‘X-Men’97’ Episodes 1 And 2 Recap & Ending Explained: Who Is Jean Grey’s Doppelganger?

In recent years, after multiple setbacks stemming from makers taking audiences for granted, Marvel Studios has doubled down on the nostalgia pandering in major ways, be it through crossovers, cameos, or revamping beloved classics. The studio’s recent attempt to celebrate the integration of mutants as mainstay characters of the MCU through X-Men’97, a continuation of fan favorite X-Men: The Animated Series, is another such attempt, but one that exudes novelty, heart, and enough care to make the transition between the original and sequel series appear seamless. 

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As the premiere team of the Marvel universe, the X-Men and Mutants saga arguably command the most important section of the franchise’s storytelling potential, as time and again, the representation of the marginalized, repressed section of humankind has been reflected through their stories in vivid ways. Pairing this with memorable characterization and interpersonal dynamics between characters, the original series was able to hold a venerable seat amidst some of the best animated adaptations of comic-book fiction. With its first two episodes, X-Men’97 has displayed the potential to carry the baton with as much grace and amusement as the original series and a promise to create a worthy legacy in the process. 

Spoilers Ahead

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How Did The Friends Of Humanity Gain Sentinel Weapons?

The series picks up a year after the ending of the original series. A year has passed since Professor Charles Xavier, the benevolent leader of X-Men, who believed in human-mutant coexistence against all odds, lost his life after the infamous ‘mutie’ hater former NSA agent Henry Gyrich overloaded his psychic capabilities. The cowardly assassination has resulted in the rest of the world acting more sympathetic towards mutant kind, but at the same time, bigoted hatemongers continue to draw their venom from authoritarian apathy, which still treats mutants as second-class citizens. Mutants are regarded as the next step of human evolution, which has long prompted a skeptical, discriminatory sect of people to feel insecure regarding humanity’s place in the world and bring out the pitchforks to get rid of mutants whom they perceive as ‘freaks of nature’. As the episode begins, members of the anti-mutant militant group known as Friends of Humanity are seen abducting mutants simply to annihilate them for pleasure, and a young mutant named Roberto De Costa is revealed to be one of the captives. Roberto pleads with his captors to let him leave in exchange for money, only to get ridiculed in return, as these men have festered hate long enough to not be moved by any other considerations. 

At the nick of time, veteran members of X-Men, Storm (Ororo), Cyclops (Scott), and Bishop crash the party and start laying waste to the militants, but momentarily get pushed back after the FOH members surprisingly launch Sentinel (mutant exterminating giant robots) weaponry at them. Eventually, the team gets the upper hand against the culprits, rescuing Roberto from their clutches and bringing him back to the X mansion. A brief glimpse is provided to show that life in the mansion has remained almost the same in the absence of the professor, even though the X-Men miss him dearly. Jean is pregnant, and she wants Scott to consider a life beyond the X-Men for the sake of their child. Scott, on the other hand, is struggling to fill the shoes of the professor as the present leader of the team, and as he and Jean were the first associates of Professor, he is conflicted about leaving the team. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, is busy with his research, and Ororo has taken up the role of protective guardian figure for the rest of the team. Rogue and Gambit are enamoured with each other, although Rogue’s tactile power-siphoning abilities hinder her from coming close to the person she loves. Jubilee shines as the ray of hope Professor always believed she’d become; Logan, aka Wolverine, is present as the rugged, cynic, messy piece of history; and the eccentric shapeshifter Morph has found a place of his own.

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As the ever-concerned leader, Cyclops worries about FOH members gaining Sentinel weaponry access and questions UN operative and Xavier’s former friend, Valerie Cooper, about Boliver Trask’s possible involvement in the matter. Trask is the creator of the Sentinel program, and the evil inventor has had numerous altercations with X-Men in past, present, and future timelines (Days of the Future Past). Cooper dismisses Scott’s concerns, prompting him to consider a different way to gather the necessary information. Meanwhile, after arriving at the mansion, Roberto turns out to be too reserved and unwilling to mingle with the mutants, only opening up somewhat to Jubilee. Logan scares the teenager away from the mansion, leading to the usual argument between him and Cyclops. The team finds Roberto in a nightclub, and FOH members arrive at the location as well, just to escape at the last moment. 

