X-Men

Season 4 Episode 3

Courage

3
Aired Saturday 11:30 AM Sep 23, 1995 on FOX
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

8.4
out of 10
Average
52 votes
  • Mastermold=teh pwnzer

    7.3
    Morph decides to come back to the X-Men team, however, coincidentally, the sentinels have come back to terrorize the world. They captured Xavier as Morph was left to freeze in his shoes. The X-Men located the location of Mastermold, but it was Morph who overcame his phobia for the sentinels who played the hero by destroying the large machine himself. However, he decided to not come back, and left the team shortly after his arrival.

    I'm a bit biased, because I'm a huge Mastermold fan, and anything Mastermold related is a score of 7 and over no matter how crappy it is. This episode isn't crappy, but it's just mediocre at best. The story and concept was pretty interesting for fifteen minutes, but like all single storied episodes, didn't feel like it had a proper ending to it. There seems like there was so much more potential with Mastermold getting a new body, and he gets destroyed. Though I liked how they handle Morph's phobia for sentinels.
  • The return of everybody's favorite shapeshifter

    6.5
    Courage is a tough episode to review. This episode had some excellent parts, but it also made several mistakes. Bringing back Morph and addressing self-confidence was a superb idea to follow, but the ending was a major cheat. Parts of the episode also seem completely out of place and the whole setup feels a little bit contrived. Coming right after the excellent episode Nightcrawler, this is a real letdown.

    I was surprised to see the names of Sandy Scesny and Michael Edens in the writing credits. Given the fact they never wrote a single episode as a team, it leads me to suspect there was a major rewrite done in this episode, probably by Michael Edens. Sandy Scesny's previous effort was No Mutant is an Island, so it's no surprise Courage might have several flaws that needed correcting. However, the end result is still a mixed bag.

    The animators also made a major mistake. I don't mean Morph's hair color. He could have gone to the barber shop prior to this episode, but the whole character model is completely redesigned. It makes me wonder why Larry Houston did this, since there was nothing wrong with the original Morph design, back in Season 2. It's not really a major problem, given we'll be treated to a far worse animation revamp in Season 5.

    The episode opens in Muir Island, where Morph is undergoing a final phase in his therapy supervised by Moira McTaggert. Morph claims to finally feel ready to get back to the X-Men. She advises him to go easy, since overcoming his past traumas was a tough challenge and he still has a long path to go.

    Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of Zydex Industries, where its scientists have successfully developed a new indestructible steel as part of their military contract. Suddenly, mysterious giant robots raid the facility and rob their supply of steel. The camera angles were interesting in not revealing the identity of the raiders, but it's obvious to any long-time viewer they were the Sentinels.

    Meanwhile, back in the mansion the alarm is sounded. Now this was an effective way to surprise the X-Men, even if we knew what was going to happen. The X-Men enter the war room and only see a birthday cake and a lot of party decorations. Xavier and Jean reveal the reason behind this. Morph is back.

    Everyone is delighted, especially Wolverine. As the party begins, the alarm sounds again, but this time it's for real. There's been a raid on Zydex Industries and Xavier realizes if someone stole a supply of that steel, the raider could become a serious threat to world peace. He sends Wolverine and Morph to uncover evidence of whoever did it. Before they get underway, Morph takes the time to delight his audience by changing into various forms. Whether they are funny, that's another story, since I never really cared for these Morph moments.

    Morph and Wolverine arrive on Zydex and sneak into the base. I loved Morph's impression of the military sergeant puling rank on the corporal so they could get inside.

    As they enter the base, there another major animation goof. Wolverine uses his claws to enter the building and somehow creates a huge hole that could only have been opened by Cyclops's optic blasts. This is exactly what I feared when Fox ordered over 40 episodes within 2 years. It takes time to produce an animated show like this in such a tight budget. This is the unfortunate consequence.

    As they separate to look for evidence, Wolverine smells the Sentinels and realizes he can't tell Morph. But Morph finds out himself when he stumbles across a huge footprint. He figures out that Logan was hiding it from him and asks him to stop trying to protect him. He can't be part of the X-Men if he can't deal with his fears.

    After they return to the mansion, Xavier begins to ponder this return of the Sentinels. Meanwhile, we are treated to the Sentinels themselves, who are hiding in a cave, where they are being led by no other than Mastermold.

