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The Nevers' Olivia Williams And Pip Torrens On The Premiere's Jaw-Dropping Ending

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HBO's The Nevers takes the kind of misunderstood superheroes-vs.-intolerant society dynamic that has defined properties like X-Men, and transports it to the London of the Victorian Era. With British society in the throes of societal, economic, and political shifts, a group of individuals — most of them women — emerge with superhuman abilities ranging from great physical size, to the power to throw fire. As the British populace struggles to reckon with this strange, new phenomenon, the residents of an orphanage for the Touched (series parlance for super-powered individuals) battle both those who would seek to exploit them, and those who would seek to eliminate them entirely.

Unlike the mutants of X-Men, however, the Touched weren't born with their special talents. Instead, they're the result of a cataclysmic event witnessed by the entirety of London. In what's something of a surprise move, the show doesn't wait very long to pull back the curtain on the event that grants certain denizens of the city supernatural gifts, revealing it in a stunning sequence at the end of the very first episode. At a round table discussion with actors Pip Torrens and Olivia Williams, we got their take on The Nevers' early tipping of its super-powered hand, and what it means for the show.

The remainder of this article contains spoilers for episode 1 of The Nevers.

How The Nevers reveals the mystery of the Touched, and what it means

At the end of The Nevers' premiere episode, we see a flashback to what seems like an ordinary day in London, until the sky is split by the arrival of what would appear to be some sort of steampunk spaceship. As it careens toward a crash landing, it gives off glittering exhaust, particles of which alight on certain individuals throughout the city, awakening in them supernatural gifts, and turning them into the Touched. 

For Torrens, who plays the decidedly anti-Touched Lord Gilbert Massen, it's a signature moment, and one he's glad the show dispenses with right away. "I think it's a wonderful thing," he says. "I, as a viewer, saw that it is clear this has been a visitation. And yet, you know, it's the fact that this has been happening for a long time, and it's not so simple. Even the spaceship has a backstory, you know, it's fantastic. And you realize the power is not just a question of something flying past and leaving a trail. It's something that's with us, and it's to an extent in all of us."

Williams, whose Lavinia Bidlow is the benefactor for the orphanage that's home to many of the show's central Touched characters, has a slightly more practical take on it. "It is certainly a case of where, as an actor, when you sign up for a five to seven year contract with a long-running TV show, that there is such a leap of faith," she says. "You just have to trust that you're in safe hands, that somebody knows what's going on."

The premiere episode of The Nevers is available now on HBO and HBO Max.