Wednesday, July 9, 2014

X-MEN Episode Forty-Seven - September 14, 1996


A Deal with the Devil
Written by Eric Lewald

Summary:  The Navy revives the body of Omega Red and assigns him a mission.  Due to his knowledge of Soviet access codes and his immunity to radiation, Omega Red is the only person qualified to salvage a disabled USSR nuclear submarine that’s dangerously close to Pearl Harbor.  Omega Red demands Wolverine and Storm join him.  The two X-Men don radiation suits and reluctantly go with Omega Red.  Soon, Omega Red disobeys orders and launches the submarine’s missiles at major cities around the globe.  Rogue and Beast, flying nearby in the Blackbird, destroy the missiles.  Rogue enters the sub and rescues her teammates.  Omega Red is left in the listing sub, which has fallen to the bottom of a trench.

Continuity Notes:  The X-Men appearing this episode are Xavier, Wolverine, Storm, Beast, and Rogue.  The implication this episode is that the government knows about the Xavier School’s secret, although it’s possible that in the cartoon’s continuity, this information is kept confidential by their ally President Kelly.

Creative Differences:  Eric Lewald on writing this episode: “I was so busy trying to keep the whole project going in the right direction that there wasn’t much time to assign myself any scripts. Of course almost every revision made to the premises, outlines, and scripts was up to me, so I feel like there is lot of my writing in there. Often we would be lucky, and the notes from various partners were light, and the writer really nailed the script. But if there were problems – including the occasional page-one rewrite – that was on me. The one script I did write from start to finish was “A Deal with the Devil.” That happened because another script (which I had liked) was tossed out by Fox and Marvel. They never really “got” the original story, but I pushed to let the writer finish. So, since we had paid the writer for all his work, but now had no script, I had to come up with one for free by myself (no extra money in the budget).”

Review:  I can appreciate the attempt to write a more grounded, adult episode of this series, but this episode has always put me to sleep.  The opening is strong, the use of past continuity is smart (Wolverine and Storm were responsible for Omega Red’s defeat in his last appearance, and neither personality is especially suited for a submarine mission), and the voice acting is surprisingly solid for an episode that features Storm in a starring role.  I’m not sure who played the Navy colonel character, but he delivers some excellent line readings that don’t sound anything like stereotypical Saturday Morning work.  Eric Lewald also pens some unexpectedly natural dialogue, which helps the story to feel more grounded than the normal episode of the series.  At a certain point, however, the story begins to drag and it’s time for Mr. Sandman to visit.  After Omega Red predictably double-crosses the Navy, by casually ripping out the implanted liquid nitrogen failsafe they boasted about earlier, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere for the episode to go.  Beast and Rogue have no real trouble destroying the missiles, and despite Beast’s claim that two miles deep is too far for Rogue to swim, she doesn’t seem to have much of a problem doing it, ultimately.  So, really, there’s barely anything to hold your attention after the halfway mark.  I know that some people consider this one of the better episodes from the end of the show’s run, and while I do see its merits, it’s hard for me to advocate an episode that I’ve consistently been unable to finish.

Credit to for the screencaps.

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