The X-Men Episode Guide 3×11: ‘Obsession’
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: WE HAVE HIT PEAK SCUMBAG GAMBIT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, a bunch of Savage Land nonsense involved and the X-Men fought one of Jack Kirby's lesser creations -- perhaps Jack Kirby's least creation -- Garokk the Petrified Man. Sauron was there, Ka-Zar was there, and none of it was any good or mattered, but it got us to this, the best episode of the series, and possibly of anything, ever.
As for our discussion of stories that took a disappointing last-minute plot twist, it produced some spirited discussion in the comments of last week's episode guide. Who knew that inviting comic book fans to voice their disappointments would ever get such a passionate response? My personal favorite was the dude who just said "Clone Saga" with no further explanation, but they're all worth reading, particularly the stuff about Armageddon 2001 and the original plan for Gambit and Mr. Sinister. And speaking of Gambit...
Oh man. This episode, you guys. This episode. Writer Adam Gilad has outdone this show. If you've ever wanted to watch along with these recaps, this is the one to do it with. I know it doesn't seem like it would be, since it's nominally about Archangel and Apocalypse, two of the biggest snoozes in the history of the franchise, but trust me on this one. Gambit goes full-on pickup artist and Beast definitely tries to have sex with a spaceship. It is magical.
But first, we have to get through all this Archangel stuff, although if I'm going to be honest with you, I have to admit that even this is ridiculous enough to be entertaining. It seems that Warren Worthington Part 3 is still pretty angry about that whole thing where Apocalypse turned him into his blue-skinned horseman of death, so he's spent his family fortune sending out a bunch of sassy archaeologists to recover anything they can that mentions Apocalypse so that he can figure out how to kill him.
This is notable for two reasons. First, it implies that there are a lot of historical records about this giant blue shapeshifter who's been trying to kill everyone for two or three thousand years, something that you'd think would come up way more often. Second, we learn that this show has some amazing ideas about Hieroglyphics.
Needless to say, running around liberating priceless Egyptian back issues is a pretty taxing job, to the point where Archangel's archaeological task force is straight up mouthing off about how it's pointless and he's an idiot for employing them. That makes a little sense, though -- they've clearly been at this for a while, and their boss has elected to loom over them with his giant metal wings wearing his super-villain costume. You'd probably get a little cheesed about it, too.
Which isn't to say that he's entirely unjustified. None of the archaeologists have been able to find an artifact that includes Apocalypse's weak point -- probably because if such a thing had been recorded, Apocalypse probably would not still be alive -- until one researcher shows up with the instruction manual from House of the Dead 2, telling him exactly where he needs to shoot:
Also, it depicts Apocalypse with his junk shrouded only in a curtain. I probably should've warned you about that before I put the picture up, but, well, mistakes were made. Even that dude, however, gets brushed aside when Archangel's special Apocalypse Proximity Alarm goes off -- seriously -- and alerts him to a sighting of Apocalypse attacking the Statue of Liberty.
So why is Apocalypse attacking the Statue of Liberty? I have no idea. I guess he just saw the opening of G.I. Joe: The Movie and figured it was a thing bad guys did every now and then.
Meanwhile, at the mansion, the X-Men are checking out a signal from a mysterious vessel, using their new talking Shi'ar Computer. It's worth noting that the computer sounds exactly like Professor X trying to do a computer voice, which really just gives the impression that Xavier himself is hiding under the table speaking into a tin can because he was bragging about his new talking space computer when it's really just an iMac.
Also, Cyclops is rockin' his '90s Jacket and has the weirdest butt.
He's also pretty perplexed by the ship being cloaked, asking "how do you hide something that's a mile long?" This is, of course, where Gambit pipes up, but AMAZINGLY, he only goes with "deep pockets?" Don't worry, though. We're getting to it.
Before they can investigate further, they're alerted to the Apocalypse-on-Liberty-Island situation and scramble to put an end to it, which is good since Archangel is not exactly up to the task himself.
Credit where it's due: That is some baller dramatic lighting.
Just before Angel can be stomped into a fine powder for defying the will of a giant blue shapeshifter, the X-Men show up to lend a hand. Of course, since it's the cartoon X-Men, they do so in the most inept way possible, starting with Cyclops, who accidentally blasts Angel right in the face:
Guys. For real. Cyclops shoots beams out of his eyes. He can literally hit whatever he looks at. How can he be this bad at being a superhero.
