The Other Side: “Temptation”

“Don’t be afraid. I just want to talk.”Demona

Original Air Date: November 11, 1994
Introduces: Phil Travanti
Timeline Placement: November 7 – November 13, 1994

Synopsis:

The episode opens with the trio placing the finishing touches on a motorcycle at a secluded location–or, more accurately, Lexington works on the bike, while Brooklyn and Broadway look on in impatient anticipation.  Finally, Lexington finishes, which means that it’s time for Brooklyn to take the bike for its maiden voyage.  Donning a leather jacket, shades, and a helmet (with two holes for his horns), he wraps his wings around his torso and rides off.

As he speeds through the Manhattan streets, the young gargoyle is enjoying himself immensely; Lex’s bike, it seems, is working perfectly.  Unfortunately, he happens to speed by the squad car belonging to NYPD officers Morgan Morgan and Phil Travanti, who give chase.  Brooklyn eventually escapes riding to a dead-end alley and using his wings to glide over the wall, which causes an awestruck Morgan, who had been eating donuts until that moment, to renounce sugar.

Eventually, Brooklyn runs into a motorcycle gang also crusing through the city.  Thinking of them as potential “kindred spirits”, he joins them, and is glad to see that they seem accepting, complimenting him on his ride.  This goodwill doesn’t last long, however: once Brooklyn removes his helmet, the bikers see him for what he is and begin attacking.

As Brooklyn fights off the biker gang, one of its members draws out a revolver and aims it at the gargoyle; fortunately, another gargoyle attacks the shooter, causing him to miss and hit Brooklyn’s bike instead, causing it to explode.

Brooklyn fights off a couple more goons, until his new ally leads him away from the streets and into an alley.  Climbing a nearby wall, it takes flight.  Brooklyn follows.  After landing on a rooftop, he calls towards the figure, thinking it’s either Lexington or Broadway.  It’s Demona.

Brooklyn turns cautious, and tries to leave.  Demona tries to stop him, explaning that her previous attack on the gargoyles had been caused by madness due to her rage and fear after living for centuries with humans (contradicting her earlier statement that she had been placed under the same sleep spell as Goliath and the others).  She reminds him that she just saved her life, and asks him to listen to what she has to say.  Brooklyn reluctantly acquiesces.

Meanwhile, Lexington and Broadway return to the castle, where they meet up with Goliath, Hudson and Bronx inside the TV room.  Goliath asks where Brooklyn is, and Broadway replies that he’s “joy-riding”.  Goliath clearly has no idea what that means.

Demona tells Brooklyn that humans are savages;  to prove it, she takes him through a tour of Manhattan, showing him Manhattan’s dark underbelly–theft, murder, domestic abuse… Not only that, human will never accept gargoyles, she argues–Elisa is just the exception that proves the rule. If gargoyle-kind is to survive, she argues, they must stand together against humans.

Brooklyn asks Demona and asks what can be done–Goliath still believes that humans and gargoyles can co-exist, in time.  She tells him that the Grimorum Arcanorum–the Magus’ tome–has a spell that will open Goliath’s eyes to the truth, and asks him to retrieve it.

As dawn approaches, Brooklyn returns to the castle; coincidentally, Elisa arrives at the same time in order to again try to convince Goliath that he and the others have to find a new home, and that she’s even found a good place.    Goliath remains adamant, however, saying that even if Xanatos is let out of prison in a month, as Elisa states, the castle is still theirs.  Brooklyn starts to argue the point, but is interrupted by the arrival of the sun.

The following night, Brooklyn sneaks into the castle and steals the Grimorum Arcanorum.  He makes his rendevous with Demona over at the Cloisters and hands over the tome.  While Demona studies the text, he returns to the castle, offers to take Goliath to a place “like the world [they] came from” and has him follow him back to Demona’s location.

Although Goliath finds the place comforting, he doesn’t get a chance to enjoy it: Demona reveals herself and casts a spell, which binds Goliath to her will, complete with green eyes.  Horrified at what has happened,  Brooklyn attacks Demona, but proves no match for her new mind-controlled bodyguard.  Outnumbered, Brooklyn escapes indoors to the museum.

Demona tries to draw Brooklyn out, explaining that the spell is only temporary, and that until then he’ll obey whoever holds the spell.  As she does this, Brooklyn approaches Goliath and tries to get him to snap out of it, with no success.  Demona, finding the younger gargoyle much more trouble than he’s worth, tries to cast the spell on him as well, but a good tail-whipping causes her to drop the book.  After a brief scuffle, Demona manages to get the book back and orders Goliath to kill Brooklyn.  However, it doesn’t work: although Demona holds the book, Brooklyn had managed to rip the pages containing the actual spell, giving him control of Goliath.

