Now, this is more like it.
Beyond Good & Evil-Part II sets most of this story in the right direction. After the problems seen in Part I, the story becomes far more coherent. There's the feeling it's actually headed somewhere. It's not quite perfect, but it's a real improvement. Dark Phoenix writer Jan Strand delivered another excellent script, with plenty of delightful character moments and a plot finally coming together.
The animation was terrific, although it had a few minor flaws. The music was equally outstanding along with the voice acting.
Part II opens in the middle of the Shi'Ar empire, where Lilandra's palace is under attack from rebel forces led by her traitorous sister who wishes to overthrow Lilandra. Gladiator manages to repel the soldiers and grab the traitor. However, a time portal suddenly brings Apocalypse to the area. He grabs Lilandra, but does nothing to destroy her, like he promised. He drops Lilandra and grabs the Shi'Ar telepath known as Oracle. He vanishes through the time portal, leaving the poor treacherous sister at Gladiator's hands.
Meanwhile, Xavier and Cyclops try to uncover Jean's whereabouts, when he receives a telepathic message from Lilandra.
Bishop spends the whole episode taking a relaxing walk towards the Axis of Time, being bothered by Bender every now and then. One can only imagine how this could be by far the worst nightmare Bishop could ever imagine, worse then any encounter with Sentinels.
Inside the Axis, Jean asks Sinister why would he help Apocalypse. The answer is not that surprising. The power of travelling through time allows Sinister to maintain a long-term control over his mutant creations. Apocalypse apparently plans to kidnap every psychic being in the universe in order to fulfill his plan, which is yet to be revealed. Oracle joins Jean in the capsule area.
Xavier briefs the X-Men on Lilandra's message about Oracle's kidnapping by Apocalypse. The X-Men actually think this through and put two and two together, figuring the whole thing out. Xavier decides to take initiative by deciding to protect every telepathic mutant on the planet.
The episode finally gets to its best part. This is where this part really shines. We see a mysterious mutant climbing a path towards Worthington Castle in England. Archangel resides in the castle, unaware of his new visitor. Despite her attempt at a disguise, fans will instantly recognize this gorgeous mutant as Psylocke. Archangel realizes her presence and decides to watch far from afar. She breaks into the castle and begins a shopping spree. When he surprises her, she decides to put him out of his misery. He obviously has the upper hand, being able to fly and all. He puts her on the run. She then surprises him by jumping to certain death from the cliff. He rescues her, gaining her eternal gratitude. That is, until she stabs him in the back with her psychic knife.
Poor Archangel. He really fell for the damsel in distress tactic. That's the advantage every woman has over every man. It's not really surprising since Rogue takes a similiar approach.
After knocking Warren out, Psylocke finishes her shopping trip and goes back to London. Archangel wakes up just in time to see her drive away. He flies through the night to find her whereabouts. The search leads to an old abandoned warehouse in London harbor.
Wolverine and Shard are waiting in the London bridge, keeping an eye on Psylocke just in case Apocalypse or Sinister try to get their hands on her.
Archangel surprises Psylocke inside the warehouse and begins an inquiry. Psylocke despises Warren for the man he's become. She's a freedom fighter, along with her brother, who believe in a struggle for mutant rights. Archangel represents the antithesis of that ideal, since he's always sought to conceal his true nature to the point of performing the cure, which tragically turned him into Apocalypse's slave.
However, the Archangel we see in this episode is actually a better developed character. He apparently managed to put his Ahab-like behavior behind him, following the events of Season 3's Obsession. That's a plus in my review and it's a credit to the writers to acknowledge that development.
Despite Psylocke's actions, Archangel still considers her a lowlife thief. A new battle begins, but this time they have some extra company. A set of claws tear the warehouse door open. Archangel thinks it's Wolverine, but it turns out it's Sabretooth along with Mystique. This fight just keeps getting more messy. Wolverine and Shard barge into the fight as well. The good old Wolverine/Sabretooth struggle is back on for old times' sake.
Archangel is knocked out cold in this fight. During the battle, Mystique turns into Shard to try and confuse Wolverine and Psylocke. However, Mystique seems to be getting too old for this job, since she's incompetent enough to not copy Shard precisely right to the point of putting the scar in the wrong side. However, seeing that Psylocke's psychic abilities rend Mystique's ruse useless, I'm willing to forgive it. Plus, this whole moment is just too fun.
Just when things might start calming down, another surprise visitor arrives. Magneto's come to kidnap Psylocke and take her to his new master. Wolverine surprises Magneto by taking him to a dive deep below London's river. Magneto uses his powers and captures Wolverine inside a ship's anchor. He brings Wolverine as a gift to the X-Men by throwing this huge vessel on top of the warehouse. He then grabs Psylocke and disappears with Mystique to a time portal.
Gambit and Storm arrive to help. They free Wolverine from the ship and find Archangel still alive. They also got lucky and captured Sabretooth as a bonus.
Magneto and Mystique bring Psylocke to the telepath's prison. Sinister brings another psychic that was supposed to be protected by Storm and Gambit. It's interesting to see no matter how much the X-Men try to prevent the inevitable from happening, the bad guys always seem to be two steps ahead. That's a terriic way to heighten the tension in the plot. Apocalypse realizes Xavier has figured his plan, but he knows it will work since Xavier is his final prize.
The episode comes to the end fairly quickly, when we return to Cable's future in 3999. He and Tyler plan to break into a government time machine. The facility is heavily guarded and also shielded. The chosen clan is supposed to blast a power station in order to bring the shield down. Cable explains to Tyler the history as to how there could still be time machines other than his portable version by bringing up nuclear disarmament history. After this speech, Cable announces his upcoming intentions that will be carried out in Part III.
Now, for a few minor details:
- Barely any Jubilee in this episode. That's always a plus.
- Psylocke is as hot as Rogue. There's no doubt about that.
- I loved the remixed Archangel theme, now accompanied by a chorus.
- The animation was clearly odd in the shipwreck sequence. The ship crashing on top of the warehouse looked poor. Storm's wind rubble looked even worse. I can sense this episode was rushed.
- Just so you know, this particular Bender is not the anti-social, foul-mouthed, alcoholic robot from Futurama.
- What in the world happened to Magneto's voice? How could anybody replace one of the best voice actors in the show? This is one of the first changes the show would go through during the remaining year.
- Magneto's motive for helping Apocalypse is not well defined. In this episode, he insinuated he wanted to bring his late wife back to life. While the concept of ressurection is already questionable, there's another problem. In Part IV, Magneto's motive appears to be about desiring to create a utopian society where mutants would rule, which contradicts the previous statement. And this latter motivation makes far more sense to his character. I also wonder if the writers had the Sanctuary two part story written before they devised this four parter. I always thought producing episodes without a defined order, while planning story arcs was a poor idea.
- It's no secret I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I brought up the saga in my previous X-Men reviews. But I loved the fact that Psylocke's license plate number was THX-1138. Nice tip of the hat to George Lucas.
- Shard and Wolverine really work well together, just like Shard and the alternate timeline version of Wolverine.
In the end, this episode has quite a few surprises. Keeping the appearances of Sabretooth, Mystique and Magneto until part II was a well thought idea. We already knew Sinister and Apocalypse were in cahoots. This was well timed. The Mystique/Archangel storyline really helps the episode. Despite so many balls in the air, the conclusion really begins to bring these balls together. In the end, this second part really worked well.