The X-Men Episode Guide 4×10: ‘Beyond Good And Evil, Part 3′
The early ’90s were spoiled for choice when it came to comic book adaptations. Not only was Batman: The Animated Series on the air, but X-Men led Marvel’s push to get on the small screen, diving right into the often convoluted continuity of everyone’s favorite mutants, luring in a generation of fans, and paving the way for cartoons to follow. That’s why we’ve set out to review every single episode of the ’90s X-Men animated series.
This week, the show really wants you to care about Cable and his son. But on the bright side, ROBOT MUMMIES!
Previously, on X-Men:
Do you remember a time when we weren't in the middle of the "Beyond Good And Evil" storyline about Apocalypse kidnapping psychics with the aid of Mr. Sinister and every villain that we've seen on the show so far, and multiple time travelers trying to stop him, which resulted in Bishop being stranded on Rainbow Road from Mario Kart? Well, I don't. It is all there is for me. It is, perhaps, all there will ever be. The only thing I can remember from the time you refer to as "last week" is that Psylocke and Archangel showed up -- but to be fair, I've done a lot of heavy drinking between then and now.
In our discussion of what lesser-known mutants might be doing to help Apocalypse's plan, I learned that the Commenteers know a lot of really obscure mutants. I mean, I was prepared for Artie and Leech to be discussed, and I wasn't surprised when Stacy X got a mention, but Lighttrakker? Yeesh. Either way, I believe the best suggestion was made by Jon Grasseschi, who offered "Oh, wait, Wolverine is interfering in ... whatever Apocalypse's plan is? If only Apocalypse could recruit someone to make Wolvie believe he's COVERED IN SCORPIONS COVERED IN SCORPIONS COVERED IN SCORPIONS"
Really, that lady should be at least as prominent in this show as, say, Maverick.
This week, writer Michael Edens and producer/director Larry Houston have returned us to the saga of Cable and his son, Tyler, getting ready to steal a time machine. Now, I'll admit that I was actually kind of excited about this, because I genuinely thought that it would play out like some Lifeldian heist movie that would take up the entire episode before leading to some kind of cross-time caper in the final act. This, upon reflection, may have been setting my hopes too high.
Instead, Cable just sort of goes into this thing that looks vaguely like the Technodrome from Ninja Turtles and effortlessly runs past some token resistance while Tyler stands around watching through a pair of binoculars -- future binoculars! All things considered, it's pretty boring. I mean, yes, there's a sequence where Tyler may or may not have been killed by a robot, but we've known each other for a long time, dear reader, and I think we can be real: Science has yet to invent a unit small enough to measure how little I care whether Cable's son who only appeared in the cartoon lives or dies.
I am, however, a little curious about him. See, the one thing that really stuck out to me when I watched this episode was that, just like his dear old pop, Cable Jr. also has a metal arm:
This got me wondering: Did the people making the show know about the Techno-Organic virus, and if so, did they think that it was a hereditary disorder that Cable had passed down to his son? Or, if not, did they think that metal arms were just the must-have fashion accessory of 3999 AD? Did they think it was a Summers thing? Because really, there is so much you can write off in this show as just being a "Summers Thing." Also, given that this is not Tyler's first appearance, I'm not sure how this is the first time I'm noticing this, but in my defense, I was probably distracted by how much he looks like Duke Nukem.
Anyway, by the time Cable pulls off his time machine heist, we're about halfway through the episode, so that's good news for anyone watching. Which, in this case, includes Apocalypse, who stares at his magic time window offering some pithy commentary as he checks out Cable flying around in a giant time-traveling Metroid:
Cable's plan here, as Apocalypse mentions, is to go destroy Apocalypse's Lazarus Chamber so that he can no longer use it to prolong his immortality. Unfortunately, Apocalypse has absolute mastery over time now -- which really raises the question of why the X-Men still exist -- and rather than letting him go to his destination, diverts Cable back to Good Ol' 1995 so that he can meet up with the X-Men.
What follows is a grumpy meeting between Cable and the X-Men about Apocalypse and his involvement with the kidnapped psychics. The major reveal here is that Cable has most definitely inherited his father's skill at whining, as he screeches out "I don't care about missing psychics and time jolts!" jut a few moments before his young old man wanders into a prison cell to berate Sabretooth for being "too stupid to plan this on your own!" before immediately giving up on the interrogation after one insult fails to bring results.
