X-Men '97 episode 5 review: "Heartbreaking at the most catastrophic level"

X-Men '97
(Image: © Disney Plus)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

An emotionally devastating, shocking episode that makes two very big (and confusing) decisions that will alter the rest of the season – and series – for good.

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Warning: Spoilers for X-Men '97 episode 5!

X-Men '97 season one episode 5 – to be honest, I wasn't ready for this one. What starts as a potentially wholesome episode quickly turns into the most devastating – and boy did they set us up. 

In episode 5, 'Remember It', it's a special day as the United Nations is finally going to recognize the mutant nation of Genosha – and the X-Men are giving TV interviews ahead of the big event. "For many of the X-Men," TV anchor Trish Tilby tells the public, "Xavier's School is the only home they've ever known. People who have fallen through the cracks. Forgotten. Desperate to belong." 

Genosha is a beautiful, almost Disney World-esque place where mutant kiddos play and laugh. Mutants live in peace amongst other mutants, with frequent celebrations in the street,  Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler (one of the coolest X-Men of all time), makes his first appearance – and makes sure to tell us that Genosha wouldn't be possible without the work of the X-Men. And that's when I knew something terrible was about to happen.

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

When Trish asks Scott about his relationship with Jean Grey, a beautiful story is recounted – but it doesn't stay that way for long. A question about Scott and Jean's baby (who was forced to leave the present-day and head into the future with Bishop in search of a cure for the freaky disease Sinister unleashed) sends Scott into a rant about how ungrateful human beings are for everything the mutants do for them – and he's right. 

For the first two acts, love is the central conflict in this episode: Scott and Jean confused about their relationship because of the loss of their son (and the fact that Jean and Jean's clone, Madelyn Pryor, are both the mothers of said son); Rogue and Magneto rekindling their long-lost romance – much to Gambit's detriment. Rogue tells him that her relationship with Magneto is different – because he can use his magnetic powers to protect himself from her lethal touch...and she can't touch Gambit at all.

But once act three kicks in, the Sentinels arrive...and all hell breaks loose. An X-Man we don't recognize at first comes to warn Madelyn of the devastation that's about to occur – but Madelyn recognizes him immediately. "I'm sorry, Mom," he says, before disappearing. Cue the emotional – and physical – devastation.

In the live-action world of Marvel, no one dies permanently...not really (i.e. The Blip and "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good"). A hero can always be brought back in a separate universe or timeline (unless the actor behind said hero wants to retire from the MCU). X-Men: The Animated Series, however, wasn't afraid to kill off Charles Xavier for good. And it looks like its sequel series isn't afraid to do the same.

With three episodes to go, we lose not one, but two of the most prominent figures in X-Men history: Magento and Gambit. Rogue loses both of her loves in one fell swoop, with both risking their lives to save countless others. Gambit uses his final breath to get in one last snarky quip and make the killer robot explode – saving all of Genosha in the process. We end on Rogue holding Gambit, gloves off, for the very first time. "Sugar," she says, as the screen cuts to black. "I can't feel you."

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Episode 4 was a silly, campy callback to some of the flagship show's best moments, juxtaposed with Storm's heartbreaking struggle to gain back her powers. It was a nice breather from the intensity of the first three episodes, but the writers are done giving us breaks. Marvel is known for breaking hearts at the most catastrophic level, but I didn't see this one coming. And I don't know how a revival season can kill off two of its most important characters. To give you a visual, I'm sat at my desk with tears still in my eyes, holding my cup of coffee to my chest, and letting it go cold. I don't know what episode 6 is going to bring us, but I'm hoping for a miracle.

The first four episodes of X-Men '97 are available now, 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.

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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.