Trust, OR You’re An Asshole, Matt Bluestone: “Revelations”

“You want me to prove my good faith?  How will you prove yours? –Matt Bluestone

Because I'd almost forgotten that this was also a "Gargoyles" blog.

Written by: Cary Bates
Original Air Date: October 26, 1995
Introduces: Hotel Cabal, Mace Malone (actual appearance), Jack Dane
Timeline placement: November 21 – November 25, 1995
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: N/A

(Content Note: Microagressions, Transgressions of Boundaries, Harassment, Misogyny, Workplace Oppression, Bullying, Online Harassment)

The beats:

  • Matt Bluestone and Martin Hacker meet.  Despite his misgivings, the F.B.I. agent gives his former partner the information he’s requested on the current whereabouts of Mace Malone’s stepson.
  • With his shift beginning, Matt searches  for Elisa inside the 23rd district HQ.  He finally finds her exiting the supply closet, where, according to her, she’d just replaced the mop she’d been using to clean up a spill in the women’s bathroom.  Matt doesn’t believe her, and is shocked at the idea that his partner would lie to him.
  • Matt meets up with Mace Malone’s stepson Jack Dane, who has been in the Witness Relocation Program and is now officially a retired banker.  He asks him to identify Mace in an a old photo and where he can find his mother–Mace’s former wife.  Jack tells Matt that his mother, Flora, was buried in Pine Lawn cemetery under the name Flora Dreedle.
  • Elisa enters the gargoyles’ lair, only to find Matt there looking at the TV he’d helped her carry on the day they met.  Elisa “explains” that it, and the various materials in the clock tower like the cooking utensils and fridge, are all hers, and that she’s basically turned the space into her own illicit home away from home.  As they walk back down to the police HQ section of the building, Matt explains that he’d done some digging and found that a man leaves a flower at Flora Dreedle’s grave every Thursday, and that he intends to follow that lead.
  • At Pine Lawn, Matt meets up with Mace and presents him with everything he believes he knows about the old gangster’s involvement in the Illuminati.  Mace confirms (or doesn’t deny) Matt’s theories, and tells the detective that the society is impressed by his perseverance and is willing to let him if he passes a loyalty test.  As a show of good faith, Mace gives Matt him some free information.
  • Elisa and Matt are driving across the coastline when Matt insists on driving Elisa’s vehicle.  After taking the wheel, Bluestone begins driving at an unsafe speed, and starts talking about the information he obtained from Mace, and how it pertains to Elisa.  He threatens to drive the car onto the ocean unless Elisa tells him the truth about the gargoyles and her relationship to them.
  • Elisa takes control of the car and stops it.  She tells a now-calmer Matt that he’s basically right, and that she’ll explain.
  • The next day, Matt meets up with Mace and reports that the Illuminati’s information was accurate.  Mace gives Matt a key for a Hotel Cabal and informs Matt that the Illuminati wants him to bring a gargoyle to that location.
  • Elisa takes Matt to the Clock Tower, where the former F.B.I. agent sees the gargoyles in their flesh form for the first time.  Unsurprised by their new guest–they seem to have concluded that Matt being brought in on the secret was just a matter of time, not will–they explain their whole deal to him.
  • After a private chat with Goliath, Matt explains to Elisa and the other gargoyles that he wants Goliath to help him infiltrate the hotel Mace uses as an headquarters, and obtain the proof he needs to take the Illuminati down.  Although help is offered, Matt refuses it, saying that Elisa needs to trust him.
  • Goliath takes Matt to the rooftop of the Hotel Cabal.  After breaking in, both are taken by surprise when the stairs they are on turn into a slide, which separates them and takes them to different parts of the building.
  • Mace lets Matt into his office, since Matt no longer has the key that would have allowed him to enter unaided; there, both men remotely watch Goliath via the Illuminati’s surveillance equipment.
  • Meanwhile, the room that Goliath has been deposited in turns out to be a death trap.  As the gargoyle tries to remain alive, he hears Mace’s voice through a P.A. system explaining what the game is–breaking him to the point where he can no longer protect whatever secrets he might be hiding–and generally trying to psych him out.
  • As Goliath makes his way through the hotel, Mace is having a ball.  Matt asks what would have happened if he’d fallen down Goliath’s shoot, and the old gangster explains that it’s lucky he didn’t, since the key he no longer has was the only thing that would have protected him from the death traps.
  • Matt notices that Goliath has suddenly gone missing from the monitors.  Mace double-checks, realizes that Goliath is making his way across the building with far too much ease, and concludes that he must have found Matt’s lost key.
  • Mace arms himself  and asks Matt to follow him; with Goliath set to escape, the Illuminatus has no choice but to kill the gargoyle, no matter the consequences.
  • As Goliath makes his way up an empty elevator shaft, Mace prepares to shoot him from outside (there’s a one-way mirror inside the shaft, allowing people at the other side to peer into the chamber); before he can do so, however, Matt tackles him, causing both men to break through the glass and into the shaft.  Goliath saves Matt; Mace saves himself by grabbing on to the elevator cables.
  • As Mace realizes, it turns out that Matt and Goliath had been in cahoots all along; the two make their escape.  Meanwhile, the gangster makes it back to solid ground, but not to safety; having lost his key in the shaft, he is now trapped in his own prison.
  • Dawn. As they exit the clock tower, Matt asks why Elisa kept the gargoyles secret for so long.  Elisa explains that she trusted Matt, but felt that keeping her friends to herself made her feel special.  Matt says he understands; he thinks he feels the same way about his Illuminati hunt.
  • As Matt heads home, he runs into Martin Hacker, who presents Matt with an Illuminati pin making the detective’s membership official despite his betrayal.  The agent explains that he’d been in charge of keeping Matt from ever finding the Illuminati, and that the Jack Dane tip had been an unsuccessful part of that strategy.  He leaves, promising that they’ll met again and leaving Matt rather pissed off.

Continuity Notes:

  • Matt’s and Elisa have been partners since interest in the Illuminati since “The Edge“, the episode that also revealed his interest in the Illuminati.
  • Matt first heard of Mace Malone in “The Silver Falcon“.  Matt’s former F.B.I. partner Martin Hacker was also introduced in that episode.
  • The existence of the Illuminati was confirmed in “Vows“, where it was revealed that the society has existed for more than a millennium and that Xanatos is a member.

One of the reasons Gargoyles managed to struck the chord it did with me–and, I suspect, with others–was because of the sense that everything in it mattered.  And this episode is an excellent example.  In many series, an episode that doesn’t feature the stories’ established main antagonists or isn’t told in two or more parts is immediately derided as “filler; here, an episode that does just that–and focuses on a supporting character, to boot–turns out to be one of the most important in this  era of the show, as it establish some solid foundations for a terrifying new antagonists, and gives the gargoyles a new confidante.

Too bad it had to be Matt fucking Bluestone.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of [insert computer-related term relating to quantity] recently on Dr. Chaplin, from the 2003-2009 Ninja Turtles cartoon, particularly on the way the  character felt innocuous when I first saw the series, but has become less so the more I learn of problematic narratives.  Matt is another character who has gone through that same process, with one notable difference: I still have some residual affection for Chaplin, while I have none for the detective.

It’s actually rather interesting: usually, character focus episodes are meant to make a character more sympathetic.  This is the case even when the focus character is a bad guy doing bad things, since people have a tendency to overlook problematic behavior the closer one is to the person exhibiting it.  This is the first time where I’ve felt it backfire, and rather spectacularly.

Frankly, I hate the guy.

Matt’s arc so far has been one of discovery: for whatever reasons, people have been keeping things from him, which has made him all the more resolute in finding out just what those things are.  On the macro level, there’s the Illuminati, which secretly runs the world and attempts to subvert his every attempt to crack their eggshell of secrecy.  On the personal level, there’s Elisa, who has a part of her life that she doesn’t want to reveal.  The episode, in presenting them together, attempts to equate them, and does so in a way that suggests that Matt was equally entitled to know both secrets: indeed, when Matt discovers Elisa lying to protect her friends’ secret, and becomes incensed at the fact, the episode expects us to take his side.  This is, as the cool kids say, Highly Problematic.

Yes, Elisa and Matt have been partners for almost a year, and have since become friends. Yes, they’ve learned to trust one another when it comes to some specific things.  No, this does not mean that Elisa has lost her right to set boundaries, or that Matt can simply ignore them–if Elisa were a closeted lesbian, she would have the right to maintain her sexuality a secret, and Matt would be wrong for trying to out her. And yet, throughout the episode, this is precisely what Matt does, demanding a level of openness and trust that Elisa isn’t prepared to give, attempting to break through her boundaries, and then placing her life in danger when he doesn’t get what he wants.   Worse still, nobody–whether writer or character–seems to find anything wrong with this.  In fact, after the incident in the car, Goliath will, with apparent sincerity,  tell Matt “you’ve proven yourself to be a loyal partner and a righteous policeman”.  Car?  What car?

