Resident Evil 5…

…is awesome.  While it’s not quite a good a game as RE4 (who knew ancient “Africans” had laser technology?), playing it with someone in the same room is super-fun…which is why I haven’t had the time to prepare a substantive update for today.  Or possibly for the rest of the week.

Lacking the story chapter I was planning on finishing for today, I go to the ol’ standby: pimping somebody else’s awesome TMNT or Gargoyles related work.  Today, it’s this awesome lil’ Karai-themed AMV by  Japanese TMNT fan doraguxoru:

The title, from what I can gather from my sketchy Japanese, is read as “Watashi wa baka* na musume datta, or “I was the stupid daughter”. The creator, however, translates it as “I was my stupid daughter”, which…doesn’t quite make sense.

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* I literally did not know what the second kanji in “baka” was until about five minutes ago. Now I’ll never forget–yay!

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MoNY Timeline (1997-2009)

This is the third part of the overall timeline for the relevant events in the shared Gargoyles/TMNT-verse. The first can be seen here, the second here.

People who’ve been following this section will notice a gap in the time-line–specifically, between 1994 and 1997, or the time-span in which the Gargoyles series takes place.  Why the omission?  Because I have nothing to add to that time period, which would mean that by including it here, I’d be copying other people’s work (particularly, that of the awesome people at Gargwiki) wholesale without adding anything of value.  Plus, all that text would be a bitch to format.  So if you have to know what happened in that period of time, you can just check their timeline: 1994, 1995, 1996.

Also, note that, unlike Greg or the wiki, this timeline does not cover every event in TMNT–I’m just not dedicated enough to assign a date to every single event.  This is mostly just a guideline in order to have an idea of when each important event occurred; however, this should not be taken to mean that these events aren’t canon.  Also, as with the other installments, the list is subject to later additions, which will be announced in their own blog posts and then added here.

ETA: Small alteration: I added an item down over at “March 2009”.

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Such Waste: “Garbageman”

“Greetings, filth.”The Garbageman

Written by: Eric Luke
Original Air Date: April 5, 2003
Teaser Narrator: Donatello
Introduces: The Garbageman; The Professor

Synopsis:

Teaser: The turtles infiltrate what appears to be a large landfill, avoiding various searchlights and patrol vehicles.  They climb over a mountain of garbage and stare in horror at what appears to be a concentration camp amidst the trash.  A pond of orange slime marks the center of the camp, and something is rising from within…

Theme song.

As a pair of homeless men scour through garbage bins for recyclables, a large, black garbage truck follows them silently.  Eventually, the truck makes its prescence known and, after chasing the pair, it uses a pair of extendable mechanical arms to capture them.

Inside a  garbage dump/ tent city/shantytown, the turtles (with the exception of Mikey, who’s skateboarding through the trash so as not to get bored and annoy the others) are doing some scavenging of their own, looking for materials for their lair.  They walk towards a group of homeless people and thank their leader, a man they call The Professor, for a shopping cart he’d lent them.  The Professor has some gifts for the turtles: a largely-undamaged circuit board for Donatello, and a comic book for Michelangelo, both of which they’d found among the trash.  The turtles, in turn, have some blankets and clothing for The Professor and his people.  The Professor waxes philosophical (which is apparently something he is prone to doing) about the origin of the universe and how the succession of Big Bangs and Big Crunches could be taken to mean that, like the things they are currently giving each other, everyting in the physical world is composed of particles which are, in effect, recycled.  Donny comments that he himself has just finished a book on the Big Bang, and offers to lend it to The Professor.

Raph notes that the tent city seems emptier than usual, which it turns out is indeed the case.  The Professor tells the turtles of rumors he’s heard: people say that somebody has been silently kidnapping homeless men and striking fear in the heart of the community.  His name is…the Garbageman.  Upon hearing the name, the turtles laugh good-naturedly; however, as they prepare to leave, Donatello asks The Professor to keep him updated on the missing people.

Some time later, The Professor is  proselytizing on the space-time continuum when the tent city is attacked by a familiar garbage van.  Although the various homeless try to escape, the van makes off with several of them, including their leader.

