Friday, August 30, 2013

Gargoyles: "Reawakening"

In which Goliath re-loses a brother and regains a purpose.

PREVIOUSLY ON GARGOYLES: The whole first season, reviewed on this here blog.

Season finale time! Let's go recap-style, shall we?

Manhattan. It's still snowing.  The owner of a convenience store is being robbed for the "third time this month." (Which month? December or January?) The owner is more irritated than frightened and the thief smartasses about "dangerous times" before running out into the snowy night.

Speaking of which, flashback! Scotland, 994 A.D. The night before the massacre of the gargoyles at Castle Wyvern. Demona is trying to convince Goliath to take all the gargoyles out on his mission (because she is in cahoots with Captain Muscles to betray the castle to the Vikings), but he resists. Up on a tower, a gargoyle we haven't seen before asks Goliath, "where do you go, my brother?" in Michael Dorn's unmistakeable voice. I giggle in delight.

Gargoyle Worf?

I love the look of this guy, but I don't understand the half-shirt. Is it armor? Oh, well, it doesn't matter. Also present to my non-delight is the Magus, in fine asshole form. "Foolish creatures! Why are you still here? If you wait any longer you won't have to track the Vikings - they'll be at our gates again!" He snits off in a cloud of dickishness, somehow not being punched in the face by any of the gargoyles present. I salute their self-restraint. Demona is typically bitter about humans and Gargoyle Dorn agrees."She's right. Let the Vikings have [the castle] - we can survive anywhere."

Before Goliath can answer, Hudson arrives stating what seems to be the gargoyle raison d'etre . "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air." Goliath asks him to accompany him on his Viking-hunt and leaves with kind words for both his brother (to whom he appears fairly close) and Demona.

Manhattan. Clocktower. The Trio try to interest Hudson in a movie, but the old guy is pretty much welded to his recliner. He recites the "breathing the air" aphorism again and the three younger ones finish it by rote. Nearby, a brooding Goliath is silently struck by how none of them seem to take it seriously - not even Hudson. As the Trio leaves, Elisa arrives.

I like the black gloves but with a white scarf? It looks weird. I guess maybe a black scarf would've been hard to animate with her hair? I don't know.

I love this - Elisa can instantly tell that something is bothering Goliath, though he remains uncommunicative. Elisa doesn't push, she's off to start her shift. And again Goliath is struck by a carelessly tossed-off motto - "protect and serve."

"It's what I live for," Elisa says. Live, not survive; which is what Goliath (and the others) have mostly been doing. The difference will be made explicit later on, but here is where the theme first caught my attention. Gargoyles have always had something more to live for than mere survival, and I think Goliath is grieving the loss of purpose possibly more than his clan and time and love. He quickly decides to follow Elisa on her shift. (A glide-along?) As they leave, Hudson looks thoughtful for about half a second before the siren call of TV distracts him. It's possible I can relate.

Castle Wyvern. In a tower, Xanatos and Demona are getting their Dr. Frankestein on (He is working the machinery while she is doing some wizard-fu. If I were not so dumb I could probably work up some theory about how that relates to their characters - modern science and rationalism vs. old-time sorcery - and how Xanatos is the pragmatist and Demona the extremist and how that all ties together, but I am dumb, so let me just say that there's something there, okay?), and also bitching at each other:
Xanatos: If this works, it'll be a miracle.
Demona: None of your plans have worked. The Pack, the Steel Clan robots...all have proven useless.
Xanatos: Your stolen spells haven't done any better.
They have combined their skill sets to create...something. Like I said, this is a total rip off homage to Frankestein, but what makes it awesome is Xanatos hamming it up with, "IT'S ALIVE! ALIIIVE!" Deadpan: "I've always wanted to say that." I say this about our pal Xanatos a lot, but: HEE!

[Aside: In another callback to Awakening, Demona has set up the same skull candleholders that the Magus had in his lair. Still creepy as hell. I find them more disturbing than the reanimated corpse/cyborg of Gargoyle Dorn.]

Complete with Terminator red eye

Demona starts in immediately with the manipulation, giving Dorn the name of "Coldstone" and telling him that Goliath - who she claims has been "seduced" by human beliefs, which is fucking rich coming from her gun-toting, magic-mongering self - is responsible for his current state. (She also calls Xanatos her servant, which results in a magnificent side-eye from him.) Because he is so upset by his condition and/or a gullible moron, Coldstone swallows this lie with no questions.