Scott and his team decide to interrogate an imprisoned Gyrich, as he was the chief supporter of the Sentinel program, and try to pry information regarding Trask from him, offering a reduced sentence. But Gyrich’s mind only spews hatred against mutants as he revels in their agony, mocks the increased sympathy for them as a superficial trend, and equates tolerance towards the perceived differences as poisonous. Jean tries to peep through his mind using Cerebro to amplify her telepathic abilities, and an ominous vision of Master Mold (the controlling station of Sentinels and a supercomputer designed by Trask) obliterating her along with her son freaks her out. 

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Jean’s telepathic connection was able to pinpoint Trask’s current location in the Sahara desert, where the scientist is shown to be preparing Sentinels for an assault on the mutants. The X-Men jump into action after getting ambushed by a bunch of Sentinels, and thanks to Scott’s leadership and remarkable teamwork, they manage to get rid of the giant robots alongside Master Mold as well. Cooper arrives to apprehend Trask, and while getting dragged away, Trask’s words about humanity’s apparent weakness—powerlessness being highlighted by the mere presence of mutants—cut deep in Scott’s mind. Roberto takes his leave from the mansion and is visited by Jubilee, and as he shares his plight of his mutant origin alienating him from his family, Jubilee is able to relate to him as she too felt like an outcast for the longest time. But at the same time, she mentions that Roberto will always have a place in the X mansion. Before leaving, Roberto finally shows Jubilee his solar-powered ability, confirming his identity to the fans as the mutant Sunspot. 


A Change In Leadership: Did Magneto Truly Mend His Old Ways?

Jean and Scott prepare to share their decision with the team to leave X-Men in order to raise their child, and Logan predicts the news beforehand, leading to confusion in the team as, in the absence of the two original members, the position of leader will remain vacant. Right at that moment, Magneto (Erik), the master of magnetism and former rival and best friend of Xavier, suddenly arrives at the professor’s chambers to announce that, according to Charles’ last will, Erik will inherit his fortune and his school for mutants; in short, he will lead the X-Men in his absence. 

The news obviously comes as a shock to the team, as Magneto, harboring an absolutely contrasting ideology to Professor, believed in mutant superiority over humans and warring against the injustice prevailing against the mutant kind, which led him and his extremist band, the Brotherhood of Mutants, to often lock horns with Xavier and his X-Men. Despite their ideological differences, the two friends respected each other immensely, but even then, the idea of Erik, who has committed several heinous crimes against humanity, leading the X-Men is a bewildering idea. Magneto makes attempts to win the trust of the team by partaking in so-called heroic activities to show that, in honor of his late friend, he is truly trying to reform, but to no avail. Scott, who especially finds it hard to wrap his head around this update, considers the professor’s decision a rare lapse in judgment. Erik liberates a group of mutants from FOH’s clutches and inspires the mutants through his firebrand ideals before sending them to the mutant nation of Genosha. Members of the X-Men differ in their opinion about Magneto’s intentions, with Rogue stating that the team should take a page from the professor’s book and give Erik a second chance. Rogue was a former member of Erik’s Brotherhood and shares a special bond with him. Rogue later meets Erik alone, and as they talk about their shared past, it is revealed that Rogue is able to touch Magneto without fearing the ramifications of her own abilities. 

Jean confides in Ororo about her worries regarding their child’s future, as in a world where a sect of people are hell-bent on vilifying the mutants, she wishes their child to be born as a human. Ororo understands her motherly concerns and shares her own gratitude for being a mutant, which allowed her to become a part of the X-Men family. It is a touching moment that beautifully highlights the bond these veteran female mutants share—the strength of their character overshadows their awesome might. 

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All of a sudden, Cooper, accompanied by military troops, arrives at the X mansion compound to apprehend Magneto, as she, like the majority of the world, considers him answerable for his past crimes. After a brief show of strength, Erik agrees to assist them by surrendering himself, and he appears at his hearing at the UN. However, one of the FOH members, calling himself X-Cutioner, equipped with energy-suppressing armor and a mutant power dampener, prepares to take down Magneto. A huge group of anti-mutant protesters have gathered outside the hearing as well, making his plan of infiltration a bit easier. Logan and Jean stay at the mansion while the rest of the team attends the hearing. 