This isn’t to say that Matt can’t feel betrayed or disappointed at the fact that their relationship is not what he wishes it were–he can. I does not mean that he can’t use Elisa’s reticence to determine that  he’s not prepared to be Elisa’s friend on her terms–he’s entitled to his own thoughts and opinions.  What he’s not entitled to is to decide that his wants and needs and feelings allow him to trample over Elisa’s.

Now, one can argue that the nature of this particular secret changes things–that the fact that human beings aren’t the only sentient being on Earth is the sort of thing that changes the way one sees the world, and therefore is the sort of secret one simply doesn’t keep from people, since it involves humanity as a whole.  It’s a valid argument, but it’s not the way Matt is approaching the issue: after all, he’s not exactly chomping at the bit to reveal the gargoyles’ existence to the world; he’s perfectly happy with their existence being a secret, as long as its one he’s in on.  So again, why doesn’t Elisa get to keep secrets from him?

One can also argue that Elisa’s didn’t need to lie, and that it she was within her rights to keep her friendship with the gargoyles private, then all she needed to do was assert that what she does is none of Matt’s business.  If only it were that simple.

One of the more prevalent norms in spoken communication is that explicit rejections are something to be avoided at all costs (Content Note: Rape Culture).  Expressing overt disapproval is considered impolite, and especially so when the one doing the disapproval is part of a traditionally oppressed group, which is when expressing said disapproval is often seen as an encroachment of the oppressors’ privilege (see: Fox News, entirety of content).  Elisa, as a mixed race woman of color in a male-dominated field, is underprivileged in several interconnected ways; as such it’s very likely that she would have been taught how to be a “good girl“–to ignore the countless microagressions she undoubtedly faces each day, to be a “team player”, even when it means letting injustices stand and to not enforce her personal boundaries–all for the dubious benefit of not being considered The Bitch.  Even without an internet as all-encompassing as the one that would eventually emerge, Elisa would almost certainly know the consequences of expressing the “wrong” sort of assertiveness: abuse, of the type Anita Sarkeesian, Melissa McEwan, and DC Women Kicking AssSue (Content Note: Harassment, Stalking, Death Threats, Misogyny on all three links) constantly go through for the crime of asserting the radical notion that sexism exists, or more mundanely, the insults typically lobbed on women who have the absolute gall to assert that no,  unsolicited sexual propositions by a total or near total strangers are not appreciated–and no, simply existing or dressing up in a particular manner do not constitute solicitation.

Elisa would almost certainly know these things (although she might not be able to put them into words or a coherent belief system) and would know that there are many times when a white lie is better than a truth with the potential to get her labelled as aggressive and the potential to make her work experience rather hellish.  What’s more, she would almost certainly know that there are instances where even the unadorned truth wouldn’t have worked, and that setting clear boundaries oftentimes only has the effect of eliciting the reaction  “Boundaries?  What boundaries?” from those who would and often do transgress them. Given these circumstances, it’s not at all surprising that she chose lying over assertiveness.

This social training would also explain why Elisa’s immediate reaction following The Incident In The Car was not to press charges against the asshole who placed her life in danger, or even request to have him fired.  No, despite having obtained proof that her workplace partner was a person who could, without warning, try to kill her and should not be trusted in any circumstance ever, her reaction is to immediately try to downplay that fact and say that yes, she should have been more open about a part of her life Matt has no right if Elisa chose not to grant it to him.  Why?   The show doesn’t give us an explanation, so I offer this one: she knew that success was not guaranteed, while being certain that such a gesture would make her work hell.

