Thursday, April 24, 2014

X-MEN Episode Sixty-Five - November 18, 1995

 

Beyond Good and Evil (Part 3): The Lazarus Chamber
Written by Michael Edens

Summary:  With Tyler’s help, Cable breaks into the government’s time machine, Graymalkin.  He travels to the present day and meets the X-Men.  After Wolverine interrogates Sabretooth, Xavier realizes that their foe is Apocalypse and that Cable could be an ally.  Cable takes the X-Men in Graymalkin to Cairo, where Apocalypse’s Lazarus Chamber is being constructed.  The team defeats Apocalypse’s new Four Horsemen, but discovers that the Apocalypse inside the Lazarus Chamber is actually Mystique.  Apocalypse ambushes the X-Men and grabs Xavier.  Wolverine enters Apocalypse’s teleportation portal before it closes.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Graymalkin is Cable’s orbital space station from the comics.  His dialogue hints that the government confiscated it years earlier.
  • Years after the comics established that Cable’s body is mostly techno-organic, the cartoon is still treating Cable as a standard cyborg.  This episode, he has Terminator eyes and a keypad on his metal arm.
  • Speaking of Cable retcons, Apocalypse is determined to abduct every telepath on Earth, but he leaves the all-powerful Cable behind in Cairo.
  • Rogue, Shard, and Jubilee are left at the mansion while the team travels to Cairo.  Archangel joins the X-Men on their mission.  Shard referred to Archangel last episode as a “future X-Man,” so it’s possible this scene was intended as another hint that Archangel would be joining the team.

Review:  Thankfully, this chapter feels less frantic than the previous episode, as the focus shifts to a fairly straightforward Cable/X-Men team-up.  Apparently, the creation of Apocalypse’s Lazarus Chamber in the modern day is meant to be the nexus point that’s causing so much chronal chaos to surround “today,” which is dubious logic at best, but it’s at least an attempt to explain why the X-Men’s era is so important.  The sense that this is the show’s final hurrah returns in a few places, such as Wolverine and Sabretooth’s interrogation scene.  It’s all left off-camera, but the dialogue does a good job of hinting at what happened between them when Sabretooth was locked in a room with Wolverine.  This was probably intended as a way to give Wolverine a final victory over Sabretooth during the closing days of the series.  The scene’s reminiscent of the better Wolverine/Sabretooth moments from the first season, probably because this episode’s written by Michael Edens, one of the stronger writers from the early years of the series.  

The plot also does a decent job of tying together various characters that have had little or no interaction so far.  Cable’s barely had contact with the X-Men on the show, so it’s entertaining to hear him, as caustic as he ever appeared in the comics, dismissing the team and giving “who cares?” responses to most of Xavier’s dialogue.  Cable and Archangel both hate Apocalypse, a connection that I don’t recall the comics ever exploiting, but this story does a good job of emphasizing that association.  Having Archangel actually join the X-Men on a mission is a welcome break from the show’s tradition of casting non-official X-Men in its canon to the side.  Cyclops and Cable have a brief scene, hinting at their familial bond, but never actually confirming anything to the poor confused kids in the audience.  Regarding the actual point of all this, Beast does have a brief exchange with Cable that hints at the theme.  Beast suggests that even if Apocalypse is destroyed, some other evil will take his place because the conflict between good and evil is “a part of the fabric of existence.”  For Saturday Morning TV, this is somewhat profound.  Not that the story is drawing attention to the fact, but Beast is questioning the basic underpinnings of all heroic fiction.

Unfortunately, the animation is just as disappointing as it’s been throughout the serial.  It’s hard to sell the idea that this is the big, epic X-Men event when it features some of the most mediocre animation of the show’s run.  Apocalypse’s new Four Horsemen are also a disappointment, as their designs are fairly tepid and there’s no personality assigned to any member.  I think this episode would’ve been a great opportunity to see the Dark Riders make their animated debuts.  At the very least, the Dark Riders have unique designs.  Visually, I don't think anyone could argue they're generic.  I’m assuming most of the Dark Riders ended up with X-Men action figures in the ‘90s anyway, so it’s odd to see them omitted from the television show.

Credit to http://marvel.toonzone.net/xmen/ for the screencaps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the only Dark Rider that got a toy was Tusk. An odd choice to say the least; I would have figured Gauntlet would have been the first choice to make a toy of, considering he's the gun toting one in the bunch. Foxbat would have at least looked cool, or if they went with Barrage, they could have given him a cool action feature.