Thrice-robbed Convenience Store. Matt and Elisa have come to investigate the robbery. Matt knows the owner and is taking it a little personally. He goes in to interview the owner, but Elisa stays outside. Instead of being all, "um, this is your job too, what the hell" he just makes a quip on his way inside. Am I reading too much into the phrase "come in from the cold" or is this a subtle statement about how, because of the secret of the gargoyles, Elisa is becoming isolated from her partner and other cops (her "clan")? Will she eventually have to choose? I don't remember and I'm looking forward to seeing how that shakes out.

Anyway. That's for the future. Right now, Goliath has been listening in via wire and from a nearby rooftop he and Elisa have a thematically relevant conversation.
Goliath: Why does that man keep his shop open? He could be robbed again. Why does he not leave?
Elisa: This is a dying neighborhood, Goliath. The big markets won't even come here. If he closes this store, people will have no place to buy food. That's more important to him than hiding in his own little castle. [Recapper's note: That's a little pointed, no? Is Elisa deliberately trying to nudge Goliath along? I don't know, but I like to think she understands him well enough to guess his trouble.]
Goliath: needs him.
Elisa: To survive.
 A call comes over the police radio, there's a "code three" at Times Square. I guess that's cop-speak for "we don't know what the hell is going on" as that's basically what Officer Morgan (who was the crowd-control cop in "Awakening," as well as showing up in the locker room in the last episode) tells Matt and Elisa when they drive up. It's Coldstone, tearing shit up, yet somehow remaining in shadow. (Another callback - there's a busted fire hydrant. I love it, but damn, that's gotta be cold. I'm now wondering how Matt and Elisa don't end up coming down with pneumonia. Or hypothermia.)  He lifts a car to throw at them, and they open fire. The bullets bounce off with a distinctly metallic sound. Elisa is freaked. Goliath attacks Coldstone before he can hurl the car, but it goes flying and almost flattens the cops anyway. I'm probably not supposed to laugh, right? Not even when Coldstone tosses Goliath instead? Okay.

As the assorted cops train their floodlights on Coldstone (about time, dudes) Goliath declares him an "abomination." That kind of remark is not going to improve this little family reunion, Goliath. See, he just shot at you with his nifty arm-cannon. Only he apparently didn't know he could do that. (So Demona and Xanatos just sent him out to rampage with no preparation at all? I'm not sure I get this part of the plan.)

Fight, fight. Shooting, property damage. Elisa calls out to Goliath by name right in front of Matt. Good Lord, he must have so many questions, right? Goliath makes an extremely rapid turn from "abomination" to "brother" before getting knocked down. Oh, and this is dumb - apparently this whole fight is happening right outside the movie theater where the Trio are. Convenient. They save Goliath by...throwing hubcaps at at Coldstone? That just looks silly, I'm sorry.

Not silly is Xanatos and Demona observing all this through Coldstone's cybernetic eye. Oh, wait, I spoke too soon, because here they now are to join the fun, along with a Steel Clan robot. Okay, what the hell? Did they teleport or catch a convenient wormhole? I don't see how Xanatos even had time to get in his Steel Clan armor.

Whatever. Goliath correctly pins Coldstone's attitude on Demona (he's been howling "betrayer!" at Goliath throughout the fight) and she has the complete unmitigated gall to blame the smashing of their clan on him. He tells her she doesn't know the meaning of the word "clan," which statement looks like it lands before she orders Coldstone to destroy Goliath. Xanatos is not down with that, by the way, which makes me wonder what exactly his goal was with all this mess. I am irritated that I can't figure it out. Meanwhile, Coldstone is still upset about his cyborg..ish...ness, while Demona and Goliath engage in a little tug of war for his soul.
Demona: We are the true gargoyles! They have been corrupted by the humans!
Goliath: There has been enough death. There are so few of us left, my brother.
Coldstone looks to me like he's leaning toward the non-psycho side of this argument, but before he says anything, Elisa is warning Goliath about the news van that just showed up. Goliath turns to Xanatos, (though he doesn't realize it's literally Xanatos and not a robot) and suggests moving this discussion somewhere "less fragile." He agrees, to Demona's displeasure, and names a place that the audience doesn't get to hear, and everyone takes off. Elisa (who is still connected to Goliath through the wire) promises to bring help. Matt is confused, naturally, and Elisa is doing a terrible job of not acting like she knows what's going on. Elisa! Secret! Come on!

Clocktower. Hudson sees a news report of the whole contretemps. He gets up, but is stopped by the thought of leaving the tower undefended. Bronx: You are SO not gonna go without me.