Some time later again, Donny rides into the now-wrecked shantytown (presumably with the book he’d promised his friend).  As he sees the city empty and with copious evidence of wrongdoing–including huge tire tracks–he calls in his brothers.  Leo asks Don to search the ‘net for anything about missing homeless, but Don’s already done that, with no results–nobody cares.  Time to hit the streets–or, as Mikey says: “It’s trench-coat wearing time!”

It’s also montage time, as we see each turtle speak with different groups of homeless people in an attempt to obtain information.  Once that’s done, they return to the lair, where Don collates the data and determines that the kidnappings have all been taking place near the docks.

The docks.  Mikey, once again betrenchcoated, sits in front of an oil-drum fire, trying to draw The Garbageman out.  The fish ain’t biting, though (which might have something to do with the fact that the Battle Shell is right there), and the turtles are about to call it a night when the Garbage Truck appears.  Before it can snatch the turtle, the Battle Shell–driven by Raph–makes its entrance, picking up Mikey and slamming into the garbage truck.

The truck attacks the Battle Shell with its claws, but eventually decides to just drive away, using things like a flamethrower and buzz-saws to try to lose or disable the turtles’ van.  The turtles, in turn, try to stop the truck by ramming it or firing missiles at it, with no effect.  Finally, the garbage truck creates an oil slick which causes the Battle Shell and almost makes if fall into the river, if not for its built-in grappling hooks.

Stymied, the turtles watch as the garbage truck drives off a pier and into the river.  It doesn’t sink, however; instead, it floats towards an offshore landfill.

Back at the lair, Don has found some info on the landfill–particularly, that it’s the best-run landfill operation in the United States, a fact that Leo immediately finds suspicious.  “Something stinks on that island, and it aint’ the garbage.” Mikey says, doing a bad Ah-nuld impersonation.

The turtles swim towards the landfill.  Once the arrive, they avoid the searchlights and patrol trucks as they climb over a mountain of trash and see the concentration camp set-up seen in the teaser.  The turtles watch as their friends are made to work in chains to trawl through the trash with not a moments rest, kept in submission by trigger-happy guards armed with shock-sticks.

There’s an orange lake in the middle of the camp, and the turtles watch as the enemy garbage truck surfaces from within.  After releasing its newest captives, the truck opens, revealing…well, this:

Garbageman

The turtles are suitably disgusted.

The terrapin foursome listen as The Garbageman gives an “inspirational” speech about how his slaves were nothing more than human garbage until he’d given them purpose–recycled them–by using them to build his fortune.  The landfill camp is just the first step, he announces, in what will become his empire. His discourse is interrupted by The Professor, who declares that the Garbageman is wrong: living on the streets was infinitely preferable to their new conditon as slaves.  This pisses The Garbageman off, and he orders his guards to silence the insubordinate.

Finally, finally, the turtles decide to strike.  Wasting little time with the mooks, they free the prisoners, which then attack the guards which whatever they can find. After checking in on The Professor, they turn towards The Garbageman.  “It’s garbage day, fat man,” Mikey say.  “Time to take your can out to the curb”.  Like all of Mikeys quips this episode, it falls flat.

Despite the various weapons in The Garbageman’s mini-tank, he’s no match for the turtles; eventually, they drive him back to the river.  As he sinks, the turtles, realizing that he probably can’t swim, uncharacteristically attempt to stop him from drowning.  He’s nowhere to be found, however, which means he’s perfectly position to torment the viewers once again.  Ugh.

Sunrise.  The community of homeless watch as the various mooks are taken to the mainland in what I assume is a police ferry (it’s unmarked).  The Professor informs the turtles that his community has  decided to remain in the landfill camp, since it has food and shelter and various thrown-away things they could use.  Raph warns his friend to watch out for the Garbageman “Something that evil always comes back.”  Upon hearing this line, Mikey becomes disappointed–how come Raph can make those kinds of lines works and he can’t?  “Quit recycling the old ones, Mikey,” Raph says.  “Keep looking for something new.”

—-

This is by far the worst episode of the season, and one of the worst in the series.  It’s oddly paced, features a completely unappealing villain, presents some weird inconsistencies, and feels oddly preachy in parts, to boot.

