Gargoyles Noir: “The Silver Falcon”
6 September 2011 3 Comments
Written by: Cary Bates
Original Air Date: September 12, 1995
Introduces: Martin Hacker; Dominic Dracon; Pal Joey (unidentified); Mace Malone (Mentioned only)
Timeline placement: October 27- October 28, 1995
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: Ep. 4.01: “Cousin Sid”
It was a dark and stormy night, like something out of a cliche. Private Detective and master of unlocking in training Matt Bluestone breaks into a shabby, apparently empty building, and heads towards the cellar, which appears to be the site of some activity. He is greeted by blinding spotlights and men with firearms.
Elsewhere, in a world without color, an armed mafioso two clogged arteries short of a heart attack runs, panicked. By the time he thinks to look ahead of him instead of back, it’s too late: a fire escape ladder is headed right his way, driven, if such a thing can be driven, by a man in a hat and trenchcoat. The goon goes down, and, with nowhere else to go, he can do nothing but listen to the ladder-wielding man as he says:
You made one mistake, Louie. You messed with my partner. And when someone messes with your partner, you’re supposed to do something about it.
Back in the world of color, Broadway is saying those lines to. It turns out Louie and ladder guy are characters in a noir movie. Broadway, he likes old stuff.
Meanwhile, Elisa Maza, owner of the apartment where Broadway gets his Bogart on, speaks with 23rd Precinct Captain María Chávez, who tells Elisa how she’s worried about Matt Bluestone, who apparently hasn’t checked in 48 hours. Although Elisa isn’t convinced that Matt needs the help, she agrees to check on him. She unlocks her gun from her safe and prepares to leave when she is approached by Broadway, who offers to help her. Thanks but no thanks, says Elisa. One partner is enough.
Some time later, at Matt’s apartment, a masked burglar is ransacking the place when zie hears Elisa at the door. Outside, the intruder is being watched by a large guy in a hat and trenchcoat (Broadway, although given creator comments, it’s not clear if the animation was supposed to make that obvious at this point). The burglar pulls out a gun and prepares to face Elisa when Broadway breaks in and attack hir. Hearing the commotion, Elisa kicks the door open, and barely manages to avoid the burglar, whom Broadway throws into the hall.
The intruder tries to get away. Elisa tries to shoot him (and it’s clearly a “him” now) down, but before she can get a bead on him, her view is blocked by Broadway, who enthusiastically gives chase. The burglar manages to get into an elevator, but this proves to be a mistake, as now he is stuck as Broadway breaks into the shaft and pulls the elevator back up to Matt’s floor. Elisa watches as Broadway throws the burglar again, this time knocking him unconscious. She is pissed at Broadway, and the gargoyle doesn’t get why.
Elisa and Broadway bring the burglar back to Matt’s apartment and proceed to investigate. Elisa unmasks the unconscious intruder (whom she can’t identify) and searches him, finding a page from Matt’s calendar with a note from the missing detective. Broadway, for his part, turns Matt’s computer on, which, it turns out, had been rigged to explode: it’s only the burglar’s fortuitous return to consciousness, and his impulse warning, that allows the gargoyle to carry the two humans outside in time, thus avoiding very messy deaths for the three of them. Not everything is peachy, though, as the momentum from the explosion causes Broadway to miss his landing and almost fall and, although he manages to get back up with Elisa’s help, the confusion gives enough time for the burglar (now Bomb Guy) to escape.
Broadway, unfazed by this setback, asks Elisa what they’re going to next. Nothing, Elisa says: she‘s going to check the appointment Matt wrote about on the retrieved calendar page (“Hacker, 10 p.m., Cleopatra’s Needle”), while Broadway, who has already screwed up twice due to his inexperience, will go back home. Broadway protests; while he acknowledges his mistakes, he argues that the fact that they’ve almost been killed twice is proof about how dangerous the situation is, and that, given what’s already happened to Matt due to working alone, Elisa really shouldn’t be investigating this without a partner.
