X-Men ’97 episode 7 review: "Season one has finally hit a lull"

X-Men '97
(Image: © Disney Plus)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A bit slower and more expository with a slightly boring reveal meant to shock viewers. Rogue, however, is the stand-out hero and by far the best part of the episode.

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Warning: Spoilers for X-Men '97 episode 7 ahead! 

Well, you can't win 'em all. After non-stop death, destruction, and the plot twist to end all plot twists, X-Men '97 season 1 has finally hit a lull.

Episode 7, titled 'Bright Eyes', begins with a funeral. Nightcrawler, in traditional priest garb, eulogizes Gambit in a beautiful way before we watch his coffin being lowered into the ground. Noticeably absent from the funeral is Rogue, who we assume can't possibly bear to even be there – and who could blame her? "Grief is a lonely war," Beast reminds us. "Rogue's gotta figure it out own on her own."

Cut to Rogue figuring things out. She's breaking into a US Army base in hopes of finding Henry Gyrich or Boliver Trask, the men behind the creation of those mutant-killing Sentinel robots. In a surprise twist, an angry Captain America appears and tells her to stand down. He tells Rogue that they're both on the same mission, but doesn't want to team up with the X-Men in public because it "sends a message". So, not only has the President of the United States shied away from publicly supporting mutants due to "optics," but so has good ol' Steve Rogers himself. In my favorite scene of the entire episode, Rogue, unhappy with Cap's rather cowardly response, takes his shield and throws it into the mountains before flying away. No one's messing with Anna Marie LeBeau today.

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The X-Men, determined to keep hope alive, travel back to Genosha to look for survivors. Good news: Emma Frost is alive, and has reached her virtually impenetrable "diamond form" (which is a direct and very cool callback to the Fall of Genosha in the comics). Bad news: Madelyne Pryor and Magneto are still dead (or so we think).

Cut to one of the sweeter moments in the episode: Jubilee urges Sunspot to tell his parents about his true mutant form, lest they learn about it on the five o'clock news following another tragedy. They go together, taking the elevator up to the top floor of the very lavish condo his family lives in. Turns out, his parents knew he was a mutant (partly due to the fact that three of their houses have burned down since he was 16). But, the running theme in this episode continues: Sunspot's mother doesn't want him to reveal his mutant nature to the public, nor does she want him to publicly associate with the X-Men. Everyone's against the mutants now, and it's not looking good for that human-mutant union they were trying to build earlier in the season. Even reporter Trish Tilby implies that a united front was never possible, with Beast telling her they should've never asked for human tolerance in the first place.

Things do pick up again when the gang finally finds Boliver Trask, who Morph hilariously refers to as the Poor Man's Oppenheimer. Trask gives the X-Men some sob story about how Mister Sinister never took him seriously, and decides to jump off the balcony in what seems like an attempt to end his life. Rogue grabs him and asks him to tell them more about the Sentinels, but he simply replies, "I have nothing". In one of the coolest and coldest moves ever, Rogue replies, "Neither do I," and lets him fall. Damn! Oh but then he, uh, doesn't die and instead mutates into some kind of Human Sentinel known as Prime Trask and becomes virtually unstoppable.

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Don't worry, there's a reveal. It didn't do much for me, but it's definitely meant to be the big mic drop moment of the episode: Magneto is alive, actually. He's being held prisoner by Bastion in a very creepy way that you have to see for yourself just to fully grasp the creepy. End episode. 

The show is constantly double-bluffing, and I'm fine with that. However, the "dead but not really" thing, while fun at first what with Xavier's reveal, is already a bit old. Trask's death-but-not-death was pretty cool in theory, but I also couldn't help but groan when it happened. We're in the middle of what's about to be an all-out war, humans and mutants alike, against Mister Sinister...and we keep resurrecting people. Episode 6 showed Xavier rushing to return to Earth, but he hasn't popped up yet. When he does, it's likely that the mutants will be accused of lying and covering up his death, becoming the final nail in the coffin that fully the humans against them. This would make for a pretty interesting storyline, of course, but maybe we should let dead characters die...unless it's Gambit. I'd be fine with some wildly invented magical reason for bringing back Gambit.

I'm sure for some, it's nice to have an episode that's a bit slower and more expository. I'm also sure that some people might have found this just as action-packed as the previous episodes. I, on the other hand, would've preferred a full half-hour of Rogue enacting her grief-ridden revenge. She is, by far, the best part of this episode: her frustration with herself over her feelings for both Gambit and Magneto, her grief for the loss of both men, her anger, her rage – it's all beautifully executed, and I have to hand it to the writers one again for developing and fleshing out these characters in a way X-Men: The Animated Series never got a chance to do. With three episodes left in the show, things are no doubt about to pick up...but I'm a little more ready for it than I was last week.

The first seven episodes of X-Men '97 are available on now on Disney Plus, with the remaining episodes set to drop weekly. For more, check out all the X-Men '97 Easter eggs you might have missed, our list of all of 2024's new X-Men comics, and our guide on how to watch the X-Men movies in order.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.