Triangles: “City of Stone” Part Two

“You want vengeance, or a solution?  This is bigger than anything either of us has ever faced.”David Xanatos

Written by: Michael C. Reaves (Story); Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia C. Marano (Teleplay)
Original Air Date: September 19, 1995
Introduces: Canmore
Timeline placement: 1032; November 9, 1995
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: “Tale of Master Yoshi”, “Secret Origins”, “City at War”

The beats:

The Past:

  • Duncan orders Gruoch marry Gilcomgain.  Macbeth isn’t terribly happy about this, and suggests that he would rather take Gruoch and run before he’d ever let his love marry Gilcomgain, but he eventually falls in line after Gruoch reminds him of the hellish existence this would entail.
  • Gruoch marries Gilcomgain on the same day Duncan announces the birth of his son, Canmore.
  • Duncan orders Gilcomgain to assassinate Macbeth. Gil snarkily reminds the king of the dangers this would present–Macbeth is well loved, and his death could raise questions about Findlaech’s–and does so in a way that suggests that if he is an attack dog, he is one wouldn’t mind biting its master.   Seeing the writing on the wall, Duncan later calls upon Macbeth and informs him that Gilcomgain is The Hunter.
  • The three old gargoyle women inform NotYet!Demona that The Hunter will rise again that night, and once again beseech her to ally herself with Macbeth.  NotYet!Demona considers this, but makes no promises as to what she’ll do.
  • Macbeth arrives at Castle Moray and confronts Gilcomgain, making clear his intention to slay him.  “Our hero” initially gains the upper hand, but loses it when Gilcomgain takes Gruoch as a human shield.  Unfortunately for him, he also admits that he is indeed The Hunter by putting on his mask, which is all the information Demona–who has been hiding nearby watching the proceedings–needs to attack.
  • While Macbeth rescues Gruoch–Demona almost pushes her away from the parapets–Demona battles her old adversary.  She gains the upper hand and, as she pushes him against the castle parapets in order to get him to fall, she unmasks him.  Gil brings up the trio of scars lining his face, stressing how important they are to him and expecting Demona to find them as significant as he does.  She doesn’t–she doesn’t even remember what he’s talking about.
  • About to fall, Gilcomgain attempts to take Demona with him.  Fortunately, they both hang on long enough to let Macbeth rescue the Gargoyle, while Gilcomgain is tail-whipped into the abyss.
  • NotYet!Demona thanks Macbeth for rescuing him.  Macbeth declares that he owes her; she declares that they’re even.
  • Not long after, Macbeth–now High Steward of Moray–and Gruoch marry.  Out of sigh from the happy couple, Duncan, holdng Gilcomgain’s mask, watches, and tells baby Canmore that there will always be a Hunter.
  • Inside Castle Moray, we meet four new characters: Findlaech, High Stewart of Moray; Macbeth, his teenage son; Bodhe, Findlaech’s friend and advisor, and Gruoch, the latter’s daughter. Macbeth and Gruoch are attracted to one another, a fact that goes unnoticed by no one. As both teenagers play chess, the adults discuss Macbeth’s cousin, who is slated to become king and whose ability to rule fairly they are not confident about.

The Present:

  • Xanatos manages to take control of the falling helicopter and land it in the middle of a Manhattan street. He notices that it’s not just Fox that’s been turned to stone–it’s the entire city.  With the streets clogged by immobile cars, he decides to make the trek to  Pack Media Studios on foot.
  • The gargoyles awaken and find Elisa–now stone like the rest of the city–at the lair entrance, and logically assume that it’s merely a very strange statue.  Sensing that something is off, they go out on patrol, sans Broadway or Bronx.  As they glide through New York, they notice more and more statues.
  • The ‘goyles stop by Robbins’ house for a visit.  Like them, he feels that something is wrong, but is unable to give any concrete details other than the fact that it began with a broadcast by a Latin-speaking woman…
  • With something to go on, Goliath outlines a plan: he and Brooklyn will look for Demona, while Hudson and Lexington will go to the Clocktower to get the remaining two ‘goyles.  While he is now convinced that the “statue” is Elisa herself, he decides that leaving her alone will present no special danger to her.
  • Meanwhile, Demona is having the time of her life blasting New Yorkers into rubble until the time comes for her rendezvous with Xanatos.  As this is happening, the modern-day Hunter tracks the source of Demona’s broadcast.
  • Goliath and Brooklyn inspect the remains of Demona’s killing spree  when they are addressed bya trio of statues bearing the likenesses of identical-looking young girls.  They stress the importance of stopping Demona, the importance of every single life and the dangers of the cycle of vengeance.  Once their message is completed, the statues crumble into dust.
  •   Xanatos and Demona arrive at Pack Media at roughly the same time.  Before they can throw down in earnest, however, they are interrupted by the arrival of the modern-day Hunter.  Demona attempts to escape her old foe, but the Hunter is tenacious.  Even so, she eventually manages to free herself from her would-be killer.  Of particular note is the fact that Demona and The Hunter appear to be connected somehow, as the pain visited upon one of them is felt by the other; it is this particular quirk that allows Demona to know just who is behind the mask.
  • Left alone, Xanatos stops Demona’s broadcast.  This, however, is not enough to break the spell.
  • Goliath arrives at the studio, where Xanatos fills him in on what actually happened.  Although Goliath would like nothing more than make Xanatos pay for his role in the night’s events, he acknowledges his foe’s point: they’re going to have to work together if Demona is to be stopped.

