In my years of TV watching, there have been tons of well-regarded shows that have eluded my gaze. Thanks to the magic of Netflix and other online streaming sites, I now have an opportunity to watch these shows and share my thoughts on them. It may be a classic to you, but It’s New To Me!
Time travel can be a fun but overly complicated plot device in any work of fiction, as it always threatens to completely unravel the storyline and/or continuity of the work. The X-Men Animated Series already tackled this risky device late in their first season, so it’s surprising that they decided to double down on the trope midway through Season Two. Of course, given how much time travel has been used in the comic over the years, perhaps it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. What’s truly surprising about the two-part “Time Fugitives” storyline, however, is in how well the trope is used when it could very well have been a confusing mess.
“Time Fugitives, Part One” begins in 3999 A.D., a future even more bleak and dystopian than the early 21st Century of “Days of Future Past,” in which Cable and a small group of mutants are fighting off an army of Terminator-looking robots controlled by Apocalypse. A temporal storm suddenly appears with an image of Bishop inside that threatens to tear apart Cable’s world. His computer tells him that the time stream is realigning in response to the past being changed, which will make his present cease to exist. We are then transported to 2055 A.D., where Bishop returns after helping to prevent Senator Kelly’s assassination only to be informed by Forge that a widespread plague is threatening mutants and humans alike. Bishop then decides to travel back to the Nineties to prevent the onset of this plague, which we discover has been manufactured by the Friends of Humanity in hopes of turning all of normal humankind against the mutants.
The X-Men encounter Bishop once again as he tries to prevent an anti-mutant raid on a mutant quarantine area, and together they make a plan to stop the spread of the genetically engineered virus that causes the plague. The Friends of Humanity crash a Senate hearing about the virus that the X-Men attend and succeed in sewing more confusion and anti-mutant paranoia when their leader, a man named Creed, accidentally infects himself with the virus and then publicly blames the mutants for it. The team tracks the Friends of Humanity to their headquarters, where they discover that Apocalypse is secretly behind the plan to cause the plague and successfully destroy the virus, seemingly dying in the process at Apocalypse’s hand. We are then taken back to the far future, where Cable is informed that the destruction of the virus means that important antibodies are never created that would save mutantkind from a future plague. Cable then laments the fact that in order to save his present, he has to foil Bishop’s mission.
In the second part of “Time Fugitives,” Cable travels back to the Nineties at the point where Bishop arrives, leaving just as his son Tyler is wiped out from his current timeline. Bishop continues to evade Cable, and the X-Men eventually get involved as well, and when he learns that Wolverine has a superhuman healing factor, he gets an alternate idea on how he can save his present without destroying the past when he abducts Wolverine and tells him his plan. When the team invades the Friends of Humanity’s headquarters, Cable and Wolverine show up as well. After Wolverine is exposed to the virus, he is able to manufacture the antibodies necessary to save Cable’s future and provide the cure for the plague. The team is then free to destroy the virus and escape with their lives, and both Cable and Bishop return to their own times, where Bishop learns that the plague has successfully been prevented and Cable is reunited with his son.
“Time Fugitives” ups the ante of “Days of Future Past” from last season by giving us two separate missions to save the future, and Cable’s plan to save both futures is pretty ingenious. In addition to the fun time travel plot, I also appreciated how this storyline fleshed out Cable’s character and made him more like his comic book counterpart, right down to subtly hinting at a connection to both Cyclops and Jean Gray. It doesn’t quite explain why or how Cable wound up working in twentieth-century era Genosha, but I guess his easy access to a time machine explains his earlier appearances in Season One. Revisiting time-travel as a storytelling device was a risky move, especially so soon after “Days of Future Past,” but it was a risk that paid off beautifully and provided one of the more consistently entertaining storylines of Season Two to date, which was helped greatly by never cutting to Xavier and Magneto in the Savage Land, a subplot which frankly I’m getting a little tired of. Both parts of “Time Fugitives” earn a solid 4 out of 5 Holographic Decoys.