WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of The Gifted, "threat of eXtinction," which premiered Monday on Fox.
Fox's The Gifted has plumbed X-Men mythology for some relatively obscure characters, like the characters Dreamer, Shatter and Purge, and the group the Mutant Liberation Front. And with this week's episode, "threat of eXtinction," the drama adds a substance to that list.
More specifically, a drug: Kick, introduced in 2003 by writer Grant Morrison and artist Kieron Grant in Marvel Comics' New X-Men #134. Also known in the comics as Hypercortisone D, it's a highly addictive substance that enhances the mutant powers of those who use it.
Kick comes into play in this week's episode of The Gifted when the Mutant Underground discovers a Hound -- a mutant transformed into a weapon of Sentinel Services, characterized by Eclipse as "something between a spy and a suicide bomber" -- among a group of refugees in hiding at a sympathetic church. A speedster, the spy Chloe Tan (Michelle Kim) puts up a fight but is ultimately subdued and placed in a cell back at headquarters in Atlanta. The woman's manic behavior leads Eclipse (Sean Teale) and Caitlin Stucker (Amy Acker) to deduce she's displaying classic symptoms of withdrawal.
"You ever see a mutant on Kick?" Eclipse asks. "It's a mutant drug," Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) explains to her brother Andy (Percy Hynes White). "I heard about it. Boosts your powers for a while, makes you feel invincible." However, as Eclipse warns, "It gets you hooked before you even know what hits you."
The mention of Kick isn't a mere Easter egg, though, as it reemerges later in the episode, providing a key piece to the puzzle that is the Hound Program.
When Dr. Roderick Campbell (Garret Dilahunt) learns the Mutant Underground has already rooted out his spy, he heads with Sentinel Services agents to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to talk with Otto Strucker (Raymond J. Barry), the father of Reed Stucker and a former longtime employee of Trask Industries. He presumes that if the Mutant Underground knows about the Hound Program, then it's likely aware of the Trask connection, which would lead them to Strucker. He's right, of course, as Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) and John Proudstar (Blair Redford) are in Otto's apartment at that very moment.
But Dr. Campbell has brought along precautions, in the form of Pulse (Zach Roerig), the Mutant Underground member turned Hound, whom he gives a boost with an injection of what we can presume is Kick. In his confrontation with Otto Strucker, Dr. Campbell expresses his admiration for his research at Trask Industries. "Your work on suppressing the X-Gene is quite brilliant," he says. "It led directly to mine: enhancing it."
We can probably conclude, then, that Campbell created Kick as a way to not only to amplify mutant abilities but also to control individuals through the drug's highly addictive qualities.
In the comics, Kick is secretly a concentrated dose of Sublime, an ancient sentient bacterium, in aerosol form. Long-term use of the substance can lead to psychosis and even the bacterium taking control of a mutant's body, which is certainly similar to how Campbell uses Kick to dictate the actions of the Hounds. It seems doubtful that The Gifted will introduce Sublime, but the control aspect is already apparent.
If Campbell holds the supply of Kick, he wields a powerful weapon. He not only has the Hounds at his disposal, but by releasing the drug onto the street, he could leave a section of the mutant populace strung out and docile. More troubling, however, is the possibility that prolonged use, as in the comics, can trigger psychosis, which could lead to another 7/15-style tragedy. Of course, that may be precisely what Campbell is hoping for.
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.