Season 4 Episode 15

Secrets, Not Long Buried

Aired Saturday 11:30 AM Feb 17, 1996 on FOX
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Cyclops heads solo to the desert town of Skull Mesa, where humans and mutants live in harmony, to visit an old mentor from his youth. But he not only finds himself powerless when he arrives, but discovers the place under the rule of a maniacal mutant, with none of the citizens willing to take a stand.moreless

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  • Scott Summers goes out to a town in the midwest to visit some old friend and falls into the middle of a town held hostage by a mutant and his henchmen.moreless

    This sounds like a rehash of so many other tv show plots, especially westerns, where the lone gunman comes into a town under siege by a gang of outlaws and singlehandedly saves the day then rides off into the sunset. It was boring, and gave the impression that it was all patched together with barely any thought. If I'd written this episode, I would definitely have done so under an assumed name. There are holes galore in the plot, (such as, if the town doesn't take well to strangers, why did the doctor bring him into town to begin with? And, after a crash like that, how come Scott's glasses weren't shattered, as well as the crystal statue?) and unfortunately, the actor who played Scott Summers was one of the weakest on the show, in my opinion, so having him spotlighted in this way for the whole show made this one of the worst episodes they did.moreless
  • Terribly generic.

    Cyclops decides to visit Dr. Prescott, an old friend of his who's residing in a town where both mutants and humans live together. Though his plane was shot down, and his powers were disabled. He finds out that the town is now controlled by a mutant named Solarr and his goons, who are harvesting the town out of its mines. Prescott was held captive because of his defiant attitude towards Solarr. Cyclops also started a rebellion, but he was captured. However, his actions gave other mutants the courage to do what they should have done from day one; fight for themselves.

    Terribly generic, no direction, and the choreography was all over the place. This entire episode was paced much too fast, that there was not enough time to really absorb everything, diminishing its value rapidly. There was potential for a decent moral to be taught, but it turned out to be just a deus ex mechanica situation. Cyclops enters this town where mutants are much too scared to stand up against the tyrant of the area, but thanks to him and a couple of baseless reasons, those same mutants stand up and fight, and defeat the tyrant with much ease. It all felt too rushed. No doubt this episode could have been a great watch if the pace was slower.moreless
  • If you have insomnia, this is the episode for you. You'll sleep in no time.

    Coming on the heels of the superb Weapon X, Lies and Videotape, this character outing really fell flat. It's not just that learning about Cyclops is nowhere as interesting as digging Wolverine's past. There's also the fact that the material really didn't add anything new to the show. It's not that I don't enjoy Cyclops-centric episodes. They can be good. They just need to be written better.

    By the way, I also saw this episode far ahead of the american broadcast, still back in 1995. The US airdate was in February of 96. I'll never understand why Fox changed the order of the episodes so radically. Given the very different broadcast order in Brazil, I keep wondering as to why this happened. That happened a lot during Season 4.

    Honestly, there was an attempt to address an interesting subject in this episode, which was the loss of Cyclops's own powers. There was some promising material there. Being a mutant, Cyclops, like most mutants, had always resented his own powers. However, being stipped of those powers changed his whole outlook on the situation, prompting him to yearn for the return of his powers. However, since there's been little insight on Cyclops in the past, we couldn't possibly care for this development, since we've never seen any instance of Cyclops whining about his powers. And No Mutant is an Island really doesn't count as an example, given the way that episode jumped the shark.

    The story begins with Cyclops piloting the Minijet to an old little town known as Skull Mesa where he plans to meet an old father figure from his orphan childhood, Prescott. There's a brief flashback of him telling Xavier it will be good to meet such a great man again. A man who worked as much as Xavier to help mutants survive in this world. There's a flashback during the episode where we see a young Scott being harassed by kids for accidentally burning a ball. Prescott tried to lift his spirits by teaching him how to live with his powers while offering some delicious ice-cream.

    The story immediately takes a jeopardy angle when a mutant known as Watchdog detects his approach. He contacts the town leader and is ordered to shoot the jet down. Cyclops is forced to eject before the crash. When he comes to, he no longer has his powers. A citizen arrives in a jeep and he asks for a ride into town. The driver, who lives in Skull Mesa is Darrell Tanaka, a mutant with healing capacities who happens to be the town physician.

    As soon as they arrive on Skull Mesa, a promising episode collapses under its own weight with an unsustainable story idea. The idea happens to be a very old story convention consisting of the backwater little town in the middle of nowhere. The town is populated by weak citizens who are too afraid to stand their ground and allow themselves to be bullied by a small gang of troublemakers who live off the town's profits and use fear as a weapon. This is the oldest idea in the book.

