TV Recap: A Sinister Plot is Revealed in Latest Episode of “X-Men ’97”

After an epic cliffhanger last week, the third episode of Marvel’s X-Men ‘97 dropped today on Disney+. With the team still reeling form the loss of Storm and now in shock from the arrival of another Jean Grey at their door, they have a lot to figure out, while something Sinister might just be lurking around the corner.

Once again, this episode features some slight alterations to the intro. The character intros remain the same, but this time we see clips of Magneto battling the X-Men, the Dark Phoenix taking the form of the iconic fire bird, Lilandra of the Shi’ar Empire with Professor X, the end of the Phoenix Saga with Jean leaving Cyclops and the X-Men and Rogue and Gambit embracing on the basketball court. It will be interesting to see if these images continue to change with each new episode.

The episode itself, titled “Flesh from Fire,” opens with Beast examining the new Jean while she’s unconscious. Old Jean reads her thoughts and says it seems as though her awareness was born yesterday. She sees the new Jean waking up in a laboratory before escaping and coming to the X-Mansion. She then gets a brief glimpse of a cackling Mister Sinister, which induces some pain and kicks her out of her mind.

Morph jokingly asks the team who’s in favor of referring to the new Jean as “Jean Doe,” before transforming into the mutant Spiral to raise her six hands. We’re in favor, Morph. It’s better than “New Jean.” Beast announces that his tests have revealed that Jean Doe is the actual Jean Grey. Magneto pieces together that their Jean is a clone, which sends her into protest. When Scott doesn’t rush to her defense she flies into a fit of rage, breaking Beast’s equipment and taking Nathan away.

Scott tries to calm Jean down but she refuses to talk to him, unwilling to accept that she might not be the real Jean. after Scott leaves a voice comes over a baby monitor asking for Jean. the voice promises answers as a storm rages outside.

Beast tells Bishop once he finishes the tests on the Jeans, he’ll get back to work on his time band to send him back to his original time. In other words, back to the future. Sorry, I had to. Beast’s tests reveal that it was Mister Sinister who cloned Jean and tells Scott to get Nathan back immediately.

Meanwhile, Jean tries to get answers from the mysterious voice, who reveals himself to be Sinister. The villain also appears in the room with Jean and tells her to refer to him as “father.” Jean leaps up but as lightning strikes, Sinister disappears. His voice continues on the monitor and he tries to get her to trust him. She pieces together that he is after Nathan and he confirms it. He takes control of her mind and tells her he wants to bring her to her royal destiny. Jean fights back though and takes on a green glow as she telekinetically breaks the monitor. Jean, her eyes now glowing gree, shatters a photo of her and Scott and then one of the X-Men. She takes on the full green glow again and transforms her outfit into that of Madelyne Pryor, a classic Marvel Comics villain. You can learn more about her here. Sinister’s voice returns and asks what she wants and she makes it clear she’s going to make the X-Men pay.

Gambit, Wolverine and Morph exit the Danger Room after a bout of training. Morph checks the schedule for who has the room booked next and teases Gambit and the Rogue and Magneto have it reserved for the whole next day. Gambit goes to check on Rogue and Wolverine heads to check on Jean.

Morph heads to a locker room to shower but he hears the shower turn on by itself. Gambit finds a green glow coming from Magneto’s office and Jubilee and Roberto, who are watching a movie, see a character on TV turn to look directly at them as an ominous whisper echoes through the room. As Morph investigates the shower, he finds Wolverine. However, another ominous voice makes it clear it’s not really Logan as we see Gambit peak into the office to find Magneto and Rogue embracing while they, and the entire room, are covered in vines. He rushes in but sees Rogue and Magneto beginning to melt together. The characters in the movie break out of the TV and begin to attack Roberto and Jubilee. Morph cowers as its revealed it was Sinister in the showers haunting him. Sinister and Morph have a long history in the original series, as the villain abducted him to conduct experiments.

Scott and Bishop rush in to find that Jean and Nathan are both missing and the baby’s toys come to lif and attack them. One even takes the form of Xavier to taunt Cyclops. The creatures also take the form of Roberto’s mother to torture him, taking advantage of his fear of his family learning he’s a mutant. Jubilee destroys the creature and saves Roberto.

