Fight For Your Right To Keep Your Lair Secret, Goliath!: “The Edge”
9 June 2010 6 Comments
“This is [Xanatos’] century, his world. We are outcasts, strangers in a strange land. We have no hope of regaining what is rightfully ours.”–Goliath
Original Air Date: January 13, 1995
Introduces: Travis Marshall; The Eye of Odin; Xanatos’ Battle Armor
Timeline placement: Jan. 12 – Jan. 14, 1995
During a sparring match with Owen, Xanatos gets his ass handed to him in five seconds flat–the first time he’s ever been beaten during the excercise. While he’s somewhat shaken by the incident, he dismisses it and gets right back to business, rescheduling a meeting with “the Emir”.
At the 23th District HQ entrance, Elisa has her hands full carrying a TV set. As she tries to maneuver the door open, dropping the TV remote in the process, she’s helped by a red-haired man in a trenchcoat–the same man whom viewers (but not Elisa) first saw driving with Captain María Chávez back in “Deadly Force“–who opens the door for her. He asks what the TV is for, and she explains that it’s just a gift she’s “stashing” for the day. As she thanks him and enters the building, she leaves the remote behind, until Red Hair picks it up and goes in behind her.
At Captain Chávez’s office, Elisa is complaining about her superior’s decision to assign her a partner. It’s not up for discussion however; one has already been assigned: María opens the door, revealing Red Hair, whom she introduces as Detective Matt Bluestone. “You dropped this” he says, handing his new partner the remote she’d accidentally abandoned.
As both detectives walk through the precinct, Elisa continues her complaining, only now with Matt. “I don’t need a partner, and I don’t want a partner.” Matt, in turn, replies with “Hey, I understand; problem is you have a partner: me.” After making an offhand comment about a conspiracy to ruin her life–a comment Bluestone responds to seriously–Elisa asks to be excused for twenty minutes while she works on something.
Elisa makes her way to a broom closet inside the precinct. Television in tow, she pulls down a service ladder leading to the Gargoyles’ lair, where the gargoyles are relaxing. She asks for Goliath, but is told that he’s downstairs at the library. The detective makes her way there and finds Goliath alone reading Dostoyevsky (which prompts Elisa to joke: “Yeah? Who’s it by?”). The detective notes that Goliath is broody, and asks what’s bothering him. “Xanatos”, he replies: he’s managed to take everything from them, and enjoys every advantage, while the Gargoyles are forced to live as outcasts. He expresses his desire to make Xanatos feel the misery he currently feels.
Back at the lair, the gargoyles and Elisa are trying out their new TV when they see Xanatos appear on the screen. The gargoyles watch as newsman Travis Marshall does a piece on Xanatos’ public donation of a priceless jewel called The Eye of Odin to the Museum of Modern Art. Although it purports to be a softball piece, Travis includes a commentary on Xanatos’ recent stint in prison, one the billionaire blows off with a simple “it was a mistake”. Goliath throws what would be called a hissy fit where it not being voiced by Keith David, establishing a theme for this episode.
Later, as they drive through the city, Matt is telling a skeptical Elisa with his theories on the Illuminati, a group that he believes secretly controls the world, when the detectives hear an alert on the police scanner: there’s a robbery in progress at the Museum of Modern Art. As they arrive, guns drawn, they see a shadowy winged creature resembling a gargoyle break through the windows and fly away. Before Elisa can properly process whats going on, she sees Matt take aim at the creature. She tries to stop him, but it’s too late; fortunately for her, the bullet bounces off the creature, confirming to Elisa that the creature was not a gargoyle. Once the creature flies out of sight, Matt asks why his partner tried to stop him, and she explains that shooting the creature was reckless, since they had no idea what it was or what shooting it would do.
Back at the 23rd, Captain Chávez briefs Elisa on the various creature sightings: apparently, they (Chávez notes that there are at least three of them) have been seen (and photographed) all over the city. Matt enters the room and turns the TV on to a report by Travis Marshall, where he airs security camera footage from the museum robbery, which shows a goliath-like silhouette (framed in shadow despite the otherwise normal lighting) breaking the glass display and taking the Eye of Odin. Captain Chávez asks her two detectives for their opinions, but Elisa has nothing to say, yet.