    And it's not the only time the idea was ever used in X-Men. The whole plot would be recycled for the japanese village in the upcoming Lotus and the Steel.

    Cyclops looks for Prescott, who is missing. His house has been ransacked. Scott meets Bill Braddock and his two aides, Toad and the guy who has the same power as Kitty Pride. There's already a mistake here. The guy's name should be Silas King. Cyclops figures their involvement fairly quickly. Then Braddock reveals himself as Solarr. Their powers do work and Cyclops is unable to do anything about it. He finds poor Prescott trapped in an underground cave thanks to the talents of Toad.

    Having seen the X-Men movies, I have to confess I didn't like Toad in this episode at all. He was far more interesting in the first movie and the comics. The episode rapidly turned into a series of failed fights where Cyclops is knocked out by Solarr, while Toad tie him up on his goo. It simply got repetitive.

    Solarr's plot is very simple. The town had a secret mining facility underground. Prescott wouldn't allow Solarr to enslave the town's citizens so he was dealt with.

    Cyclops is powerless to do anything about it. He can't contact the X-Men. He can't use his powers. He can't convince the citizens to stand up and fight for their freedom. It turns out that most of the citizens, all of them mutants, ran away from the big cities in search of peace and tranquility, away from all the hatred and chaos. When Solarr and his lackeys arrived, their peace had ended. These mutants aren't fighters, nor they wish to become as such.

    That's actually an interesting idea, amidst the bad plotting. This whole concept of mutants who wish peace but can't have it due to bullies are the reason why there's need for the X-Men to exist in this world.

    In the end, Cyclops is sentenced to death under false charges of trying to contact the X-Men using the gift he intended to give to Prescott. It doesn't even matter whether the townsfolk believe Solarr's talk, because they are too afraid to do anything about it. The whole concept of fear and what it does to people is also well handled in this episode. That's what saved it from becoming a recipe for disaster.

    After spending some time with several nice citizens, Scott tries to call out to them in his last few minutes before Solarr incinerates him. He tries to get to the good side of these people. The effort appears to be wasted, when Solarr prepares to kill him.

    But then, the citizens begin to rebel. Tanaka, the gardener lady, Random, Copycat, Tusk and several others rush to Cyclops's defense. Tanaka brings Cyclops's powers back. Together they manage to defeat Solarr and his lackeys.

    Prescott is released and regains counciousness. He's glad to see Cyclops there. The whole town, who always looked up to Prescott with respect also regained their freedom, their peace and also their happiness. The episode comes to a sweet ending, with some very good music (the same used in the ending of Orphan's End). The Solarr statue is knocked down, while Scott and Prescott catch up on old times.

    The episode was promising with some good ideas and an actually nice ending. But the pacing was all wrong and the plot direction was unforgivable. I was bored and I nearly slept. That never happens when I watch X-Men. If the writers intend to keep the viewer's attention, the plot has to be consistent and interesting. Sadly, this wasn't the case. The plot also had the chance of tackling some interesting ideas, but never really went anywhere with them, making this an extra disappointment.

    But there's always another chance. And many episodes left for it to be done right.moreless
Cedric Smith

Cedric Smith

Professor X/Charles Xavier

Norm Spencer

Norm Spencer

Cyclops/Scott Summers

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Cyclops is the only main character to appear in the main story, however Professor X does appear in a flashback, that is new footage. All the X-Men are shown in picture form when Cyclops is thinking about them.

    • Cyclops' childhood orphanage, featured in a flashback here, will be visited in the "made for season 3 but held back until 5" episode, "No Mutant is an Island".

    • This is the first (and only) appearances of Solarr (whose name, Bill Braddock, doesn't match the comics' of Silas King), Tusk (and one of his Underlings), and Toad.

    • This episode features the debut of a few cartoon-exclusive mutants, such as Andrew & Nicole (crystal-creators), Watchdog (telepath with the ability to negate a mutant's power), Darrell Tanaka (healing powers), Chet Lambert (intangibility), and an unnamed green Gardener Lady (master of plants).

    • Cameos in the town include Copycat, Senyaka, Arclight, Slither, Occult, Strobe, Reaper, Forearm, Random, and several Morlocks (Sunder, Mole, Ape, Tommy).

    • Ape appears in the foreground, and in the background, at the same time, when Cyclops walks through town alone.

    • When Scott enters Tanaka's after getting freed, the sky is orange. When he leaves a minute later, it's blue, then when he's walking through town, it's orange again.

