Friday, December 4, 2015

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2015 Day 4: X-Men: Evolution "Blind Alley"

X-Men: Evolution
Season 3, Episode 5: “Blind Alley” 2002

Matt Says:

X-Men: Evolution was the excellent animated series that treated most of the classic X-Men as if they were actually kids going to school, splitting their time between mutant classes at the Xavier school and regular classes at a regular high school. It was a great show that played with its own alternate version of X-Men history and built some great versions of classic X-characters.

If you've read anything I've written about the X-Men, you know I'm a Cyclops fanboy and apologist. And while I grew up with the decidedly less impressive version from the classic X-Men animated series, the version of Evolution is phenomenal, a clean cut leader and good kid who isn't either whiny or white bread, and his spotlight episode, "Blind Alley," is a favorite of mine. In it, Mystique, seeking revenge for Scott leaving her trapped for human authorities to find, tricks him into coming to Mexico and then strands him in the desert without his ruby quartz visor or glasses, and Scott has to survive without them.

The episode shows Scott fighting coyotes in the wild, accidentally blowing the roof off the hospital when he's brought into Mexico City, fighting off a street gang, and eventually fighting off Mystique, all using his wits and a minimum of optic blasts. The final fight with Mystique, where they fall into a dark basement where they both can't see and Scott uses this to his advantage, is brilliant. With no background music, you listen with Scott as he waits for Mystique to brush against something or grunt so he can make his move. It spotlights his tactical mind in a way most other Cyclops stories don't.

Also, this episode forwards the relationship between Scott and Jean Grey. They had been sort of dancing around each other for a few episodes, but here, the psychic bond that was forged earlier in the series really blossoms. It's fun to watch the X-Men repairing the school after yet another cataclysm, and Cyclops and Wolverine working on the roof together, having shirtless bro time (it's really the only way to describe it), where Scott asks Logan, who is older and a teacher here, for advice about Jean (it's important to know that in this version, Wolverine does not have the hots for Jean). It's a nice character moment for both characters.

As with The Tick from yesterday, the DVD release of X-Men: Evolution was incomplete. The first two seasons were released in single four episode discs, the third as a complete season, and the fourth was never released at all. Between continued interest in the X-Men and recent attention brought by episode recaps and a special podcast by Jay Rachel Edidin of the wonderful Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast, it would be a good time to get this whole series out there.

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