“X-Men ’97” Episode 8 Recap

May 1, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

Well, THAT escalated quickly.

We ended last episode with the season Big Bad — unnamed — putting lackey Mr. Sinister in his place, after just one of his Prime Sentinels nearly took out a handful of the most-powerful X-Men. This episode, in brisk fashion, we got a largely comprehensive origin for this antagonist, named Bastion, and his entire Prime Sentinel army was activated, and immediately went about hunting down the X-Men. It was an action-packed affair that still somehow dropped quite a bit of exposition and character development. So let’s dive into it, shall we?

I’ll go over each core character in order of role this episode, from least important to most. There will be plenty of spoilers along the way!

RELATED CONTENT

Top 10 Characters We Want to See in “X-Men ’97”

POLL: Best X-Men Team Line-Up (VOTE NOW!)

Best Marvel Villain

Best Super-Hero Film

Storm

Ororo only appears for a few seconds, via telepathic message. We haven’t seen our girl since “Lifedeath Part II.” She doesn’t even have a title-sequence card in her new/old costume. But I suspect that all changes next episode. The only question I have is: Will Forge come back to the X-Mansion with her?

Rogue

Rogue spent this entire episode knocked out after getting trashed by the Bolivar Trask Prime Sentinel last episode. To quote from the cult classic Soapdish, “Actors don’t like to play coma; they feel it limits their range.” From a narrative perspective, they needed to take one of their hardest hitters out of the game temporarily, and that’s precisely what happened here.

Morph

While this series has done right by Morph by making them actually, you know, entertaining, there’s no question Morph is the least-essential regular member of this team. I remain fascinated by the interpretation that Morph’s powers also seemingly give him access to the POWERS of the people he’s copying, and he got to do that with Juggernaut this episode. But he doesn’t really have much of an arc, and I don’t see that changing at this point.

Wolverine

I actually celebrate the fact that Wolverine, the breakout character of the OG series, has been by and large a mid-tier character in this series. He’s always there. He gets in a few good lines per episode, and some good scraps — the sequence where Wolverine is thrown into the sky and just cleaves his way through a fleet of Prime Sentinels was boss. But he’s not a main character. And I’m totally great with that.

Beast

Bad news for Beast: not only is the team capital-F Fucked, but the character who seemed to be his potential love interest — reporter Trish Tilby, his longtime girlfriend in the comics — is actually a Prime Sentinel. Oops! Hank got pretty brutally trounced this episode. He DID find a way to use Cerebro to track the Prime Sentinels, so, you know, Go Hank. But poor Beast cannot catch a break on this show.

Professor Xavier

Even though he only appears in person for a few seconds at the end of the episode, Xavier plays an important role here. First, his absence from the X-Men continues to leave Scott uneasy about his ability to handle the multitude of challenges around him, both tactical and personal. Second, his decision to instate Magneto as head of the X-Men is arguably a key element of Bastion’s PR campaign. And on that note, a HUGE element of this story is Bastion using Xavier’s faked death to instill worldwide distrust of the X-Men, and mutants in general. It’s a brilliant villain move that, interestingly, echoes the way ORCHIS turned humanity against mutants in the currently releasing X-Men comics. Bottom line, Charles Xavier has left a huge mess, and it’ll be interesting to watch next episode, as he discovers the kids are very much not alright.

Mr. Sinister

When Sinister was revealed as the person “behind” the Genosha attack, I was confused. It didn’t make much sense for a mutant mad scientist to be behind wiping out thousands of mutants. This episode he explains — to Val Cooper of all people — that he’s working with Bastion because his mutant internment camps give him unfettered access to oodles of mutant DNA. THAT makes sense. It also ties together the Madelyne/Nathan T/O virus subplot from the “Inferno” episode, which seemingly is connected to the Prime Sentinels. He also got in a few bitchy digs, and we love to see it.

Nightcrawler

This was a good episode for Nightcrawler. The scene with him and Jean talking about Rogue and Madelyne was SUCH good writing, and is probably the most effective scene thus far in establishing Kurt as, essentially, the team therapist/priest. On top of that, we got a banger of an action sequence in which Nightcrawler put his sword-fighting skills and teleportation powers to use — including one trippy moment where we got Wolverine’s POV as he was teleported along with Kurt — making it very clear that Nightcrawler is not only an iconic character, but also a formidable X-Man. I’m so excited that he is finally getting his flowers on this show.

