Friday, August 9, 2013

Gargoyles: "The Thrill of the Hunt"

 In which Lexington's celebrity encounter goes poorly.

Recapper's note:  I'm still tinkering with how exactly I want to go about this Gargoyles revisit, so here I've foregone the scene-by-scene recap. I may go back to that style if I find I'm more comfortable doing it that way, but for now I'm just going to talk and see how that goes. (The fact that I just took some Benadryl for my allergies and am even lazier and foggy-headed than usual has no more than 80% to do with it.)

After the epic-ness of "Awakening," any episode is going to feel lightweight. It's unavoidable, but not necessarily a bad thing. Both the audience and the characters could do with a bit of a breather after all that intensity and in "Hunt" the stakes are never particularly high. The plot is simple and straightforward - Lex meets a team of criminals/TV personalities called The Pack, who trick him in order to lure he and Goliath into a trap, then there's a fight, which ends with The Pack defeated and arrested. Sure, there are nods to continuing story threads - Elisa shows up briefly to remind both Goliath and the audience that Xanatos will continue to be a problem; and later the man himself reveals that he's the one who's been pulling The Pack's strings, unbeknownst even to them (well, in hindsight it's probably beknownst to one of them, but there's no hint of that here), and he undoubtedly has more schemes up his prison-denim sleeve. Other than that, this episode is neat, tidy, self-contained.

Again, not necessarily a bad thing. But watching, I couldn't help find the whole thing rather perfunctory. The question shouldn't be "what happened in this episode," it should be "what is this episode about?" On the surface, this episode is about Lexington, yet it never seems particularly interested in fleshing him out. Yes, he admires The Pack for the heroes they play on TV, and he feels angry and betrayed when they prove themselves to be anything but, however, I didn't end the episode feeling as if I knew Lex much better than I did when it started.

So is it about The Pack? They're sure better than the faceless Goon Squad, with distinct differences - leader Fox is clever and slightly flirtatious, Wolf is really strong, brother/sister duo Jackal and Hyena wield Freddy Kruger gloves and are a little creepy, weapons expert Dingo is Australian. But these are still sketches of characters, not fully-drawn enough to anchor an episode on their own. (Yes, I do recall that they all return later)

Or is it about the shallowness and falseness of celebrity? Lex is so easily taken in by The Pack because he doesn't understand the difference between television and reality. The Pack goes a-gargoyle huntin' because they're bored and restless with being TV superheroes, despite it making them rich and famous.

Maybe it tries to be about all these things, and that's why it never seems to quite cohere for me. (Or it's the Benadryl. Always possible.) But mostly I think, like "Awakening" before it, it's about trusting in others, even if - especially if some of those others betray you.
We can't hide from the whole world up here. There are kindred spirits out there for us, but we've gotta look for them and we've gotta give them a chance. Or else we'll always be alone.
Lexington is wrong about The Pack. But he's not wrong.

Next time, Demona returns in "Temptation!"

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