Friday, July 11, 2014

X-MEN Episode Thirty-Six - October 5, 1996


Written by Steven Melching & David McDermott

Summary:  Wolverine and Jubilee stumble upon Longshot, who has arrived on Earth with no memory.  They rescue Longshot from Mojo’s army and take him to the mansion, where Xavier helps him recover his memories.  Mojo, responding to a taunt by Spiral, decides to go to Earth personally and capture Longshot.  He soon kidnaps Jubilee and draws the X-Men and Longshot into a series of battles to rescue her.  Mojo is eventually defeated and forced to retreat.  Longshot gives Jubilee a small kiss and follows through Spiral's portal to continue his rebellion.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men appearing this episode are Xavier, Wolverine, Jubilee, Rogue, and Beast.
  • Mojoverse characters Gog, Quark, Arize, and the Warwolves debut on the series.
  • Arize is responsible for erasing Longshot’s memory.  How exactly Longshot ended up on Earth in the opening is left vague.
  • Jubilee is established as fifteen this episode.  Wolverine is teaching her how to drive.

Approved By Broadcast Standards:  The censor notes to this episode are online.  My favorite objections are the ones involving use of the word “butt,” and their demand that Wolverine never cut the Warwolves (who are non-humanoid aliens essentially made out of the liquid metal seen in Terminator 2).

I Love the '90s:  Spiral comments on the “big, purple lizard” Mojo has created to fight the X-Men.  He responds that the kids will love it.

Production Note:  A new opening credit sequence debuts (on the DVD at least).  It features footage from the original opening, plus quick cuts of scenes from previous episodes.  The theme song has also been re-recorded.  The closing credits are back to showing a scene from an earlier episode.

Review:  “Longshot” was delayed almost as long as “No Mutant is an Island,” although you rarely hear anyone complain about its late debut.  Most likely because there’s no continuity significance, the episode can be slotted at any time after Season Two’s finale, so there’s no resulting confusion by its delay.  Also, it’s a sequel to one of the weaker episodes from Season Two, and we’re going to have to tolerate Mojo once again, so I’m not sure if anyone was breathlessly anticipating it.  Luckily, this is a noticeable improvement over the original Mojo episode.  The writers’ goal was to bring the Longshot/Mojo continuity closer to the comics, which means less hackneyed media parodies and more crazy Nocenti/Adams creations.  In fact, there’s only one specific parody, a Jurassic Park takeoff, and it’s used as an excuse for the X-Men to fight dinosaurs, not as a vehicle for lame jokes.  Mojo is still around, and still annoying, but it doesn’t seem as if anyone thinks he’s actually funny anymore.  He serves his role as the master-villain and we’re not expected to endure him much beyond that.  

There is some attempt to add character drama to the rather standard plot, as Jubilee and Wolverine suddenly develop strong feelings regarding Longshot.  Wolverine thinks he’s a shady character that can’t be trusted, and Jubilee is instantly in love with the guy.  Wolverine’s suspicions initially seem odd, but when viewed in context of the cartoon’s continuity, the choice seems to have some logic behind it.  Longshot hasn’t served with the team in the past, and it’s not as if Wolverine spent an awful amount of time with Longshot during his misadventure in the Mojoverse.  In fact, I don’t even remember Wolverine and Longshot sharing a scene together in “Mojovision.”  Casting Wolverine as the overprotective father who doesn’t like Jubilee’s latest crush also makes a certain amount of sense.  There’s just enough character work to prevent the episode from feeling totally bland, and the villains brought over from the Longshot miniseries add some novelty value for longtime fans.

“Longshot” turns out to be the last of the episodes featuring the original designs animated by Philippines Animation Studio.  It’s not on the same level as “Out of the Past” or “Cold Comfort,” although it’s obviously much livelier than the average AKOM episode.  The animators seem to have a problem keeping faces consistent, and the cast often looks like something out of a low-budget DTV Disney sequel.  The colors are also far too bright, giving everything in the episode a plastic sheen that doesn’t fit the show at all.  Irritatingly, Wolverine appears in the same pose, facing the camera in the exact profile as seen in the original X-Men promo image, numerous times throughout the episode.  Unfortunately, the show can never top “Out of the Past” visually, even when it hires the same studio.

Credit to for the screencaps.


wwk5d said...

So how would you recommend the show? It seems the first 2 seasons are the best overall.

Does watching the rest of the show in production order, as opposed to original airing order make a difference?

G. Kendall said...

Watching in production order would, at the very least, make the second half of the series seem more coherent.
I would say that fans of superhero comics should at least watch the first two seasons. After that, the appeal may be limited to the most hardcore of X-fans.

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