The X-Men Episode Guide 1×12: ‘Days Of Future Past, Part Two’
Hitting at the height of the franchise’s popularity, the 1992 X-Men animated series translated all the action and melodrama that made the comic such a success to the world of Saturday morning cartoons, and it got its hooks into me like almost nothing else. That’s why ComicsAlliance is heading back through the archives for an in-depth look at every single episode of X-Men. This week: "Days of Future Past, Part Two," in which we learn that the future is pretty much always going to suck no matter what we do. It's for the children!
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, the X-Men animated series set about a very, very, very loose adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne's "Days of Future Past," with Bishop and his cascading waterfall of a mullet stepping in for Kitty Pryde. Basically the future sucks and it's all Gambit's fault, as I think we all knew it would be, and so Bishop has come back to shoot him in the face. More importantly, Wolverine debuted his new catchphrase, "CHECK PLEASE!" and I launched my tireless campaign to get him to say this way more often in the comics. So far, its usage remains at zero.
In our discussion of goofy character names, a few commenters (and folks on Twitter) blew my mind by pointing out that the reason I grew up thinking "Nimrod" was a synonym for "idiot" is because of Bugs Bunny sarcastically using it. Could that also be why I can never pass through New Mexico without taking a wrong turn, and also why I live in a fully furnished hole in the ground?!
As for the dumbest name in X-Men history, competition was fierce. A lot of you brought up Stacy X, but I'm with Jamie Roberts, who called out Cable for having a name that is complete and utter nonsense. Why would that be his codename? Anyone who suggested Forearm, however, needs to re-evaluate what they consider to be genius and realize that calling a dude with four arms Forearm is basically the best thing ever. Now let's get this over with.
As this episode opens, we're dialing back a little bit to before the end of Part One, but this time, we're seeing it from Rogue and Gambit's perspective. As you may recall, they were visiting Beast in prison -- and this is your weekly reminder that Beast has been locked up in the hut for the entire series so far -- and we join them as Rogue recklessly drives down the highway on her way back to the X-Mansion. Gambit is freaking out by her unsafe driving, which makes a lot of sense. I mean, she's on a highway going almost forty miles per hour.
Rogue also mentions that she learned to drive "with good ol' boys on country back roads," and why in the hell has there never been a story where Rogue has to bootleg moonshine and/or Coors while evading Roscoe P. Coltrane and/or Buford T. Justice? Seriously, this show is pointing out a lot of missed opportunities.
Anyway, they get back to the mansion and Bishop flips out on Gambit for being the traitor who completely ruins the future. He unloads at him with his Laser Shotgun, but Rogue jumps in front to protect him. The rest of the X-Men gang on up Bishop, and Jubilee even calls him a "tattooed freak," which is a surprising lack of tolerance from one of Xavier's students, especially when she's the weirdo who wears dishwashing gloves at all times.
Of course, Bishop wears blue jodhpurs, so I guess everyone's about on equal footing here.
Even though they won't let Bishop just cold shoot Gambit in the face as soon as he walks in the room, but for some reason, they still think there's a pretty good chance that their extremely sketchy friend who does nothing but creep on Rogue and refer to himself as a thief might not be on the level. For his part, Gambit is astoundingly offended by this, and when he's told Bishop is a time traveler from a dystopian future, he snarls "that's the best kind of lie: one can't nobody prove!"
I love this, if only because the war room of the X-Mansion is one of the only places where "I am a time traveler from the future who needs to kill you" is considered to be "the best kind of lie."
Bishop decides to back up his story by elaborating on things, explaining how the assassination in Washington turns the country against all mutants, causing the reinstatement of the Sentinel program and the return of Master Mold, a giant robot factory who is itself a giant robot who sits on a giant chair making robots in its tummy all day. And really, why wasn't this adopted for other forms of manufacturing? Why wasn't my microwave made by MASTER WAVE, a giant microwave oven that sat on a giant kitchen counter? Is it because we are the ones who are truly living in a dystopian future? Think about it.
Anyway, the Sentinels hunt down all the mutants, and we get a few interesting cameos from the Morlocks, Sunfire and Havok in his hilarious '90s jacket as the mutants who fight against their robot overlords. Eventually, though, they're all rounded up and herded into "detention camps," where they exist only as reflections in a pair of aviators:
Even with all the mutants gone, though, the Sentinels keep going, and Bishop claims that they bring their "new world order" to all humans, presumably f-f-f-for life. But fortunately, he's here to help avert that terrible future, and all he needs to do is shoot Gambit in the face. And honestly, that's not too much to ask, is it?
Professor Xavier reveals that he's heading to the senate hearings and wonders if he is the target killed by the assassin, because the X-Men cannot possibly conceive of anything happening in the world that does not revolve specifically around them. But, you know, it's their show, so that's to be expected. Point is, everyone's kind of thinking that maybe Gambit is the assassin, and so Gambit stomps out of the room and angrily tells Wolverine and Bishop that he's going to Washington because of reasons he'd rather not share. It's very convincing, but Wolverine insists that all three of them stay at the mansion while the rest of the team checks it out. So, just so we're clear on this, Wolverine basically makes Gambit hang out with with Bishop. The guy they just met. That they are leaving alone in their house (into which this guy just drove a bus) with the guy he has told them he desperately needs to shoot in the face.
The X-Men, everybody!
Surprising no one, they attempt to murder each other until Wolverine threatens to stab them. But really, isn't that how it usually goes when two groups of friends hang out for the first time?
Meanwhile, in Washington, the actual assassins are hanging out, waiting for the right moment to strike. And, you know, it makes perfect sense that history wouldn't record their identities -- they've taken great care to blend in, infiltrating the Capitol building without leaving any trace of who they really are.
