Introducing the Most Delicious Gargoyle: “Reawakening”

“A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air.”–Hudson, repeatedly.

Original Air Date: February 3, 1995
Introduces: Coldstone; Othello; Mr. Jaffe
Timeline placement: Feb. 3 – Feb. 4, 1995

Synopsis:

As snow falls over Manhattan, a robber holds Mr. Jaffe’s general story at gunpoint, and steals the money in the cash register–the third time it’s happened this month (althought presumably not with the same robber).

We flash back to Scotland, on the day of the Wyvern Massacre.  Goliath, accompanied by Not-Yet-Demona,  is preparing for his trek to track down the vikings, when a clan member we hadn’t seen before–Othello (not his actual name)–asks him why they need to go after the invaders at all, instead of just letting them have the castle and move the clan elsewhere.  The question is answered by an approaching Not-Yet-Hudson, who remarks that “a gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air.”

Goliath takes the opportunity to ask his mentor to join him in his hunt.  He says farewell to his two rookery siblings, telling Othello (not his actual name) to guard the castle, and that he will see him again; and Not-Yet-Demona that he will never lose sight of her.  He then takes wing in search of the vikings.

Manhattan, present day; snowy with a chance of more snow.  Inside the Clock Tower, the Trio prepares to head outside for a movie, and invite Hudson to go along.  He declines, saying that a) he’ll be able to see the movie once it comes out on cable (fat chance, given that it’s Bambi) and b) somebody has to stay guarding the tower.  He begins reciting the gargoyles-protect-breathe idiom, and finds himself getting echoed by the younger gargoyles, who have heard it enough so that it no longer means anything to them–Lexington even comments that they don’t live in a castle anymore.

Exit trio and enter Elisa, looking all sorts of cute with her scarf and gloves.  Small talk with Goliath eventually turns to the topic of the police motto: Protect and Serve.  Goliath asks her to elaborate, and she explains that a policeman’s job is to protect the people of the city.

Elisa prepares to leave for her shift; Goliath offers to go with her, despite the obvious dificulties.

Castle Wyvern.  As they bitch at one another, Xanatos and Demona do their best Frankenstein impersonation, as they use a combination of magic and SCIENCE! to bring a moster to life.  Surprise!  It’s Othello (not his real name), decked out with plenty of circuitry, making him a cyborg gargoyle corpse “cold stone, brought to life,” according to Demona.

Demona asks Coldstone what he remembers, which turns out to be basically everything until his death.  Demona fills in the millenium-long gap, saying that Goliath abandoned him, and that it’s his fault that Othello (not his actual name) is in his current state.  She leads the alive-again ‘goyle to a mirror, where he gets a look at his new self.  It’s not pretty.

Elisa, at Matt’s request, stops her car by Mr. Jaffe’s store.  Matt tells his partner the storeowner’s sad tale, and how he wishes there was more they could do for him.  He goes inside the store to check on his friend, but Elisa elects to stay behind.  As she waits for her partner, she contacts Goliath through the tiny two-way radio they’d procured beforehand.  Goliath asks why the storekeeper doesn’t simply close down the store and move to a safer area, and Elisa explains that, given the neighborhood’s dire straits, the store is the one place where its people can buy food; Mr. Jaffee knows this, and considers keeping the store open to be part of his responsibility to his community.

A code three alert is heard through Elisa’s scanner, requesting all officers to head to Times Square.  Matt rejoins Elisa and they speed towards the scene, where police have cordoned of the area and are attempting to stop Coldstone (who they can’t see clearly due to the “darkness”) who has been causing widespread destruction in the area.  Elisa and Matt try to shoot the cy-goyle down, but bullets just bounce of him.  Coldstone prepares to throw a car at the two officers, but gets tackled by Goliath before he can launch it.

The policemen at the scene manage to shine spotlights on Coldstone, making him visible to all.  Goliath, seeing but not recognizing his fallen brother, calls the cyborg an abomination.

