Season I, Episode IX:

"Survival of the Fittest"

Writers: Pamela Hickey and Dennys McCoy

Director: Gary Graham

Original Air Date: March 3, 2001

Introducing: Juggernaut

Synopsis/Review: This episode begins at a top security facility somewhere in upstate of New York. We see a police guard going through an insane number of security gates and devices and schtuff. He finally enters a large room and presses a couple of buttons on a nearby control panel, bring up a large tank from center floor of the room. As it slowly raises up, we see a huge man suspended inside the tank of greenish fluid in chains, apparently unconscious, although stil standing up. The police guard smirks and presses a button to drain the tank of the fluid, morphing into Mystique soon afterwards. Mystique welcomes Cain back to the real world as the large man starts to "wake up", and she starts talking to him about getting revenge on his brother, Charles Xavier...
    In the next scene, we zoom in on the X-Men, who are at a survival camp with a bunch of other Bayville students. They're being talked down to by the guy in charge of "Ironback Survival Camp", a man by the name of Sgt. Hawk (G.I. Joe reference?). He does the typical speech to them all about how tough the camp is, how they're going to be walking fifteen miles through the woods, it's not some sissy camp with pony rides, etc. He also mentions that, because of his "scholastic achievement" scores, Scott's going to be the group leader during the group's stay at camp. (Actually, if they were going purely by those kind of scores, then Shadowcat should have been the leader, methinks. Meh.) He then dismisses them all for a short period of time to put their stuff in their respective cabins. Once he's gone, the X-Men start complaining, as any normal human being would, about being put in this situation. It seems that they were pretty much forced to either do survival training at either this camp (which Prof. X endorses), or go out and do it with Wolverine. They chose the camp, although it wasn't much of a choice. They grumble and leave for their cabins, and then we see the Brotherhood a bit behind them, also bummed about being forced into this situation (although I don't know why; I guess Mystique wanted them to go too, or something). Anyway, they say a bunch of rather corny lines about beating the X-Men in public, where it hurts the most, and then go towards their cabins.
    Back at the top security facility, we see Mystique marveling over how that green fluid- some kind of paralyzing fluid- managed to stop Cain, the unstoppable Juggernaut. Cain finally manages to overcome his paralyzation a bit and asks Mystique why she's breaking him out of here. Mystique, fitting Cain's "Juggernaut" helmet over his head, explains that she wants one item that Xavier has- Cerebro. She'll let Juggernaut have free reign over everything else in the Mansion except that- that way, Cain will be able to get revenge on his brother Xavier for locking him up here all those many years ago. She then mentions to Cain that she has a plane waiting for them that will take them to Bayville. Cain, being the wonderfully nice guy that he is, merely pushes Mystique out of the way, saying that no one takes him anywhere, and nothing gets in his way. He then proceeds to bash the heck out of the security gates and escape the jail. Whee.
    Meanwhile, back at the camp, we see the different X-Men and Brotherhood members doing a little obstacle course at the jail. Scott and Lance are ahead of the others, and, as Scott is getting his raft ready for the canoeing portion of the course, Lance uses his powers to shake Scott into the water. So then Lance manages to get into the lead, of course. The other X-Men are furious over what has happened, and Spyke wants to pop Lance's boat using his bone spikes, but Jean manages to stop him- Scott will handle the situation "like a group leader should". She pretty much eats her words and she sees Scott use HIS force beams to knock Lance off the canoe and into the water as well. Heheh. (However, Sgt. Hawk doesn't see this!? He's right there, supposedly watching the contest, and he doesn't see Scott use his laser blasts!) Anyway, Scott then proceeds to go ahead and win the little contest. This, of course, leads to bit argument between the X-Men and Brotherhood members over whether Scott's victory was fair or not. Sgt. Hawk eventually breaks up the argument, and, after having them all do 60 push-ups (heh), decides to have the different members put their money where their mouth is. He had previously planted a flag up on top of a nearby mountain, "Mt. Humiliation". Whichever team reached the flag first would win. And, the whole team had to be there (which ruled out Quicksilver or Nightcrawler using their powers to get it quickly). Also, as proof, he wanted a snapshot of the winning members with the flag at the top. The X-Men and Brotherhood, pretty much caught with their pants down, reluctantly agree to the contest, which Sgt. Hawk informs them starts in five minutes- they're to start from opposite trails. After he leaves, Scott and Lance get in each other's faces, each insisting that they'll beat the other- without using their powers.
    Back at the Institute, we see Prof. X using Cerebro, monitoring his students at Ironback. Wolverine comes in and asks the Prof how the kids are doing. Xavier says that they're fine, but they've been a little "active" power-wise. Cerebro then informs Xavier that it's picked up a Mutant signature- Juggernaut's, heading towards the Mansion from upstate New York. Xavier is terrified at his half-brother's escape, and tells Wolverine about Cain's relation to him. Also, Cain was originally a non-Mutant, but awakened his dormant Mutant abilities "through mysticism". His Mutant powers make him practically invulnerable...
    Back at Ironback, we see the different Mutant teams heading up the mountain. The X-Men are taking a more gradual slope up the mountain so as not to train themselves, while the Brotherhood is taking the more direct approach and scaling straight up the side of the mountain. We also find out during this that Scott is pretty much obsessed with beating the Brotherhood at this little competition.