    • The door to Prescott's house is pink when Cyclops opens it, but when he walks inside, it turns brown.

    • The town square scene initially has nothing but costumed mutants appearing. Yet, by the time the scene winds down, the regular-human-looking citizens of the town have appeared in mass numbers, replacing several of them.

    • Forearm is with Chet & Toad in the morning scene. Solarr only tells the two of them to drag Cyclops to the center of town, yet Forearm goes with them, and despite being with the pair in the first shot? He's absent in all other angles, and is never involved in the fight with Cyclops!

    • The statue in Cyclops' pocket never causes it to bulge out in any way, despite the bulkiness of it.

  • QUOTES (2)

  • NOTES (4)

    • Among the differences in the versions aired in Canada and the UK, are:
      - Larry Houston is "produced and directed by" instead of "producer and director".
      - Cyclops & Xavier applaud the use of power by Andrew & Nicole.
      - The overlay shot of Watchdog's glowing helmet doesn't synch up to the camera move when he's first shown.
      - The overlay shot when Watchdog says Scott has images of Dr Prescott on his mind is of Cyclops' head, instead of Prescott's.
      - Solarr views Scott's crash on a yellow console, instead of on the hand-held device he spoke to Watchdog with.
      - In the jeep, Darrell asks Cyclops what he was doing in the middle of the desert at high noon, he says he was going to Skull Mesa when his plane suddenly fell out of the sky, which Darrel finds odd. This whole bit is missing in the US version (and likely was cut for time, or the fact that the reflection of the road ahead in Cyclops' glasses makes it look like the jeep has no front section and the road is horribly repetitive appearing, thanks to poor animation).
      - Darrell tells Cyclops about folks in Skull Mesa not liking strangers BEFORE they enter town/ there's a bright flash of white light when the bullies rush at Scott in the flashback.
      - Scott says "they hate me" in the flashback, in a close-up shot. It, and the line, are cut (but are closed captioned) in the US version, making Prescott's "hate is a strong word" reply seem out of place.
      - The pair of people who walk in front of the jeep when it first enters town are missing, cutting right to their shutting the door.
      - A shot of Darrel saying "I told you, they don't take to strangers!" is added.
      - Darell says "in a town this small" before saying "people tend to do double duty".
      - He claims the coffee is an old rescipe of his grandmother's, and Scott excitedly says he feels better already after sipping it. In the US version, they say nothing to each other there.
      - The phone doesn't have a busy signal.
      - Darrell watches Scott leave from his window.
      - Scott approaching the gardener's house lacks its first, farther away shot.
      - Cyclops goes to Tanaka's, demands his jeep and directions, he pushes the door telling him to go as he can't be seen with him anymore. Scott takes the keys, and drives away, as Darrell watches from the front steps. In the US version, it cuts from him leaving Braddock and then arriving at the Chandler place.
      - Scott knocks on the Chandler place door and calls for Prescott, but doesn't in the US one?.
      - The shot of Prescott on the wall is static, instead of zooming in on him.
      - The shots used when Solarr tells Scott to enjoy the sights are different.
      - There are no transition fades between several scenes, or different ones entirely.
      - The gardener woman shuts the door on Scott's arm.
      - What Scott sees in the crystal in the desert are head-shots of his young self, Prescott, Xavier, then his teammates, followed by a shot of himself in a tux, kissing Jean in a wedding dress, and finally he and Jean walking together with a small child between them (and a small boy in Scott's arm) holding each of their hands, instead of footage from previous shows.
      - Solarr mentions he has taken their community into his heart as his own, over a still-shot of the crowd.
      - The crowd makes no sounds when they raise their hands in protest against Scott.
      - Solarr's powers continue to burn into the bushes when the gardner makes them grow, instead of cutting off.
      - Scott is shown putting on his glasses, hurling the crystal statue into the air, and zapping it, sending down a blast which knocks out the approaching mob of mutants. It being cut in the US version fixes the fact that the members of the mob are standing, fully awake, in the next shot, and Scott has the statue in his pocket again when meeting Prescott, despite never recovering it.
      - Season 3 end credits style and listings.

    • Original broadcast end-credits-scene: "Sanctuary (1)"; Magneto addresses the UN, informing them of the beginning of the liberation of mutant kind.

    • Animation Company: AKOM Productions.

    • Some sources incorrectly call this episode "Secrets No Longer Buried" or "Secrets Long Buried".


    • Solarr: This particular resin acts like curare.
      The yellow slime Toad uses to put Prescott into suspended animation, is compared to a powerful neurotoxin used by Native Americans.