Jubilee & Roberto

The good news, kind of, is that Jubilee got a new costume this episode, a sleek black bodysuit that resembles her 2000s comic look (when she was, I shit you not, a vampire). Personally I thought her classic costume looked great in this series, so I’m not convinced this was an upgrade. But at least she made Roberto pay for it. (Atta girl, Jubes.) The crux of their plotline was dealing with Roberto’s mother, throwing a “Humans For Genosha” fundraiser while simultaneously swallowing the anti-X-Men propaganda being spoonfed to the populace by Bastion. This becomes even more disturbing when Roberto and Jubilee crash through her penthouse window DURING the party, while being pursued by Prime Sentinels. (BTW Roberto flies now! Get into it.) When the Sentinels — who, yes, LOOK human but with clearly technological components and, you know, LASER BEAMS — tell Roberto’s mother they’re just there to help Roberto and Jubilee, she literally just turns the teenagers over to them. What in the Jeffrey Dahmer is THAT?! I found myself seriously concerned that Roberto may not live out this season, and if that happens I will be devastated. They’ve done a great job with this character.

Magneto

Magneto only speaks a few words this episode — “Never again” — but he has a critical role. For most of the episode, he is held prisoner by Bastion, naked except for a power-dampening collar and a pair of black briefs (thank you, homosexuals running this show) and strapped to the X-cross. Val Cooper (?) ultimately frees him, and Magneto flies to the North Pole, where he lets out a hell of an EMP that basically fries electronic systems worldwide. Smart move taking out the currently activated Prime Sentinels. But big picture, a move that aggressive, impacting seemingly the ENTIRE WORLD (including letting Omega Red escape his Russian prison), only plays into Bastion’s meta plan, to create global fear around mutants.

Interesting bit of comic lore: in the late 90s/early 2000s, there was initially intended to be an arc in which Magneto shifted the magnetic poles, creating worldwide environmental chaos. They even released promotional images for it! For whatever reason editorial changed plans (I believe the truncated “Magneto War” arc took its place).

One last point: to all the people complaining about the Rogue/Magneto relationship earlier this season, I hope this episode’s beefcake show shut you up. This man is “attractive” in every sense of the word. Confidential to Magneto: come visit my pole anytime. When they say, “Magneto was right,” they also mean, Magneto was right.

Val Cooper

I am fascinated by Val in this series. This episode had me thoroughly torn as to whether or not I’m buying into the fan theory that Val is actually Mystique. Val’s conversation with — or monologue at — Magneto before freeing him almost *screams* “This is Mystique” in disguise. “Do you have nothing to say to me?” Why would MAGNETO have anything to say to Val Cooper in this situation? But to Mystique, who he at least KNEW from the original series? He could give some kind of signal.

The biggest question I have is why Bastion is keeping Val around at all. This episode suggests that she was secretly working with him behind the scenes for some time — she makes some reference to “building Sentinels, not weaponizing average people.” It’s so hard to get a read on Val’s motivations and allegiances here, which makes her a great character. She has a great speech while releasing Magneto, including the part about not being at all surprised by Genosha happening, and her summary statement: “Magneto was right.” I genuinely do not know where they are going with Val, and I’m confused about whose side she is on. But I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Cyclops/Jean/Cable

On the X-Men side, this was unquestionably a Summers Family joint. The dynamic between Scott and Cable was hilarious and spot-on, with the two of them taking the piss out of each other. Having Cable there also seemed to bring some sense of closure for Jean around the Madelyne situation, and she and Scott seemed to be on much more solid ground this episode. The three of them got the Bastion origin story — different from the comic story in key ways, making Bastion far more interesting, and a much more compelling antagonist more in line with the Krakoan Era human/mutant/machine aggression triangle — and then got a terrific action sequence involving the three of them escaping from Prime Sentinels in air, road, and under the ground. Best family reunion I’ve ever been a part of.

Bastion

All that said, this was Bastion’s episode, full stop. He came on like a house on fire, executing plots within plots within plots and putting the X-Men and mutants in general in real danger. The creators of this show have very shrewdly combined several of the big Sentinel-related plotlines from the past 20-plus years of X-Men comics and created a much more compelling arc for it. The “Operation: Zero Tolerance” arc in the comics was…fine. Bastion was an…OK antagonist. But here, it’s a whole different level of intense. Repositioning the threat as, “You told humans to accept that mutants are the future; now AI is telling mutants to accept that WE are the future” is…brilliant. It’s so well done. We also got some very interesting cameos in the Bastion scenes, including Dr. Doom — in his first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance! — Baron Zemo, and, I suspect, Viper, the leader of HYDRA.

Every choice around Bastion and this overarching plan is SO smart, and I cannot be the only one watching this episode and thinking that there are parallels between Bastion’s disinformation/PR campaign against mutants and several of the scenarios unfolding in the real world right now. That line about bullying the underdog, and pushing the general populace into a place of apathy in the face of unrelenting terror? Chilling. Poignant. And incredibly true.

Did You Miss Our Recaps for the Previous Episodes? Read Them Here:

Episode 7 Recap

Episode 6 Recap

Episode 5 Recap

Episode 4 Recap

Episode 3 Recap

Episodes 1-2 Recap

Newsletter Banner

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments