Season 4 Episode 6

Sanctuary (1)

Aired Saturday 11:30 AM Oct 21, 1995 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Both Xavier and Wolverine have trouble keeping their women.

    Magneto has proposed an omega plan to permanently separate the mutant and human community be capturing several satellites floating in space and creating Anstroid M; a mutant community set in space. Xavier, along with Beast and Gambit, went out to negotiate with Magneto. As predicted, he listened to no reason coming from Professor Xavier.

    When Magneto was rounding up mutants in Genosha, he was attacked by the government army, along with sentinels. Though he was assisted by Cortez and his group of mutant rebellions. Cortez's power is fortunately, to recharge the powers of another mutant. They all land on Astroid M, and Cortez is a bit too ambitious for Magneto to handle. Magneto strives for peace, while Cortez wants revenge. He takes Magneto's powers away, and sends him flying into space. Cortez blames the loss of Magneto on the X-Men's hands.

    A good episode. The pacing for once feels approriate, and the concept of this episode is great. Separating the two distinguishable communities through a space community is pretty cool. What makes it even greater is the two different views that Cortez and Magneto share. It added more spice to the already intriguing concept, and ended in suspense.

    What also built up suspense was the re-appearance of the sentinels. Seeing them on the Genosha land makes you wonder even more. It's also great to think that Mastermold is going to come back! The action on the Genosha front was pretty entertaining to watch. I really missed those sentinels.
  • Another two parter. It turns out to be a welcome return to the roots of the series

    Sanctuary-Part I was a brief return to the original premise of the X-Men. It works fairly well as a turning point in the series. For too long, Seasons 3 and 4 was riddled with stand-alone stories (not including the Phoenix storyline). Season 5 would follow the same trend. While seeing a stand-alone can be a refreshing breath of air every now and then, the X-Men's biggest strength has always been in its serialized format. Much like the comics, fans always craved continuous stories with depth and consequences. That's why the first 2 seasons were far more effective in that regard comparing to the later seasons.

    Despite some great episodes, Season 3 certainly felt like it could have been a lot better in the big picture. Due to Fox's demand for too many episodes within 2 years, the producers were forced to trim down the serialized element in the series. While I praised episodes like the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix stories, I also missed the serialized tone and the seemingly absence of mutant/human conflict.

    Sanctuary brought both the serialized feeling for a brief time and reinvigorated the human/mutant conflict, which was defunct since Season 2's Beauty and the Beast.

    The animation was breathtaking at several scenes. The asteroid looked stunning. Magneto never looked better and the action sequences came as quite a surprise. Just when I thought the show was beginning to get stale in its action quota, Larry Houston surprised me once more. The Genoshan battle was the most dynamic battle we've seen since the Shi'Ar/X-Men conflict in the Dark Phoenix.

    I must also point out that this episode was aired right after The Juggernaut Returns, back in the original 1995 airing. While some people might find this a bit confusing, it actually works better this way. Apparently, many viewers only got to see it after the Proteus two parter. By watching Sanctuary ahead of Proteus, the whole Xavier/Amelia flashback makes better sense. Sanctuary also opens new plot avenues that will have some repercussions over the remainder of the series. Needless to say, I was surprised to see Sentinels again, after their apparent demise in Season 1. This was a first-rate effort from the hands of Steven Melching and David McDermott, who would become among the most prolific writers in the series, alongside Michael Edens and Mark Edward Edens.

    The episode opens in space around Earth. A NASA astronaut is currently parked near some asteroids deactivating some leftover nuclear material from the russians. Suddenly, a burst of magnetic waves messes up his work completely.

    The sequence cuts to a UN meeting. We finally get to see some politics in the series. There's a heated debate concerning how humans should treat mutants. While there are more level-headed representatives trying to make a case for cooperation, the representative from the infamous island of Genosha is pushing for mutant control and detention hard and fast. I guess this proves that Genosha is a full island nation, if it can be deemed worthy of membership in the UN. Magneto makes a stunning entrance in the meeting, announcing his upcoming intentions. To my surprise, Magneto has no intention of starting his long awaited war for mutant liberation. I guess Magneto lost his edge at some point during Season 3.

    Magneto makes a long-winded speech, detailing all the effort that's gone to improve human/mutant relations over the past 3 years and the many failures to do so. He now intends to wipe out the problem in a single stroke. He gained control of an asteroid belt, filled with russian nuclear warheads. He intends to bring all mutants who wish to be isolated from humankind so they can have a free and peaceful life in the asteroid, known as Asteroid M. While UN members are skeptical of this announcement, the Genoshan member is downright opposed.

    Xavier, watching this from television is deeply saddened by this new event. He has a good point. This can almost be seen as a premature failure of the X-Men's original mission. Xavier, along with Rogue, Beast and Gambit ponder this event and whether they should do anything about it. They make the choice to at least pay a visit to the asteroid and learn more about what Magneto's really created.

    Gambit finds out an old buddy of his may be headed for the asteroid and decides to join Beast and Xavier in their journey. Rogue is immediately appaled by this decision. I'm actually surprised Rogue reacted this way. Last I remembered, there was no romantic commitment between those two. Aside from the kiss at Reunion-Part II, the near-kiss at The Phoenix Saga and Gambit's innappropriate innuendo at the Dark Phoenix-Part III, there was zero development on the relationship side of them. The very fact that Gambit appears less than any X-Men in the series already makes this plot quite thin.

    After a brief conversation with President Kelly, Xavier takes Beast and Gambit to the rendezvous with a large gathering of mutants somewhere in Africa. Magneto's promised to gather his mutants from there. It's a wise choice, since Africa's far away from mutant-haters. Magneto arrives towing four huge capsules, capable of handling every mutant on the planet. As soon as he sees the X-Men, he questions their motives for being there. Xavier announces his good intentions of observing the whole process, while trying to talk some sense to his old friend.

    After the capsules are loaded with every mutant, Magneto tows them to the sky. He seems to be struggling to maintain his grip on the capsules. It's almost as if he's losing his powers. Beast and Xavier realize that. The next stop is at the Genosha mutant prison.

    I actually thought Storm had pretty much wrecked the whole place back in Slave Island. I guess somehow the Genoshans were able to keep some mutants locked up. As soon as Magneto touches down with his gathering of mutants, the Genoshan army orders them to stand down and not resist arrest. This is the beginning of a furious and exciting battle. Magneto leads the mutants in trying to free their comrades.

    The X-Men join the effort, despite their previous intentions of simply "observe". During the battle, the army is beaten up badly. This forces them to reveal their trump card: the Sentinels. I guess the Genoshans had some in storage despite what Storm did to Mastermold and the Sentinel factory back in Season 1. The battle becomes deadly and furious. The Sentinels prove their worth against mutants. Magneto brings some of them down, but the Sentinels converge on him and begin to focus all of their blasts on him. This brings his forcefield down. That was enough to shock me. I never thought such a powerful mutant could be brought down like this.

    Just when hope seems to fade away, the Acolytes arrive to save the night. The leader of this resistance group, Fabian Cortez rescues Magneto from certain death. He replenishes Magneto's power using his own. He introduces one of my favorite term in the episode: "flatscans". He defines humans by that word. Cortez seems to be an example of a younger and more rash Magneto, completely driven to extremes and willing to exterminate all humans on a whim. At least that seemed to be the case in Part I. Part II is another story entirely.

    After rescuing the Genoshans, Magneto takes the Acolytes and every other mutant back to the asteroid. When they arrive, Magneto seems to be on the verge of collapsing again. Cortez heals him again. Xavier and Beast realize that Magneto may have become dependent on Cortez.

    While Gambit meets his old buddy among the Acolytes, there's a far more interesting character amongst them: Amelia. We quickly realize she was an old flame of Xavier. She rejects his very presence. We are treated to a very interesting flashback sequence where we learn how Xavier's lost the use of his legs. It happened after a fierce battle against Magneto, during some war. Amelia helped him recover during those days. They eventually fell in love. However, it wasn't meant to last, when Xavier's lifelong goal stepped in the way. Amelia hated her very existence as a mutant and couldn't comprehend Xavier's acceptance of their state. The wedge between them became too great and she eventually left.

    During an inauguration dinner, Magneto proposes a toast to eternal freedom. The toast is interrupted by incoming missiles. He realizes that the price for freedom is eternal vigilance. He uses his power to take out the missiles. One of the Acolytes report that the missiles were fired in response to an attack of their own upon Earth. Magneto realizes Cortez was behind it.

    Later, during the night, Magneto confronts Cortez about his actions before. He realizes Cortez has no intention of living in peace. He intends to start an all-out war at any cost. He tries to stop this maverick, but the moment we've been anticipating finally happens. It was inevitable that Magneto would be inferior to Cortez powerwise. Cortez suspends Magneto like a puppet claiming full control of the situation. He exits Magneto's room and activates the emergency escape pod around it. The room is jettisoned towards Earth.

    The 3 X-Men arrive to find the room gone and Cortez appears behind them with several mutants. He immediately points his finger at the X-Men for assassinating Magneto. It's one of the most effective cliffhangers in the series. While Magneto's life hangs in the balance, the X-Men are forced to deal with the consequences of Cortez's own ambitions. The future of human/mutant relations hangs in the balance.

    Overall, it was a superb first part in this story. Very few parts needed any improvement at all. I only wish Part II had been as good.
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