To be fair, the premise isn’t bad at all; the story may have never stopped feeling like a discarded Captain Planet plot, but I feel it could have worked on those terms.  Even with Oroku Saki already filling the show’s “corrupt corporate executive” spot, having a relatively mundane Looten Plunder type of character as the villain could have helped give the story some genuine weight and made for a genuinely unsettling.  As it is, it’s actually a pretty decent episode until the Garbageman shows up and ruins everything (more of this in a minute).   The set-up is a pretty nice one.  It’s always made sense to me for the turtles to befriend homeless people, and having them being kidnapped into secret slavery is something that always seems scarily plausible.  However, by the time the villain actually gets introduced, it’s too late to do anything with him but have him beat down.

The Garbage Man has exactly two things going for him: he manages to look as disgusting as the writers clearly wanted him to be, and he’s voiced by the always-awesome Mike Pollock.  Aside from that, he’s an easy favorite for the “worst original character in the series” title.  His motivation, if it can be called that, is undercooked.  The conceit that he is also a successful businessman feels incredible, in the original meaning of the word.  He does not feel like a physical threat, and doesn’t really have a thematic connection to the turtles.  His ability to recruit mooks seems dubious, particularly when The Foot is hiring across town and doesn’t require one to wear a gas mask.  All in all, a bust. Unfortunately, this isn’t the last we see of him–he’ll get a sequel episode next season (and one which manages to be even worse), and he’d have gotten a third episode (one which *shudder* would have revealed him to be Hun’s separated-[as in “cojoined twins”] at-birth brother) had it not proven too dark for 4Kids and (mercifully) scrapped.

On the other hand, I really like this episode’s other featured character, The Professor, and wish he’d shown up more in the series.  I just really like the idea of a guy talking philosophy and quantum physics  with the people least likely to be interested.  Plus, I’d really like to learn about his backstory.  And for those people paying attention to my stories, yes, he is aware of The Labyrinth and its unusual citizenry in the Monsters-verse.

This episode features two largish inconsistencies with what we know or will know, which are never really adressed.  The first is the ambiguity surrounding when exactly the turtles met The Professor and Co.  The context seems to suggest that they’ve known each other for a while–longer than they’ve known Casey and April, at least–except that that doesn’t really jive with everything we’ve learned about the turtles so far, which seems to suggest that April was their first human friend.  The second is the turtles’ decision to try to save The Garbageman after they cause him to sink, which again, is inconsistent with what we see of them in the future.  You can see why the scene is there–the turtles still aren’t allowed to leave bodies behind, and given the character’s physique one can’t just assume he’ll swim to safety–but given their blatant and explicit attempts to kill the Shredder later on, it feels out of character for them.

Fortunately, the following episode is a far better one, as the turtles finally meet the Shredder, and we get the second (which is actually the first) part of their origin story.

Random thoughts:

  • This episode features a pair of homeless men with a not-terribly funny running gag: one talks about the action, bemused, while the other responds with an “yup”.  The bit will be reused in the season three Christmas episode, although not with these two particular extras–apparently, the animators weren’t paying too much attention and animated the guys in the picture above instead.

Illuminati P.O.I Profiles: Takeshi Yoshihama

Name: Takeshi Yoshihama
Known Aliases: Master Khan
Birth Date: October 16, 1970
Nationality: Japan
Occupation: Foot Clan Member; Self-proclaimed leader of the Foot’s New York Branch (2008-       )
Affiliations: Foot Clan
Notable Abilities: Highly-developed martial arts abilities.

Takeshi Yoshihama is the latest scion of the Yoshihama family, one of the oldest families to serve under the banner of the The Foot Clan.  A member of the organization since birth, he, like most such “legacies”, studied at Kensei Academy.  After graduating in 1987, he quickly joined the ranks of the Foot Ninja in Japan.

In 2001, Yoshihama–now going by “Master Khan”–was one of the Foot Ninja who transferred to Manhattan as part of Oroku Saki‘s push for control of the city’s underworld. There, he was assigned to Dojo Director, placing him in charge of various Foot recruitment and training facilities.  He remained in this position until 2007, when the Foot abandoned their New York operations in the wake of their heavy losses in the 2007 Apocalypse; choosing to remain in New York, he has  since  been working with other disaffected clan members to restore the group to its former strength with him as its leader and retake the city away from the Purple Dragons, an enterprise that has met with mixed success.

