WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Gifted, “outfoX,” which debuted Monday, Dec. 4, on Fox.
From the very beginning, Fox’s The Gifted has woven key elements from X-Men mythology into its fictional world, from the introduction of the Sentinels and Trask Industries to references to Magneto’s Brotherhood and the Mutant Liberation Front. And with this week’s episode, the drama gives a nod to another of the X-Men’s longtime foes.
Following the revelation that their great-grandfather and his twin sister were the notorious mutant terrorists known as Fenris, Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White) turns to the Mutant Underground’s makeshift library — “Who are you, and what have you done with Andy?” Lauren asks — to research their family tree. He turns up what appears to be The Gifted‘s answer to a Time-Life Books series, titled Modern Mutants: A History, which takes a decade-by-decade approach to the subject matter. As funny as that may seem, it makes sense that, in a world in which mutants have existed publicly for decades, there would be bookshelves lined with dusty copies of Modern Mutants: A History instead of The Good Cook, The Old West and Mysteries of the Unknown.
The book’s section on the 1950s devotes space to the activities of Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker, who, by combined powers by holding hands, and “wiped out an entire building full of people, in seconds.” Although that’s news to Lauren and Andy, viewers have been aware of the actions of Fenris for some time now. The “new” development, courtesy of Modern Mutants, is that the twins were “rumored to be part of a shadowy organization known as the Hellfire Club,” at least until they disappeared, “fleeing from the X-Men.”
The Von Stuckers’ connection to a “shadowy organization” were first hinted in the Nov. 20 episode, “threat of eXtinction,” in which they were introduced in a flashback to 1952 London: Seconds before Interpol raided their apartment, the twins received a warning call on a phone whose number was known only to “the Organization,” which we might have assumed, under another rights arrangement, was Hydra. That it’s instead the Hellfire Club is significant.
Introduced in 1980 in Marvel Comics’ The Uncanny X-Men #129, on the surface the Hellfire Club appears only to be a social organization for wealthy elites. However, its Inner Circle secretly plots to amass power by manipulating politics and finance across the globe. Throughout much of the modern era, the group has been controlled by such mutants as Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry Leland, Selene and Roberto da Costa. Recurring antagonists of the X-Men, the Hellfire Club as appeared in animation and video games, as well as the villains in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
It’s also notable that, before Fox announced The Gifted, the network was developing another X-Men spinoff series titled Hellfire, featuring a version of the Hellfire Club.
It’s unlikely the mention of the Hellfire Club in this week’s episode was a mere throwaway line or Easter egg; instead, it may set up another threat entwined with the Strucker family tree. The book doesn’t say Fenris died, but rather that they “disappeared” — and if we’ve learned anything from superhero comics, it’s not to count out any character unless there’s a body. And even then, we should be suspicious.
The search for more information about Fenris, to say nothing of Lauren and Andy’s destructive powers, is certainly enough to fuel a subplot that could lead the Mutant Underground on a collision course with whatever remains of the Hellfire Club.
Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, 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.
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