Cleopatra’s Needle. Elisa meets up with (Martin) Hacker, F.B.I. agent and Matt’s former partner back during the detective’s bureau days. Apparently, Matt a) told Hacker quite a bit about Elisa (including the fact that Matt considers her to be the best partner he’s ever had), while not really telling Elisa anything about Hacker, and b) asked his former partner to authenticate an item for him, specifically one that Matt believed could be a lead on the Illuminati society and c) had lost his job as a feeb specifically due to his “obsessive” attempts to prove his conspiracy theories.
The item in question, it turns out, is a letter written by one Mace Malone, a gangster during New York’s prohibition days who disappeared in 1924, and whom Matt believed had a connection with the Illuminati. The letter went like this:
Our little society has racked up quite a nest egg. Every time I see the Silver Falcon, I have to smile. Stay in touch, partner.
The letter is legit, Hacker adds, although that’s just about the only part of the whole thing that doesn’t raise even more questions–the only concrete clue is the letter’s 70-year old return address. The F.B.I. agent offers to help Elisa, but the cop declines the offer.
Not long after Hacker leaves, Elisa is approached by three armed goons, including the intruder at Matt’s apartment. Elisa, however, has a surprise of her own–namely, Broadway, who takes out two of the mooks with ease. The third, however–Mr. Bomb Guy–manages to escape, thanks to a fourth gang member serving as the getaway guy–not good, Elisa explains as she handcuffs the other two: if Bomb Guy overhead enough, his bosses at the Illuminati know about the address Hacker gave her, and it becomes a race to see who gets there first.
High on the Apex Tower skyscraper building, atop a gargoyle/gargoyle in the form of a bird of prey, Broadway watches as, across the street, Elisa (who can watch Broadway back) interviews G.F. Benton, C.P.A., who, it turns out, is a Mace Malone buff who had chosen his apartment solely because it had once been the mobster’s. He notes that the office is rather infamous for that same reason, and that it still attracted the occasional curious visitor, including, as it turned out, Matt. G.F. Benton, C.P.A. further explains that when Matt saw a particular photo resting atop a filing cabinet–one of Mace Malone and an unidentified “handsome fella” wearing a suit with a monogrammed “D.D.” on its lapel–he turned to leave with a quickness. Elisa asks G.F. Benton, C.P.A. if he knows where the photo was taken, and the accountant replies that he does: The Silver Falcon nightclub, Mace Malone’s “pride and joy”.
After asking G.F. Benton, C.P.A. to go to the police and tell them what he just told her, and filling Broadway in on what she’d just learned, Elisa and her would-be partner race to The Silver Falcon. They enter the night club and head towards the noise and light coming from the cellar. From the stairway, they spot Dracon’s lieutenant Glasses, who is ordering two workers to dig through a wall will lasers. They also find Matt, blindfolded and tied to a chair. What they don’t notice is that Glasses has spotted them as well; the gangster presses a trigger, causing several pounds of C4 to explode right above the stairwell and our heroes, burying them.
Fortunately for the two heroes, the exploding C4 proves to be too weak to kill them on the spot, while at the same time being strong enough to open a hole several feet deep on the cellar floor; Elisa and Broadway find themselves several feet underground, and only Broadway’s strength has prevented the rocks above them to collapsing and killing them both. Unfortunately, that fickle bastard known as the sun chooses this moment to rise, turning the gargoyle to stone and preventing him from being anything but the world’s most elaborate pillar.
Matt, sensing an opportunity to help Elisa, goads Glasses, reminding him that he hasn’t fulfilled Tony’s orders about destroying Mace’s letter, and that unless he frees Elisa and sees the letter himself, he can never be sure whether she had it or gave it to someone else.
Elisa is working on digging herself out when she notices people doing the same from above. In order to prevent the sleeping Broadway from being spotted, she breaks off one of the beams supporting the stones above them, causing a small cave-in which buries and hides the gargoyle.
Elisa is pulled out of the wreckage. Ignoring the fact that there had been a second person down there, Glasses goes directly for Malone’s letter, which he destroys, just in time for the arrival of the big man himself, Tony Dracon.
