X-Men '97 episode 8 recap and ending explained: What [SPOILER] really means

X-Men '97 kicked off its finale with a jaw-dropping episode, bringing old heroes back (and perhaps some old villains, too). Here's what it all means.
(L-R): Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase) and Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.
(L-R): Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase) and Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

X-Men '97 has been a welcome addition to the animated landscape. It's not surprising given how beloved X-Men: The Animated Series was, but it's rewarding for fans to know that the hype of the Disney Plus sequel series paid off.

The show is a lot darker than its predecessor and that much was clear early on, but it really came into effect from the halfway point when the attack on Genosha was launched. With the X-Men still reeling from that attack in the seventh episode, they prepared for anything as they hunted down Boliver Trask. Even so, they were shocked by what they found.

A new, stronger, scarier breed of Sentinel has been conceived, but it wasn't just by Trask. It wasn't just by Mister Sinister either, who has been involving himself in X-Men business all over again. This time, it involved Bastion, who we were introduced to in the closing moments of "Bright Eyes". And that immediately set the show on a collision course with what is no doubt going to be a game-changing finale.

That game-changing finale kicked off in this week's eighth episode and it too wasn't shy when it came to stunning viewers. With that in mind, let's dive into the ending, the episode, and what "Tolerance Is Extinction, Part 1" has set us viewers up for.

Professor X returns

"To Me, My X-Men." The words that have defined the whole season were uttered once more when Charles Xavier made a stunning return in the closing moments of X-Men '97 episode 8. Having landed on Earth after departing the Shi'ar Empire, he was now ready to help his beloved X-Men in the fight of their lives - and he wasn't a moment too soon.

The moment Professor X appeared in the opening credits again, we knew it was going to be a good episode and it did not disappoint. Bastion has convinced the people that the mutants aren't to be trusted and he used the fact that Charles was still alive to do it, portraying the heroes as liars. And with the Prime Sentinels doing his bidding, he was needed more than ever.

Charles will now be a necessary component in turning the tide, with his reputation as the peacekeeper no doubt coming in to play. Will he be able to convince the world that the mutants are indeed the victims of a greater threat, and will that matter now that Magneto has seemingly declared war on the world that has burned him once again?

Whatever happens, we're just happy to see Charles back in action; it's been too long, Professor.

Magneto declares war

Last week's episode had the shocking revelation that Magneto was alive all along. The Master of Magnetism had been captured and locked up by Bastion, restricted with a power-dampening collar that suppressed his mutant abilities. However, when Valerie Cooper - who was revealed to be working with Bastion and Mister Sinister!! - freed him, he made his presence felt in a huge way.

Magneto unleashed his abilities in a rage, immediately stopping all of the destructive Prime Sentinels in their tracks, saving the X-Men and mutants all over the world in the process. However, even though unleashing his powers like that in such an attention-grabbing way like that was undoubtedly the right thing to do, it has raised questions about what he's going to do next.

Morph accurately pointed out that he saved them, but although Wolverine acknowledged that, he also told audiences that this was him declaring war. And considering the X-Men have met no greater warrior than him, that might not be a good thing for anybody. Has Mangeto returned to his darker roots again?

"Magneto was right," Valerie Cooper told Bastion, and it's hard to argue with that. With Professor Xavier back to lead the X-Men, does that mean the Master of Magnetism is once again going to oppose his old friend? Or will the two team up to destroy the Operation Zero Tolerance crew and turn the tide for their fellow mutants?

A treasure trove of cameos; Spider-Man returns

One of the most jaw-dropping moments of "Tolerance Is Extinction - Part 1" (and believe me, there were plenty of them), was the group of cameos that came towards the end of the episode. Magneto's attack on the Prime Sentinels was a global event, with his power radiating around the world in order to stop the robotic monsters from attacking innocent mutants, and that meant we got to see some familiar faces react to it.

With that, there was a surprise appearance from Silver Samurai, who watched the events unfold, and the return of Omega Red, who was woke up by Magneto's call to action. Of course, the biggest one was Spider-Man.

X-Men '97 is a sequel series to X-Men: The Animated Series, which means it exists in the same universe as Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Seeing Spidey swing his way across the rooftops of New York City was undoubtedly a fulfilling moment for fans of one of Marvel's first shared universes, and the new character design surely looked good on him. With fans asking for a revival of this series next, this was a solid first step. Maybe one day we'll be able to catch up with him in 1997 too.

Bastion's comic book origins, explained

We were first introduced to Bastion in the closing moments of X-Men '97 episode 7 when it was revealed that he was the mystery assailant responsible for all of the damage done in Genosha. Earlier in the episode, he killed Henry Peter Gyrich and told Mister Sinister about his plans to take down the X-Men. He then revealed to us all that Magneto was still alive after the attack in Genosha.

Bastion continued to make his presence felt in "Tolerance Is Extinction", showcasing himself as a force-to-be-reckoned with. And he really should be seen as such, because he and his Operation Zero Tolerance really aren't to be taken lightly. Look no further than Marvel Comics.

The character made his comic book debut in 2006. Real name Sebastion Gilberti, he rose through the ranks of the US military incredibly quickly before putting together an anti-mutant strike force named OZT: Operation Zero Tolerance. He was a mysterious figure, posing more questions than giving us answers, until it was eventually revealed that he was two separate entities: Master Mold and Nimrod. He wasn't human nor mutant, he was something else entirely. This is something that X-Men '97 alluded to when it was revealed that he was a descendant of both characters.

Bastion is a truly terrifying individual capable of picking out mutants in a room full of people. He's also impervious to the Phoenix's ability to read minds, which really added to the air of mystery surrounding him in those early days - early days that X-Men '97 is already successfully recreating.

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