Rogue also pulls this amazing move where she tucks herself into a cannonball and just starts rolling through mid-air to go after Big A's knees, bringing him down and allowing the X-Men to momentarily gain the upper hand. It's actually a really fun fight, with Apocalypse not just being their opponent, but existing at such a scale that he's actually the battlefield itself.
Even though the X-Men are completely unable to actually harm Apocalypse, they apparently annoy him enough that he just decides to leave of his own free will. When it's suggested that the X-Men should put their efforts into stopping his sinister plans for ACTUALLY DESTROYING THE WORLD, which they know about because they have had MULTIPLE VISITORS FROM DYSTOPIAN FUTURES WHERE HUMANITY IS MORE OR LESS EXTINCT BECAUSE APOCALYPSE TOOK OVER, Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, the man charged with leading his team even in the most hopeless of situations, shrugs and says, and I quote, "why bother? We can't even scratch him."
Cyclops, you are the worst.
But Gambit? Gambit is the best, and by that, I mean that he is also the worst but in a hilariously entertaining way. It starts here, when Rogue expresses a slight amount of concern for Archangel -- owing, presumably to having absorbed his personality back when they fought Apocalypse the first time -- Gambit immediately goes on the defensive. He simply cannot stand that the object of his sleazy affections is concerned with another man, so he quickly steps up and reminds her that "he's not 'Warren' anymore, chere! Apocalypse machine make him... L'Ange du Mort. The angel of death. Now and forever."
Having sensed competition, Gambit will now ramp up his game to the extreme.
At the mansion, the X-Men use their computer to figure out a pattern in Apocalypse's recent crimes -- because apparently Apocalypse just runs around robbing industrial parks like the Stilt Man or whatever -- and discover the location of his mile-long spaceship. This, you would think, is a pretty new development, but no, Beast and Professor X know exactly what it is. "Oh that?" they say, "Yeah, that's that living spaceship that everyone knows about. We should go get it to help us kill Apocalypse."
I cannot stress this enough. This is their actual plan.
Before they set out, we get a little more of Rogue attempting to empathize with Archangel and stop him from throwing his life away on impossible revenge. This is, at least to me, the sort of thing any decent person would do in their (addmittedly weird) situation, but unbeknownst to them, Gambit is spying at them from behind a curtain, looking at them like they are just straight up banging in his marital bed:
Folks, we are now dealing with a level of creep that can only be measured in Kilomysteries.
After Archangel goes full goth and declares that none of the X-Men could ever understand his pain, flying off through the skylight in their infirmary (why do they have a skylight in their infirmary?) Rogue tries to follow them. Gambit naturally attempts to keep her from bouncing to a second location, but when she flies off anyway, he goes after her too, leaving the rest of the party to deal with Apocalypse and his spaceship. These people have clearly never played D&D, or else they'd know better.
Before long, the Spaceship Exploration Crew (Wolverine, Beast and Cyclops) arrive at the sentient ship, and this is where things start to get weird. Unlike Professor X's computer, this one has a sexy voice -- it actually sounds an awful lot like EDI from Mass Effect -- and Beast immediately starts doing the TV-G equivalent of holding a notebook over his trunks. Dude is excited.
Here, have some dialogue:
BEAST (deep, throaty): Astounding. Ship... you are a work of art.
SHIP (breathy): Thank you, Henry McCoy. You have no idea what a pleasure it is to interface witih someone who appreciates the subtleties of my programming.
BEAST (legit rubbing his hands together while he eyes a keyboard): Now... where should I start?
And that's just the foreplay.
The plan here is that they're going to use the ship's fantastic abilities, which I guess they just assume this ship has because they're very sure that it does even though they've never seen this ship and thought it was a myth until two minutes ago, to do a murder on Apocalypse. The plan is to trap him in a force field that will turn his own strength against him, but just as they figure out how to do it, the whole thing is revealed to be a deathtrap. As they're locked in, the Ship expresses its regret, saying "I enjoyed working with you, Dr. McCoy. I regret that we will not get to know each other better."
While that's going on, Archangel goes to a carnival.
