Friday, September 6, 2013

Gargoyles: "Metamorphosis"

In which things get Kafkaesque.

PREVIOUSLY ON GARGOYLES: Derek Maza took a job as Xanatos' pilot over Elisa's objections.

David Xanatos is a terrible person.

I've talked a lot about how Xanatos is not a traditional villain, how he's more complex. "Not the reincarnation of Snidely Whiplash," as Derek puts it. He's right and wrong. Xanatos isn't evil for the sake of being evil, tying ladies to the railroad tracks and cackling evilly as he twirls his mustache. But Derek means that Xanatos isn't that bad a guy, and... Well. He actually is, though by the end of the episode Derek still doesn't realize it.

It's not that I was surprised to see that Xanatos doing bad things. He's a complex character, but he's yet to make a truly moral choice. He disdains revenge not because it's wrong but because it's for suckers, he was reluctant to kill the gargoyles only because he hoped to somehow still make use of them, etc. He does a fine job of pretending to be appalled by the human experimentation, but of course that was false. This is the darkest Xanatos has ever gotten - coldly manipulating Derek into becoming mutated, to say nothing of the sickening way Maggie (and possibly the other two) was taken advantage of. That opening scene gives me the shivers, in a way I don't remember it doing as a kid. And yes, that was Sevarious (in another kind of show Maggie would've ended up in some sort of sex slavery - though what does happen is only marginally less horrifying), but Xanatos is aware of his recruitment methods. It makes me wonder - is there a step too far for Xanatos? Is there anything he would actually reject, not because it was inefficient or counterproductive or whatever, but because it was wrong? After watching this episode, I'm not sure. And that makes him terrifying. Almost sociopathic.

Poor Maggie, is what I keep coming back to. It's hard for me to enjoy Xanatos' machinations as usual when I think of the cost. It's easy to cheer a guy who plots to get his girlfriend an early release from the pokey. When he plots to create his own pack of gargoyle-like mutants from unwilling human test subjects, that's something else again. I guess I should feel the same sympathy for Derek/Talon, especially since he is the one Xanatos was directly manipulating, but I don't know. I just couldn't connect to the guy. Not to say he deserved what happened to him, but he was kind of a chump, right? The Maza I feel for is Elisa. Her sobbing at the end was gutting. I actually want her to take that bastard Xanatos down.

Random points:

  • The Goon Squad returns! I recognized them chasing Maggie, which was how I knew Xanatos' protestations of ignorance to Derek were lies. That, and him being Xanatos.
  • Brooklyn's insta-obsession with Maggie rang a little false. Though if he's that susceptible to pretty gargoyle(ish) females, it might better explain why Demona was able rope him in so easily in "Temptation".
  • The mutants have cat bodies, bat wings, and electric eel charging powers. Because science.
  • The confrontation between Elisa and Derek/Talon went by too fast for me. All the right elements were there, but in a rush. I did like the cute "cross-my-heart" ritual between them - obviously something from their childhood.
  • He is awful, but I must agree with Xanatos the acting critic. Sevarius did overplay his part.
  • They never address it, but I'm wondering if all the test subjects survived. I would expect there to be some trial and error with this sort of thing. 
  • Goliath has been mostly in the background these past two episodes, but he continues to be a perceptive, supportive leader.

Next time, Coldstone returns in "Legion."

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