Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gargoyles: "Leader of the Pack"

In which Xanatos the name of true love.

PREVIOUSLY ON GARGOYLES: Xanatos created The Pack, later used them to set up a fake assassination attempt on himself, and along the way four-fifths of them ended up in prison. None of the Pack know Xanatos is behind them, except Fox, who lurves him.

NOW ON GARGOYLES: "...AND WE LIVE AGAIN!" Man, I love that opening so much.

I remembered this episode from when I was a kid. Specifically, I remembered that last scene of Xanatos and Fox in the limo, and that the whole thing was a plot to get Fox out of jail. I think that might have been the very first time I ever cheered for the villains of a show (it would not be the last). And not in the way I might cheer if I was watching for the first time now - in admiration of a convoluted scheme pulled off and gleeful anticipation of all the trouble an united Fox and Xanatos would undoubtedly cause. No, my kid self was simply happy for them, that they were free and together. Yay for love! I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time, but it was a shift in my way of thinking. I had enjoyed watching them before - especially Xanatos who was so cool from the beginning - but this was the episode where Young Melissa started thinking of them as people instead of bad guys in opposition to the heroes.

I suppose I can trace my preference for moral ambiguity and anti-heroes/villains back to Gargoyles. (Well, that and Deep Space Nine, which was airing at the same time and mixing some gray into the generally black-and-white morality of the Trek universe.) Now don't mistake me, I love a good hero, too. One of the many reason I prefer Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Angel, is that Buffy, despite various bone-headed decisions, was a genuine, grade-A, good-guy Hero; while Angel was...not, so much. But my favorite show of all time? Deadwood. Good luck finding a white hat in the muck of the thoroughfare on that show. Though, now that I'm thinking of it, perhaps comparisons can be made between Xanatos and Al Swearengen. Both are breakout characters, both have a facility for complex (even Byzantine) schemes, both hide softer emotions behind relentless self-interest, both transcend the role of "bad guy" into something less definable. Though, to my memory, we never see Xanatos soliloquize while receiving a blow job, which is probably for the best.

"Leader of the Pack" is an impressive episode for the bad guys, by which I mean the titular Pack. Lots of action and lots of bad-assery, which was matched by the gargoyles. Especially Lex, who is still taking their betrayal back in "Thrill of the Hunt" very personally. So personally that he picks up a gun and blasts a fucking hole right through Coyote...

Oh! I might have remembered that this whole thing was a set up by Xanatos to get Fox paroled but I had completely forgotten that Coyote was a robot. I thought that was him. I raised an eyebrow at his expressed desire for revenge - very unXanatosian, as the genuine article made clear at the end - but I chalked it up to him playing to the Pack, who very definitely wanted revenge. When Bronx ripped half his face off I yelped "holy shit!" loud enough to scare my dogs.

Great, fun, twisty episode.

Random points:
  • It's a trifle too convenient that The Pack members are all cellmates.
  • Okay, what was up with Coyote's weapon? Did Xanatos doctor up some of Scarecrow's fear gas? I'm kind of wishing it was hallucinogenic lipstick a la River Song. C'mon, that would've been hilarious
  • Nice touch having Brooklyn empathize with Lex because of the events of "Temptation." But again I have to wonder - shouldn't they ALL hate Demona intensely for the massacre of their clan?
  • If I have one complaint about Fox and Xanatos, it's that so far he's the one making all the plans while she follows them. I want to see them scheming together. I bet it's a turn-on for them.
  • On that subject, Hyena is hot for Coyote, even more so after he's revealed as a robot. Okay.
  • I'm not sure how Xanatos ended up with Coyote's head, but I kind of love how it doesn't creep him out at all. It does me, and it's not my face!
  • Fox reads Sartre. I can see the appeal of existentialism to her (and Xanatos, too).

Next time, "Metamorphosis." It sounds ominous.

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