X-Men: The Animated Series

Season 1 Episode 2: Night of the Sentinels II
Writer: Mark Edward Edens
Story Editor: Eric Lewald
Story Consultant: Bob Harras
Supervising Producer: Will Meugniot
Line Producer: Larry Houston
Original Air Date: 7 November 1992

Synopsis (from IMDB): After breaking into the headquarters of the newly discovered government branch called The Mutant Control Agency, the X-men lose two of their own members in a battle with the Sentinels.

Do you remember the last scene from the previous episode? Some members of the X-Men broke into the Mutant Control Agency. There they stood in front of a door, which Storm opened. Unfortunately, before we got to see what’s behind it, the screen faded to black. I called that a cheap trick. And guess what: I was right! The big revelation is: there is no significant revelation! Wolverine just shuts the door before Storm can open it entirely because he smells guards on the other side. That is very frustrating. Why couldn’t it be something more significant? Or just show us that there are guards on the other side and then fade to black. But no, they close the door, sneak up on the guards (thanks to Morph’s shape-shifting abilities) and fight them. That is it.

While Storm, Wolverine, Morph, and Beast do their thing and destroy the files, Cyclops, Rogue, and Gambit catch up to them and hold off approaching threats. Those threats include highly trained guards, tank-like vehicles, and High-Tech weapons. This Agency, which is not funded by the government, is pretty well equipped.

Jubilee, in the meantime, is being held by a guy called Gyrich. He was the one kidnapping her in the last episode – not Trask himself as I assumed. Bolivar Trusk wanted to wait for their attack until they had 100 Sentinels built. Combined with their arsenal of weapons, vehicles, and troops, their operation gets quickly very frightening. The fact is, they are making Sentinels to catch mutants. To lock them up. And god knows what to do with them. By this point, I am convinced they want genocide.

The conversation between Jubilee and Gyrich is pretty revealing. For example, Gyrich does not know who the X-Men are. He knows of their existence, but who or what behind this idea is, is a mystery to this man. I wonder what he would have done to her if Trusk hadn’t shown up. Gyrich is the violent one of them. This conversation also indicates that the X-Men are new in business. However, this is contradicting the fact that Storm already “graduated” the school of Charles Xavier, but decided to stay anyway – as we have learned in the last episode. Or are Trusk and Gyrich the ones who are new to the idea of mutants?

Back to the story: The X-Men manage to free Jubilee and leave the building. From that point on, the storytelling gets a bit weird, so stay with him on this:

First, there is a fight between a bunch of Sentinels and the team. They work together and manage to destroy some of them. But ultimately there are too many. Morph apparently gets shot. Then the episode cuts, and we see Jean connected to Cerebro, monitoring the fight. She cries out in pain and agony, the Professor checks up on her, attaches himself to Cerebro instead of Jean, and is devastated, because he cannot find Morph.

Just in case you don’t know: Cerebro is a machine which amplifies mental abilities to detect mutants. You can also find human beings with it, but Xavier mostly uses it to identify or search for a lost fellow mutant or detect mutant activity in general. He supposedly can do this on the entire planet.

Anyhow, instead of cutting back to the fight or Morph or a body, we see the Blackbird (the X-Men’s very own jet) landing beside the mansion. Wolverine is angry, hitting Scott for making a wrong decision (a decision we don’t know of) and then walks into the garage. There he destroys Scott’s car and drives off with another. We didn’t see what happened, so that makes it difficult to understand Wolverine. He just hints at what might have happened, which is frustrating, because when he is sitting in the car and driving, we get a flashback.

In this flashback we see Morph getting hit. Then the fight continues. Beast is also beaten and in addition to that thrown into an electric fence. More Sentinels are coming, and Scott gives the order to leave them behind and regroup. Wolverine doesn’t want to go, but Rogue forces him to. She does that by absorbing a bit of his life energy (one of Rogue’s powers). Just enough of it so the team can carry him to the jet. Now I, as the viewer, understand what has happened and can comprehend how Wolverine is feeling.

This structure of the story is weird and, as I said, frustrating. Why didn’t they tell the story in chronological order in the first place? It doesn’t make the situation more suspenseful if you make me wait a couple of minutes and then reveal just parts of what happened anyway. Because in the end, when the episode ends, Morph’s and Beast’s fate is not conclusive. We don’t know if they are dead or alive. Just hints here and there.

After this unfortunate part, we get to see something I didn’t expect: The president of the United States is a woman. Yes, you heard right. Isn’t that awesome?! And in addition to that, she officially declines any further support for anything The Mutant Control Agency does. She does that because she interprets the incident at the facility in the right way: The X-Men were not the aggressors. Very cool move.

Cyclops finally catches up with Wolverine (he is in a bar, of course), they are friends again and go back to Jubilees parents. They talk to them and hope her father calls the Agency – which he does – to damage the Sentinel they sent and follow it home. This strategy is a risk but smart.

The last thing we see is a sign of hope: Jubilee says goodbye to her foster parents and leaves them for the X-Men. For some reason, she has to take a cap and has just one suitcase (when I went to university I had a car full of stuff with me). Anyhow, as the door of the mansion opens, and she walks in, the screen fades to black. Granted, it is another use of a door without showing what is behind it. But in this case, it does not matter. Behind this door is a new family for Jubilee. A new hope.

Christoph Staffl

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