Oh, wait, no. I meant the opposite of that.
At the Mansion, Gambit, Wolverine and Bishop have decided to play cards, and surprising everyone, Gambit charges one up and uses the explosion to cover his escape. Who could've ever seen that coming from the guy who always charges up playing cards and makes them explode? Like, as the one thing he does? Always? That he is technically named for? Who could have ever seen that coming? Seriously, if they'd just bothered to go get Risk out of the hall closet, we wouldn't have to even deal with this mess.
But alas, the show continues. Gambit flies off to Washington as Professor Xavier testifies before Senator Kelly, who asks whether his school is actually a "clearinghouse for pro-mutant propaganda." Xavier tries to dodge the question -- technically, it's not so much about propaganda as about being a front for a secret cultlike paramilitary organization that owes absolute loyalty to their mind-controlling leader -- but the building is suddenly hit by an earthquake, and the S starts going D.
Pyro and Avalanche bust down the doors, but Scott and Jean are quick to suit up and fight them while the Professor makes a telepathic call for backup. Storm and Rogue fly into action, leaving Jubilee sleeping under a tree while an anti-mutant riot is threatening to break out, because, you know, they are kind of awful at keeping her from being killed.
And then Gambit lands in his motherf**king flying racecar.
Please, someone tell me if this was a thing that was actually in the comics, preferably with an issue number where I can go read about the X-Men flying around in an Indy car. Straight up, I saw this thing and I was like "Check please!"
The X-Men continue chasing Pyro and Avalanche, and (quite literally) run into the Blob. What follows is pretty amazing, because Rogue attempts to punch Blob, gets her hand stuck in his gut, and we are all treated to the grossest sound effects I have ever heard. It's nasty. It's balls nasty. I imagine John K. just sitting in front of his TV taking notes on how to replicate it for Ren and Stimpy, but man, it is an unexpected bit of wet splashing and sloppy burping that makes the stomach churn like you would not believe.
It's like someone's beating a trash bag full of wet meat. It's kind of perfect, but... just the worst.
The X-Men get their collective ass handed to them for a while, until Wolverine shows up and calls the Blob "round boy," which could not sound more like an insult Broadcast Standards & Practices came up with because they didn't want one of the heroes calling someone a "fatso." Bishop absorbs Avalanche's blast and then sends it right back at 'em, but he misses and knocks a chunk off a building because he's an X-Man now, and the X-Men are terrible at being superheroes. The building chunk is about to flatten a little girl, but Jean stops it with her telekinesis long enough for Rogue to get under it, giving Wolverine the opening to save the little girl, leading to another pretty awesome moment where he awkwardly hands her to Jubilee and says "this kid's cryin'. Do something."
In the confusion, Bishop runs into the capitol so that he can stop Gambit from assassinating Senator Kelly. But wait! Senator Kelly is being led into his office by his assistant, Stormer from the Misfits' more respectable sister, only to find that she's already tied up on the floor! The woman he thought was his assistant then shapeshifts into Gambit, and hey waaaaaait a second, Gambit's not a shapeshifter, is he? He's just, you know, regular shifty.
And it only gets more complicated when another Gambit shows up to stop the assassination!
I'm seein' double! Four Gambits!
Now, I'm pretty sure that the real Gambit is the one who has Gambit's powers, but since Senator Kelly didn't grow up memorizing Marvel Universe trading cards, he's a little more confused. The Gambits fight for a bit, but then Bishop shows up to finish them both off, regardless of who might actually be a shapeshifter.
At the last second, Rogue shows up and stops him from pulling the trigger by just tearing off the bracelet that keeps him here in the past, and to be honest, she looks pretty surprised that it actually worked:
Oh, don't worry, Rogue. We've still got two more plot twists to go before we're done with all this.
Mystique drops the charade and reveals herself to Rogue, who is understandably pissed about that whole thing a few weeks ago where Mysitque tried to get her into a machine that would turn her into Apocalypse's brainwashed slave. Mystique, however, has one last card to play: She shapeshifts into yet another form and reveals that she is actually Rogue's mama! And once again, I am left astounded by how complicated this show is willing to make its storyline in order to keep up with the tangled mess that is X-Men continuity.
Wolverine and Cyclops bust into the room, only to find the real Gambit is unconscious and no sign of Rogue and Mystique. Rogue aided and abetted her mutant terrorist mom, who is now pretty upset (and mysteriously southern accented) about the fate that befalls her now that she's failed Apocalypse.
In the future, Bishop realizes that he must've failed because things still look pretty sucky, but Forge assures him that he can just keep sending him back in time until he finally shoots the right person, which seems like a pretty dodgy plan at best, especially since we all know that time travel in the Marvel Unvierse just creates an alternate timeline that splits off when history is changed, leaving the original timeline unaffected. That's basic What If science, people. Also, they have this conversation in front of Wolverine's Adamantium skeleton, which a) looks to have been drawn by a person with a very strange idea of what skeletons look like, and b) is now nine feet tall.
Back in the present, Senator Kelly has called Professor X into his office for a chat, but when they open the door, there's a giant f**k-off hole in the wall. Kelly's been kidnapped yet again, but Professor X doesn't think it was the same gang.
Because his watch has stopped.
Discussion Question: This episode is, of course, based on one of the most popular X-Men stories of all time, a dystopian future story that has been imitated so often that it's become a running gag. So let's talk about alternate futures. Which one, out of all of Marvel's alternate futures, is the tops? I vote for the one from Darkhawk where everyone refers to "The Powell" as the greatest hero of his generation. Never quite got around to making that one happen, did they?
Next Week: Magneto returns in the season finale, "The Final Decision!"