With Elisa and Matt contained no more obstacles in sight, Glasses and the rest of Tony’s crew continue their work, unimpeded. Matt remarks that the entire effort has to be rather expensive, which prompts Tony to note that his goal is worth it: if his hunch pays off, he’ll find a collection of uncut diamonds that Mace and his grandfather stole decades ago–a stash worth twenty times what he’s spent.
Matt provides Elisa with additional details: D.D. is Dominic Dracon, Tony’s Grandfather, who had been Mace’s partner during a diamond heist decades ago, only for Mace to run away with the loot. In other words, Matt had been drawn into a wild sheep chase, one that didn’t involve the Illuminati at all. Worse still, he says, he went into it without letting Elisa know.
Glasses and the crew have finished their digging, having uncovered a man-sized safe, the sort Dick Cheney would use. Instead of calling Geraldo Rivera to properly hype it, they open it, only to find it empty, save for a note.
Right idea, wrong falcon. Better luck next time. Love, Mace.
Tony, incensed, throws the note away. Elisa, with a bit of cockiness, asks Tony to calm down: she knows where the jewels are, and she will lead Tony there, as long as Matt and she go free. Tony agrees, giving his word as a Dracon. Elisa specifies that, given the loot’s location, they’ll have to wait until dark before they can try to retrieve it.
Nightfall. At the Silver Falcon nightclub, Broadway awakens to find the establishment empty. After looking around, he finds Mace Malone’s discarded note and, with some difficulty, manages to make out its message. Pondering the its meaning, he heads towards the opened safe and, as he stares at his reflection on its door, inspiration strikes.
Elisa leads Dracon’s helicopter to the Apex Tower, where she and Dracon exit onto the observation deck. As Elisa climbs atop one of the building’s gargoyles, she explains that the building is visible from Mace Malone’s office, and that once you take away decades’ worth of soot from the falcon statues, you see…silver.
Elisa reaches inside the falcon’s open beak and retrieves a satchel. She checks its contents and satisfied, turns towards Dracon, who insists that if she hands it over she will be safe. Elisa isn’t buying it, but fortunately, she has another option: Broadway has arrived, and she sees the gargoyle standing unseen on a windowsill. She takes the leap.
Dracon, his plans now falling apart, jumps back into his helicopter and orders the pilot to descend to the streets, to see if they can pick some of the diamonds from among the Elisa giblets. With Elisa safe, Broadway goes after Dracon’s helicopter; unseen, he disables the vehicle’s hydraulics with a punch, forcing Glasses to try to make an emergency landing, one that knocks him unconscious. Tony makes a run for it, leaving Pal Joey alone with Matt, who easily overpowers the mobster.
Desperate and exhausted, Tony runs into an alleyway, and is knocked on his feet by a swinging fire escape ladder driven, if such a thing can be driven, by Broadway. Dracon, who know recognizes his stalker, stares horrified as Broadway delivers his version of the line from the noir movie: “You made one mistake, Dracon: you messed with my partner. When someone messes with your partner, you’re supposed to do something about it.”
Meanwhile, satchel in hand, Elisa climbs her way to safety, only to run into Dominic Dracon (a.k.a. G.F. Benton, C.P.A.), who prevents her from climbing over the railing and into solid footing. Elisa isn’t surprised, though; she’d known who he was since she realized that he was the only one who could have warned Tony about her upcoming appearance at the night club. Dominic demands the satchel, but Elisa throws it onto one of the silver falcons. Growing panicky, the old mobster lets Elisa go and goes for the satchel, only to find (after feeling around inside the bag for a comically long time) that instead of diamonds, the satchel is filled with marbles…and a note from Mace.
Dominic, seems you still haven’t learned that crime doesn’t pay.
Demoralized, D.D. makes no attempts to resist arrest by Elisa.
Daylight breaks, and the NYPD formally arrests the entire Dracon gang.
- Matt Bluestone first mentioned the Illuminati society in “The Edge“.
- Tony Dracon and his gang were last seen in “Deadly Force“. The white streak in Tony’s hair was obtained off-screen, and is a physiological reaction to his encounter with the gargoyles.
