Monday, August 12, 2013
Gargoyles: "Deadly Force"
In which Broadway has a bad night, Elisa has a really bad night, and I get a little ranty.
When I was in the eighth grade, the younger brother of one of my classmates was accidentally shot by a friend while they were playing around with a rifle. I vividly remember standing outside the school with a bunch of other kids, watching a lifeflight helicopter fly in and then out again to take the boy to the hospital, whatever after-school activity we were assembled for forgotten in the wake of the drama.
For drama it was. My hometown town is tiny (that helicopter would've been visible from just about any point within the city limits) and I and everybody else knew all the players involved personally - my classmate was actually pretty good friends with the older brother of the shooter and the shot kid and the shooter were a year ahead and sometimes playmates of my little brother - so the whole thing was tense and genuinely frightening. For some more than others, because my other vivid memory? Is of my classmate sitting in the school gym, mostly silent and staring, while the rest of us milled around awkwardly, having no idea what to say.
(God, poor guy. I don't remember why he was still stuck at the school instead of going home - maybe his folks thought he'd be in the way there- but you'd think the staff would've had him wait in the principal's office or with the counselor or something instead of leaving him to our well-meaning but inadequate "comfort." Prime example: "You know, [Shooter Kid] always has been been a dipshit.")
I haven't thought of that incident in years, but watching "Deadly Force" brought it all back again. And I found myself wishing those two boys would've watched it. Then, while I was doing my "research" for this review (by which I mean poking around the archives over at ASK GREG, where Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman interacts with fans of the show), I found out that, when this shooting happened, the show was in reruns on Toon Disney, which refused to re-air "Deadly Force." Then I got mad.
Because god forbid they air an episode that sends the message - clearly, powerfully and with no tiresome preaching - that guns aren't fucking toys, and treating them like they are can lead to disaster. Clearly that's something no one needs to learn ever, and taking even the chance that showing that episode might avert a real-life shooting was not worth their time because...what? Seeing one of the heroes accidentally shoot and nearly kill his friend might scare and upset kids? Yeah, it might. You know what kids find even scarier and more upsetting? WHEN THAT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE WITH REAL KIDS, JESUS CHRIST, WAY TO COMPLETELY MISS THE FUCKING POINT, TOON DISNEY.
Besides teaching valuable lessons and sending me down Bad Memory Lane, this ep has many other strengths. It casts a powerful spotlight on Broadway, who has been nothing but an one-note joke so far. It's structured beautifully, building the tension excruciatingly with every second until Broadway shoots Elisa and then refusing to back off throughout until the end. It widens up the world of the show, which up to now had been pretty narrowly focused on the (understandably) isolated gargoyles; we see that Elisa has a job, a family, enemies, an apartment, even a cat (I know he's probably named for James Cagney, but I like to think Elisa named him that as an homage to Tyne Daly. [Recapper's note: Tyne Daly played Lacey and Sharon Gless played Cagney, I'm a moron.]) which exist almost completely outside her friendship with them. We see how Xanatos, with Owen as his proxy, also has plenty of stuff going on that likewise has nothing to do them. We see that that our gargoyles (who are warriors, after all) aren't toothless - Broadway was genuinely scary in his rage and I absolutely believe Goliath intended to kill Dracon before Broadway spoke up. It's an excellent episode, the best single installment yet.
Greg Weisman said he wanted his show to be about repercussions. Things turn out more-or-less all right at the end of "Deadly Force," but it's not as if nothing happened. From all appearances, Elisa has a long recovery ahead of her, and Broadway is still full of guilt. I hope to see more this going forward. After all, that's life. Tragedy was thankfully averted in my real-life story as well - my classmate's little brother didn't die and like Broadway and Elisa, he and the kid who shot him stayed friends. But he walks with a limp to this day because that bullet shattered the bone in his lower leg. And the shooter, who last I heard was getting married and seems to have a fine life, will surely never be able to forget, either.
Next time, "Enter MacBeth"