Tuesday, April 22, 2014

X-MEN Episode Sixty-Three - November 4, 1995

Beyond Good and Evil (Part 1): The End of Time
Written by Steve Cuden

Summary:  In 3999, Apocalypse steals Cable’s cube-computer, but a remark by Cable causes Apocalypse to question his goals.  He uses the cube-computer’s time traveling function and disappears.  Bishop, meanwhile, attempts to get back to his time, but becomes trapped in the Axis of Time.  He meets an eccentric resident who gives no clear answers.  In the present, Cyclops and Jean Grey are married.  As they drive away, they’re attacked by the Nasty Boys.  They kidnap Jean, while Sinister attempts to abduct Xavier at the mansion.  The X-Men stop Sinister, with the aid of Shard, who’s come from the future in search of Bishop.  Sinister creates a portal and escapes to the Axis, where he meets his employer, Apocalypse.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Cable appears with the Clan Chosen in the opening sequence.  Tyler appears, a few years older, as one of his loyal soldiers.
  • Bishop is trying to return to the future from 1955, following the events of “One Man’s Worth.”
  • Morph is briefly shown sitting with the X-Men at Cyclops and Jean’s wedding.
  • Forge sends Shard to the only coordinates that he can trace after Bishop’s disappearance, allowing her to join the action just in time.
  • Vertigo joins the Nasty Boys this episode.  She is a flunky for Sinister in the comics, but as a member of the Marauders, not the Nasty Boys.

“Huh?” Moments:  
  • Apocalypse, leaving the year 3999, is somehow able to cause Bishop, leaving the year 1955, to be thrown off-track, into the Nexus of Time.  How could that possibly work?
  • Sinister calls upon the Nasty Boys, Gorgeous George specifically, to open the portal that allows him to escape.  When they leave him behind during the fight, Sinister accuses them of being traitors.  A few seconds later, Sinister’s hand begins to glow and he’s somehow able to generate a portal himself and teleport away.  What did he even need the Nasty Boys for in the first place?  

"Actiiing!":  Apocalypse’s second voice actor, which the internet tells me is James Blendic, makes his first full appearance on the show.  However, it sounds as if Apocalypse’s scene in the opening is done by the original actor, John Colicos, the man with the deep bass and insane delivery.  Am I crazy or are there two Apocalypse voices in this episode?

I Love the '90s:  Forge sends Shard back to the “late 1990s” to search for Bishop.

Review:  "Beyond Good and Evil," according to internet lore, was originally intended as the series’ finale.  This didn’t happen, in part because the episodes are airing out-of-order and there’s a season’s worth of material that hasn’t aired yet, but also because FOX will go on to order an additional six episodes during the show’s final days.  I can see elements of the serial that hint that it could’ve been the series finale, although I’m glad the final episode turns out to be a slower, more character-driven piece.  "Beyond Good and Evil" is a worthy attempt to bring together almost every character that’s appeared in the show so far, but the mere premise requires the plot to be cluttered, and I can recall wondering as the episodes aired what point (if any) the story’s trying to make.  

The episode opens with another Cable vignette in the future, and even though I’m already biased against any story featuring Clan Chosen, Cable’s cardboard future soldiers, it’s actually one of Cable’s better moments on the show.  The writer and/or producers have decided to flagrantly turn Cable into Indiana Jones this time, right down to a line about hating snakes, and the fast pace of the opening is pretty entertaining.  When Cable makes the fairly generic threat that Apocalypse can’t win because someone will always oppose him, Apocalypse has an unexpected response.  What if Cable’s right?  What if everything he does is utterly pointless?  Having Apocalypse do more than make melodramatic proclamations, which he does very well on the show, and actually question his goals is a clever way to start the story.  How it leads to Bishop, the Nexus of Time, and every telepath in the Marvel Universe is a little fuzzy, but I can’t deny that the first act does a decent job drawing the viewer into the story.

The episode then jumps to Bishop, who just can’t seem to ever work this “time travel” thing out, can he?  Now he’s trapped outside of time, and his only guide is the painfully irritating Bender.  (Or is it Vendor?  His voice is so obnoxious it’s hard to tell.)  Bender/Vendor’s like the Junkions from Transformers, only far more annoying.  He speaks only in cryptic pop culture quotes, in a voice so grating I actually miss the show’s interpretation of Mojo.  Luckily, their scenes together are mercifully brief, as the story cuts to Scott and Jean’s wedding.  Finally allowing Scott and Jean to get married is probably the best evidence that this serial was meant as the show’s finale, and it actually does feel like a proper resolution to their long-running engagement.  Thankfully, the episode allows Scott and Jean to get married, have a reception, and then be attacked.  Choosing Sinister and the Nasty Boys as the villains is a nice nod to the show’s continuity, and I have to admit that I kind of miss the Nasty Boys, even if their contributions never amounted to much.  Drawing attention to the fact that the Nasty Boys want Jean and not Cyclops is also a nice hint regarding what exactly the kidnap victims have in common.

While the premise of the storyline has a lot of potential, and the large cast already assembled is a treat for longtime fans of the series, the episode is marred by some of the worst animation the show’s seen in ages.  Having this air directly after the visually rich (by AKOM standards) “Sanctuary” just emphasizes how weak the episode looks.  The movements are lifeless, the fight scenes have almost no impact, and the color scheme seems to have reverted to the drab look of the earlier episodes.  Why exactly the producers saw fit to recolor Magneto with darker reds and more shadow, but were content with coloring Apocalypse like an Easter Egg, remains a mystery to me.  Even if this isn’t the show’s finale, it is a major storyline that’s drawing together almost every character we’ve seen so far.  I realize that’s a burden on the animators, but a storyline that’s obviously intended to be very important should not look this shoddy.

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

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