Last night’s episode of The Gifted, “threat of eXtinction,” introduced two key elements New X-Men, Grant Morrison’s divisive and franchise-redefining early-2000s retooling of the X-Men.
SPOILERS For The Gifted episode eight, “threat of eXtinction,” follow.
Two things that Morrison did during his run on New X-Men was to introduce several new, young, and weird mutants and update the mutant concept to reflect how counterculture had changed in the years since the idea was conceived of by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Both of those moves by Morrison were on display in “threat of eXtinction.”
Skyler Samuels was cast in The Gifted as Esme, a telepathic mutant who appears to be the television version of Esme Cuckoo, a character that Morrison created in New X-Men. For now, Esme is only described as a telepathic with a mysterious past.
In the Marvel Universe, Esme Cuckoo was one of a set of quintuplets with a telepathic hive mind referred to as the Stepford Cuckoos who were later revealed to be clones of Emma Frost created by the same project that gave Wolverine his adamantium. However, before any of that was discovered, Esme became part of a bad crowd of students at the Xavier Institute who ended up becoming a new iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Which leads directly into the second big New X-Men reference from last night’s episode, the drug Kick, which Dr. Roderick Campbell is using to keep his mutant Hounds in line. In the Marvel Universe, Kick, aka Hypercortisone D, was an aerosol drug used to enhance mutant powers and gain a mental high. The drug was highly addictive and became widespread in the mutant community despite it brain-addling after effects, and was later revealed to be the aerosol form of the villainous sentient bacteria known as Sublime.
Kick was used by rebellious mutant youth Quentin Quire and the Omega Gang to start a riot at the Xavier School. Sophie Cuckoo, one of Esme’s sisters, used Kick to boost her telepathic powers to a strong enough level that she could shut down the entire Omega Gang, but died from an overdose of the drug as a result.
Esme herself and the Xavier Institute teacher Xorn became addicted to Kick as well and were under the influence of the drug when they and other members of their class, the new Brotherhood, took over New York City. During these events, Xorn revealed himself to actually be Magneto in disguise, or at least that’s what Morrison originally intended for the story. Marvel later retconned the story to be the opposite, saying that Xorn, delusional from the Kick high, was posing as Magneto.
In the alternate future seen in the story “Here Comes Tomorrow,” which ended Morrison’s New X-Men series, Beast is seen to have so succumbed to Kick that Sublime has taken over his mind and body entirely, setting the Beast up as a despotic ruler of the dystopian future.
Fans should keep an eye out to see if more elements from New X-Men make their way into The Gifted.
The Gifted is taking a week off but will return to Fox on December 4, 2017.
The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.