Up at the lair, Elisa tells Goliath and Co all she’s learned. Given the facts, they conclude that the Eye of Odin must have been stolen by one of Xanatos’ rebuilt robots. Goliath decides that enough is enough, and orders Hudson to stay guarding the tower while he and The Trio head out to confront Xanatos.
As Goliath and The Trio fly off towards Castle Wyvern, Elisa dashes towards her car. Before she can follow, she’s stopped by Matt Bluestone, who insists on coming with her despite her protests, saying that she won’t let her go out alone with those “monsters” on the loose. Elisa protests, but eventually gives in.
Castle Wyvern. Xanatos stands outside, waiting for something. Goliath and The Trio make their entrance, and Goliath approaches Xanatos while the others hang back in the parapets. Goliath then throws another hissy fit, decrying Xanatos’ theft of their identities. Xanatos remains unflappable, saying that Goliath misunderstands; he just wants to aid the Gargoyles by making them an offer they can’t refuse: stay with him as his guests at a facility upstate, or be hunted down by the public he’s turned against them. Goliath has no response; enraged, he tells his kin that they’re leaving.
Meanwhile, Elisa, followed by Matt, makes her way into the Eyrie Building. Before she can make her way past the lobby, she is stopped by Owen, who insists that the detective is no longer welcome and that, unless she has a warrant, she is intruding. Elisa acquiesces; as she exits the building, she spots the Gargoyles gliding off, and rushes to follow her in her car, with Bluestone in tow.
As they glide back home, Goliath and Co. are attacked. It’s the Steel Clan, led by a robot with a distinctive red hue. Worse, they’ve been upgraded since their last encounter, fighting off their flesh counterparts with ease. Eventually, the robots herd the gargoyles towards a rooftop, and then grow immobile, hovering, but doing nothing else. Goliath surmises that they’re waiting for the Manhattan clan to retreat to their lair and so discover their location.
Below, a crowd of spectators has gathered on the streets, and is watching the battle above. Elisa and Matt arrive at the scene, and ask Travis Marshall what’s going on. “Looks like that urban myth about gargoyles just became urban reality,” he says.
Realizing that they can’t stay at their present location, Goliath elects to move the battle to a more isolated location. He leads the trio to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, with the Steel Clan following. As they make their way there, they are watched by an astonished public, including Matt Bluestone, who watches them through commandeered binoculars.
Statue of Liberty. As Goliath battles Red Leader, the trio tussles with the two other Steel Clan. In the end, Broadway defeats them both, causing one to crash into the Statue of Liberty’s book, and throwing its now-severed arm at the other robot, impaling it in its chest and causing it to crash.
Its comrades defeated, Red Leader, which had been holding its own against Goliath, is now surrounded by the Manhattan Clan. Outnumbered, it decides to cut and run. Noticing approaching helicopters, the Manhattan clan does the same. As they glide away, a police helicopter arrives at the scene, piloted by Derek Maza and carrying Elisa, Matt, and Marshall. The four discover the wreckage left by the two robots.
Later, at the Tower, Elisa informs Goliath that the official story is that all the flying creatures were robots created by persons unknown, which means that the flesh and blood gargoyles are safe. Goliath is pleased: tonight’s victory was their first definitive one against Xanatos, and obtaining it has dispelled Goliath’s worries about Xanatos. As he turns to stone for the day, he’s happy, for the first time in a while.
Meanwhile, as Matt and Chávez exit the 23rd Precinct Building, Matt expresses his disbelief at the party line: those things he saw were not robots, and he’s going to find out what they really were.
At Castle Wyvern, Red Leader turns out to be Xanatos himself. Owen notes that the night did not end successfully, as they did not learn the Gargoyles’ new location. Xanatos isn’t worried, however, since everything else went right: he has the Eye of Odin and the perks that came from donating it; he’s successfully tested his exo-armor; and he’s proved his mettle against Goliath. His worries about his edge dissipated, Xanatos smiles.