Brooklyn Bridge. Wait, is it the Brooklyn bridge? I don't know from New York geography and its multiple suspension bridges. I'm just going to say it's the Brooklyn bridge, all right? Anyway, it's closed because of the weather. Gargoyles and gargoyle-esque machines assemble and the fight is back on. Demona has her big laser rifle because of course she fucking does ("corrupted by humans") but loses it when Brooklyn tackles her mid-air. "Got any spells to save you now?" Guess he's still pissed about "Temptation". They hit the bridge and appear to be knocked out. Lex leads the Steel Clan robot straight to its fiery destruction against concrete. God, Xanatos, who designed those things' guidance systems? Fire them. Oh, you're busy chasing Broadway and somehow getting him wrapped up in the cables you shoot?

 Okay. I don't understand how that worked so perfectly, it's ridiculous. Are the cables sentient? It isn't magic, right? Xanatos is the science guy. (Not to be confused with this Science Guy.)

Whatever. Xanatos is totally going to shoot Broadway before Lex knocks him down to the bridge. Ha! You know I love him, but he really should be knocked around more often. He deserves it. He staggers around and yanks the helmet off with a yell. Lex and Brooklyn barely have time to react to this before Coldstone and Goliath, who have been fighting this whole time on top of the bridge, go plummeting down into the river.

Underwater, they both seem barely conscious and Goliath hallucinates Hudson's voice: "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air...breathing the air...protect...." He grabs Coldstone's arm, who then watches him slip away before reaching out to grab his hand in return. It's surprisingly affecting, given that I've had no sympathy for Coldstone so far.

Brotherhood reawakened!

Lex and Brooklyn are untangling Broadway when Coldstone flies up out of the water, cradling Goliath. He assures them that he's alive, while Xanatos watches with an inscrutable expression. What is his deal this episode, anyway? Before I can wonder too much, here's Demona, having woken and found her big ass rifle. That thing is indestructible. She thanks Coldstone for "saving" Goliath for her to kill. Xanatos goes to stop her, but sorry Dr. Frankestein, this ain't about you:
Coldstone: You said that destroying my brother is the only way to survive. Is that all there is for us? Mere survival?
Demona: Isn't that enough?
Goliath: No. Gargoyles protect; it is our nature, our purpose. To lose that is to be corrupt, empty, lifeless.
Coldstone: And what do you protect?
Demona: Enough of this!
She shoots Coldstone! Holy hell. I admit, I wasn't expecting that, though I suppose it makes perfect sense. She never can keep her cool and that conversation had to be hitting home, not that she admits it. Coldstone short circuits and falls back into the river and Goliath dives right in after him. Demona threatens the Trio, but Xanatos shoots at her, reminding her he wants them alive. (Again I ask, what was his motive in this whole Coldstone deal? Just to see what would happen? I don't know - I like this episode a lot, but this part feels so fuzzy to me. It's probably not as important as I'm making it.)

Anyway, here comes Bronx to knock Xanatos back on his ass. Elisa and Hudson are here too, natch. She aims her gun at him (hey, Elisa didn't lose a gun this episode! Good for her!). He is unruffled, sliding out from underneath Bronx and flying off, grabbing Demona along the way. Dude, why? I'd say your partnership is pretty much over. You'll be lucky if her crazy ass doesn't try to kill you for stopping her from killing any gargoyles. Please start making sense to me again.

Back at the bridge, Elisa is wondering what happened to the "monster." Goliath appears, dripping wet, to say that Coldstone was family and is now gone again. The moment is heavy before he suggests they go home. First, the kids would like Goliath to answer Coldstone's question - what do they protect? "The Clocktower," Hudson says, but no. Goliath has learned something tonight. "This island, Manhattan, this is our castle. From this day forward, we protect all who live here, human and gargoyle alike."

As mission statements go, I've heard worse.

One last thing, Goliath turns to Elisa. He needs a detective.

Store of Many Robberies. The robber from the beginning of the episode busts in, gun in hand. "Not again," groans the long-suffering owner, raising his hands. "Can't you rob somebody else this time?" Oh, but that's not what the guy is here for. He sets his gun on the counter, along with the stolen money. Call the cops, he says, I wanna turn myself in. "Cuz six monsters just told me to."

And season one comes to a (mostly) satisfying end.

I had so much fun doing this, even though it was much more work than I thought it would be. I do plan to continue, though I don't know if I can keep a consistent schedule. We'll see.

Next time, Season Two (which, holy crap, is 52 episodes long. I expect I'll finish reviewing it sometime in 2020.)

1 comment:

  1. The reason Coldstone doesn't know about his weapons is that he left the castle in a rage after seeing how he looked. One can assume that Xanatos originally intended to organize an attack with Coldstone, Demona and himself to capture the gargoyles.