Brooklyn orders Goliath to “take [Demona]”.  Now outmatched, she tries to escape with the Grimorum, with Goliath giving chase.  As they soar through the night sky, the female gargoyle removes several pages from the Grimorum and lands in an uninhabited, somewhat-wooded area near a river (have I told anyone how much my New York geography sucks?)  and tries to kill Goliath, until an incenced Brooklyn manages to catch up to the other two.  Demona takes the Grimorum and throws it to the river: as Brooklyn dives in order to catch it, she makes her escape.

Grimorum in hand, Brooklyn rejoins Goliath, who, it seems, has defaulted to screensaver mode.  Downcast, he asks the older Gargoyle to follow him home.

Back at the castle, Brooklyn tells a dispirited clan (including Elisa) that despite his efforts, he has been unable to find a counter-spell.  Elisa has a plan, thought.  Taking the spell page, she gives Goliath an order: for the rest of his life, he is to act as if he were not under a spell.  Her gambit works: after a few seconds, Goliath’s eyes return to normal, and he is free.  A contrite Brooklyn apologizes, saying that Demona’s words had sounded true at the time.  An understanding Goliath replies that they while they may sound true, they are in fact a half-truth that she wholeheartedly believes.

As sunrise approaches, the gargoyles prepare to sleep.  Lexington asks Brooklyn what became of the motorcycle, to which Brooklyn sheepishly replies the truth.  As Lexington looks in surprise, he is turned to stone by sunrise.

—-

When I initially saw this and “Thrill of The Hunt”, I couldn’t decide which gargoyle was more stupid: Lexington for deciding to trust a completely unknown quantity on the basis of a TV show, or Brooklyn for deciding to trust one which had already stabbed them in the back at least twice.    Still, this is a substantially better episode than the last.  It’s vitally flawed–do we really need to have the trust issue brought back again for the seventh consecutive episode?–but it’s also a vital one that could not have ocurred at any other point in the timeline–a combination which makes it rather hard to review.

Back in “Awakening: Part Three”, Elisa gave Goliath a tour of Manhattan; while we didn’t see any of it, we can imply from the aftermath that it had a positive slant, but without trying to hide the city’s negative parts (“The city may show an ugly face sometimes[…]”): it serves to properly introduce Goliath to the city he will have to call home.  Given that she’s Elisa’s opposite number, it’s only fitting that Demona’s tour this episode does the reverse: instead of elucidating, it serves to obfuscate, obscuring Brooklyn’s vision until he can only see what Demona wishes him to see.  Or is it?  Is Demona willfully showing him one side of the story when she knows there are two, or is she showing him one side because she believes that’s the only one that exists?

We know from future episodes that Demona has had meaningful relationships with humans.  We also know that she has immense capacity for self-deception and for mentally editing events that contradict their views.  We also learn in “High Noon” that if she can’t kill Elisa, having Goliath lose his trust in her–and therefore “prove” Demona right–would be an acceptable second option.  Does she truly believe that Elisa will eventually betray him?  She’s definitively afraid she won’t.

Elisa, on the other hand, proves her creative thinking chops by finding out how to break the spell.  Her solution is something that really shouldn’t work, when one thinks about it–Goliath would still have the Green Eyes of Submission, and given that orders only seem to last until the person who gave them drops the spell papers, it’s iffy whether just saying “this is a permanent order” would work, but given that it’s been established that spells have counter-spells (although curiously, we’ve never seen those from anyone who isn’t a Child of Oberon) and escape clauses, I can just accept Elisa’s solution as being that particular spell’s.  I do wonder whether Elisa’s orders inadvertently made Goliath partially immune to certain kinds of magic; after all, she ordered him to act as if he were not under a spell, not the spell, which would seem to leave some leeway for other spells, at least those that affect behavior.  I’m not sure if this is borne out by the canon–I would imagine that “The Mirror” would have played quite differently had it had, but it’s still something to think about.

The motorcycle showcased in the episode’s first act is the first of a handful of elements that were written in to tie the series to toys then in production by Kenner.  It’s not my favorite bit by any means–as the writers all but spell out, this sort of gimmickry doesn’t really fit the Gargoyles concept, and unlike the Turtles, this series doesn’t  have history to fall on as an excuse–but it’s worked into the episode well enough.  I’m not sure Lexington’s apparent mechanical skills are believable or not–Greg’s timeline of events state that it’s been less than two weeks since their arrival in the 20th century, so depending on whether Lex built the bike from scratch or just merely retrofitted an existing one, it may or may not cross the willing suspension of disbelief line.   Still, it’s something that comes with the territory, so it’s not something I’m too bothered about.

Random thoughts:

  • Phil Travanti, as seen here with Morgan, is one of the series’ many many recurring extras.  He doesn’t really get named until more than a decade later, with the comic books, but he’s never really had anything resembling a significant role.
  • Once again, we have the “gargoyles-get-interrupted-by-daylight” gag–twice, no less.  The writers seem far too enamored of it.

ETA: Sonofabitch: I thought I’d posted this!

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