Things Come Together: “High Noon”
16 November 2012 14 Comments
“Even shadows must remain true to their shade.” –The Weird Sisters
Written by: Brynne Chandler Reaves (Teleplay)
Original Air Date: September 25, 1995
Timeline placement: November 13 – November 14, 1995
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: N/A
- Inside the virtual world created and inhabited by the three gargoyles whose souls form Coldstone, Othello and Desdemona enjoy themselves and the measure of peace granted by their circumstances, even with the limitations (no smell) and obstacles (Iago) it imposes.
- As dawn approaches, the gargoyles enjoy some leisure time: Lexington is working on Coldstone as Goliath supervises, while the others read newspapers. Elisa enters the clock tower with comments on the story Broadway and Hudson are reading and books on computer viruses for Lexington.
- Coldstone, according to Lexington, has had its programming wiped clean, and while nothing appears damaged or broken, he cannot manage to access any of its personalities or get it working again.
- As Elisa prepares to leave the police station for her apartment, she notices a police officer she’s never seen before carrying a perp handcuffed with his hands on front. She re-enters the building to explain why this is a bad idea, and follows the cop right up to the gargoyles’ lair, where the two ambush her and knock her unconscious, but not before Elisa identifies the “perp” as Macbeth.
- Macbeth and the policewoman–whom Macbeth identifies as Demona–exit the clock tower with their cargo–Coldstone and take it to Macbeth’s castle. Once the sun goes down, they reactivate the gargoyle; while any of the three personalities could potentially take control of the cyborg, Othello just wants to make out inside the dream world, so it’s Iago who makes it to the “real” world.
- Elisa and the gargoyles awaken and note the abscence of Coldstone. They decide that while Elisa goes on her shift, they will investigate Macbeth’s place for clues.
- As dawn approaches, an exhausted Elisa waits for her friends to return home. The only gargoyle to show up, however, is Demona, who shows off her spiffy “turns-human-during-the-day” power challenges Elisa to try and save the gargoyles, who have been defeated and will be at Belvedere Castle at high noon.
- After a pep-talk from Morgan (and presumably, some rest) Elisa shows up at Belvedere Castle, where she and Demona proceed fight hand-to-hand.
- Inside the Coldstone Dreamscape, Othello is approached by a trio of gargoyles identical to Desdemona save for their different-colored hair, who convince him that even if they are no longer gargoyles, not stopping Iago would go against their nature. It is enough to convince Othello to regain control of Coldstone.
- With Coldstone now against him and Demona and the ropes, Macbeth orders a retreat.
- Coldstone frees the gargoyles from their chains and then leaves, saying that until some solution is found to the problem of his warring personalities, it is better if he remains away from his brothers.
- Back at Macbeth’s, he and Demona discuss the success and details of their plan before realizing that they have no idea why they did any of it in the first place, or why they’re even working together. Just as they are about to turn on one another, they are frozen in place by the Weird Sisters, who then transport themselves, their two “children”, and their real prizes–the Eye of Odin, Phoenix Gate, and Grimorum Arcanorum, stolen along with Coldstone but not missed–to parts unknown, where they will prepare for the “coming battle”.
- The gargoyles took the Grimorum Arcanorum from Xanatos when they moved from Castle Wyvern to the clock tower in “Enter Macbeth”.
- Similarly, Goliath took the Eye of Odin from Xanatos after its role in turning Fox into a beastie in “Eye of the Beholder”.
- Finally, Goliath kept the Phoenix Gate after the events of “Vows”.
- Coldstone last appeared, and became inert, in “Legion”.
- Demona and Macbeth were last seen in “City of Stone”, Part Four, where they had been rendered unconscious and taken by the Weird Sisters.
This episode begins one of my favorite parts of season 2: the episodes between “City of Stone” and “Avalon” are, to me, are the most consistent in the series’ history, with a string of awesome episodes and new characters. It also marks growing confidence in the writing staff, as they begin to interweave the various plot strands they´ve been introducing, and no more so than here. While previous episodes have hinted at schemes larger than those we see on screen, this one practically shouts: yes, we do plan to tell a larger story. And, so the episode brings together a bunch of disparate elements. The Phoenix Gate. The Grimorum Arcanorum, last seen in “Enter Macbeth”. Coldstone. It’s enough to make a person shake with impatience.
Ironically, though, it wasn’t until recently that I had much love for this episode, mostly because I was never satisfied with Elisa’s fight with Demona. Not only does it play to the series’ weaknesses–the staging for their one-on-one fights has never been impressive, in contrast to their melees–I always felt that even handicapped, Demona should have put a better fight than she did, making Elisa’s victory feel unearned. Since then, though, its numerous good bits, from its sweet animation to the fact that it includes one of the all too few instances where we just get to see gargoyles chill out, have led me to think better of it.
