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 has become a rather overused and somewhat tired narrative device in pop culture, so it’s been hard to acclimate myself to how new and fresh it may have seemed to audiences back in the early- to mid- Nineties. Even though it may have seemed like a novelty at the time, the X-Men Animated Series sure used it a lot in their stories, especially during their fourth season. Just two episodes after wrapping up their “One Man’s Worth” storyline in which Bishop went back to the Fifties to save the X-Men’s future, we get another multi-part epic that sees our heroes going forward and back in time, this time to thwart a plot involving not only Apocalypse but also a number of the X-Men’s most formidable antagonists. While I fear that I may have grown tired of time travel stories within this series, the first two parts of “Beyond Good and Evil” have done a good enough job at drawing me in so that I’m at least interested to see how the storyline turns out.
“Beyond Good and Evil, Part One” begins in the year 3999, where mankind has survived if not necessarily thrived, following Cable and his son Tyler as they lead a group of rebels to Apocalypse’s base of operations in Cairo in order to wipe him out once and for all. During the invasion, Cable is trapped in Apocalypse’s pyramid, where the ancient mutant steals a device from him that enables him to travel through time. We are then taken to the not as distant future, where Bishop is unable to return from his previous trip through time and instead is sent to a limbo dimension outside of time inhabited by a mad time traveler named Bender who is also stuck between eras. Bishop is able to view what is going on within the several eras in time and views the present day, where Cyclops and Jean finally tie the knot in a ceremony at the Mansion that is quickly crashed by Mister Sinister’s goons, who kidnap the newly married couple and send Jean through a time portal, leaving Scott. When the rest of the team catch up with Cyclops, they are left with no trace of Jean and her abductors, even with the help of Cerebro. Sinister appears at the Mansion and attempts to abduct Xavier as well, with Bishop looking on in the limbo dimension and Shard traveling back to the present day in an attempt to bring Bishop back to his time. She appears at the Mansion and helps the team fight Sinister and his minions. They are able to prevent Xavier from being abducted but are still unable to find any trace of Jean. The episode ends with Jean encased in a containment cell in the same limbo dimension where Bishop is trapped, a place called the Axis of Time, brought there by Sinister at Apocalypse’s request.
The second part of “Beyond Good and Evil” unexpectedly begins in the Shi’ar galaxy, where Lilandra’s treacherous and power-hungry sister Warbird invades the Empress’ palace in an attempt to usurp power. Like Sinister, she has aligned herself with Apocalypse, but the captive he’s interested in is not Lilandra but her psychic aide Oracle, whom he grabs and takes through a time portal much to Warbird’s chagrin. Lilandra reaches out to Xavier, telling him of Oracle’s abduction, and Xavier surmises correctly that Sinister and Apocalypse are working together to assemble a group of beings with psychic abilities. The team plans to use Cerebro to locate other powerful psychics in order to predict their enemies’ next move. We are then taken to Warren Worthington’s castle in England, where the psychic mutant ninja known as Psylocke attempts to rob Archangel’s collection of priceless artifacts. Worthington follows Psylocke as she drives into town, where Wolverine and Shard are also looking for her thanks to Cerebro. When Archangel catches up to Psylocke, they are both attacked by Mystique and Sabretooth, and Wolverine and Shard join in the fight in order to prevent them from abducting Psylocke, who tries to run off but is taken off by Magneto. They both disappear through another time portal, adding another psychic to Apocalypse’s growing collection. Back at the Axis, we learn that Magneto only agreed to help Apocalypse in return for the resurrection of his late wife. The episode ends with Cable making plans to go further back in time in order to destroy Apocalypse before he rises to power.
The scope and ambition of the “Beyond Good and Evil” storyline seems fit for a season finale, as it seems to incorporate several characters and pockets of the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe at the same time, though it occurs smack dab in the middle of Season Four. At the heart of the storyline is Apocalypse’s motive, which seems motivated not necessarily by evil but from an innate curiousity to see if his quest for supremacy over all mutantkind will ever end the way he wants it to. This is the main drive behind his abduction of psychic beings, which is far more interesting than the usual arbitrary evil plots found in most animated series of this kind. I also appreciated how this storyline gives motives to Sinister and Magneto’s choice to help Apocalypse, again digging deeper than most of the show’s contemporaries and ancestors. The strength of this storyline and the depth of the characters’ motivations helped to overcome my initial annoyance that the show was once again drawing from the well of time travel, and while I like where this storyline is headed, I hope that afterwards the X-Men Animated Series leave this particular device alone, at least for a while. Parts one and two of “Beyond Good and Evil” both earn 4 out of 5 Psychic Backstabbings.