WARNING: This article contains spoilers for this week's episode of The Gifted, "boXed in," which premiered Monday on Fox, and for the series as a whole.
For fans of the classic X-Men comics, Fox's The Gifted delivered a dose of nostalgia this week with its first overt reference to the mutant-hunting Hounds from the dystopian timeline of "Days of Future Past."
Given the casting of Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, Justified) as mutant researcher Roderick Campbell, better known as Ahab, the cyborg leader of the U.S. government-sanctioned Hound program, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the television drama introduced those characters. But with last week's episode, in which Thunderbird's best friend Pulse, previously believed dead, reappeared as part of a Sentinel Services convoy bearing a mysterious tattoo, and seemingly under mental control, it seemed that viewers would meet the Hounds sooner rather than later.
In this week's episode, "boXed in," the existence of the Hound program is confirmed when Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Eclipse (Sean Teale) turn the tables on the pursuing Sentinel Services, and abduct Agent Jace Turner (Coby Bell). Faced with an uncooperative hostage, they call in Dreamer (Elena Satine), who uses her "dream smoke" to probe Turner's memories.
In a series of flashes, we're shown Sentinel Services files, which include a symbol matching Pulse's wrist tattoo, the headings "Hound" and "New Initiative: Hound Program," a criminal file for Matthew Shively (who, it turns out, is The Gifted's art department coordinator), a structure later identified as the federal building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a door nameplate that reads "Hon. James Kresge," a name that doesn't appear to have any connection to Marvel or the X-Men.
Introduced in 1981 in Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Men #141, the Hounds are mutants from a dystopian alternate future who are brainwashed to hunt down other mutants so they can be captured and imprisoned in government internment camps. Although they weren't branded with a symbol like that on Pulse's wrist, there faces were “marked,” or tattooed, with radiating lines, and they were chained by Ahab, who controlled them using mental domination.
So both the audience and the Mutant Underground now know that Sentinel Services is somehow, as Polaris says, turning mutants into weapons to use against other mutants. It's unclear whether Dr. Campbell is involved, as he's thus far appeared only on the periphery of The Gifted, on which it's been confirmed he has some kind of contracts with Sentinel Services.
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 Marcos Diaz/Eclipse, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont cast as Lorna Dane/Polaris, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong and Blair Redford as John Proudstar/Thunderbird, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.