Yoshihama has also gained a measure of acclaim in the professional mixed martial arts circuit, becoming a mainstay (and occasional winner) of tournaments throughout the world since 1995, including at least one turn as “The King of Fighters”.

Conclusions: Khan’s initiative in reforming The Foot against the Saki family’s wishes would seem to indicate that, unlike most Foot higher-ups (cross-ref:  Saki, Karai; Oroku, Sawaki; Mason, Hunter), he is not, strictly speaking, a Shredder loyalist, and may be turned to The Society’s side given the right incentive.  Given the continuing necessity of having a foothold in the New York underworld, and our lack of success in that arena during the last decade, it is imperative to explore this possibility.  That said, his current difficulties establishing a foothold against Mason’s forces suggest that he may be open to a resource sharing alliance if it will mean reestablishing Foot dominance.   His schism from the “legitimate” Foot Clan also suggests a level of dissatisfaction with its current leader, Karai Saki, which might also be used to our advantage–he may find the opportunity to depose and dispose of her too tempting to dismiss.

On a more personal level, Yoshihama seems to place great stock in martial arts skill.  It may be possible that offering him the opportunity to fight stronger opponents–for example, Lady Macbeth–will be all that’s necessary to assure his cooperation.

Should more forcible methods be required, please note that he apparently maintains good relations with his family, particularly his younger brother.  Using them as bargaining chips if it comes to that should not be discarded.

See also:

  • Foot Clan
  • Oroku Saki
  • Karai Saki

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Last updated: September 1, 2008

Apology Double Dose

So I’d been working on a second installment of the the Illuminati Person of Interest Profiles for today, but it’s 9:00 p.m. here, I’m nodding off, and I still need to shower and finish practicing Japanese before going to sleep, so there’s no way I’m finishing on time.  Expect that update tomorrow.

More importantly, I’ve neglected to give some credit where it’s due.  Last Monday’s story chapter could not have been possible without the aid of  TMNT fan Mark Pellegrini (a.k.a. “DrSpengler”) who helped me make sure that the Japanese used in the chapter was as accurate as possible.  If you haven’t checked it out already, go visit his blog, TMNT Entity–it’s a great resource on some of the more obscure pieces of the franchise’s history.

And Now for Something Completely the Same

Nah, not really–it’s actually something a bit different: an essay on one of the newest cartoons to hit the streets Cartoon Network.  No, not the awesome Adventure Time With Finn and Jake–the other one.

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching Generator Rex, one of Cartoon Networks new offerings.  Created by Man of Action, the consortium of comic book creators who previously created the aggressively unambitious  Ben 10, it is…well, a disappointment.

PREMISE! A science experiment gone horribly wrong (or horribly right–it hasn’t been elaborated upon yet) has coated every organism in the world with nanites.  Every so often (about once a week, conveniently enough) these nanites will mutate one of those organisms into a super-powered EVO (a.k.a. whatever the creators want), which will as often as not cause chaos and destroy America’s property values and morals.  Only one organization has the resources to stop EVO’s: NERV Providence, a paramilitary group of ambiguous jurisdiction under the control of White Knight, the one man in the world who is not infected by nanites, and who has no problem with the concept of “destroy the village to save it”.  Providence’s secret weapon is Rex, an amnesia-laden fifteen-year-old EVO kid with the ability to a) turn parts of his body into machines or weapons of different types and b) restore most EVO’s to normal by rendering the nanites altering their bodies inert.  Other characters include Agent Six, who can best be described as the love child of Batman Beyond‘s Old Man Bruce Wayne and Agent Bishop; Doc Holiday, Official Providence Hot  Scientist; and Bobo Haha, who’s there because focus groups have determined that  snarky talking monkeys are quote-unquote hilarious.  While there’s a fair bit of cliché in the concept, there’s also a whole lot more promise.  A world in which everyone, at any moment can turn into a monster?  That sounds awesome.