Coldstone, upon seeing Goliath clearly for the first time, accidentally activates his arm cannon (the same one Steel Clan robots are outfitted with) and shoots.  The two gargoyles fight.  As they battle, Goliath begins to realize the truth: he is fighting his brother.

As the battle continues, its collateral damage reaches a nearby movie theater, where The Trio watches Bambi.

Outside, Coldstone has Goliath at his mercy, and prepares for the finishing blow, when…

MOON TIARA…MAGIC!

No, wait, it’s just a hubcap, heralding the arrival of the Trio.  A second hubcap allows Goliath to free himself.  Soon after, Xanatos (in his red armor), Demona, and a Steel Clan robot I will call “Scott” appear, once again evening the odds, and allowing Goliath to understand why his brother has turned against him.  The policemen, still observing, have no idea what to do.

“We have each created our own clans now, Goliath,” Demona says, “you have yours, and I have mine.”  She orders Coldstone to kill Goliath, but Xanatos belays the order–that’s not what he wants.  Demona tries to convince Coldstone that killing Goliath and Co. is the proper thing if they wish to survive, but the cyborg is clearly conflicted, particularly after Goliath pleads for mercy, given that there’s already been too much killing.

As this discussion goes on, a news van approaches the scene, with Travis Marshall inside.  Elisa warns Goliath, who, suggests to Xanatos (whom he still believes is off-site) that it probably be best to move the battle elsewhere.  Xanatos agrees,  and the two clans take off.  Elisa, who has heard Xanatos’ suggested location, tells Goliath via the radio that she’ll be sure to bring back-up.

Goliath and the Trio are the first to appear at the agreed-upon destination: George Washinton Bridge.  Demona’s “clan” arrives soon after and immediately begins attacking.  They soon settle on one-on-one fighting: Brooklyn takes on Demona; Lexington fights Scott; Broadway battles Xanatos; and Goliath wrestles Coldstone atop the bridge.  Lex, the first to defeat his opponent (Scott proves to be unsurprisingly vulnerable to walls), then goes for Xanatos, and manages to damage his armor enough so that he’s forced to remove his helmet and reveal himself.  Meanwhile, Goliath and Coldstone have managed to fight themselves out of the bridge and into the freezing river.  As both gargoyles sink, one of them–it’s not clear which–recalls Hudson’s mantra about gargoyles’ need to protect, and, as Goliath reaches out for his brother, the cyborg grabs his arm and flies them both towards safety.

The battle isn’t over yet, however; Demona is still determined to kill Goliath.  Coldstone asks her what the point is; is it mere survival, as she’d previously indicated?  Demona thinks that’s enough, but Goliath disagrees: gargoyles live to protect, he says; to lose that is to become empty.

Demona, sensing the potential for a philosophical discussion, decides to stop it in its tracks by shooting Goliath.  Coldstone moves to protect his brother and gets hit by the blast, which causes him to malfuction and to fall off the bridge and into the water.

As Goliath dives into the river to save his brother, Demona aims for the three remaining gargoyles.  Before she can shoot, her blaster is knocked out of her hands by Xanatos, who repeats that he wants them alive.  At that moment, Bronxs enters the scene and pins Xanatos down.  Elisa, who has also arrived with Hudson aims to arrest the whole bunch, but Xanatos has other plans: activating his jetpack, he frees himself, picks up Demona, and flies into the night.

Elisa asks a downcast trio what happened to the monster; Goliath, who has just returned emptyhanded, tells her that he was no monster but family, and that now he’s gone.

As the gargoyles prepare to head back home, Brooklyn asks Goliath what exactly it is they protect.  Hudson answers that they protect the watchtower, but Goliath disagrees, saying that that is merely where they sleep: the clan, he says, protects Manhattan–that is their castle, and one they will endeavor to protect from that day on.  Elisa, concerned, asks if Goliath needs anything (awwh… She cares!); Goliath answers that he will need a detective.

Dawn, some time later.  The robber from the beginning of the episode is once again at Mr. Jaffe’s.  However, he has not come to steal, but to return the money he’d stolen last time.  Pressed for an explanation, he says that he’s been ordered to do so by six monsters.  Outside the store, Elisa, flanked by the now-stone Manhattan Clan, comments that the city feels safer already.