    Now I have to really criticize this new plot development. Having some surviving Sentinels, like what happened in Genosha back in Sanctuary-Part I is understandable. However, there's no plausible explanation for the apparent survival of Mastermold's head. I have The Final Decison on VHS. I've seen the episode frame-by-frame. There's no way the head could have survived the Blackbird's suicidal assault. They could have clarified this with a few throaway lines about some surviving Sentinels rebuilding and reprogramming a new head, although that's a long shot by itself. This is sloppy writing, with a lack of long-term thinking. If by any chance the writers ever considered bringing Mastermold back, they should have thought about it before incinerating him in Season 1. However, I'm forced to suspend my disbelief in order to continue this review, so let's continue.

    Mastermold is using his Sentinels to build a new battle body for him. They are using the new steel they stole from Zydex Industries. Mastermold orders two cadres of Sentinels to perform 2 additional duties. The first cadre must kidnap Xavier and bring him there, while the second cadre must kidnap Gyrich and Trask.

    The Sentinels fly to the mansion. Morph and Xavier are strolling in the garden talking about his self-confidence when the inevitable happens. Beast and Wolverine are forced to take on three Sentinels by themselves. Meanwhile the other X-Men have decided to go to town for the night. You would think the X-Men were smart enough to hold fort inside the mansion during this Sentinel threat. I must also point out the fact that they could have activated the mansion's security system in order to stop the Sentinels. They did it in Juggernaut Returns already. But the plot calls for the capture of Xavier in order to raise the stakes. Xavier is captured by the one of the Sentinels, while the other two are destroyed by Beast and Wolverine. They find Morph sobbing on the ground, who was unable to shoot his gun at the Sentinels out of fear.

    When the X-Men return, they take the Sentinel's head so they can uncover its memories, just like they did on Night of the Sentinels. They discover a pair of coordinates. One is the mansion. The other is from the locations of Gyrich and Trask. The X-Men ready the Blackbird, but Cyclops leaves Morph behind for his own good.

    We are treated to some very fun moments between Gyrich and Trask, who apparently live like the odd couple in the middle of nowhere. They can't stand each other and have constant arguments over their loss of control of the Sentinels. While I loved seeing these guys again, there was no point to bring them back at all. They only served as a plot device so the X-Men could track their kidnappers. Even later, Mastermold admits he didn't need these two at all. He only wanted them to witness his process with Xavier.

    They are captured by the Sentinels. The X-Men try to stop the Sentinels, but they escape. They take the Blackbird and follow the Sentinels.

    Meanwhile, Morph has an argument with the Sentinel head in the war room. He uncovers a new set of coordinates while overloading the Sentinel's processor. He decides to take the Minijet and rescue Xavier all by himself.

    Mastermold reveals to Xavier his intention of performing a brain transplant into a computer, so he can increase his powers tenfold. There's an interesting moment where Xavier calls him mad, but Mastermold says he can't be mad, since that's a human failing.

    The X-Men arrive and the battle begins. That was a positive aspect of the episode. The battle felt natural, energetic and at the same time, very dangerous for our heroes. There was a point all of the X-Men are losing. Then, Morph arrives to save the day. He uses his shapeshifting powers to take the Sentinels down, although I wonder how did he know about Strong Guy in the first place. The X-Factor are supposed to be a secret. Mastermold uses his spider-like legs to move and uses beams from his eyes to take on Morph. Whether that was intentional or not, he looked truly ridiculous walking like that.

    Morph is cornered, when he shoots a stalactite that pierces Mastermold's head, destroying him.

    The battle is over and Morph's proved his worth. The X-Men are proud of him. But Morph feels he's still not ready and has a lot to overcome. He decides to leave and return to Muir Island, ending the episode.

    They ruined the ending, by taking Morph out of the picture. If the writers really wanted to bring the character to a new level, they should have kept him in the show. If you're not ready to make a full commitment, you shouldn't make only half that effort.

    However, the episode still had some positive marks. The music was superb as was the voice acting. The drama and the tension were obviously there. A few plot strands are left unfinished that will be revisited in the series finale. It's not completely bad, but it could have been far better.
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