Between those two scenes, though, it's time for Dr. Henry's Science Corner with Beast and Shard! You may recall that Bishop has gone missing in the time stream, and finally Beast has figured out why, and is explaining it with the help of a computer model:
Hope that clears everything up.
Okay, now back to that prison cell. The X-Men captured Sabretooth last week when the Brotherhood showed up to kidnap Psylocke, and have chained him up in their basement becuase they are an unauthorized super-powered militia and it is important to remember this. While Cyclops is trying to be Bad Cop, which to him means calling Sabretooth stupid and seeing if that breaks him down, Wolverine offers to take over the interrogation. Cyclops leaves, Wolverine locks the door, pops his claws, and then tortures Sabretooth for the next hour to get information.
Seriously. That actually happens. Between this and Deathbird's penis-helmeted guards last week, Season Four is the year BS&P just stops caring, I guess.
Cable, having been convinced that Apocalypse kidnapping psychics is probably part of Apocalypse's plan (he's not the brightest Summers, folks, and that's saying something), explains all about the Lazarus Chamber and how Apocalypse has to go there once every hundred years in order to stay alive. Presumably there was an earlier draft of the script where he stared directly at the camera and said "It's a CHAMBER, not a PIT, and so it doesn't violate any copyrights any other superhero comic book publishers may have," but sadly, that didn't make it to the final cut.
At this point, Wolverine walks in and tells everyone that all of their adversaries are in fact working for Apocalypse and in what is honestly one of my favorite moments on the show, he is literally dragging Sabretooth around by his back hair:
Unfortunately, they still don't know what exactly is going on, so Professor X -- who has steadfastly refused to take a peek inside Sabretooth's mind because that's Ethically Problematic and has instead handed him off to his students for ACTUAL TORTURE -- finally decides to use his powers to find out what's going on. The results? "Portals. Clocks. Time-related images." That, I am not even close to kidding, is what Professor X tells everyone he sees inside Sabretooth's head. Time-related images. And clocks.
Clearly, there is a time travel plot involved, which is something that they maybe should've been able to piece together from the TWO TIME-TRAVELERS STANDING IN THE ROOM RIGHT NOW. These X-Men, I swear.
Finally, the gang decides to head off to the Lazarus Chamber, which of course is all part of Apocalypse's plan. Hopping into Cable's time machine, they arrive back in what appears to be Ancient Egypt, buzzing Bishop's mullet as they cruise through the timestream in the process. And honestly, this part is pretty awesome: The X-Men traveling through time to assault a pyramid full of deathtraps? Even with Cable and Apocalypse involved, that's still a lot of things I like happening all at once.
Of course, the show kind of muddles things up by taking a break for a flute solo (really) and a philosophical debate from Beast about how it's probably pointless to destroy Apocalypse, since Evil is a nebulous concept that balances Good and will likely take another form, and while there are a lot of problematic ideas wrapped up in that idea, I think we can all agree that it's a pretty fatalistic attitude for a superhero.
As Storm conjures up a sandstorm to cover their assault, the X-Men break into the pyramid. Unsurprisingly, they weren't stealthy enough, and they're met by the ancient Egyptian version of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen:
This is actually pretty cool, largely because they are mummies riding robot horses, which makes this entire sequence look like a bunch of He-Man characters wandered over and picked a fight with the X-Men. There's one weird thing, though -- the fourth Horseman, the ancient version of Death, has giant metal wings just like Archangel's. Does Apocalypse just wait around for someone with wings every time he has to make a new set of henchmen?
While Cyclops, Gambit and Archangel hold off the Horsemen, Beast, Wolverine, Cable and Professor X head into the pyramid, and you may have already sensed a problem with this plan. Sure enough, once they're past a series of deathtraps that involve pits and conveniently ignore that Professor X's chair is hovering, they wind up in Apocalypse's chamber, where he has been waiting for them.
Because, you see, he's been kidnapping psychics and they literally just walked in his front door with the most powerful psychic on the face of the planet.
They really should've seen that one coming.
Discussion Question: The highlight of this story is obviously Bishop hanging out on Rainbow Road and Apocalypse having his headquarters in in Dr. Wily's castle. What other video game levels could've been added to this story to keep it from being monumentally boring?
Next Week: Thank all the Vishanti, we only have the final act of "Beyond Good And Evil" to get through!