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Episode #11: Past Directions
Original Airdate - June 5th, 2009
Logan is haunted by a memory of a burning barn and a young girl who sees him standing over the lifeless body of her father. He decides to return to that place, determined to rekindle some recollection of the events. Deep in the wilderness, unbeknownst to him, Wolverine has been spotted and identified as “Weapon X” at a mystery base and a pursuant is sent after him. Wolverine finds the cabin from his past and is trying to retrieve his memories when the girl from his memory, now grown up sees him and is righteously furious. Wolverine begins to explain that his memory had been wiped when Sabretooth, the pursuant arrives at the cabin. His appearance brings back some of the missing pieces and Sabretooth arrogantly fills in the blanks; Wolverine couldn’t follow through on his orders to take down the man once he learned that he had a child so he was sent in to finish the job. Wolverine remembers staggering into the flames to rescue the girl and returning for the man to find him gone. Sabretooth chides that Wolverine was and still is a weakling. Shaken from the memories he fills with rage and lunges at Sabretooth, pushing him over a plateau. The girl realizes that Wolverine is not the man she thought he was and they share a moment of forgiveness. Meanwhile, Sabretooth reports back to the unknown facility where we get a glimpse of Maverick, the girl’s father whom we assumed was dead. Sabretooth snidely mentions his little girl knowing full well that Maverick has no idea about a daughter since his memory has been erased just like Wolverine’s was.
Story By Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle
Written by Paul Giacoppo
Directed by Steve Gordon
Music by Dean Grinsfelder
Animation By Noxxon Entertainment
Steve Blum as Wolverine
Fred Tacasciore as Beast
Jim Ward as Professor X, Dr Cornelius
Yuri Lowenthal as Iceman
Kieren van den Blink as Rogue
Gwendoline Yeo as Domino
Review: Arsenal: Wolverine and the X-Men can be frustrating. Its animation is gorgeous, as attractive and fluid as any previous animated iteration of the franchise. The voice work and writing is solid. It nods to comic book and movie continuities without being enslaved by either. It should be one long geek-gasm for an X-Fan like me.
So why do I find an episode like “Past Directions” more interesting than good.
Unfortunately, Wolverine is not an incredible show. It merely has the trappings of one. For now, it settles for good, and occasionally reaches great.
I cannot say for certain what the show lacks, but I suspect some of the blame falls on the titular character. The series’ best episodes, “X-Calibre” and “X-Cessive Force,” have more in common than X-traneous use of a certain consonant. They are episodes that focus on a team member besides Wolverine.
Wolverine is not a bad character, not is his voice actor, Steven Blum, to blame. This is merely a case of Fonzie syndrome. Wolverine, like Fonzarelli, is a scene-stealing sideman but a horrific failure when he is shunted into the role of leading man. Of the episodes viewed thus far, at least a third focused on Wolverine and that doesn’t work. He’s too brooding. He needs a peppy sidekick to provide this humor. (That is why he is always paired with a young, female counterpart in the comic books. He doesn’t have a Jubilee, Armor or Kitty Pryde-style sidekick here.)
Consequently, “Past Directions,” which is a well-written, well-animated and well-acted piece of entertainment, slides into drudgery as often as it excites. There is a solid plot twist at the end. I like the idea of making Maverick’s daughter a mutant powerhouse, and Sabretooth is more interesting here than he has been in a decade. But somebody needs to lighten the mood here.
There is very little preventing this show from becoming great. I mean second season of Justice League good, I mean Book 2 of Avatar good, I mean as good as the best of X-Men: Evolution good; but Wolverine’s ascension to leading man and the resulting demotion of the supporting cast is not helping this show. On the contrary, it is the show’s lone liability.
Not a bad episode. Not a bad show. But when brilliance is attainable, “good” can be the most cutting slur of all.
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