—-

Continuity Notes:

With the present day scenes mostly concerned with moving pieces around the board, most of the interest in this episode lies in the past, where everyone is manipulating each other, with our “heroes” caught in the middle. It’s not The Curse of Chalion, but still, the fact that the series is even attempting stuff like this–and doing it well–is awesome.

While they’re easily overshadowed by more visible antagonists, I really like Gilcomgain and Duncan, who manage to acquit themselves quite well in the short amount of screentime available to them.  Partly, it’s because their motives feel rather pedestrian and very much of their time, which helps distinguish them from modern day baddies.  Party it’s because they feel like effective antagonists despite not having much in their wheelhouses except for swords and manipulation.  In any case, they’re among the better minor villains the series, and really make the past scenes.

It’s interesting to compare past Demona with her present self.  She still hasn’t “grown” into herself, and is more about joylessly preventing the clan she’s cobbled together from being killed than attempted genocide (although that may be more due to lack of opportunity than lack  of motivation, given that she was all ready to get her revenge on when she briefly had possession of the Grimorum Arcanorum [*1]) she’s also listening to people, which current Demona would never do.  As for her present day self, she’s all with the blasting and the maiming and having a blast.  It’s probably the best she’s felt in centuries.

Macbeth, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have changed much. Weisman has stated that it wasn’t their particular intention to keep the present-day Hunter’s identity secret, at least from people familiar with the series, which is why there really is nothing aside from the mask properly hiding his identity: his voice, his equipment and his weaponry are all Macbeth’s.  I don’t recall if I ever made the connection before it was revealed, though, given that “City of Stone” was in fact my introduction to the character–granted, the voice and the “previously”‘s should have been enough of a giveaway, but still.  In any case, the chase scene between him and Demona is the arc’s best action scene, feeling reminiscent of Elisa’s fight against Xanatos goon squad in ways I can’t quite quantify.  Perhaps it’s because they both feel more tactical than physical, or because they’re mismatched in a way that doesn’t make me wonder why the stronger side hasn’t killed the other one already.

There’s really not a lot to say about this episode.  “City of Stone” always felt like something that needed to be appreciated as a whole rather than in its component parts, so I won’t have much to say about its themes and whatnot until part four.  Heck, that lack of things to say is why this has taken so long to post, so in the interest of moving on, I’m just going to go straight to…

 

Random Thoughts:

  • This episode establishes that magic spells need to be witnessed and heard in order to be effective.  While not stated outright, the fact that most of New York wasn’t around to see or hear Puck in “The Mirror” makes it safe to assume that this limitation only applies to “human” magic.  In any case, I wonder if that detail is something that had been an accepted part of the “canonical” rules of magic, like the Children of Oberon’s powerlessness against iron, or if its something that was created for the show
  • Something I always saw but never paid attention to while watching this episode is how the Weird Sisters’ stone forms don’t have that same smoothness all the other statues do, and are instead noticeably craggy.  I wonder what the reasons for that are, creatively and within the actual text.
  • While we only see a handful of Demona’s victims, the amount of time available to her suggests a much higher body count.  How high, I wonder: dozens?  Hundreds?
  • I was going to deal with this in my post for next episode, but a though occurred to me while thinking about the previous bullet point, and now it bugs me: just how does the present day timeline work?  It’s night when Demona initially casts her spell, then at least a day passes before the recording is actually broadcast late in the evening, as seen in the scene where it interrupts Casablanca while Elisa is preparing to leave for work.  It is explicitly sunset when she arrives at the Clock Tower entrance after racing over there from her apartment.  However, in order for that to be the case,  the spell would have been broadcasting for about an hour or two before its effects were felt–nowhere near enough for it to have the wide-ranging, simultaneous effect it had.  And if the effect isn’t simultaneous, then the response as seen next episode really doesn’t work, as you’d have plenty of people noticing the statues before turning to stone themselves, or worse, watching the actual transformations. It doesn’t make sense.

Footnote!:

[*1]: In a future arc that nevertheless takes place before the events portrayed in this episode’s flashback.

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