The X-Men Episode Guide 2×08: Time Fugitives, Part 2
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: “Time Fugitives, Part Two," with all -- perhaps more of -- the Cable you can handle!
Previously, on X-Men:
In our last episode, we discovered that time travel actually has consequences! Specifically, Bishop's journey back to the '90s in order to stop the rise of the Sentinels ended up unleashing both a plague in his own time and a time tornado that rampaged through City: New York in the far-off future where Cable spends his time leading a revolution against Apocalypse. Turns out that the plague is necessary for stabilizing the mutant genome (and other sciencey words), so when Bishop heads back to save his future, Cable has to go back to save his future. And also Apocalypse is there, but to be honest, he seems as confused about everything as I am.
Also, Rogue got away with calling Graydon Creed a peckerwood on a show for tiny children, which led us to a discussion of things that we were shocked got past the Saturday morning censors. There were a lot of strong contenders, but I'm pretty sure nothing beats the "fingerprints" gag from Animaniacs, which I'd completely forgotten about until you guys brought it up.
Now let's see if anyone slips any cusswords past BS&P in this week's episode, "Time Fugitives, Part Two!'
Of all the episodes we've seen so far, this one has the biggest disconnect between the quality of the premise and the quality of the actual episode. The idea behind it is that it's the exact same events that we saw last week, but with Cable getting involved in an attempt to change history. It's a pretty bold concept for a Saturday morning cartoon directed at kids, and to be honest, it should be pretty good. I mean, It's written by Elliot S! Maggin, one of the greatest writers in the history of superheroes, a man who is personally responsible for at least two of the best Superman stories of all time. And yet, here we are.
We open with the same thing that we saw last week, but instead of cutting to Bishop, we stick with Cable as he goes into a bunker to find out more about these changes to the timestream. That's when we find out exactly how bad these time disruptions are getting when Cable's son Tyler gets erased from existence.
For as rough as this episode might get, it also showed us exactly what Teen Cable would look like, and I think we can all agree that is pretty amazing.
Cable is pretty upset at watching his son vanish into a time torado -- I think we can all relate -- so he hops into one of the teleporters from Dr. Wily's castle and bops back to 1993 and the exact same alley Bishop landed in when he traveled through time. He ends up appearing just after Bishop gets to his feet, and this is where we break out the chalkboard to start charting the divergences in the timeline, Doc Brown style. Cable tells Bishop that he can't let him change the future, and the two time-lost men have a tender moment in a filthy alley.
And then, surprising no one, guns are drawn. Bishop shouts "This one's for the future!", which is up there with "Check please!" for X-Men cartoon catchphrases that I wish had stuck around for the comics, blasts Cable through a nearby wall, and then jogs off to resume the events of last week's episode. Whether or not he stops to buy a copy of Magazine 2 remains unclear.
Also unclear: Just why Cable is so hell-bent on bodysliding around shooting up abandoned warehouses in an effort to stop Bishop. I mean, I get that he's attached to Teen Cable and the rest of his post-apocalyptic running crew, but he's living in a future controlled by Apocalypse where all of his friends are getting shot by off-model Terminators. Is it really worth getting all bent out of shape if that future gets erased, especially if it's through defeating one of Apocalypse's plans?
While I've been debating on the value of an evil future, Cable and Bishop have been engaged in one of the most boring fights of all time, climaxing in a scene where Cable blasts Bishop and makes him fall down and then Bishop blasts Cable and makes him fall down. It's less exciting than it sounds.
After a little bit of recycled footage from last week where the X-Men get all grumpy about these anti-mutant riots that have sprung up -- and another cameo appearance from the mutant with the power of a full-body beard who's their consistent go-to character for when they need a mutant to be hassled by a bunch of racists -- Cable wanders around the city chatting with Siri, and for once, the people in the background are actually freaking out about what's going on around them. Usually, Gambit can just roll down the street in full costume, but in this episode, someone finally notices that Cable is carrying a gigantic laser rifle and calls the cops. Sadly, they arrive just after he teleports away, and we are robbed of our chance to see a Cable-in-Prison story.
From there, we head back to that riot that broke out last week. This time, though, it's not just Bishop in the crowd stirring things up. Cable's up in a sniper's perch on the roof getting ready to solve this problem once and for all. Before he can pull the trigger, though, Rogue and Storm show up to stop him, and a fight breaks out. Of course, as you might expect...
...the show pulls its usual trick of kind of forgetting that Rogue is super-strong and invulnerable. She gets kicked off a building and then casually thrown into a brick wall that collapses, pretty much taking her out for the duration of the fight. The rest of the battle goes pretty similarly awful for the X-Men, with Cyclops taking a header off a building, Wolverine being stuck on keep-Bishop-from-getting-shot duty, and Jean doing what Jean does on this show, which is use her powers for three seconds and then collapse into a heap. At this point, I am honestly expecting them to just give the Phoenix force to a literal bag of sand when they finally come around to doing that story.
Wolverine does manage to trade some gymkata-style attacks with Cable -- that's what Wolverine does, right? He does a kind of handspring at people to kick them while completely ignoring that he has claws? -- and eventually, Cable says "I don't need this" and peaces out of the fight scene. Seriously. That is the actual line, and it is a sentiment I share.
Just like last week, the fight scene pushes Cyclops straight into Angry Police Captain territory, only this time it's somehow even whinier than usual:
"Why don't you fight your battles in your own time, Bishop?! You could've gotten a lot of people hurt!"
