Season 4 Episode 15

Secrets, Not Long Buried

Aired Saturday 11:30 AM Feb 17, 1996 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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