Now, I've been highlighting Gambit's super sketchy territorial ownership thing with Rogue, but don't think that WarWor3 isn't a creep of the first water either. As Rogue flies over offering to help him bring down a supervillain, his response is to slip an arm over her shoulder and tell her to "pledge yourself to me. There can be no hesitation, no doubt. Do you pledge me your heart and soul?"
Rogue's reaction to suddenly being cast as Bella in a mid-air version of Twilight is, at least in terms of facial expression, exactly the same as mine was watching it. But, having come this far, she reluctantly agrees, only for Angel to respond by shouting "HE RRRRIIIIIIISES!" Thankfully, he was talking about Apocalypse emerging from the ocean, but don't worry. It's still about as phallic as it can be.
Rogue and Archangel fly off to attack Apocalypse, with Gambit arriving in his flying F1 racecar to try to warn them off before they launch into a suicide mission that plays out like fetish fanart.
He does not succeed.
Gambit blasts at Apocalypse with a few missiles and, again, despite not actually hurting Apocalypse, or even being able to hurt Apocalypse, it works? Apocalypse just shrugs and decides to leave, but not before mentioning that, bee tee dubs, your teammates are in a deathtrap. Cya, wouldn't wanna be ya, #yolo.
Speaking of said deathrtrap, Sexy Ship Voice has been seduced into helping the X-Men. It can't actually stop the deathtrap, but it gives them some instructions on how to escape, which, one more time, does not exactly recommend their skills as superheroes. They literally need step-by-step instructions to get out of a sealed room, and one of them has claws that can cut through the door. Seriously, they are the absolute worst.
It's nearly a moot point, though. Just after they escape, Apocalypse rolls up into the ship, having lured Archangel back so that he can see what comes to those who defy his immortal will. But! The X-Men spring their own trap, locking him down in the force field! Surely this will trap him forever! Or not. Archangel shows up in full vengeance mode, screaming "come to me, demon, and give me your tender back!" (uhhhh) and then blowing up the force field in his fury.
Before he does, though, Beast compliments the Ship on its fine work, to which it responds, "My pleasure. I believe you denote this new sensation I feel as... satisfaction."
Thus, Warren has freed Apocalypse from what would've been an eternal prison, presumably because the X-Men needed someone to redefine what the bottom of the barrel for effective superheroism is.
Shocking everyone/no one, Apocalypse actually knows some things about the spaceship he's been living in for 3,000 years that the X-Men don't, and is easily able to override the computer anyway. Things look pretty grim, but then the roof explodes and in drops our savior:
"The name is Gambit! Remember it!"
A fight scene breaks out, and as everyone jumps into action, Rogue gets backhanded across the room. Gambit catches her (even though she's, you know, invulnerable) and cushions her landing on the floor, then tells her -- and I swear to God this is an actual line from this show and not something I am making up -- "chere, maybe you cut down on the fried chicken, huh?"
Oh my God, he's straight up negging her by calling her fat after saving her life which she did not actually need anyway. GAMBIT IS THE BIGGEST SCUMBAG OF ALL TIME.
The fight is not going well for the X-Men, until the Ship -- its voice breathy to the point of panting -- directs the Beast to a nearby hole in the wall where Apocalypse just happens to keep the remote control that can override his override and give whoever holds it absolute control over its systems. Beast takes it and, after he lovingly caresses its buttons, self-destructs the ship as the computer voice tells him "you made me feel" and then groans in a way that can only be described as orgasmic. Thus, Apocalypse is trapped in some kind of escape pod (I guess) and then is shot into space with a little sparkle effect.
JUST LIKE TEAM ROCKET BLASTING OFF AGAAAAAAAIIIIIIIN!
Also, this kills the ship's computer for whatever reason, which is a real shame, because now we're robbed of being able to watch Beast explain his new relationship to that blind girl he was into back in Season 2.
Discussion Question: Okay, so, this episode was amazing, right? And one of the best things about it was that it has incredibly quotable dialogue. Not only is there bizarre stuff from Gambit like "HE FIGHTIN' APOCALYPSE! THAT'S CRAZY!" but there's actually some good supervillain stuff from Apocalypse, too, like "There exists no freedom from me! There is only freedom through me!" and referring to his ship as "traitorous vessel!" It's good stuff. What are some other great quotes from superhero shows that you can drop into your day-to-day life?
Next Week: Oh here it goes. "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is upon us at last.