One thing to note is the fact that Rex is the first non-Star Wars American action cartoon in Cartoon Network to garner a PG rating, which in theory would allow it a latitude not usually seen in western cartoons when it comes to what it decides to show, and would allow more complex characterization and more realistic depictions of stuff like life, violence, emotion, sexuality, and death. Generator Rex‘s creators obviously enjoy this new-found freedom: their first episode features the Providence Red Shirts attacking a rampaging Evo with guns that actually shoot bullets; kills off those very same Red Shirts a few minutes later; and has Rex dispose of Big Bad Apparent Van Kleiss by vertically (and bloodlessly) slicing him in half with a nanite-created sword, things they could hardly do with their previous work.  For people frustrated at the industry insistence that American action cartoons must be targeted at kids above all else, this shift is a promising development.  While cartoons like Gargoyles, the DCAU, Ninja Turtles, and Avatar: The Last Airbender showed that a lot could be done under the ol’ TV-Y7-FV rating, there are still thresholds that can’t be crossed–the battle in Gargoyles #12, for example, would not have made it to TV, no matter how awesome the show’s S&P representative was.

While Generator Rex attempts to bring some nuance to the usual cartoon fare–ZOUNDS!  The good guys knowingly work for an outfit that is scarcely better than the threat they deign to eliminate!–it is, unfortunately, far too inconsistent to take advantage of these potential plotlines.  One particularly glaring example is Rex’s policy on killing, which goes from a Ninja Turtles-like ” killing is okay when the person is unambiguously evil and/or actively trying to kill you”  stance to “no killing humans ever” (in apparent contrast to Providence, whose policy appears to be, “cure, contain, or kill” with severe emphasis on that last one) to “killing EVO’s is okay even when you can’t confirm their humanity.”   Given that this is the sort of thing that forms a character’s core values, the ambiguity suggest that either a) he has none, which would be an interesting detail if they were at all interested in pursuing it,  b) the writers don’t know what they are, or worse c) they don’t care.

This sort of inconsistency can be seen all over the show’s writing.  Their world is radically different from ours–remember, anything anywhere can turn into a rampaging monster at any time–except when the writers want to make it just like ours, which is most of the time.  White Knight is a ruthless operator who would not hesitate to destroy New York to kill the EVO’s inside and secretly wishes that he were Gendo Ikari…except when he’s incapable of doing anything to curtail his subordinates’ constant and open insubordination.  Agent Six and Doc Holiday are veterans that have been forced to make various compromises in working with Providence, except when the writers try to convince you that they’re really stand-up guys.  Rex acts like the average teenager (or at least Man of Action’s idea of a teenager, which is not at all the same thing) when the only thing he remembers is his five years as Providence’s (who, we’ve established, is not particularly inclined to raise a child in a manner that makes for healthy development) ward.  The writers seem to want both create a world with Neon Genesis Evangelion-style moral complexity, but are unable to reconcile it with their desire to create another Ben 10.

Thing is, that clash doesn’t need to exist.

Gargoyles, Ninja Turtles, Avatar: The Last Airbender.  These three shows managed to create conflicts that were more than just about good and evil, worlds that felt developed and real, and characters who seemed familiar and relatable while embracing the ways that they differ from us avarage mortals.  There are shows where actions had consequences, characters had consistent moral codes (which does not necessarily mean they were good ones) and did not require “oh, he’s just a teenager” as an exuse for their mistakes.  Characters like Karai, Broadway and Zuko had moral crises that children could understand and process, and were still palatable and relatable to older teenagers and adults.  All in all, they, even within the constraints of that pesky ol’ TV-Y7-FV rating, managed to portray life, violence, emotion, sexuality, and death in as mature a manner as they could.  And they were awesome, without spending every waking minute trying to convince us of that fact.

With its premise, production values, and level of support, Generator Rex could do a lot to help skittish TV executives accept the idea that cartoons needn’t be tailored just for kids, and that they can include complex, more “mature” ideas.   All it needs to do is, man up, grit its teeth, and actually decide to implement them.

A Castle is Not a Home: “Enter Macbeth”

I defeated you in your home–you think I wouldn’t be ready for you in my own?”–Macbeth

Written by: Steve Perry
Original Air Date: January 6, 1995
Introduces: Macbeth; Clock Tower Lair
Timeline placement: December 27, 1994 – January 4, 1995

The episode begins, strangely enough, with a montage of people doing everynight things: Broadway is preparing some broth; Hudson is watching TV as Bronx savors a bone; Lexington and Brooklyn play poker; Goliath reads in the library. Finally, we get Xanatos, first in a scene of him laying on his prison bed, and a second one when comments on the quality of prison food inside the commissary. “Just like mom used to make…if mom was a prison cook.”

