Friday, April 25, 2014

X-MEN Episode Sixty-Six - November 25, 1995

Beyond Good and Evil (Part 4): End and Beginning
Written by Dean Stefan

Summary:  With Xavier in his possession, Apocalypse begins his plan to use psychics to reshape reality and rebuild existence in his image.  Magneto and Mystique turn on Apocalypse, but are unable to defeat him.  Magneto frees Wolverine, shortly before Cable enters piloting Graymalkin.  They face Apocalypse, Sinister, and the Nasty Boys.  Meanwhile, with Bender’s skewed guidance, Bishop begins to free the psychics.  While Bishop serves as a distraction, Xavier unites the psychics to combine their powers and drive Apocalypse out of the Nexus of Time.  After the mutants return home, Bender reveals himself as Immortus, and begins the work of repairing the Nexus.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Other telepaths seen in Apocalypse’s grasp include Karma, White Queen, Typhoid Mary, Mesmero, Moondragon, Stryfe, and Rachel Summers.  Two characters that might be Tessa and Purple Man are also included, along with some new designs I think were created for the show.  If you question if hypnosis makes Mesmero a telepath, I agree with you.
  • After destroying the united telepaths, Apocalypse says he’ll reshape reality from the beginning of time and remove the universe’s fundamental balance of good and evil.
  • Magneto is angry that Apocalypse has gone back on his word, as he promised to recreate reality in order to construct a future where mutants rule.  Just two episodes ago, Magneto’s given reason for joining Apocalypse was that Apocalypse would resurrect his wife.
  • Beast is shown at the mansion when Xavier and the others return from the Nexus.  He should actually be with the rest of the X-Men in Cairo, based on the ending of the last episode.

Review:  As “Beyond Good and Evil” concludes, Apocalypse finally explains his master plan, and what a doozy this is.  Apparently, the producers have decided that “telepath” and “psychic” are interchangeable terms, in the sense that reading minds and seeing the future are the same power.  That’s utterly ridiculous, but the episode even provides some pseudo-science in an effort to defend the theory.  As Apocalypse explains, “Time is motion.  And motion and thought are in unity.”  He claims that this is why some psychics can see the future, as an image of Professor Xavier appears behind him.  Yes, that ol’ Professor is always looking into the future, because we all know that’s been his established power since 1963 or so.  Outside of a few references in Psylocke’s early Marvel UK appearances (long since forgotten), I’ve never heard of any story establishing that Marvel telepaths can see the future.  I realize that the cartoon isn’t bound to the continuity of the comics, but when has this ever been established even within the cartoon?  And if the story really required mutants with precognitive abilities, it’s odd that Destiny, the only mutant I can think of with that actual power, doesn’t make a cameo in any chapter.

Ignoring the specifics of this absurd scheme, the episode still has a few things going for it.  Magneto is allowed to redeem himself, and behave more heroically than he has so far in the show’s run, as he reveals that he never trusted Apocalypse and was apparently planning all along to double-cross him.  Magneto and Wolverine teaming up against the true villain is one of the storyline’s best moments, even if there’s no great reason for Wolverine to be in the Nexus in the first place.  I imagine the plan all along was to have Wolverine, Bishop, and Cable unite in the story’s finale to face Apocalypse, if only to have the three big anti-heroes of the X-Universe all in one place.  

Aside from bringing together the biggest stars of…well, 1992, the selection of these characters helps to play into the larger theme of good vs. evil.  Wolverine, Bishop, and Cable don’t fit into a traditional category of “good,” nor are Magneto and Mystique traditionally “evil.”  Apocalypse views the universe’s fundamental need for good to counterbalance evil as an impediment to his plans, but he doesn’t understand that good men are capable of evil and vice versa.  It’s not a bad idea, although I question the inclusion of Mystique in this paradigm.  In the comics continuity, yes, assuming you’re talking Claremont’s interpretation of the character.  But the cartoon’s Mystique is Apocalypse’s blind servant.  She never developed much of a personality, and no story so far has established she had any doubts about following Apocalypse, so seeing her turn on him feels like an arbitrary plot twist.  The scene only works if you’re bringing in knowledge of the comics continuity and just ignoring her previous appearances on the show.

Regarding the episode as the hypothetical “final” episode of the series, I think it would’ve largely been a disappointment.  The episode goes out of its way to give everyone a happy ending, even Archangel makes amends with Psylocke based on the “connection” he feels with her, but it doesn’t feel like much of a goodbye to the X-Men, as characters or a concept.  Thematically, this storyline barely ties in with what X-Men stories are traditionally about, aside from the larger concept of good vs. evil.  And the character moments are pretty weak; Cable and Tyler, Bishop and Shard, Archangel and Psylocke…these are all relationships that have barely played a role in the series, yet they get equal time with Scott and Jean’s reunion at the end.  Perhaps if Scott and Jean’s wedding actually occurred in this episode, rather than at the serial’s beginning, the episode would’ve had a stronger sense of closure.  Instead, it feels like the ending of almost every other time travel storyline in the show’s history.  

Even if the story provided a satisfying conclusion, I would’ve hated to see the series end on this episode, simply because the animation is still subpar even by X-Men standards.  If “Beyond Good and Evil” looked like those old G I. Joe or Transformers multi-parters, I think the questionable plot could’ve been forgiven.  For most fans, it would’ve been satisfying just to see all of these X-Men characters in one story with decent animation.

Credit to for the screencaps.


arw1985 said...

Nice review. So, are you thinking about tackling the Spider-Man series when this is all over? Or was the Spider-Man/X-Men crossover your only look?

kerry said...

I think that I spotted, among the alien psychics Apocalypse has assembled, Ganthet from the Green Lantern comics, though here he's recolored (pink instead of blue) and the Green Lantern symbol on his robe has been changed (for obvious reasons).

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