    We also see a short bit with Storm soaring around New York state in the Blackbird, using her powers to create fog everywhere. Back at the Institute, Xavier gets the message that Storm is doing her assignment. Xavier tells Wolverine (standing nearby) that the fog will make it hard for other peole to see Cain as he goes through the state, so no one will be foolish enough to try and recapture the invulnerable Mutant. Wolverine says that he's got the Danger Room ready for Cain, and asks the Prof if there's any definite defense that the main has against Cain at all. Xavier responds that he can use his psychic blasts to disable Cain- unless he happens to be wearing his helmet...
    The Brotherhood soon finish scaling part of the mountain and find an abandoned mine shaft about halfway up, with a big "DANGER" sign slapped across the entrance. Of course, they ignore it after Toad comes back with news that the tunnel is pretty much a stairway to the top and enter. They eventually come to the place where Toad was talking about, and he points up to a shaft with a small hole at the top, daylight peaking through it. Lance gets furious at Toad, since the hole's too small for them to fit through. Toad responds that Lance could just make the hole bigger for them all using his powers. Lance proceeds, but the mine shaft around them proves unstable, and collapses on them before Lance can get the hole in the top of the shaft wide enough.
    On the other side of the mountain, we see Scott a good deal up the mountain, the other X-Men scaling up behind him. Scott can't spot the flag via the glare in his glasses, and tells Kurt to teleport up top quickly and see it it's there. Kurt does it, albeit reluctantly (Aren't they not supposed to use their powers?), and confirms that they're close. Scott's excited that they might beat the Brotherhood, and tells Spyke to tie a rope to one of his bone spikes and shoot it up into the rock so they can climb up there. Evan does- again, reluctantly- but this time Jean sees it, and gets mad at Scott for encouraging the others to use their powers to defeat the Brotherhood in this. She refuses to take the rope Spyke shot up there, and instead starts to climb the cliff face with her hands instead. The rest of the X-Men (including a dissapointed Cyclops) follow her. They soon scale it, and find themselves just a hundred yards or so away from the flag. Suddenly, a miniature earthquake hits (via Lance's powers, used in the scene with the Brotherhood above). Most of the X-Men manage to keep their hold on the mountain, but Spyke falls off towards the ground a looong way down...
    Jean noticed Spyke's predicament and uses her telekinetic powers to stop Evan's fall and levitate him back up to where they all are. Scott, supposedly seeing that Jean "came to her senses" and accepted them all using their powers to win, tells Jean to levitate them all up to the flag. Jean refuses, saying that she used her powers on Evan because it was between life and death, but this contest isn't. Seems Jean displays an unusually logical outlook on things in this episode, where as Scott seems unusually dim... Anyway, they suddenly hear a faint yelling, which they identify as Todd's. They find a mine shaft nearby, with the Brotherhood at the bottom. Toad begs the X-Men to help them out, and they do, via a couple ropes.
    Back at the Mansion, we see Xavier and Wolverine heading down towards the Danger Room. Xavier explains something about Cain having a failed relationship with their father, and that fueled Cain's anger towards Xavier. After Cain became empowered, he became extremely dangerous, and Xavier had no choice but to lock him up. An alarm goes off, and we then see Juggernaut entering the Mansion with Mystique tagging along behind him. He easily breaks through the Mansion and beats the stuffing out of Wolverine- however, he smashes Cerebro in the process. Mystique gets really mad at Cain after seeing what he did, as he broke the deal. Cain just responds that he doesn't make any deals, before batting Mystique into the Professor on the far side of the Danger Room and advancing towards them both, easily cutting through the Danger Room defenses...
    Scott goes down to help anyone who's injured out, but Lance and the others refuse it and go up on their own. Blob, who was one of the first to make it out of the shaft, spots the flag a little ways away and tells Pietro to go and get it. Pietro complies and speeds towards the flag- only to have Kurt notice him and teleport to the flag as well, both of them taking hold of the flag at the exact same time. They're interrupted from their struggle, however, as Storm zooms up to the top of the mountain in the X-Jet, telling the assembled Mutants that Prof. X and Mystique are both in danger. The Brotherhood and the X-Men both leave immediately- but not after dropping off a snapshot of ALL of them next to the flag at Sgt. Hawk's feet, via Blackbird Express...
    Back at the Mansion, Juggernaut's about to beat up Xavier and Mystique when the X-Men and the Brotherhood arrive. What follows is a rather cool battle scene in which the X-Men and Brotherhood members alternate between distracting Cain and/or loosening the buckles off his helmet so that they can pull it off. They eventually manage to remove it, and Xavier does enough psychic blasts to the Juggernaut to disable him. The Brotherhood and the X-Men cheer together over their victory, and Mystique herds her members out "before they're invited to a slumber party". Avalanche admits on the way out that maybe Cyclops is only somewhat bad of a leader. Cyclops just smirks, heh.
    There's a rather pointless ending scene in which we see Xavier, Wolverine, Jean, and Scott watching Cain after he was put back into the tank of paralyzer fluid again. Xavier's rather mournful over the fact that his brother can't come to his senses, and they all leave. On the way out, Scott admits that the X-Men and the Brotherhood working together "felt right", and he doesn't understand why people just can't get along. Jean tells him that you can't change what other people are, yadda yadda yadda, lesson learned. The end.

Last Words: This episode was pretty good, if a bit unoriginal. The whole "We're at camp and we hate it" has been done on nearly every teen cartoon show, but at least this episode makes it a bit different by inserting the X-Men's different powers into the occasion. The Juggernaut, for being a guest star, also took a rather background role in the whole ordeal. And there were a few too many corny lines for my liking in this ep. Still, it was pretty cool to see the X-Men and Brotherhood at odds with one another without battling it out.

Overall Rating: 7/10 Good

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