A day later, Xanatos is discussing with the visiting Owen what to do about the gargoyles once he’s free in a week’s time. While he doesn’t want to kill them—too wasteful—he can’t have them in his home when he returns. Enter a man in a prison guard uniform, who appears to be aware of Xanatos’ conundrum as is willing to take the gargoyles off the millionaire’s hands. His name? Macbeth.

One week later, dusk. Macbeth waits atop Castle Wyvern when he is found by Elisa (who is walking with the aid of crutches thanks to her injury last episode). Elisa tries to drive him away, but Macbeth refuses to budge, introducing himself telling her that she “protects no secrets”, since he knows all about the gargoyles. Both humans watch as the sun goes down and the gargoyles wake up.

Now awake, the gargoyles, cautious if not downright suspicious, ask Elisa who the stranger in their home is. Macbeth answers by asking the gargoyles to leave their home and move into his. The gargoyles flatly refuse, and Broadway asks him to leave. Macbeth refuses, instead attacking the group with a combination of moves and weaponry. Using a gun that shoots electrified nets, he traps Lexington, Bronx, and Brooklyn, and he’s in the process of dealing with Goliath when Owen interrupts complaining that Macbeth’s contract did not give him a license to destroy the castle (the fight has destroyed a segment of a wall and begun a small electrical fire, which isn’t all that bad, considering all that has and will happen to it during the course of the series). Macbeth agrees, and decides to leave, taking Lexington, Brooklyn and Bronx with him in his airship.

In the aftermath of the battle, Elisa once again tries to convince Goliath that remaining in the castle is not an option.  Goliath’s position remains unchanged: they’ve lost everything but the castle, he argues; he’s not willing to give that up as well.  He takes flight to look for his kidnapped clanmates, ordering Broadway and Hudson to remain behind and protect their home.  Once he’s gone, Elisa turns to the remaining gargoyles, which appear to agree with her, although they do not wish to disobey Goliath.  Elisa argues that Goliath had ordered them to protect their home–something the castle no longer is.

In a transitional scene, we see a bit of Macbeth’s castle home, focusing on a stained-glass mural of what appears to be Macbeth standing before a hovering female Gargoyles (could it be…SATAN Demona?). Then we head to the dungeons, where Brooklyn, Lexington and Bronx are trapped in two different cells (Lex and Brook in one, Bronx in the other).  Brooklyn asks Lex who Macbeth and Lex replies that he’d once heard Goliath mention Shakespeare’s play.  Macbeth watches the conversation from his security room.

Back at Castle Wyvern, Broadway and Hudson have decided that they will indeed leave the castle, but not without the Grimorum Arcanorum.  As they and Elisa approach the tome, they’re stopped by Owen, who in a display of supreme badassery drop-kicks Hudson and pulls a gun on Broadway, before it’s swatted away with *thwack* from Elisa’s crutch.  The danger now past, Broadway throws Owen, allowing Hudson a chance to retrieve the tome.  Their objective completed, the three clanmates leave Xanatos’ majordomo behind.

Inside Macbeth’s dungeon, Brooklyn repeatedly taps  their cell’s electrified bars out of sheer boredom.  Lexington, noticing how the lights dim in rhythm with the taps, speculates given the power output that the electrification seems to require, it might be possible to divert electricity from Bronx’s cell by having it flow into their’s, allowing the gargoyle beast a chance to escape.  Their plan works, and he does; the escape, however, does not go unnoticed by Macbeth, who smiles at this development.

As Goliath glides over Manhattan, he notices Bronx causing a ruckus as he runs through a rather busy street.  Goliath lands and asks the gargoyle beast to lead him to the others.

Macbeth watches as  Goliath and Bronx arrive at the castle; by the time the two gargoyles burst through the door, he’s at the hall to greet them personally.  Goliath orders Bronx to free Brooklyn and Lexington, leaving him alone with his enemy.  Macbeth taunts his opponent, saying that if he could defeat the Gargoyle in his home, there’s no way Goliath will defeat him in his.  He turns tail and runs deeper into the castle.  Goliath follows, avoiding and/or destroying the different deathtraps that ‘Beth has installed within it.

