WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Gifted’s two-part season finale, which debuted Monday on Fox.
Fox's The Gifted featured X-Men co-creator Stan Lee in a cameo in series premiere, and gave a nod to influential writer Chris Claremont with the name of a moving company in the sixth episode. And with this week's Season 1 finale, the drama adds to the list a reference to legendary comics creator Jack Kirby -- but if you blinked, you might have missed it.
Premiering Monday night, "eXtraction" and "X-roads" split the actions, and the key players, between a high-risk plot to kidnap Dr. Roderick Campbell in hopes of bringing an end to the Hound Program, and a last-ditch defense of the Mutant Underground's Atlanta headquarters against an assault by Sentinel Services and its Hounds. Neither went well for The Gifted's protagonists.
After Campbell slips through the grasps of Thunderbird, Eclipse and Blink at an anti-mutant summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, Polaris is encouraged by the Stepford Cuckoos to take matters into her own hands: Embracing the legacy of her father Magneto, she brings down the private plane carrying Campbell and anti-mutant Sen. Montez. Just as that moment marks a turning point for Polaris and The Gifted, so too does the destruction of the Mutant Underground's Atlanta base by the Strucker children to cover the escape by the their friends and family amid the attack by Sentinel Services.
Those two threads come together in Nashville, Tennessee, as the scattered members of the Mutant Underground reunite at a "way station": J. Kirby's Feed Store, which looks as if it's seen better days. That's of course a nod to the late Jack Kirby, widely referred to as "the King of Comics."
A staggeringly prolific artist whose influence on comic books (and television and film) can't be overstated, Kirby co-created Marvel Comics' Avengers, Fantastic Four, Thor, the Incredible Hulk and, yes, the X-Men with Stan Lee. Although most of the X-Men characters used on The Gifted are more recent additions to the mythology, Kirby and Lee are responsible for the foundational concepts, as well as the mutant-hunting Sentinels, Trask Industries founder Bolivar Trask, and Polaris' father Magneto.
Of course, Kirby's reach extends well beyond the X-Men, as the co-creator (with Joe Simon) of Captain America and the entire genre of romance comics, to say nothing of such memorable DC Comics characters as Darkseid, The Demon, Mister Miracle and Kamandi. But those are only for starters.
Returning for Season 2 in the fall, Fox's The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Eclipse/Marcos Diaz, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane, Blair Redford as Thunderbird/John Proudstar, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker, and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.