lexa's arrival further shakes things up at Sanctuary. Through her, Brennan, Shalimar, and Jesse learn that they are part of a much larger experiment than Adam let on, and that he was the subject of pressures they were unaware of. While trying to cope with all this, they reluctantly accept Lexa as part of the team and continue with their mission to protect Humankind. Mohan promises Mutant X fans can expect plenty of excitement as the season continues to unfold.
"In Wages of Sin, the team goes undercover in a high-end casino to investigate the sale of a genetically-based military weapon," he says. "We have quite an interesting episode coming up where Lexa is poisoned with a designer drug that somebody slips into her drink. The drug is addictive to Humans but it's deadly to mutants. She and Shalimar must break into a women's prison to find its creator, a bitter ex-Genomex scientist who hates mutants. She's not likely to co-operate but they have to win her over in order to help Lexa before she dies.
"There's a story called The Breed in which a genetically-manufactured virus with its own biological parameters is set free," continues the executive producer. "It infects almost everyone working on a military base. If left unchecked this virus could infect the entire world. In another episode, a cybernetic mutant that Mutant X dealt with years ago returns. It tracks our group back to Sanctuary through their computer systems and turns their base into a death trap. So in addition to the action/adventure there will be stories that, I hope, will have an emotional core."
Like most TV shows it takes seven days to shoot a Mutant X episode. It's hard work, but rewarding for Mohan. "This is a wonderful franchise," he enthuses. "We've got a terrific cast of characters, all of whom still have interesting places to go in their lives and I look forward to continuing that journey with them."
Blinded by the Light
Fans of the short-lived series Adventure Inc will recognize Karen Cliche from that show as action gal Mackenzie Previn. As Mutant X's newest recruit Lexa she has the power to control light. "She saves up like a big battery similar to how Brennan stores electricity and can then manipulate it," says Mohan. "Lexa bends light around her, which gives her a stealth-like ability. In instances like that all you see of her is a vague shimmer. The character can also focus light through beams that she shoots from her hands, almost like laser beams, as well as create flashes of light to blind adversaries. There are other things we'll probably have Lexa do with her powers in terms of creating spectral effects and whatnot, but that's something we'll have to think about."
"Lexa is going to be quite an intriguing individual with a multitude of levels and lots of built-in conflict between her and her teammates. The character is just working out so well. As for Karen Cliche, she was a wonderful find for Adventure Inc and we were happy to bring her aboard Mutant X. She's a real talent. Karen hits dramatic beats so beautifully along with the comedic ones and she does a great job with all the action stuff. She's been an incredible asset to our series."
Truth and Consequences
"Adam's role in the show is very much part of the secrecy of this season. Initially, we're playing things close to the vest and fans will have to wait and see what happens. Week-by-week we're going to pull away a little mor eof the veil as to the powers behind the powers that Adam dealt with. We'll discover what his true agenda was along with what Lexa's agenda really is. In the process, the team's world gets turned upside-down a few times and a big part of this involves Adam and his relationship with them.
"Yes, this is a big change for the show but it's one that makes sense if you watch. It's not like throwing the baby out with the bath water but rather just putting an interesting spin on things. Again, this will keep our heroes off-balance and force them to make sense of their world as well as work through their interpersonal issues."
© Visimag's Starburst