This episode functions as a sequel to “Deadly Force”, but its actual thematic kin is “The Edge”, as it continues to deal with the theme of partnership and trust. Matt doesn’t trust Elisa and gets captured, and his apartment is blown up. Mace Malone and Dominic Dracon don’t seem to trust each other at all, and indeed appear to have a relationship where they attempt to one-up one another via deception. It is not until Elisa and Broadway begin to trust one another that they can work together. We don’t know how much trust is involved in Tony Dracon’s outfit, but they seem to work rather well together–they’re just physically outmatched when it comes to the gargoyles.
I actually don’t much like the way the show handles these issues. The show goes to a lot of trouble to insist that solitude is undesirable and bad, which, as a person who loves solitude, sticks on my craw. I like working alone. I like being alone. This does not make me a sociopath, nor does it mean I hate people. And yet, characters who enjoy and thrive on solitude are in short supply in the series; gargoyles, who despite Weisman’s best efforts do come off as an idealized race, are biologically primed against solitude; Elisa winds up losing arguments about needing a partner, and whenever somebody comments on being single, it’s so they can angst about it.
Regarding trust, I can understand the overall point, but I feel the show goes too far in making it, and I dislike the implication that true trust can’t co-exist with secrets. For all its problems, I love that in One Piece, Luffy is unwavering in his trust for his crew, even after he’s warned that said crewmates have a history of repeatedly being the only survivor of whatever group zie’s in. I love that Commissioner Gordon doesn’t need to know Batman’s secret identity in order to work with him. I love that Black Canary could trust Oracle even when she was only an anonymous voice, even though I love that they eventually got to meet. Trust involves more than just not keeping secrets; sometimes its about knowing that your partner is doing the right thing, even when you don’t have all the details. And that’s something I feel the show misses in its depiction.
There’s really not a lot to say about the episode otherwise–it’s perfectly good, but rather unremarkable from a mytharc standpoint, so on to the…
- I’m not a big fan of Tony Dracon’s skunk stripe. I get why Weisman put it there, but I sort of feel like Tony’s the kind of person who would try to hide it via hair dye than leave it on display. On the other hand, I feel that more work should be put in making the henchmen distinct, particularly if he’s going to start naming them.
- Did Greg Weisman ever had plans for having Brooklyn and co. Timedance to the 1920’s? Dominic and Mace’s past seemed like an obvious hook for future plots, and that particular device seems like the most natural way to deal with it. Plus, I find Prohibition era to be a really fascinating stage in the U.S.’ history, and I’d love to see the show’s take on it.
- One particular thing that strikes me as odd is that at the Silver Falcon Night Club, no one, not even Matt, really makes an issue about the heavy guy that’s with Elisa when she falls into Dracon’s trap.
- This is the first episode in which Goliath doesn’t star, which I liked. I feel that a lot of opportunities are missed when a show insists in showcasing every single cast member in all episodes, so it’s nice to see that Gargoyles‘ producers are smart enough to avoid that particular trap (TMNT, by the way, only had two episodes which didn’t feature all four turtles). It’s also nice to see that it’s not just Goliath who has a special relationship with Elisa, and that there can friendships between members of opposite genders without sex getting involved, particularly since last episode established that gargoyles and humans can feel sexual attraction to one another.
- Given Matt’s remarks on needing a partner in “The Edge”, his behavior here comes off as a tad hypocritical, and the more I think about it, the less I like the character, and I wonder if that’s supposed to be intentional on the part of Weisman and Co.
- Given the time difference involved and the thousands of possibilities, I wonder why Dominic and Tony were so sure that the diamonds had to still be in play.
- One wonders when exactly Matt was booted from the force, how much time passed between that and being hired at the N.Y.P.D., and what he did between both. There’s a story there, I feel.
- Speaking of untold stories, taking the time of Elisa’s appointment into account (10 p.m.) and the alleged urgency of the case, it seems rather strange that it was almost dawn by the time they’d made it to Mace’s nightclub. Where was all that time spent?