X-Men '97 episode 6 review: "The heart of the X-Men has triumphantly returned, but at what cost?"

Our verdict on X-Men '97 episode 6

X-Men '97
(Image: © Disney Plus)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The heart of the X-Men has returned, but it overshadows a glorious – and more than deserved – moment for another beloved character.

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Warning: Spoilers for X-Men '97 episode 6!

Leave it to X-Men '97 to devastate us and then drop one of the biggest, most unexpected plot twists I've seen in a very long time. The emotional whiplash from this show is almost too much, but damn is it so good.

In episode 5, we did not live, laugh, or love – we saw the mutant world of Genosha torn apart by Sentinels and the absolutely shocking deaths of two beloved and iconic X-Men characters. However, remember when I said no one really dies in Marvel? As it turns out, I was right. But the series resurrected a character that I did not think would ever make a comeback, if only in flashbacks – and thus, the heart of the X-Men has returned.

'Lifedeath Part 2' closes out our Forge and Storm saga, which saw the two link up out west and embark on a journey to bring Storm back to her powerful mutant form. Unfortunately, this becomes the least interesting part of the episode – and what's meant to be a beautiful triumphant moment for Ms. Ororo Munroe ends up being completely overshadowed by the shocking return of the one and only Professor Charles Xavier.

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

The writers giveth and taketh away. We last left our X-Men in the wake of what creator and head writer Beau DeMayo described as "just the beginning" of what tragedies are to come. After the Sentinels rip through the peaceful mutant world of Genosha and claim the lives of Magneto and Gambit, we begin episode 6 on the planet of Chandilar. Because of the title, I assumed we'd pick right back up where the Adversary attacked Storm and Forge in episode 4. Instead, we rush right into Deathbird (not to be confused with the creepy Elden Ring boss of the same name) as she launches an attack on the Kree people. If you're wondering the point and why we're not back on earth with Storm and that terrifying bird demon, or in the X Mansion with Rogue and co. as they mourn their devastating loss – it's because a certain professor with psychic abilities has risen from the dead, and with the use of his legs in tow.

Yep, Charles is back. He walks out in a suit of armor that conceals his face and allows him to walk without a wheelchair. He's alive, and he's engaged to Empress Lilandra of the Shi'ar people. Turns out, Lilandra somehow saved his life while he was dying in that hospital bed in X-Men: The Animated Series season 5 episode 14. So while the X-Men were left to mourn, Professor X became betrothed to this otherworldly leader – and the mutants back home have no idea. Since this is Lifedeath Part 2, we do cut back and forth between Professor X's interplanetary problems and Storm's struggle to regain her powers all while saving a dying Forge.

X-Men '97

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

I understand episode limits and time constraints, and why episode 4 combined both Motendo and Lifedeath. It was a good opportunity to juxtapose some heartbreak with some lighthearted, goofiness that the show was missing. However, the decision to combine Storm's important character arc, where she has a revelation about her worth and purpose and how it directly pertains to her powers, with Professor Xavier's return from the dead is one that undercuts the arc completely. 

Storm triumphantly regains her powers at the end, and we see an absolutely breathtaking scene of her soaring through the mountains and trees before reentering the desert and flying alongside wild horses. She saves Forge's life, and herself. But what should be Storm's moment and her moment alone is overshadowed not only by Xavier's return, but his sudden realization that Gambit is dead – and that his "children" are not safe. The episode ends with X announcing that he must return to earth, paving the way for what's sure to be a disastrous reunion in episode 7.

Storm deserved her own episode. She deserved her moment. She earned it. And with two episodes left in the season, I can only expect that they will center largely on Xavier, his complicated relationship with a now-deceased Magneto, and how the heck the X-Men are going to defeat Sinister – who we learn has been at the root of mutant suffering all along. I'll be sure to stock up on tissues.

The first six 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.

More info

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.