WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Gifted, “threat of eXtinction,” which premiered Monday on Fox.
As some Marvel Comics fans speculated, the “mysterious telepath” who debuted this week on Fox’s The Gifted is indeed named Esme, presumably one of the Stepford Cuckoos introduced in 2001 by Grant Morrison and Ethan Van Sciver in New X-Men. However, she may not be alone.
Played on the drama by Scream Queens alum Skyler Samuels, Esme proves instantly invaluable when she informs John Proudstar (Blair Redford) that her telepathy picked up on some “very weird thoughts” from one of the refugees huddled with her in the storage shed of a friendly church. Her sense of unease singled one of Dr. Roderick Campbell’s Hounds, who was assigned to infiltrate the Mutant Underground headquarters from Atlanta and either tip off Sentinel Services to its location or, apparently, attack it from within.
That wasn’t the end of her usefulness, however. When the captured Hound, who’s apparently dying from withdrawal from the drug Kick, is unable to talk, Esme is called upon to use her telepathy to learn what she can about Trask Industries and the Hound Program. “You understand what we’re fighting for, right?” Polaris asks her.
“Sentinel Services has my family,” Esme says. “I’m here to fight.” Although she doesn’t specify which members of her family are in custody, we can’t help but wonder whether they’re her sisters, the other Cuckoos.
Introduced in 2001 in New X-Men #118, the Stepford Cuckoos — Celeste, Esme, Mindee (Irma), Phoebe and Sophie — were the five cloned daughters of Emma Frost. Each a powerful telepath in her own right, they shared a hive mind and can speak and function as one. Following the deaths of Esme and Sophie in the comics, the remaining three sisters were diminished in power.
Although it’s highly unlikely The Gifted will introduce Emma Frost for a comics-faithful origin, it’s difficult to imagine why the producers chose Esme among all of the possible telepaths in X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe if they didn’t plan to include at least some of the other Stepford Cuckoos, down the line. (Esme’s eyes glow when she uses her telepathic powers, just as in the comics, so it’s almost definitely her).
Samuels is slated for a recurring role, and after just eight episodes, there’s still plenty of time this season for the Mutant Underground to help rescue her family. So we may yet meet the other Cuckoos.
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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