Finally, Goliath arrives at a room equipped with a maze of mirrors.  Frustrated, he asks Macbeth why he’s orchestrated such an elaborate scheme in order to capture them. Mac Findlaech  explains that it’s not them specifically he wants: they’re just bait for his true quarry: the clan’s “queen”, Demona.  Goliath asks if ‘Beth knows Demona.  “Know her?!” the human replies.  “I named her!”  A trap door opens beneath Goliath, sending him to a dungeon/torture chamber.

Macbeth, now carrying a torch, joins Goliath continues his explanation: with the Manhattan clan captured–the last of their kind, he notes–Demona will have no choice but to come and rescue them.  Upon hearing this, Goliath begins laughing: Macbeth couldn’t be more wrong, he explains.  “She is our enemy.  She wouldn’t lift a talon to save us.”

Realizing that all his planning has been for naught, a demoralized Macbath drops his torch in a what appears to be an ancient barbecue and begins his retreat.  Goliath isn’t letting him getting away that easy, though, and attacks.  As Macbeth tries to fend off Goliath and escape, both combatant knock over the barbie, which causes its very determined and very flames to expand and spread all over the stone floor–so not only the dungeon filthy, but it’s not up to code either.  Macbeth disappears in the confusion, but Goliath quickly finds his escape route–an iron maiden/secret door.  The chase continues.

In the other dungeon, Bronx frees Lex and Brooklyn by literally ramming his head through the bars and remaining there until electrical system shorts itself out.

As his castle burns in defiance of the laws of God and Man, Macbeth arrives at his weapon display/armory, and picks up a sword to continue the battle; however, it’s all he can do to hold his own against Goliath.  As the gargoyle strips him of all his weaponry and grabs him by his duster collar, Macbeth slides out from his coat and escapes.  Goliath turns to follow, but stops when he sees his now-freed comrades.  The four gargoyles make their escape and watch as Macbeth flies away on his airship and how the villain’s castle collapses.

As the foursome glide back to their own castle, Goliath hears Broadway calling to him from a rooftop below (apparently the one where Goliath met Elisa for their first “date”) and sees that he’s accompanied by Hudson and Elisa.  Pissed, he demands to know why they’re not protecting the castle as he ordered; Elisa, nervous but resolute, explains that they don’t live there anymore.  Broadway and Hudson back her up, saying its suicide to stay, and that their home isn’t a place, its them, the clan.   Still pissed–although his anger is now directed to Xanatos rather than at his clan–Goliath accepts the truth of what they’re saying.  Before accompanying to their new home, however, he has one more thing to do.

Owen, now remembering that he doesn’t have a Roomba or fairy godmother to do his cleaning for him, is sweeping up the pieces of shattered glass from the Grimorum Arcanorum’s broken display when Goliath enters the room with a message for Xanatos.  “We’re leaving.  But we’ll be back.  We’ll be back to claim that which is ours.”  Owen replies that he will deliver the message and continues sweeping.

After taking one last look at not-his castle, Goliath leaves.

Not a tag: Xanatos arrives at the castle and is greeted by Owen, who informs him of the loss of the Grimorum and shows him a video of Macbeth assault.  Xanatos has other things on his mind, however: he’s home.

Some hours earlier, the gargoyles inspect their new home; the inside of a broken-down clock tower.  Although it lacks the creature comforts of the castle, they all agree: this could be home.

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Anybody watching this episode for the first time will probably think the same thing…the animation!  IT BURNS!  This is by far the worst-looking episode of the canonical Gargoyles series, which is sad, because the episode is an important one.

I love Macbeth, and animation aside, it’s hard for him to have gotten a better introduction than the one he gets here.  Not only does he manage to surprise Xanatos, he gives Goliath and Co. the biggest beatdown they’ve ever gotten from an unenhanced human.  Plus, he gets some rather good lines, has an awesome design and voice actor.  All he’s missing is the awesome electric gun which will later become his trademark.