Let’s posit a scenario where Elisa does bring up charges.   With no evidence to back her claims, Elisa has an extremely hard time building up her case.  While she does that, she’ll be tarred with the label “not a team player”.  Enough people will say that even if Matt did do what she claimed, he only meant it as a joke, and that Elisa should have just “manned up” and taken it, instead of making a good detective suffer.  Jokes will be made at her expense, and her experience will be used as yet another example why Women Don’t Belong In The Force–they’re just so sensitive, dontcha know?  Sure, they’ll be people who are sympathetic to Elisa’s point of view.  Many of them, however, will remain silent, thinking that it’s best to hunker down until things blow over, and making waves will just cause them to become targets as well–which is, of course, what will happen to those who do speak up. Even María Chávez, who is a rare woman of color in a position of authority in the force, is reluctant to use it to help Elisa to the extent that she’d like, lest her authority be undermined by charges of bias.  Even if Elisa eventually wins her case and gets Matt jailed or fired, she loses.  Heck, even in the unlikely situation where Matt for some reason doesn’t question the charges, she loses, as many of these things would end up occurring anyway

Some people will likely find this scenario farfetched.  Others will find it all too real, or even say that the reality is oftentimes worse (Content Note: Institutionalized Homophobia).  This is the nature of what McEwan calls The Terrible Bargain That [Women, although really, it could be any oppressed group] Have Regretfully Struck (Content Note: Sexist Microagressions).  Do nothing and end up feeling horrible as you’re attacked by someone who has no reason to stop, or do something, and end up feeling horrible as others now turn you into The Bitch.  And thus the kyriarchy has another way to perpetuate itself.

Which brings me to the end of the episode, where Elisa tells Matt that the reason why she exercised her right to keep the gargoyles private was because she wanted to feel special.  The truth, or a conciliatory lie told to keep a man with a history of placing her in danger and breaching boundaries placated?

Now, I’m 95% sure that the writers for the episode did not think of any of this when writing the episode (the last 5% is to allow for the fact that I can’t read minds).  If it ever occurred to the creators that having Matt threaten to send Elisa over a cliff to her death very seriously undermined the case they were making for him as a good guy, or that having the man who could not trust that his partner would let him into her life when she was ready demand that that same woman to trust him with the life of her best friend is damn hypocritical, these ideas were left unstated or ignored. That said, that it probably didn’t occur to them doesn’t make them bad people; it makes them people whose blind spots helped them produce an episode with a horrifying message, and one changes, perhaps irreversibly, my opinion  of the characters involved.  It’s hard to think of Elisa as a heroic character when she either doesn’t recognize injustice when it happens or allows it to occur without a fight.  It’s hard to think of Goliath as a good person when he calls someone with no respect for others’ privacy or even life a noble person.  And despite how the series wishes for him to be perceived it’s damn impossible for me to think of Matt Bluestone as anything other than an asshole.

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17 Responses to Trust, OR You’re An Asshole, Matt Bluestone: “Revelations”

  1. I’ve never liked that car scene because I thought it was way out of place not only in this episode, but in the show at large. I don’t really buy it because it seemed like the main purpose of it was to set us up to believe that, later, when it looks like Matt had set up Goliath, we would believe it. I don’t think that the negative repercussions of the scene in and of itself ever crossed their minds. Or maybe it did and Matt Bluestone really is an asshole. But I just always had a hard time with it; everything up to and after that had the same kid of tone. I always felt like they made him jump to an extreme that I, personally, just didn’t follow. And, as you point out, Elisa’s reaction is just so calm and nonplussed that I find it absurd. Similar to their treatment of the whole City of Stone situation.

    In terms of Goliath’s comment, I guess he doesn’t know about the incident in the car; so, again, up to that point, I don’t know that that comment is NOT fitting.

    But then, I admit I rather liked Matt up to this point so it’s possible that I am just tuning out what I disliked in this episode, but I don’t think so: not entirely, anyway. That scene always bothered me, like I say, because it seemed way out of context and, even after all the scenarios you’ve put forth above, that it relates to humanity at large and whatnot, I still have a hard time believing that that scene would happen like that. I just don’t buy it. Never have.

    Furthermore, this has never been one of my favorite episodes. I severely dislike the idea of the Hotel Cabal, and the sickening concept that the Illuminati just leaves Mace Malone in there to go crazy and eventually die. No one even *comments* on that, except for Martin Hacker, and even then it’s in passing: “It’s not your fault ol’ Mace couldn’t hold him.” Yeah, oh well. Sucks to be him. That always seemed wildly out of place in a children’s cartoon to me; although it probably went over many kids’ heads. Still, I always found that disturbing. I get that he was the villain and all, but that’s…horrific.

