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  • Writer's pictureJames A.

Review: ‘X-Men ‘97’ - Season 1 Episode 9 - “Tolerance is Extinction - Part 2”

"If you don't trust me, trust my X-Men."

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for X-Men ‘97: Season 1, Episode 9!

In the wake of Magneto's worldwide electromagnetic pulse, the X-Men's war against Bastion has only arrived at a momentary lull. With the return of Charles Xavier, the X-Men reckon with the lie surrounding his faked death, which their old professor attempts to justify in classic Charles Xavier fashion, claiming the favoring of their free will outside his influence. So why has he made his return now? To preach to them after his timely departure spared him the fallout of Genosha, and act as their righteous savior? Charles Xavier everyone, the immortal hypocrite upon his infallible soapbox.

The X-Men are made whole again (or whole-er?) with the awakening of Rogue, who once again finds herself in a world that is still missing her love, Gambit. In a one-on-one conversation with the old professor, she calls him out on his inability to see the X-Men as people with entire lives, and not students that need to reprimanded.

Storm and Jean Grey also have a heartfelt reunion, and Forge and Beast nerd out when the former finally claims his rightful spot on the team as well.

With thousands dead, worldwide infrastructure still down, and the planet's electromagnetic field dying, the X-Men deduce that action against Magneto is crucial. Although, the Master of Magnetism approaches the X-Men first in a sea of aurora borealis, shadowed by a floating island in which he intends to make a new mutant state—a new Genosha, but one not shackled to the dying planet. Instead freely existing in space. In the wake of surviving yet another genocide, Magneto has chosen to forsaken the dying planet entirely, understanding he is condemning the billions left to their demise.

Xavier's dream is dead, he proclaims.

It's important to showcase the nuance surrounding Magneto's rage and truly acknowledge the conditions that crafted him. Magneto is in pain. He's reeling from witnessing thousands die on Genosha and being unable to save them. He's reeling from understanding that the oppression of the minority group that he belongs to is caught in a constant cycle. He's reeling from holding a boy in his arms and watching him die. Weaker men fall. Stronger men stand. Magneto's revenge only exists because of a world that has done little to nothing in the face of mutant oppression. This man simply does not exist otherwise. To rebuke Magneto, to diminish him to a supremacist or a tyrant or a madman is to be utterly disingenuous. It's to not see the patchwork of conditions that forces someone like Magneto to see that they have no other option for survival.

When we perceive resistance in the face of oppression—in the face of blatant genocide like we are seeing happening right now in Gaza, we must keep that in mind. People are not created in vacuums. We are victims of our environment, our perception, and our love for our communities. We have to recognize the factors that make us who we are, and fight against that which strips of us our facilities to imagine a world without pain and loss.

Pain breeds rage.

Magneto's speech is enough to sway X-Men veteran Rogue and X-Men newcomer Roberto to join his side. Rogue had also witnessed the genocide in Genosha firsthand, and Roberto was handed over to the Prime Sentinels by his mother. Who can blame them?

Comic readers will note the parallel of Rogue's ascension to Magneto's side with that of X-Men veteran Colossus, in the comic crossover Fatal Attractions. While Rogue was spurred by the murder of her lover and surviving Genosha, Colossus was spurred by the death of his younger sister, Illyana, at the hand of the mutant-killing Legacy Virus.

There's been enough talk—it's time for the X-Men to get to work. Gold Team consisting of Storm, Jean Grey, Cable, Morph, Forge, and Beast are sent to neutralize Bastion and his sentinels. Meanwhile, the Blue Team consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Jubilee, Nightcrawler, and Xavier travel to space to apprehend Magneto. (Although, why nobody realized that sending Logan, a man with metal lining his bones after the Master of Magnetism was a terrible idea is beyond me. More on that later.)

Gold Team & Blue Team. (Image: © Marvel Animation)

The X-Men have noticeably ditched their '90s attire to sport their classic looks, which doesn't have an explicit explanation for within the narrative. Not that I'm complaining, more comic media should allow their heroes to stunt in different attire purely because why not. Jean's green dress, gaudy mask, and dishwasher gloves don't have to be earned! Personally, my belief is that they saw Ororo rocking different threads and all felt compelled to follow in the footsteps of the queen.

Although, I do wonder why we got no moment explicitly outlining why Roberto even suited up in the first place. There's the beginning of the hero's journey for him, coming to terms with his mutant status and his disapproving mother, but here it falls flat and receives no attention to cinch that plot thread. Where is the call to action for him? Roberto joining Magneto is an interesting take on their Headmaster and student relationship (see 1983's The New Mutants!), but otherwise, this character continues to be fumbled visually and narratively.

Gold Team fractures early on, with Forge and Ororo staying in the sky to draw out the sentinels so the rest of the team can continue on land. There are personal gripes to be had about taking Ororo away from the meat of the conflict, again, and hand-waving this with a flashy demonstration (that's even shorter than the ones we've gotten before). However, we are given are heartfelt moment between the X-Men's two strongest members before her departure which I appreciate.

"Make them mind your weather, sister." "And them weather your mind."

Morph continues to fulfill their weekly cameo quota, this time morphing into the Incredible Hulk. Jean Grey takes the fight to Sinister head-on, displaying the might of a world-class telekinetic. Again the animation delivers on this front—it's delicious, riveting, and filling in a way that the live-action movies routinely failed to be. The tides turn however when we see the members downed one by one. Sinister manipulates Cable to turn on his mother's genetic sister, and though Jean attempts to reach out, Cable's telekinetic might seemingly overwhelms her.

Simultaneously in Magneto's new mutant state, Blue Team clashes with Magneto and their former teammates, Rogue and Roberto. (With the clashing between Roberto and Jubilee, one can only hope and pray that this means a breakup is on the horizon!) Xavier and Magneto of course do their classic "This isn't you!" retort in a different flavor, and the Master of Magnetism says what we're all thinking when he tells Xavier to "shut up!" Blue Team is seemingly more successful when Wolverine gets Magneto's helmet off, which would allow Xavier to get into his mind and force him to fix the damage done to the Earth.

The sh*t hits the fan when Jean telepathically links with Scott during her fight with Cable. She tells him she loves him before the link breaks. (Is she dead? Maybe? Probably? As Rogue said earlier in the episode, "Jean? Ha! Been there, done that".) This causes Scott to blast his old professor as he believes the Gold Team needs more time, which in turn allows Magneto to regain the upper hand.

The episode ends promptly when Wolverine impales Magneto with his claws, though only a fool would believe the omega-level mutant would go down that easily. Remember what I said about a man with metal bones versus a man who can control metal? Magneto flips over the chess board when he uses his power to painfully extract the adamantium from Wolverine's body in a glorious display that does justice to the comic moment it mirrors. (Also from Fatal Attractions!)

Has the X-Men's boy Scott truly gone rogue? Is Wolverine dead? Is Jean? Will Roberto and Jubilee finally break up? Will Storm finally have a central role in the narrative? How will Professor Xavier patronize us next? Find out next week in the season finale of X-Men '97!


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