When I initially watched season one, this was my favorite episode after the pilot: a Xanatos spotlight and a return to the super-good animation of the first five episodes? Be still my heart. While time has led me to view the episode in a more critical light, there’s still a lot to like in this episode.
First–of course–there’s Xanatos’ big return to the spotlight, proving that despite his defeat back in “Awakening”, the writers have little intention of subjecting him through villain decay—a big departure for a villain in a children’s cartoon. As in previous episodes, we see him using every tactic in his book: setting himself up as an apparent victim; unnerving his enemies with his calmness, and attempting to have them destroy themselves. Not only that, whereas “Awakening” had him humiliatingly defeated by falling masonry, this episode also establishes him as a very physical threat to Goliath.
This episode also features an important win for Goliath, particularly since his previous victory over Xanatos has now been erased with his release. While it’s mostly hollow—Xanatos will eventually discover the lair’s location on his own, and pretty much does nothing with that knowledge—it allows Goliath to boost his morale, relax a little and recover a bit from all the recent tragedy in his life, something he really hasn’t been able to do since “Awakening pt. 5”.
The other important event in this episode is the proper introduction of Detective Matt Bluestone (played by Tom Wilson, whom I fucking love–why aren’t you in Glee?), after his brief appearance back in “Deadly Force”–one of my favorite bits of long-term planning from the show. He doesn’t do much here aside from being the Mulder to Elisa’s Scully*, but already he feels fairly three-dimensional–conspiracy theory angle, semi-reckless behavior (what if the robot had exploded?), concern for his partner…it’s a lot to learn for a just-introduced supporting character, particularly when he’s not even the focus of the episode.
As I was initially writing this, I was going to include a paragraph about how I never really bought Matt’s “good guy” persona, thinking that he acted like a smug git towards Elisa, spouting platitudes to someone whom he’s known for twenty minutes (even though I think that he’s right on the money when it comes to the subject). Then, as I did my scene-by-scene rewatch, I noticed something that made me feel somewhat differently about him: the way he helps Elisa in their initial scene, not by offering to carry the TV–which would have been the more obvious, “manly” thing to do–but by opening the door. It’s speaks to certain level of …I don’t know, trust? It’s the one scene where he doesn’t come off as condescending. Fortunately, he comes off better in future episodes as he and Elisa grow to trust each other.
- Matt’s revolver is huge. It’s worth noting that this is the only time we see it–when next he draws a weapon in “Reawakening”, it’s a standard handgun like Elisa’s, the second such inconsistency in the series.
- The Eye of Odin doesn’t play too much of a role here–it’s merely a Macguffin–but it will prove very important in the second season. Still, its role here could have been filled by any generic item.
- I’ve never quite gotten how there’s a library inside the Clock Tower–at least not a library carrying stuff like Dostoyevsky. The Gargoyles wiki explains that the library includes several establishments besides the police station, which makes things clearer, but it’s still not something that’s really made clear from the episode.
- Another episode with flying enemies, another scene where it is inevitably made to crash into a solid object. While it’s not quite tiresome yet, it will eventually become so.
- While a lot of noise is made about gargoyles’ inability to truly fly, the animators are perfectly willing to cheat when it suits their purpose, such as here. Given the Steel Clan’s greater mobility and capacity for long-distance attacks, they should have no problem just blasting the Gargoyles from above. Granted, that’s not their intention here, but its an early sign of the creators’ propensity to make tough enemies weaker than they should be in order to allow the ‘goyles to eke out their plot-required victories–see “Archmage, The”.
- Travis Marshall will eventually become the go-to guy when the series needs someone to report on news. While his role isn’t really expanded much beyond that, he does manage to desplay a certain amount of personality. Here, as in future episodes, he manages to feel as if there’s something more to him than what we see.
- I really like the set design for the Clock Tower–more than what we end up seeing of the castle, even.