Fox's X-Men series The Gifted is possibly the most exciting superhero series of the year. Show runner Matt Nix seems to have created a fascinating world, one steeped in prejudice and fear, in which mutants are hunted down by the government-funded Sentinel Services. This is the grim backdrop for a fascinating family-driven drama in which one Sentinel, Stephen Moyer's Reed Strucker, is horrified to learn that his children are actually mutants.
The trailers have teased that the Strucker family will go on the run, and soon find themselves seeking the help of a mutant underground railroad. Beyond that though, the plot of The Gifted has remained a mystery... until now, that is. Deadline has exclusively revealed that actor Garret Dillahunt is playing the character of Roderick Campbell, a mutant researcher for Sentinel Services who has a "morally dubious mission." This news will undoubtedly make #XMen fans sit up in excitement as it's the real name of a classic X-Men villain known as Ahab.
Who Is Ahab?
Rory Campbell was introduced in the comics as a researcher who worked with the mutant super-team Excalibur. However, he soon became horrified to learn that in a dark apocalyptic future, he would become leader of a deadly mutant-hunting program. Ironically, Campbell's very efforts to prevent this future led him into an unwise alliance with Apocalypse where he became one of the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.
In the original timeline, one tied to the famous 'Days of Future Past' arc, Campbell became a mutant researcher and led the Hound program. There, his goal was to find ways to force mutants to work as mutant-hunters. Telepaths and trackers were particularly potent, and the greatest of Campbell's Hounds was Rachel Summers, the daughter of Cyclops and Phoenix in this timeline. Rachel eventually broke free, crippling Campbell, who used cybernetics to salvage his broken body and took the code-name Ahab.
The dystopian timeline of 'Days of Future Past' is sounding eerily similar to the one we're exploring in The Gifted. After all, the show revolves around Sentinel Services hunting down and interning mutants. As well, we now have Garret Dillahunt playing a mysterious mutant researcher, and it's surely not a leap to suggest that he's intending to force mutants to hunt their own kind.
This becomes all the more intriguing when you consider that both of the Strucker children have been revealed to be telekinetics — able to manipulate matter with their minds. In the comics, telekinesis and telepathy are closely related. If the Struckers are also potential telepaths, then they'd be of real interest to Campbell. They could easily become his most potent Hounds.
Don't Expect This To Tie To The Movies
Mention of the 'Days of Future Past' comics has already got some fans eagerly hoping that this TV series will tie into the movies, perhaps into the dark timeline that was averted in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Don't hold your breath though; in The Gifted, Sentinel Services are human beings who hunt down mutants. We've yet to see any trace of the classic mechanical Sentinels who we last saw almost destroy the world in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The first trailer for The Gifted dropped enough key dialogue to suggest it doesn't fit into either of the movie timelines. Instead, The Gifted seems to be introducing us to a whole new universe of mutant action, one inspired by the comics but as distinct from the movies as Legion was.
Whatever timeline #TheGifted may take place in, we now have a strong sense that the overall arc is indeed inspired by some classic X-Men comics. Fox's X-Men #TV shows are digging deep, using characters and concepts we never dared dream would make their way to the small screen. Earlier this year, the Shadow King took a key role in Legion and now, we're about to see Ahab unleash his Hounds against characters directly linked to the X-Men. Speaking personally, this particular X-Men fan could not be more excited.
Which X-Men spin-off are you most excited about?