WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of The Gifted, "threat of eXtinction," which premiered Monday on Fox.
The big twist of this week's episode of The Gifted isn't that the Strucker children are descended from the classic X-Men foes Fenris -- that was deduced ages ago, and stated outright in a promo for "threat of eXtinction" -- but that they're not the only mutants in their family.
After discovering last week that a revived Trask Industries is behind the Hound Program that turns mutants into weapons for Sentinel Services, Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) heads with John Proudstar (Blair Redford) to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to visit his estranged father, who worked for the company for three decades. Reed hasn't spoken with Otto Strucker (Raymond J. Barry) in 20 years, and with good reason: He was a cold man so devoted to his classified work that he didn't even visit young Reed when he was hospitalized with a serious illness. But Reed is desperate to protect his family and their new allies at the Mutant Underground from the Hounds that endanger them all.
It turns out that Otto isn't at all what he seems. Now an antiques dealer, he keeps as many secrets as he does mementos from the past. His reunion with Reed is tense, weighed down by decades of unresolved issues, but it's also filled with revelations. Although Otto knows nothing about Trask Industries' current work, he confirms what many viewers have long known, that his father was Andreas Von Strucker, one-half of the twin mutant terrorists better known to Marvel Comics readers as Fenris. He even refers to Andreas and his sister Andrea by that name (we meet them both briefly in flashback, and in yellowed photos and newspaper clippings).
What's more Otto himself is a mutant who was raised by Andreas and Andrea, but became determined to never become like them. To that end, he began research into suppressing the X-Gene, which became the focus of his work for Trask Industries. He created a serum that he used not on himself, but on his son Reed. Yes, Reed is -- or was? -- mutant, and his hospitalization as a child, during which he nearly died, was a result of the serum.
Otto's motivations are reminiscent of Bolivar Trask's from Marvel's X-Men comics. The creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots, Bolivar was an anthropologist who believed the rise of mutants was a threat to humanity. Ironically, Bolivar's own son was a mutant, whom he gave a special medallion to suppress his powers.
The elder Strucker, who's never met his grandchildren, also issued a dire warning to Reed. Upon learning of young Lauren and Andy's individual powers, he asks Reed whether they've held hands since their abilities emerged. In the comics, the Fenris twins could only use their destructive powers when they made contact with one another, but it's suggested on The Gifted that Andrea and Andreas had individual abilities like Lauren and Andy. However, when they held hands, Fenris were capable of leveling buildings.
"Protect them, son," Otto tells Reed before going downstairs to stall Sentinel Services. "Protect the world from them."
Otto unleashes his own destructive power in a confrontation with Dr. Roderick Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) and Sentinel Services, sacrificing himself so Reed and John can escape. But the episode ends with a closeup of Andy and Lauren clasping hands, suggesting Otto's words will echo throughout the rest of The Gifted's first season.
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.