Monday, September 17, 2012

X-MEN Episode Five - January 30, 1993



Captive Hearts
Written by Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg

Summary: During a date in the city, Cyclops and Jean Grey are kidnapped by the Morlocks, underground mutants who hope Cyclops will marry their leader Callisto. Jean sends a telepathic distress call to Professor Xavier, who sends the X-Men to rescue them. The X-Men fight the Morlocks to a standstill, leading Storm to challenge Callisto for the leadership of the Morlocks. Storm wins the duel and orders the Morlocks to free the X-Men. She then orders Callisto to rule in her absence, as the Morlocks have no interest in interacting with the surface world. Later, a distraught Wolverine abruptly runs away in the night.

Continuity Notes: This story is based on the first Morlocks storyline in Uncanny X-Men #169-170. Cyclops is taking the place of Angel, who was Callisto's chosen husband in the original story.

“Um, Actually…”: Leech of the Morlocks is shown with telekinetic abilities in the opening of the episode. Later, we see Leech using his only powers in the comics, his ability to inhibit other mutants' powers.

Saban Quality: The designs of the Morlocks in the background are on the same level of a small child's notebook doodles.

Approved By Broadcast Standards: Storm and Callisto duel with glowing energy staffs, rather than the knives they used in the comics.

"Huh?" Moments: Wolverine's adamantium bones somehow make a cracking sound when he's practicing karate. Later, a Morlock with psychic powers exposes Wolverine's greatest fear as...scorpions?

Review: Boiled down to its basics, the original Morlock story isn't particularly great, but the animated series takes advantage of its serial plotting to get decent character work out of the various subplots. Cyclops is insecure in his leadership abilities following the team's poor performance battling Magneto, Storm's unsure if she's ready to become deputy leader, and Wolverine is still recovering from the wounds inflicted during his fight with Sabretooth. Jean knows he's pushing himself too far, but when he leans on her for help, she walks away. The dialogue between Jean and Wolverine in this scene is nicely done, making Wolverine's love for Jean and Jean's conflicted emotions obvious without going too far. It's understated, certainly by kids' TV standards, but it manages to sum up their relationship very clearly. Later in the episode, there's a pretty shocking scene that has Wolverine contemplating killing Cyclops when he discovers him unconscious in the Morlock Tunnels. He doesn't give it any serious thought, and the scene only lasts a few seconds, but it's still surprising to see how far the producers were willing to go with this. When the end of the X-Men's adventure reaffirms Jean's love for Cyclops, Wolverine's decision to leave the team that night is easy for the audience to understand. This, naturally, leads into the next episode. And that episode's conclusion organically leads to the next, etc., etc. The tight plotting of the first season is still impressive, making the show's later decision to virtually abandon ongoing continuity even more disappointing.

3 comments:

Teebore said...

At the risk of shamelessly plugging my own blog, I was *just* thinking about this episode last week as I wrote about its comic book counterpart. Crazy timing!

All things considered, this is a pretty decent adaptation of the comic book story. The "glow staffs" take something away from what was a knife fight, but, as you point out,they are an understandable change.

Later, a Morlock with psychic powers exposes Wolverine's greatest fear as...scorpions?

I'd totally forgotten about that. How bizarrely random...

The tight plotting of the first season is still impressive, making the show's later decision to virtually abandon ongoing continuity even more disappointing.

Agreed on both counts.

Kazekage said...

Wolverine's "NO! Covered with scorpions!" freakout is just hilarious.

Matt said...

This is not related to the episode, but looking at that video cover, I have to wonder why the episode's title was not placed in the big empty space above Storm's head?

Not that covering the staff detracts much from the image, but it just seems like really odd placement when there's a much more obvious location for the title.

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