Elsewhere in the mansion, Beast opens an elevator to find another giant monster. The X-Men come together and question what’s happening. Suddenly the floor opens up and the heroes fall into a nightmarish hellscape surrounded by more monsters. Beast questions how Sinister is capable of this power but Cyclops points out that this is Jean. However, he also corrects himself to refer to her as “the clone.”

The X-Men fight off the monsters before a giant Sentinel-skeleton creature emerges. Before it can attack them though, Jean Doe arrives and restores reality. She faints, as Jean so often does, after exerting so much power. Suddenly, the clone (we’ll adopt that one too, for now) arrives. The clone tells Scott to say her name, which he can’t, and she says she is beyond Jean Grey and refers to herself as the Goblin Queen (“clone” didn’t last long). The Goblin Queen takes Nathan and disappears.

As the team recovers, Scott updates Magneto on what’s happening. Roberto asks about Sinister and Morph explains that he’s a scientist who experiments on mutants to enhance himself. He even briefly takes his original form from the classic series, explaining that he was one of Sinister’s victims.

Jean screams in pain and Beast explains that her psychic abilities are overwhelming her because her memory has been wiped. Magneto wants to attack Sinister and Morph promises to show the team where he is. We then see Sinister holding Nathan before putting him into a vat of green liquid as he explains that the combination of genetics from his parents make his potential unlimited. First though, he needs to conduct experiments on the child to make him invulnerable. As we’ve explored before, Nathan goes on to become the futuristic mutant hero known as Cable. In the comics, Sinister does have a hand in creating him in an attempt to create a living weapon designed to defeat Apocalypse.

The X-Men arrive at Sinister’s mansion and are attacked by the Goblin Queen, who has now slipped completely into madness. Morph takes the form of Magik to fight her but she takes control of his mind and sends him after Bishop instead. Magneto attacks next, but she proves to be too much even for him. Cyclops attacks next and draws blood before apologizing for his attack. Goblin Queen kisses him before telling him he’ll bleed too.

Back at the mansion, Logan tries to help Jean take control of her powers but letting her look inside his mind. It all starts to come back to her and she sees what’s happening with the team and launches a telepathic attack on the Goblin Queen.

Goblin Queen fights back and says she was Phoenix, which we don’t know for sure. Either one of them could have been the Phoenix. Jean shows her a memory of Xavier first meeting with Jean and the death of her friend Annie, which awakened their abilities. The Goblin Queen questions which memories belong to who and launches a counter psychic attack, sending Jean back to the birth of Nathan. Jean takes control again though refers to Nathan as a living memory, which break Sinister’s hold on the Goblin Queen.

Now free, she reaches out a hand for Scott and asks for his help in saving Nathan. They arrive to stop Sinister’s experiments and free Nathan from the tank. Sinister says they’ve doomed the child and disappears into the shadows. They see that Nathan has been infected with some kind of virus.

Back at the mansion, Beast reveals that it is a techno virus Sinister used in hopes of making the child invincible. He explains that he doesn’t have the time to develop a cure. Goblin Queen points out that they could create a cure in the future but Bishop explains that his time band can only get him and Nathan there. Scott and the Goblin Queen have to decide to abandon their child in order to save his life.

The Goblin Queen leaves the mansion but Jean catches up to her before she gets away. She offers her a chance to stay and explains that most of her memory has returned. Goblin Queen tells her she knows how much she’s wanted to leave and start a new life. They explain that their memories are the same and they have no way of knowing which one of them was the Phoenix, which one married Scott which of any of their other memories belong to which one of them. Before she leaves, she tells Jean to call her Madelyne Pryor, finally introducing the name in to the series. Jean joins Scott in their bedroom as things fade to black.

Before the episode closes out, we see Storm drinking alone in a bar. A man joins her and begins to talk to her about the weather. The man introduces himself as Forge, an old friend of Charles Xavier. He offers to help her get back what she’s lost as the episode ends. This is hinting at a comic arc titled “Lifedeath,” in which Storm loses her powers and Forge helps her get them back. We know two of the upcoming episodes will be titled “Lifedeath,” so this story is coming soon.

This show just keeps getting better and better. Reintroducing Sinister added a horror element to the series and bringing in Madelyne Pryor is a great sign of things to come. Who knows what other character might pop up in this series going forward. Plus, each episode has managed to leave us with a cliffhanger that has us itching for next Wednesday.

Marvel Animation’s X-Men ‘97 is streaming now on Disney+, with new episodes coming every Wednesday.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."