—-

So the first season ends, not with a bang, nor with a whimper, but with…I don’t know. It’s a good bit more restrained than most season enders try to be, and it works well enough: it’s a good–if not great–ending to the first act of the Gargoyles saga, and there’s really not much to say about it.

The big thing about this episode is that it marks the gargoyles’ transition from mere survivors to protectors-slash-super-heroes, as they expand their circle of protection from the clock tower to the entirety of Manhattan Island.  It’s a necessary step for the series, and more than anything else, it’s what makes the episode feel like an ending, instead of merely a semi-arbitrary stop.  According to Weisman, Goliath’s vow doesn’t represent a new approach to things, but a reaffirmation of the values they always held but had forgotten in the transition to the 20th century and their forced relocation to the clock tower.  While I’m not entirely convinced this is the case, the transition still makes a certain amount of sense: after all, if one concludes that the Scotland gargoyles limited themselves to protecting a castle because it was a self-contained, self-sustaining enviroment (at least from their perspective), then the appropriate modern day equivalent would indeed be the city and its community.  Weisman notes that this is still a pretty limited view–that eventually gargoyles would come to see themselves as defenders of the world–and while I’m not entirely sure how that would work, I’m game.

The other big thing here is, of course, Coldstone–at least, it would be, if there were anything to say about him.  Here, he’s definitively in “sentient plot device” territory (which is unfortunately where he’ll spend most of his time) with not much personality to speak of.  He’s got a cool design (albeit one that I think could have been improved had the artists stuck more closely to the idea that he’s a reanimated statue) but that’s it.  There’s also no sign of the other two personalities lying dormant within–the creators wouldn’t think of that until season 2.

I’ve previously mentioned that, despite holding up very well in general terms, Gargoyles still have moments that date it terribly (for example, Xanatos’ use of floppy disks) and this episode features one that is subtle, and yet terribly important: basically, the way the gargoyles’ masquerade isn’t considered to be in jeopardy until a news crew arrives.  It’s a scenario that wouldn’t work at all a decade later, wit cell phone cameras and Youtube accounts being ubiquitous.  Combined with the series’ use of Hollywood darkness, it contributes to a scene that doesn’t quite ring true when watched with modern eyes.  Here we have police mobilized in Times Square; dozens, if not hundreds, of witnesses; and one of the most well-lit areas in the city, and the gargoyles are still considered urban legend-y enough to arouse ridicule whenever they’re mentioned seriously (see “Avalon” pt. 1)?  Unfortunately, we don’t really see the aftermath of this episode’s events; by the time we catch up with the Gargoyles in season 2, it’s been almost exactly  seven months since Coldstone’s rampage, which is more than enough for the public at large to have set the incident aside in favor of the problem of the day.

Weisman has been on record as a lover of parallelism, and you have it in spades here.  Obvious title aside, the whole episode plays as a twisted reflection of the pilot, with Demona and Xanatos together again in order to bring a gargoyle into the present day in order to co-opt him.  We get another flashback to the day of the massacre.  All in all, it’s yet another thing that adds to the “finale” feel of the episode.

As for the season itself?  Well, it reminds me of Avatar‘s freshman season: it’s good, but completely overshadowed by what came afterwards.   Had the series ended at this point, it would probably have been remembered as a good series with a lot of unfulfilled promise, and then quietly forgotten as time went by.  While the season as a whole is entertaining, well written, and (usually) very good looking, the series won’t acquire its spark until season 2, which I (we?  nosotros?) will begin exploring in two weeks.

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7 Responses to Introducing the Most Delicious Gargoyle: “Reawakening”

  1. Padraig says:

    “Weisman notes that this is still a pretty limited view–that eventually gargoyles would come to see themselves as defenders of the world–and while I’m not entirely sure how that would work, I’m game.”

    I think Greg means for this to be a very long term development. Like 2198 long term.

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