And just like that, The Gifted became that Hellfire Club series FOX order in 2016.
But that’s not to be dismissive of this turn of events, mind. The notion of rival groups to the Mutant Underground has been there since the beginning, when Agent Turner (Coby Bell) name-dropped a couple of the other factions before the Underground became his focus. That said, I don’t think the Hellfire Club was on his list, though. You almost have to wonder if they’re the Washington friends Dr. Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) mentioned.
Just for some background: in 2016, FOX and FX announced plans to develop shows based on the X-Men. FX’s project, Legion, went to series without a hitch and became my favorite superhero show of 2017. FOX, meanwhile, was planning a show based on the Hellfire Club; that faction of devious and decadent mutants which includes Emma Frost and the Fenris twins in their number. While Legion went into production quickly, the Hellfire Club concept seemed to disappear, emerging only for FOX to confirm that it was abandoning the concept in favor of what became The Gifted. But since the arrival of the Cuckoos (Skyler Samuels) — and really since the off-hand mention of the earlier Strucker Twins’ membership — it was clear the Hellfire Club was back from the ashes.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that rebuilding the Club appears to be the overarching mission of Esme and her sisters. And it seems in order to do it, they need the Fenris Twins once again. Which, I suppose, makes sense if you want to create a good distraction while integrating considerable financial resources into mainstream society.
And distraction seems to be the Cuckoos’ favorite method of achieving their goals. Knowing they destabilized the Underground in Atlanta, they sauntered into the HQ to ask for aid in ending the Hound program. Just their mere presence was enough to make tensions rise. It also seemed to have the exact effects they were really after: putting the Struckers in a position to flee and further divide Marcos (Sean Teale) and Lorna (Emma Dumont). I’m sure there was secondary objective with John (Blair Redford) and Blink (Jamie Chung) as well, but considering Blink was ready to fight, she may have been the easiest person to persuade of all.
Really, it all came down to making the twins vulnerable by tipping off Sentinel Services to the Fairburn safehouse. A plan masterfully executed by the Cuckoos.
The Struckers decision to flee is just the latest echo in their attempt to retain normalcy, a goal which appears as inconsistent characterization in drama, but is perfectly sensible in real life. Since X-Men tales typical separate teenagers from their parents, the seemingly contradictory actions Caitlin and Reed (Amy Acker and Stephen Moyer) is new territory — at least in live action. In comics, there are a number of famous mutant families, but considering they’ve all been part of the conflict since childhood, none react quite like the elder Struckers. Their first thought is always their children’s safety; to a degree which borders on obsession as it gets in the way of the action viewers want to see on a show like The Gifted. And while their latest attempt to get to Mexico served them directly into the Cuckoos’ hands (and revealed Trask’s latest Hound upgrade), it also illustrated their ongoing unease at being part of the mutant conflict.
As for Lorna, we finally got confirmation that she is bipolar; honoring the comic book character’s history of mental health issues. We also got the first mention of her “real father.” Magneto has a past with the Hellfire Club — a contentious one, in fact — so seeking out Lorna as a possible replacement for him seems sensible, even as the bond she has with her child appears to be giving her Magento-level powers. You almost have to wonder if the fact the Struckers and Lorna have these combined strength abilities make them even more desirable beyond their ancestral connections to the Club/ Which leads us to our lingering questions:
- Who are the Inner Circle? Are they clubmembers fans will recognize?
- Did Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw somehow avoid the final conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood?
- Who is bankrolling the Cuckoos? The diamond he offered for expenses suggests the Living Diamond, but if Hellfire is in play, why not someone more … Sinister?
- Will Turner’s resolve crumble as Campbell’s experiments get more outlandish?
- Have we abandoned the Cartel storyline entirely? I definitely hope so.
The Gifted airs Mondays on FOX.