Friday, January 25, 2013

X-MEN Episode Sixteen - November 6, 1993



Whatever It Takes
Written by Julia Jane Lewald

Summary:  Storm and Rogue travel to Tanzania to investigate a tear in the Astral Plane.  There, Storm encounters Mjnari, a boy she helped deliver during her youth.  Mjnari is now a mutant with speed powers, and an ability to see the Astral Plane entrance that resides in Mt. Kilimanjaro.  The Shadow King emerges, possessing Mjnari and demanding Storm volunteer to take his place.  Mjnari rebels against Shadow King by tricking him into the Astral Plane shortly before its tear heals, sealing him within.  Meanwhile, Wolverine tracks Morph to Brazil, and after a violent encounter, decides he isn’t ready to return to the team.  In Antarctica, Magneto and Xavier escape an avalanche and emerge in the Savage Land.  

Continuity Notes
  • Storm’s released from the hospital at the start of the episode, after missing all of the action in “Till Death Do Us Part (Part 2).”
  • The Shadow King makes his animated debut.  His past with Storm is taken directly from the flashbacks in Uncanny X-Men #117.  Storm also helped a woman give birth to a boy named Mjnari in Uncanny X-Men #198, although that story was set in the present and was not a flashback.
  • Beast theorizes that Bishop’s time traveling has created this tear in the Astral Plane.  I think the producers have only a vague idea of what the Astral Plan is supposed to be.
  • Bloodscream and Roughhouse make a brief cameo, exiting the bar in Brazil as Wolverine enters.  Later, Morph shapeshifts into Deadpool, Omega Red, and Maverick while taunting Wolverine.
  • The Savage Land makes its first appearance on the series.  Sinister has somehow blocked Xavier and Magneto (who was also tricked by Morph into traveling to Antarctica) from using their powers after they enter, and an unintended side effect is Xavier’s ability to walk.  This never receives a satisfactory explanation; I assume he’s able to walk simply to make his adventure with Magneto easier on the writers.

Saban Quality:  Storm checks the pulse of infant Mjnari by slamming her head on his chest twice.  The model for teenage Storm during this scene is also the same one used for adult Storm during the rest of the series.

Review:  I used to view “Whatever It Takes” as one of the weaker episodes of the second season, but it actually holds up better than I remembered.  My major issue with the story was the bizarre treatment of the Astral Plane, which is just as bad as I remembered, but the rest of the episode is fairly enjoyable.  It’s nice to see an episode dedicated to Storm’s past so faithfully adapted from the comics, right down to her childhood encounter with the Shadow King.  Before Shadow King became something of a joke in the comics, I remember being genuinely disturbed when I read his appearances as a kid (this was before every villain had become a murderous sadist), and it’s fun to see him on the show simply because he’s such an obscure character you would never expect to see him in a television adaptation.  The Astral Plane plot is just ridiculous, though, right down to Mjnori somehow developing the simultaneous mutant powers of super-speed and psychic vision.  And why exactly do the producers think the Astral Plane is a place you can physically travel to…and get trapped inside?  Introducing Shadow King and ignoring his link to Xavier is also a mistake, although this is rectified in a later episode.  

Speaking of Xavier, hey, he can walk again!  This is obviously nonsense, but I’ve always enjoyed his ongoing subplot with Magneto this season.  The show captures what’s inherently cool about the Savage Land, and pairing Xavier with Magneto for a multi-episode arc was a smart move on the producers’ part.  The other subplot addressed this episode is Wolverine’s pursuit of Morph, which seems to be over almost as soon as it’s begun.  All it takes is one fight with Morph to convince Wolverine that he isn’t ready to rejoin the team, a lesson you’d think he would’ve learned last episode.  Still, Cal Dodd is able to play Wolverine’s disappointment and frustration very well, and it’s always encouraging to see one episode impact the next.  Like I’ve said before, this is a major reason why this show really felt like an X-Men cartoon in the early years.

2 comments:

Matt said...

"Sinister has somehow blocked Xavier and Magneto ... from using their powers..."

And I, as the only comic book reader in my circle of friends around this time, had to explain to everyone that this is not something that regularly happens in the Savage Land. It's clearly stated in the show that Sinister is neutralizing everyone's mutant abilities -- and I believe in the finale they even get their powers back by wrecking one of his devices -- but nobody I knew ever seemed to catch that.

Teebore said...

I assume he’s able to walk simply to make his adventure with Magneto easier on the writers.

Definitely. Though I would have loved to see Magneto hauling Xavier through the Savage Land. :)

I used to view “Whatever It Takes” as one of the weaker episodes of the second season, but it actually holds up better than I remembered.

I might have to re-watch it, because I also remember it being one of the weak points of the season, though for me that was largely because of the focus on Storm.

@Matt: And I, as the only comic book reader in my circle of friends around this time, had to explain to everyone that this is not something that regularly happens in the Savage Land.

Ah, I too had that conversation many a time back in the day.