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Ascension, Part One
Review and Media by Stu

Episode #51 - Ascension, Part One
Original Airdate October 18th, 2003

With the threat of Apocalypse now at all time high, Xavier attempts to confront Apocalypse whilst Nick Fury prepares for war...

Story By: Greg Johnson, Craig Kyle, Boyd Kirkland
Written By: Greg Johnson
Directed By: Doug Murohy
Music Composed By: William Anderson
Guest Starring: Ron Halder as Mesmero.

Review: Series finales are a very, very difficult thing to master. On one hand, youíve got to provide an ending for your show that seems fitting. On the other, youíve got to arguably provide youíre very best, because anything else can easily be considered a disappointment. With that in mind, itís also nice to provide fans of the show with a little Ďthank youí for watching the show in the first place, and hope that this story youíve come up with isnít a slap in their face, made up just because itís something you never got around to doing in the previous episode (Hiya Terra!)

Marvel has had a pretty decent track record with their finales. The vast majority of them have proven to be above their seriesí batting average. Spider-Man: TAS was an utterly fantastic look at his own shortcomings, the original X-Men gave us a fond farewell to Xavier and Iron Man did everything you could possibly ask it to do. On the other end of the spectre, thereís been a few utterly annoying cliff-hangers that are dying for a resolution (Spider-Man no more? Say it ainít so!) Fortunately, this show has two and halfís seasonsí worth of build up to accumulate here with this finale. The pressure now came from living up to the threat it had made of Apocalypse. Frankly, it succeeded on all levels, this story is one of the very best X-Men: Evolution ever did.

I personally loved the way Apocalypse was handled here. Apocalypse, to me, is a villain where less is more. He canít be done as a villain of the week; heís much, much too powerful a foe. Let us not forget, he is immortal, and more to the point, practically invulnerable. One of the main problems Iíve always had with Apocalypse is his motivation Ė he wants to reshape the world in his own image. What exactly did he want to do? Rid the world of ginger people? Blow up France? Here, we finally get an explanation as to what he wants to do Ė change everyone into mutants to make them stronger people, as he has no use for weak willed people (like the people who originally trapped him.)

Whilst a lot of this season was greatly enjoyable standalone, one canít help but wonder what it wouldíve been like if Kids WB had allowed them to turn this into a full season long arc, because the beginning of this episode showed a lot more maturity than practically everything else in the show. Jeanís line of ďYouíre not coming back, are you?Ē really hit home. This wasnít some silly teenage fluff with super heroics thrown in, this was drama, as good as youíll see in any animation.

The Ďevolvedí Apocalypse design was tremendous, exactly what the character needed. Iíve always though Apocalypse looked a little silly in the comics and the old but one canít argue he did have a memorable look to him. This version managed to streamline the design, keep what was cool and ignore what was cheesy and eventually ended up with one of the best Apocalypse designs ever. The red eyes clashed a little with the vast blue amounts of blue on his body, but thatís a minor nitpick.

The episodes conclusion did a fantastic job of building up part two. Iíve not mentioned this nearly as much as I should in these reviews, but William Anderson did a fantastic job scoring this series and some of his best work comes from the Apocalypse themes. The sense of dread created as the four teams nervously look on at their task is greatly heightened by the lack of talking, and great scoring. I remember being thoroughly impressed with the fact that they kept the score running through the ending credits to keep that sense of dread running until the very last second. When it re-ran over here, the normal credits were used and I was thoroughly disappointed.

A great episode, no doubt about it, I knew it wasnít going to be easy to top this and but the crew did it effortlessly.