  2. Asha says:

    Matt was a character that I never really liked. He never seemed to have a place in the story to me. I liked the Mulder-esque aspects, but he seemed a bit… well, you have a lot of good points. I wish Matt had been written differently.

  3. Ian says:

    Hello again, RobinChristine. It’s nice to hear from you again. 🙂

    To me Matt is an especially hard character to figure out–ironic, since he’s the only character in the series to get an internal monologue. Even without the whole car incident, there’s enough scenes that suggest that he’s not quite as genial as he’d like people to believe, but it’s hard to tell, since this is really the last episode where he’s focused on–there’s no way to know if his offness was part of a larger story.

    Yes, it’s certainly possible that Goliath has not yet been told about Matt’s actions in the car by the time he makes those comments. However, given that being informed of that incident would almost certainly change the gargoyle’s opinion of Elisa’s partner, one kinda has to conclude that Elisa never tells him, which, really, raises a whole lot of questions. In any case, even if the comment were to make sense from an in-universe perspective, it still bothers me from a writing perspective. For all of its grayness, Gargoyles isn’t usually a very subtle work when it comes to which characters it wants us to root for; I can’t help but think that the comment is the creators basically saying “hey, we like Matt a whole lot, and so should you!”

    Part of the problem with the car scene is that it’s pretty much the climactic scene in the episode. Every previous Elisa scene is leading up to it, and the rest of the episode hinges on what happens there. It is precisely the one scene in which Matt cannot afford to be out of character, and yet, it’s hard for me to even begin thinking of him as a good person unless one making that very claim.

    I didn’t write much about the Illuminati here, because the post was unwieldy enough as is (although there is a follow-up planned ^_^), but your comment reminded me of one of the things that struck me while rewatching this episode for the post. I’d never made much of Mace’s comment that the Illuminati would consider Goliath’s escape a worse alternative than his death, but in this particular instance, it struck me as the sort of thing which was rather more wasteful than I would expect from them. Letting Mace die seems that same way–surely he was not yet without use. All in all, the episode makes them out to be rather more cruel than I’d made them out to be in my mind, and while doesn’t bother me much from a story perspective (although I am becoming somewhat more bothered at the fact that Goliath left him behind than I used to be–which, come to think of it, is also very wasteful, if one wants to find out more about the Society) its the sort of thing that is making me reconsider what I thought and knew about them.

  4. Ian says:

    Hello and welcome, Asha. I hope you like the place, and that you stick around for a while if you do :).

    I have to admit that there a considerably large period of time in which Matt’s problematic aspects went by mostly unnoticed by me*, which allowed me to focus on the other things he brought to the show. Even now, I personally have little problem with Matt in theory: the idea of a conspiracy-minded work partner for Elisa has a lot of potential, and even his incredibly problematic actions would work, if the show recognized just how problematic they were and decided to do something with them. Now, however? I longer have any confidence that that is the case–the other characters would act differently if the creators thought he wasn’t a good person.

    * If you’d like, take a look at my write-up for “The Edge”, which I’ve linked to in the post. I talked a bit about Matt there, and what I said seems rather hilarious in retrospect, in “did I ever actually think that way?” way.

  5. Blaise says:

    Hi, Ian! Miss you in the Station 8 Comment Room.

    Last time I commented was on “Legion.” Like I said there, I always enjoy reading your reviews.
    However…there are some things said here that I just cannot let go. I beg your pardon as my reply will be my own ramble. Feel free to disregard it as you will, but I just couldn’t sit still until I had gotten this out.

    I do not buy this view of Matt Bluestone, his actions, or Elisa as a victim. I cannot, both on an instinctual level and an intellectual one. And, I apologize, but sometimes it feels like an effort was made to read each and every word and action (both of characters and writers) in the most negative possible light.

