WARNING: This article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Gifted, “eXit Strategy,” which premiered Monday on Fox.
Fox’s The Gifted expanded its ranks of identified mutants this week by introducing a pair of obscure X-Men characters — at least one of whom is destined to play a larger role in the overarching story — while casting a spotlight on Sage, even as the drama seemed to usher her off the stage.
Alas, none of those named in “eXit Strategy” is Shatter, whose primary duty in the Mutant Underground seems to be to turn slightly during establishing shots within the group’s secret headquarters. Ah, poor Shatter, maybe you’ll get your big break next week.
Although introduced in the series premiere, Sage wasn’t identified — onscreen, at least — until this week’s episode, which also hinted at one of mutant powers. Played by Hayley Lovitt (Powers, Ant-Man), she sat in on a meeting at the Mutant Underground’s headquarters, where Thunderbird (Blair Redford) attempted to sell the group on a risky plan to free Polaris and Reed Strucker from Sentinel Services. Sage wasn’t buying, however, and used her “computer brain” to coolly calculate the slim odds of success before promptly abandoning the mission, and perhaps the Mutant Underground itself.
Introduced in 1980 in Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #132 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Sage (better known as Tessa) was originally depicted as an assistant to Sebastian Shaw, but was later retconned to have been one of Charles Xavier’s early recruits who, instead of joining the team, was sent to infiltrate the Hellfire Club. In addition to her computer-like brain, which enables her to process large volumes of data almost instantaneously, the Sage of the comics can also detect and analyze the genetics of others, and even unlock their latent mutant abilities.
The big surprise in “eXit Strategy” is the debut of Zach Roerig (The Vampire Diaries, Friday Night Lights) as Pulse, who can disrupt electronic devices and negate the abilities of mutants around him. The surprise isn’t the character himself, mind you; introduced in 2005 in X-Men #173, he’s relatively obscure, yet is one of the few mutants to retain his powers following Marvel Comics’ “M Day.” What makes his appearance on The Gifted stand out is the role he appears destined to play in the events of the series.
Introduced in flashback as Thunderbird’s best friend, he’s shot and seemingly killed while covering the retreat of fellow Mutant Underground members from a Sentinel Services facility. He reappears later in the episode as part of the convoy transporting Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer), and prevents the members of the Mutant Underground from using their abilities, severely complicating their ambush and rescue plans. Possibly brainwashed or under active mind control, Pulse is knocked unconscious by Thunderbird, in the process exposing a mysterious tattoo on his wrist that immediately ignited speculation. Who’s controlling him? Is he the only mutant being used by Sentinel Services against other mutants?
Even more obscure than Pulse, Trader of the Marvel comic books is a member of the Morlocks, a subterranean society of mutants brought together by physical mutations or conspicuous manifestations of their powers that made them unable to pass as human in the surface world. Introduced in 2002 by Geoff Johns and Shawn Martinbrough in Morlocks #1, Trader died in the following issue.
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Played on The Gifted by DJames Jones, Trader can cloud the retinal input anyone who looks at him, rendering himself virtually invisible — although as he points out, his powers have no effect on electronic devices. They serve him in the ambush, at least until Pulse shuts down Trader’s abilities, exposing him to armed agents of Sentinel Services. He’s shot multiple times but appears to have escaped the fate of his comic book counterpart.
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.
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