Through an impassioned, rousing speech, Magneto details the persecution and prejudices mutants have faced through time at the hands of humans, who wield the power to control the world and simply abuse it. The goodwill of his late friend Charles Xavier and his belief in a harmonious world where peaceful coexistence will be possible have become a distant dream as mutants get annihilated, de-powered, and restrained by humankind on a regular basis, much like how, through history, marginalized people around the globe have been oppressed by the dominant populace just for their perceived differences. Erik’s acts to oppose humans are only a natural reaction against the crimes committed against mutants, and he remains unapologetic for that. Failing to find a flaw in his reasoning, the judges question him whether he will adhere to the ideals of his late friend Charles, and right at that moment, the protesters break into the hearing, hunting for both Magneto and the judges as well, whom they consider traitors for even considering allowing a trial for Magneto. Erik laughs at the irony of the situation. The present X-Men try to manage the crowd while protecting Magneto and the judges at the same time. X-Cutioner manages to land some solid blows on Cyclops and the rest of the team and holds his own pretty well.

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Meanwhile, Jean starts to go into labor, prompting Logan to drive her to the hospital, but the doctor refuses to operate, fearing her mutant origin. Jean telepathically communicates with Scott, who learns about the predicament and arrives along with Rogue, who siphons the doctor’s medical expertise and prepares to operate on Jean. 

Meanwhile, Storm takes charge of the situation at the hearing and requests the authorities remove the power dampeners from Magneto, as the trouble is escalating and she will need all the help she can. Ororo and Erik manage to control the mob, but as the X-Cutioner shoots Magneto, Ororo jumps in front to save his life. However, the bullet was actually a permanent power dampener, which de-powered Storm permanently. Helplessly writhing in agony over losing her connection with the elements, Ororo whimpers. Sensing Magneto’s fury is about to be unleashed, Cooper pleads for forgiveness, but to no avail. It is a powerful moment as Magneto shows through Storm’s plight how generosity, assistance, and tolerance against human barbarism have fared the X-Men so far. In absolute rage, Magneto takes the judges and X-Cutioner inside his magnetic shields and flies them up to space, showing just how easily he can remove them from the face of the earth. However, after the death of his friend Charles, Erik is truly trying his best to adhere to his ideology and genuinely wants to become better. He wishes the same gesture would be reciprocated by humankind as well, and he recognizes that mutants have as much right to live on this planet as humans do. Magneto spares their lives, and this seemingly signifies his intentions of becoming better, to be honest.

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Magneto’s act and passive threat prompt the UN to issue a pardon, and even on part of their goodwill, the efforts to induct the mutant nation Genosha into the UN begin. Scott and Jean’s son, Nathan Summers, is born, thanks to Rogue’s timely assistance, and fans will recognize the grown-up version of the child as Cable from the alternate timeline. Ororo’s depowering effects turn out to be permanent indeed, as per Hank’s research, and heartbroken, she leaves X mansion, leaving an emotional letter for Jean, lamenting the loss of connection she felt with her powers gone. Scott accepts Magneto’s change of heart as genuine and prepares to leave X mansion with his family as well. Gambit learns about the special connection Rogue shares with Magneto and starts suspecting her. 


Who Is Jean Grey’s Doppelganger?

During the final moments of the episode, as the team discusses Ororo’s departure from X mansion, someone arrives at the door, and the team is surprised to see a feeble, weary version of Jean Grey present there. Out of breath, the Jean doppelganger asks for the assistance of the X-Men, and the members watch in disbelief, curious about the identity confusion. The doppelganger is Madeline Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey, and her presence signals the activity of the infamous clone-crazy Victorian scientist, Nathaniel Essex, aka Mister Sinister. This cloning-obsessed mad researcher is an expert in genetic manipulations, and without revealing much, we can state that his arrival brings bad news for the power couple Jean and Scott. The mention of Cable is also intrinsically connected with Mr.Sinister, and it remains to be seen how upcoming episodes establish this dreaded villain. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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