Of course, the kicker here is ‘Beth’s implied relationship with Demona.  While the exact nature of the relationship is later elaborated upon in season 2’s “City of Stone” arc, Weisman has stated that they had little idea of what that relationship was when they produced season 1, even as they hinted at it.  While nothing in the latter episodes contradicts this one, some of the scenes here seem a bit weird in retrospect; I’m not entirely sure why ‘Beth think why She who betrayed him and could not (would not?) prevent the death of the remaining Gargoyles in Scotland would save her perceived comrades.  Granted, Macbeth’s actions always had a thin veneer of desperation, but I wonder if the episode would have gone the same way had the writers known the entire history beforehand.

The theme of this episode is, of course, home.  It’s been an important theme in most of the episodes so far, and here it comes to a head, as the Gargoyles finally admit that they have lost theirs.  More than the blood and the character deaths, the way it handles this arc is what I feel most distinguished Gargoyles from its brethren, at least this early on.  The loss of a home, if not quite a universal experience, is one that a lot of people will be familiar with, and handling it in a manner that feels honest presents a challenge for most cartoons, since the topic is neither funny nor action-packed*.  Ninja Turtles, despite a lot of destroyed lairs, limited itself to the odd scene, never devoting more than seconds at a time to the matter.  Gargoyles, more daringly, made it the focus of an arc, and to their credit, their handling of it is pitch perfect.  Goliath’s stubborn refusal to leave, and his frustration when he’s forced to agree that he has no other choice feels startlingly real, as does the rest of the clan’s hesitation and Elisa’s insistence.  The characters all manage to hold different views that feel true and makes sense for each of them, and more so when we eventually learn that protecting the home is something that nears biological imperative for them.  One wonder if Elisa was entirely aware of that last bit; if not, would her opinion on the matter have changed had she known?

In the end, the Gargoyles are driven out of their old home and into the (in my opinion, natch) cooler Clock Tower.  In this aspect of their fight, at least, Xanatos wins, and even when the Gargoyles return at the end of season 2, they’re there as Xanatos guests/tenants.  Is the castle their home then?

Random thoughts:

  • A close inspection of the timeline reveals that by the time this episode ends, the Gargoyles have gone through both their first Christmas in Manhattan and their first New Year’s Eve offscreen, which begets the question of what they did during those holidays.  I can only imagine that Xanatos, ever the gracious host, got them personalized X-mas gifts, while he in turn got nothing from them.
  • One wonders if the animation is to blame for the unrealistic way the fire moves thorough the third act.  The fire starts in a room that seems to be devoid of  flammable material, and yet it quickly spreads all over the castle, and I can’t help but be bugged every time I see it.
  • Ian Pérez’s moments in denseness, part 49: It wasn’t until reviewing this episode for this essay that I realized that when Macbeth refers to Demona as Goliath’s queen, he doesn’t mean it literally, but as part of the chess metaphor he’s currently using (“you’re just the pawn”, etc).  Thinking about it, I can’t decide if ‘Beth is simply using an imperfect metaphor for the way it sounds, or if he’s actually implying that she’s the most powerful gargoyle like the queen is the most powerful piece?
  • There’s a lot of problems with scale in this episode.  Net-guns are a standard Western Animation weapon, but I don’t think they’re supposed to be able to fit in something no larger than your average handgun.
  • Yet more evidence that Owen is awesome.  One wonders if he would have actually shot the Gargoyles, and if so, what Elisa would have done about it.
  • This is the second time we see Goliath reading, which I’ve always thought is a rather cool touch, particularly since that sort of casual reading is very rarely presented in television, despite how important it is.  Also, it’s a much better approach to promoting reading than the pseudo-PSA the writers sneak into this episode about how maybe they should read up on Shakespeare–were I a stupider man, that would just makes me want to become illiterate.
  • One thing that bugs me about Macbeth’s approach inside the castle is that never seems to try to take advantage of Goliath’s disorientation.  He’s already proven that he can be a physical match for Goliath, so why doesn’t he try it.

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* Which isn’t to say that the actual loss of the home can’t involve action or violence–the creators of TMNT seemed to take perverse glee in having the Turtles’ various homes destroyed by their enemies, and Gargoyles itself will eventually feature the destruction of the Clock Tower lair by missile; however, dealing with the emotions produced by that loss once the action stops is something else altogether.