Savage Land, Strange Heart (Part One)
Written by Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg
Summary: A weakened Sauron is rescued from Ka-Zar by Zaladane. After he transforms into Karl Lykos, Zaladane gives him a Garokk medallion and sends him away from the Savage Land in one of Magneto’s abandoned aircraft. He arrives in New York and succumbs to his urges to feed off humans. He inadvertently selects Wolverine as a target, which places him in conflict with the X-Men and causes his Sauron persona to return. Sauron hypnotizes Storm and takes her back to the Savage Land. The X-Men follow, and soon discover that Storm’s powers are out of control. Zaladane boasts that this will awaken Garokk.
Miscellaneous Note: Wiki and a few other online resources list the title of this two-parter as “Savage Land, Savage Heart,” as opposed to “Savage Land, Strange Heart,” which is how the title is listed on the DVD. I’m not sure which title was used in the original broadcast, since there are some instances of on-screen cyrons being changed on the DVDs.
The X-Men team in this episode consists of Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Beast, and Jubilee.
Zaladane and Garokk make their animated debuts this episode. They’re probably most famous for their appearances during the Savage Land arc during the Claremont/Byrne Uncanny X-Men run.
According to Ka-Zar, Sauron rebuilt Sinister’s citadel using brainwashed members of the Fall People.
The aircraft Magneto left behind has a list of pre-set destinations. One of them is Asteroid M, which is the first reference to his orbital base in the cartoon.
Wolverine comments that Professor X and Moira MacTaggert are “studying Jeannie like a lab rat” on Muir Island. Based on broadcast order, Jean is supposedly dead at this point. Even though this aired as episode thirty-four, it was produced as the thirty-eighth. (More info here: http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/backstage/episodeorder/ )
“Um, Actually…”: Karl Lykos blames the creation of Sauron on Mr. Sinister’s experiments, which contradicts his comic book origin (which involved getting bitten by radioactive pterodactyls, as I recall…).
Saban Quality: There are numerous examples of characters speaking without their lips moving, or the wrong voice coming out of a character’s mouth during the episode.
Review: And this is where the production order vs. broadcast order confusion begins. There’s no real defense for this to be the first episode aired after “The Phoenix Saga,” outside of it being the one that happened to be ready to air. The next chronological episode is actually "No Mutant Is an Island,” which will not air until literally two years later due to numerous production delays. Without "No Mutant Is an Island,” you’re left with no mourning for Jean, and more glaringly, no explanation as to how Jean is still alive. That’s jarring, to say the least.
Ignoring the continuity bewilderment, the episode is fairly generic superhero material. The episodes of the show that don’t hinge on a character conflict, or the larger issues of prejudice and isolation, are rarely memorable. I imagine the series is returning to Savage Land again so quickly because the producers feel that kids like dinosaurs, and that’s kind of the Savage Land’s thing, so here we are. I remember reading those Zaladane/Garokk issues as a kid in Classic X-Men, so there was some novelty to seeing the villains animated for the first time when the episodes aired, but there’s really nothing in the story that holds my attention today.
Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/
xmen/ for the screencaps.