Yeah, Bishop! How dare you journey to the past to stop a plague that has killed literally millions of people, and then have the absolute gall to jump to the defense of an innocent person who was about to be lynched by a group of racists? Where do you get off, buster? The leader of a group of mutants quite literally sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them would like to know why you're making such a fuss about all this stuff!
The absolute worst, this guy.
Back at his "headquarters," which I believe is just the back room of a TV store -- which is a weird place to make your lair unless you're a television-themed Batman villain, which would also be the only situation in which "Cable" would be an appropriate name -- Cable asks his iCube to give him some information. There's a little bit of foreshadowing about how he already knows "all about" Cyclops and Jean Grey, but he doesn't seem to know the others. This presents a weird little twist to this whole thing, because Cable should already be familiar with Gambit, Storm and Jubilee, since he met them during that whole Genosha storyline way back in Season 1. But, since he doesn't, does that story take place later in Cable's life than this one? Or, and I'm just throwing this out there, is this show really kind of bad at remembering details like which characters have been introduced between seasons? It could honestly go either way.
Siri handily reads the X-Men's stats off of their official 1993 Marvel Universe trading cards, and when she gets to Wolverine and his healing factor, Cable starts hatching a plan.
We'll have to find out what that is later, though, because it's time for a trip to Congress, where Beast is testifying about the disease and how it's not actually related to mutants like everyone fears. And look: I get that the Beast is a pretty cool design and all, but maybe -- just maybe -- if you're testifying before the United States Senate, you could put on a little more than just a tiny blue pair of underwear.
When the Beast heads off to testify, Cable teleports in through a payphone (this is a thing that Cable can do, it seems) and starts shooting up the Capitol with his gigantic laser gun. He arrives just after the Friends of Humanity have started the scuffle that we saw last week, but this time Wolverine bails on punching out racists so that he can take another shot at punching out Cable.
This, of course, leads to Cyclops, who has super-jacked muscles and actual super-powers being tackled and pinned to the floor by exactly one regular human who appears to be making Cyclops slap himself in the face like he's picking on his little brother.
He also steals Cyclops's visor. What are we even going to do with you, Scott?
Cable teleports away once again, but this time he drags Wolverine along with him so that he can explain that he needs his help defeating Apocalypse. Wolverine's response to this is "Yeah, right. He teamed up with the tooth fairy," and, you know, that's a little harsh for someone who saw Apocalypse turn a guy blue and give him metal wings about three months ago. You'd think "hey this mysterious artificially created plague was created by a bad guy that you already know spends a lot of time doing weird stuff in laboratories" would seem at least slightly plausible.
Unless I'm reading this situation wrong and Wolverine is actually suggesting that Apocalypse has teamed up with the Tooth Fairy. Didn't she fight Alpha Flight that one time?
On their way back to the mansion -- apparently completely unconcerned about Wolverine being beaten and dragged off to a seedy motel by a guy with a robot arm and a face tattoo -- Jean mentions that she read Cable's mind and that he's "more important for the future... our future... than you could ever imagine!" This is all she says. She and Cyclops deserve each other.
Eventually, everybody heads back to Graydon Creed's headquarters, just like they did last week, only with the addition of some completely bonkers animation that makes it look like all of the X-Men have been turned into the Keep On Truckin' drawing as rendered by an NES:
Beyond that, though, it's all animation recycled from last week, and it's a little less impressive the second time around. One welcome new addition, though, is an explanation for Cyclops's "leave it to me!" response to Bishop asking how they're going to get to the lab. The first time around, there was just a cut to the X-Men casually walking in, but here, we see that Cyclops actually blasts a tunnel all the way through with his eyes, which is actually pretty cool. Not cool enough to make up for, you know, the entire rest of this episode or anything, but still. Pretty cool.
The rest of the big fight scene plays out almost exactly like it did last week, but instead of ending with Bishop blowing up the virus with his grenades, this episode sees Cable shattering the giant test tube by throwing Wolverine at it, which in turn leads to Wolverine being COVERED IN CIRCUITRY:
It's worth noting that Cable's lines in this scene include both "The name's Cable. Remember it, Apocalypse" and, less than two minutes later, "Remember it, Apocalypse: The name's Cable." I'm not even close to kidding about that.
The lab eventually blows up and Bishop heads back to the future where they re-use the shot from his first appearance for a third time, and we find out that while the plague has been prevented, the future still sucks every bit as much as it always did. Hooray for fatalism! In the present, however, we see that at least Cable's plan had some success. Not only have the X-Men all donned snappy polo shirts...
...it turns out that Wolverine's healing factor has defeated Apocalypse's disease while also producing the antibodies that were needed to stabilize the mutant gene. So while Bishop's future might be a dystopian nightmare, at least Cable's future is... uh... also a dystopian nightmare.
This is the most depressing show I've ever seen.
Discussion Question: So obviously the breakout star of this episode was Tyler, AKA Teen Cable. But his appearance does make me wonder what other characters would benefit from hilarious younger versions of themselves that included stuff like robot arms. So in the tradition of Teen Tony and that one time that Lois Lane had to babysit Superman as a baby (she also made out with him, it was super f**king weird), what character would have the best teenage counterpart?
Next Week: Secret moms abound as we get Rogue's origin, sugah! Spoiler Warning: She cain't tuch yuh, Remy!