    “…indeed, when Matt discovers Elisa lying to protect her friends’ secret, and becomes incensed at the fact, the episode expects us to take his side.”
    He just knows she’s lying to him–not any possible reason she could have for it. And he doesn’t call her out on it right there, so he clearly doesn’t want to start a confrontation with her about it (which he would if he truly didn’t respect boundaries). Later, when he’s discovered the Clock Tower home, while he questions Elisa’s explanations, he seems to accept it at the end.
    Matt strikes me as the type of person who believes in an open and honest relationship between people, especially friends and partners. Back in “The Silver Falcon” he felt guilty for not telling Elisa about his Illuminati hunt (which might have saved some headaches if he had). He felt bad about it, and probably became MORE open and honest with Elisa as a result. He was probably just as open and honest with Hacker if their interaction is any indication. I don’t think Matt has a problem with personal secrets…he doesn’t like LIES: intentional deception. So yes, I believe that if she told Matt at the beginning, “It’s personal Matt,” Matt would have let the matter drop. I don’t buy the idea about how that would not have been acceptable because Elisa is part of an “oppressed group” and therefore can’t be assertive to Matt without being labeled “the bitch.” She’s been plenty assertive to him in the past. Hell, she’s barged into the MEN’S LOUNGE to talk to her brother. Oh, and Matt Bluestone is Jewish; wouldn’t that make him part of an oppressed minority? And while Matt hates lies, he does understand that sometimes (the existence of the gargoyles) the truth can do more harm than good (at least for the present).

    “…if Elisa were a closeted lesbian, she would have the right to maintain her sexuality a secret, and Matt would be wrong for trying to out her. And yet, throughout the episode, this is precisely what Matt does…” No, it is not. Being “a closeted lesbian” is a personal quality that would not affect Bluestone in any way. The existence of the gargoyles DOES affect Bluestone, and HAS affected him in the past. In “Legion” Matt called out an entire SWAT team to chase down our heroes because he thought the monster that had just destroyed RECAP (and stolen defense secrets, AND trashed Times Square not too long ago) had stolen the robot’s VR visor and hookup. Of course, we the audience know that Elisa was the one who stole (yes, STOLE) the items. She did so for a very good reason, and it helped our heroes and the stolen items were recovered, and the whole thing was ended with a joke at Matt’s expense. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt got a major dressing down back at the department for wasting NYPD time and resources on the whole affair, and a lot of humiliating jokes at his expense from his fellow officers.

    I also noticed that the gargoyles’ wants and desires aren’t mentioned. Their existence is THEIR secret, not Elisa’s. And as far back as “The Thrill of the Hunt” they did want (and acknowledge the need) to extend their circle of friends and allies beyond Elisa. The thing is, Elisa is their best point of contact for new humans in this world. The indication I got from this episode was that they had basically told her, “Matt seems like someone we’d like to know,” and then let her introduce him to them at her own pace. And Elisa…dragged her feet. Yes, she was telling the truth to Matt at the end (or heck, that’s what everyone who worked on the show says). Her family are familiar with her keeping secrets. Heck, from a practical stand point, Matt knowing the secret could make her life A LOT easier. Also, she knows what happens if her friends and family learn about the gargoyles from someone else with a…different perspective than her (see her brother Derek). And, from her wry response to his apology in “The Silver Falcon” for keeping her out of the loop (“Hey, it happens”), I believe she even felt a little guilty herself for not telling him. But she still didn’t tell him, and it was because she liked being the gargoyles’ only confidant. If I were to look at her actions in the most negative possible light, I could say that she was sabotaging the gargoyles’ efforts at finding new friends for purely selfish reasons, but that would be a disservice to her. She’s not being actively malicious, and it’s more subconscious than anything else.
    Also, when reasons are listed for Elisa not to report Matt for the car incident, I don’t see the fact that he knows about the Clock Tower hiding place among them. And if he reveals that, the gargoyles themselves are almost sure to be revealed.

    And speaking of the car incident…this was definitely an “asshole” thing for Matt to do, but I have to ask: did you REALLY believe Matt was actively trying to kill Elisa (and HIMSELF)? Because, if he were like that, then at the end with Hacker, with whom I believe he was as mad (if not madder) than he was with Elisa back then, he would not have said, “I ought to knock you flat on your back.” He would have just knocked Hacker flat on his back…and then maybe dragged him around the corner to beat him to death. Matt is a lot of bark, but not so much bite. I think the car stunt was a bluff. A stupid and dangerous bluff, yes, but Matt’s not his most rational right there. And Elisa’s first reaction afterward is to bodily handle him and question his sanity, but I think she knows it was a bluff as well (and how dangerous and stupid it was, hence the aggression). And if I’m right, and I think I am, that the gargoyles’ had already suggested she bring him in, and she felt guilty for not doing so already, and for the second time in her life had someone she knows learn about the gargoyles from someone other than her, then that (along with just how silly he looked shouting at the sky, and then his resigned expectation of another lie from her) made her open up to him (while at the same time asserting that she’ll drive this time).