If there is theme to this episode–and of course there is–it’s the importance of staying true to one’s nature. Elisa cannot just leave the Gargoyles alone, no matter how much she sometimes wants a normal life. Othello and Desdemona cannot ignore their gargoyle nature, even as shadows. Demona and Macbeth cannot work together for long, even when magically compelled to do so.
In the realm identity politics, essentialism is the idea that a particular trait or quality in a group exists innately, rather than as a result of social conditioning. Or, to put it more simply, the belief that “all X are inherently Y”. As one can imagine, it plays big in -ist and -phobic narratives; if one believes humans are inherently, naturally straight, for example, then it becomes logical to conclude that it is unnatural for people not be straight, and that people who aren’t don’t need to be considered human. For unrelated reasons, it is also a popular concept when creating fictional species and peoples–cowboy worlds don’t make much sense otherwise.
In the Gargoylesverse, it is more or less taken as gospel that gargoyles share an inherent set of qualities. Gargoyles protect, we’re told multiple times–it’s as natural as breathing the air. Gargoyles are also agressively social; when one is alone, it’s because they has been cast out, or it’s seen as major deviation. The narrative has yet to contradict this. And that makes the whole thing really fascinating.
Now, we’ve never been told where exactly these beliefs come from, althought the fact that gargoyles all over the world share them despite a near total lack of cultural exchange would seem to suggest that it is more or less instinctive. We have not been told if this belief has ever been questioned or seriously tested.
Which leads me to wonder: has there ever been a gargoyle prefers solitude and/or doesn’t feel compelled to protect, who isn’t also conveniently considered a “bad guy”? If so, how have gargoyles responded to them? Would they be considered deviants? Would they be let go? Would they be accepted no matter what? Unfortunately, the closest we’ve gotten is Othello, whose usefulness as a test subject is limited– his expressed apathy regarding the protection of humans tends to be overshadowed in the surviving clan’s mind by the fact that he’s a survivor of the massacre, so we’ve yet to see much interaction relating to him as an individual.
Making this more interesting still is the suggestion that while gargoyles generally appear to believe that they all share some core aspects, they do not believe the same about humans. This is Goliath’s main argument against Demona: not all humanity is bad, therefore, humanity does not deserve to be exterminated. Why would they think this is the case, though? Is it mere empiricism? Is this something they’ve been told and never thought to question? Is there, again, a gargoyle equivalent to Socrates (mentioned because I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever learned about phylosophy [>_<]) to canonize the distinction? Has somebody used humans to argue that these allegedly essential qualities of gargoyles aren’t essential at all? And to bring things closer to home: could part of the reason Demona hates humans so be that she sees them in the same wayshe sees gargoyles–as possessing essential inherent qualities, including evil?
And what does all this mean for the future of human/gargoyle interactions? If equality is the goal, what does it mean that gargoyles are, to a degree, less “free” than humans? Obviously, people like the Quarrymen would argue that this sort of monolithic behavior suggests subsequent ways in which they’re all alike (and therefore argue that they’re more like animals than humans) but would it go any further?
Throughout its run, Gargoyles has hinted at various point that this particular generation of gargoyles represents a break of sorts from tradition. In addition to their (social or instinctive) compulsion to protect they have begun pursuing other things–Lexington, for example, will try his hand at business. Will this evolution eventually lead gargoyles to question the things the most hold dear? Guess I’ll have to make “answering all these questions” reason number 563 why Gargoyles needs to come back.
- Is it just me, or does human Demona in this episode seems way nakeder than gargoyle Demona? The pin-uppy posing almost definitively has something to do with it, but I get the impression that I’d still feel that way if that weren’t a factor.
- I’ve often found the decision to have Demona, Macbeth, and the Weird Sisters all reappear in the very next episode after their last appearance rather peculiar. It makes sense, I guess–there’s no reason for the Weird Sisters to wait to implement their plan–but all my instincts as a plotter tell me that they should have given viewers an opportunity to miss them.
- On a similar note, the official gargoyles timeline states that the events of this episode take place the night after those of “City of Stone”. While I’m not wild about having significant events all take place that close together, this at least helps Elisa’s sudden bout with sleepyexhaustiontime less convenient-feeling.
- I mentioned this earlier, but I really liked the scene of all the gargoyles chilling out at the Clock Tower, and wish we had more of them. As disciplined as the series can be in making every moment count, I often feel that it is at times too much so, and it made the characters feel less real than I would sometimes like. Moments like these let the characters breathe, which is just as necessary as the more transparent character development moments.
- Finally, two screenies of the display on Lexington’s laptop when he was working on Coldstone. Click to enlarge.