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X-Position: An X-Men Podcast #4: Captive Hearts

"Unlike you, we have no choice but to dwell here, away from those who fear us."

Merely five episodes into its run, X-Men: The Animated Series is already making impressive strides in laying down some truly foundational X-Men lore. This single 22-minute outing manages to organically establish and seamlessly weave together Storm's chronic claustrophobia (first hinted at in "Deadly Reunions"), the Scott/Jean/Logan love triangle, and an entire new mutant community in the Morlocks. Following the two-part pilot's exploration of human-to-mutant social dynamics -- and presenting a dissenting viewpoint via Magneto -- the introduction of the subterranean Morlocks presents a fascinating new dimension: how the concept of racial passing is applied to the mutant metaphor. Given the complications that passing entails for real-life POC, it only stands to reason that this would likewise be an issue in the X-Men's fictional world for individuals with highly visible physical mutations. Like Magneto, this offers another contrast to the X-Men. Whereas the titular cast largely consists of mutants who are able enjoy a relative degree of privilege walking openly among humanity, the Morlocks segregate themselves from society as an act of self-preservation. True to form, the episode allows the Morlocks' attitudes towards the surface world to stand largely unchallenged as an accurate, albeit depressing, reality. It's yet another example of the series' refusal to spoon-feed its young audience with simple platitudes. Outside of the big picture world-building, "Captive Hearts" also serves as the soapiest episode to date, with rich interpersonal conflicts amongst Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean, and Storm serving as particular highlights. In addition to the iconic love triangle which will remain a staple of the series, Storm overcoming personal adversity (with Wolverine's tough love encouragement) and cementing her role as co-leader of the X-Men is a welcome development. This kind of character-first storytelling takes a page right out of the comics, propelling the X-Men's popularity in the '80s and serves as the template to their enormous multimedia success will into the '90s. It all makes for a packed house on this installment of X-Position, where Jenny and Tim are joined by Keith, Matt, and Logan to dissect all the drama.



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