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 is such a frequently used plot device nowadays in nearly all forms of narrative media that it’s hard to imagine a time when it was a fresh, innovative idea. As with the comics that inspired it, many of the storylines in the X-Men Animated Series had to do with characters going back in time in order to prevent a dystopian future from happening, and this trend continues in Season Four with the two-part storyline entitled “One Man’s Worth,” which brings back the time-traveling mutant Bishop on another mission to prevent a mutant apocalypse, so to speak. Just like past Bishop-centric stories, this one owes a lot to the Terminator film series, but it also provides a dash of Back To The Future as well as an effectively tragic human angle that goes a lot deeper than one might expect an animated series to go.
The storyline begins in 1959, where we see Bishop, Wolverine, and Storm battling Nimrod on a college campus where a young Charles Xavier is killed when the building he is hiding in explodes. We are then taken to 2055, where Bishop and his sidekick Shard travel to the present day, in which Storm and Wolverine see their mentor disappear from their reality when a time wave hits them, sending them both to an alternate present in which all mutants have joined Magneto in a war with the rest of humanity and the two of them are romantically involved. Bishop and Shard appear in this reality and recruits Storm and Wolverine to travel to 1959 with him to prevent Xavier’s death, though Wolverine is reluctant to do so, mostly because he discovers that in the present in which Xavier lives, his relationship with Storm is quite different. The time travelers explain that Xavier’s death has to do with a treacherous mutant named Trevor Fitzroy, who has sold out his kind to Master Mold and the Sentinels and initially traveled to the Fifties with Nimrod in order to take out the future mutant leader and kill his dream of unity between mutants and humanity.
When the team finds the college-aged Xavier, he is still an aspiring medical student with no ambition for being a leader in mutantkind’s quest for equality. The team arrives and talks with the young Xavier in a coffee shop before being confronted by the owner for the fact that Storm and Logan are an interracial couple. As with most times in which Wolverine is provoked, a fight breaks out that separates Xavier from the team. Their search for him puts them in conflict with Nimrod and sets off the chain of events that kills Xavier as seen at the beginning of the episode.
The second part of “One Man’s Worth” opens with the team failing in their mission to save Xavier and going back to Bishop and Shard’s time in a desparate attempt to travel back to 1959 and try again. Their attempts are met with resistance from Nimrod and an army of Sentinels and the warnings of an even more cybernetic version of Forge. After hearing of Bishop’s plan to go back in time again, Master Mold sends Fitzroy and his cowardly sidekick Bantam to stop them, but before they leave, they overhear Master Mold’s plan to eliminate them once they come back. Fitzroy catches up to the team and agrees to help them in an attempt to save his own neck, and the team manages to successfully go back to 1959, though this time without the injured Shard. With the help of information given to them by Fitzroy, the team is able to prevent the bombing and, after a climactic battle with Nimrod and persuading “Fitzroy-Prime” to help them, are able to reset the timeline. The story ends with Storm and Wolverine back in their own time at the Mansion with Xavier, completely oblivious to the relationship they had in the alternate reality they prevented.
The time-travel storylines in past seasons of the X-Men Animated Series were never my favorites, mostly because they seemed to hit the same narrative and character beats multiple times and didn’t seem quite as different from other time-travel stories in other properties. “One Man’s Worth” stands out from these types of stories due to the added drama of Storm and Wolverine’s doomed relationship, which adds a great deal of needed emotion and pathos to the proceedings and raises these episodes past some glaring flaws, such as the insufferable denseness of young-but-still-bald Xavier, who has to be convinced at least three times that his saviors from the future are telling the truth. I also would have liked a little more time getting to know Fitzroy as a character within the confines of the show, but not at the expense of the central romance. Warts and all, “One Man’s Worth” is a surprisingly satisfying time-travel storyline that doesn’t weigh too heavily on the show’s overall continuity and gives us an interesting look into what might have happened to them all if different circumstances occurred. Despite my enjoyment of this story, I’d be happy if the show didn’t do any more time-travel storylines for the rest of its run. Both parts of “One Man’s Worth” earn 4 out of 5 Giant-Man Cameos.