Friday, March 14, 2014

X-MEN Episode Fifty-One - September 23, 1995

Written by Sandy Scesny and Michael Edens

Summary:  Morph returns to the X-Men, while Sentinels attack Zydex Industries and steal a new experimental plastic.  When Wolverine and Morph investigate, Wolverine discovers that Morph isn’t psychologically ready to return to the team.  Later, Master Mold sends the Sentinels to kidnap Henry Gyrich, Bolivar Trask, and Professor Xavier.  Morph disobeys Cyclops and follows the team in their battle to rescue Xavier, whose mind Master Mold wants to use to kill all mutants.  Eventually, Morph overcomes his fear and is able to destroy Master Mold. He decides, however, that he needs more time before he can rejoin the team.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The cast this episode consists of Cyclops, Jean, Beast, Storm, Wolverine, and Xavier.
  • Storm is wearing her outfit from Uncanny X-Men #312 again in the episode’s opening.
  • Master Mold is only a head following his defeat in “The Final Solution.”
  • Morph briefly transforms into Strong Guy, Sasquatch, Angel (in his early ‘70s costume), Omega Red, and Longshot in the episode.  The implication is that Morph actually has the powers of the characters he’s imitating, which would’ve made him the most powerful member of the team, actually.
  • How exactly Bolivar Trask survived his not-too-vague death scene in “The Final Solution” isn’t explained.  Since their last appearance, Trask and Gyrich have been hiding out in the jungle, arguing like an old married couple.

Production Note:  Unlike the previous two episodes, this episode features the standard closing credits, a montage of previous scenes with the theme song used as the backing music.

Miscellaneous Note:  Beast quotes “Ozymandias” while examining a captured Sentinel head, although thankfully he chooses a section outside of “Gaze upon my works…”

I Love the '90s:  Beast copies the info he receives from the Sentinel onto a large floppy disc.

Review:  Morph hadn’t made a real appearance on the show since the Season Two finale, which I think blunts the impact of his return this episode.  I can honestly remember a time when kids cared about Morph, but after his disappearance at the end of the second season, the show went on to much bigger and bolder things.  Was anyone really thinking about Morph by the time they were through watching “The Dark Phoenix Saga?”  Morph’s a remnant from the early episodes, and enough years had passed by this point that the core audience of the first two seasons had very possibly even given up on Saturday Morning TV.  And even if you really wanted to see Morph rejoin the team, of course he isn’t, because the producers have an arbitrary rule against that.

None of this means the episode is necessarily terrible judged on its own merits.  A major problem is that it’s simply misplaced.  Nestled in-between the Lady Deathstrike two-parter and the beginning of the original Phoenix serial, I could see the story still having an impact.  Reviving the Sentinels and Morph in the same episode is a smart decision considering their pasts together, and the story’s structured in a way that allows Morph to have some bonding time with the team, especially Wolverine, while the Master Mold threat builds in the background.  And Master Mold’s scheme to use Xavier’s mind to kill the mutant population even foreshadows the ending of the second X-Men movie, something I didn’t notice until I re-watched the episode.  The episode’s mainly let down by the animation, which seems cruder than it’s been in the previous few episodes.  Morph looks particularly bland, which someone probably should've fixed since he is the star of the episode.  Also, the original voices of the Sentinels and Master Mold have been recast, which is a major disappointment.  These are not deep, menacing metallic voices.  They sound like the automated messages you hear when you call the bank.  These guys aren’t going to stomp on mutants like roaches, they’re going to politely guide you towards the next calling option.  If the original actors weren’t available, fine, but surely there are more than a few bass voices in Canada.

Credit to for the screencaps.

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