    I’m not saying that a lot of what was brought up about inequality in societal norms doesn’t exist (it does, sadly), but not here: not with these characters, not in this story, not in this episode.

    And, of course, we the audience are meant to be tricked into thinking Matt could be a bad guy, so…insert argument about subverting character integrity for the sake of an episode’s plot here. I personally don’t think it’s as bad as that, but it can’t work for everyone.

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece and taken up a lot of space doing it. Like I said, I love your reviews, I just felt I had to say something here.
    BTW, did you read Greg Weisman’s ramble about the episode? It’s a good read.

  6. Ian says:

    Hi, Ian! Miss you in the Station 8 Comment Room.
    Last time I commented was on “Legion.” Like I said there, I always enjoy reading your reviews.
    However…there are some things said here that I just cannot let go. I beg your pardon as my reply will be my own ramble. Feel free to disregard it as you will, but I just couldn’t sit still until I had gotten this out.

    Hello again, Blaise. Feel free to ramble away! Rambles mean I have lots to respond to, and then, hopefully, you’ll have lots to say about that, and then maybe some other people chip in, and then before I know it, this actually becomes a community. As long as the Comment Policy! is followed, everything’s good, so I’m really happy you feel comfortable enough to state your disagreements.

    One thing: This post wasn’t actually meant to comprise all my thoughts on the episode. I mean, it was, at first, but then I realized I had a theme going, with actual coherent points and a conclusion, and I eventually decided to split it into two, with the usual random thoughts in a second, currently in progress post. So if I don’t talk about Elisa or the gargoyles here, it’s not because their behavior doesn’t merit criticism or because I don’t have anything to say, but because including that stuff here would have likely taken a post that is already playing footsies with unwieldiness into one that makes sweet, sweet love to unreadibility.

    I do not buy this view of Matt Bluestone, his actions, or Elisa as a victim. I cannot, both on an instinctual level and an intellectual one. And, I apologize, but sometimes it feels like an effort was made to read each and every word and action (both of characters and writers) in the most negative possible light.

    Like I said, you’re entirely free to disagree. I’m not sure where you’re coming from when it comes to the writers–I think I’m being rather kind when I assert that their work is problematic because they don’t know any better, especially since the alternative is asserting that they did know better and did it anyway, or that giving the problematic message was the actual intent–but I do think there’s space to disagree on the characters’ motivations and actions.

    I had two goals when writing this post. The first was to attempt craft a coherent narrative out of the events in “Revelations”, since I don’t believe the episode manages to do so on its own–the characters whom we have followed in the previous twenty or so episodes would not act in the manner shown here, but since they have, a way needs to be found to explain their actions. The second goal was to take the events of this episode and use them to talk about the idea of privacy and boundaries how double standards in the way we deal with them regularly pop out in ways that reinforce oppression,

    Like I said, I don’t like Matt: I don’t think he’s a good person, as The Car Incident more than makes clear. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that the show seems very determined to downplay that very incident and say that it doesn’t matter, which I, personally–others are free to disagree–think is very problematic. That same incident allows me a way to tie the show into the larger broader themes, hence, the post. Character assassination is not in the agenda, or else I would have brought up some other stuff about Matt that I’m not particularly wild about. I’m definitively not trying to attack Elisa–I just feel that in making her so chill about The Car incident, they’ve written her vastly out of character in a way that demands an alternate explanation–hence, my alternate explanation.

    “…indeed, when Matt discovers Elisa lying to protect her friends’ secret, and becomes incensed at the fact, the episode expects us to take his side.”

    He just knows she’s lying to him–not any possible reason she could have for it. And he doesn’t call her out on it right there, so he clearly doesn’t want to start a confrontation with her about it (which he would if he truly didn’t respect boundaries). Later, when he’s discovered the Clock Tower home, while he questions Elisa’s explanations, he seems to accept it at the end.

    Actually, I’d like to note one thing: despite what I originally wrote, the viewers, actually don’t have any evidence to confirm that Elisa is actually lying here—we know that if she’s leaving the supply closet it’s usually because he’s exiting the clock tower, but we don’t know that’s the case here, not for sure. However, Matt, who knows even less than we do, is certain that that is the case—indeed, he immediately leaps to the conclusion that she is lying–based, apparently, entirely on his interpretation of her inflections.

    In any case, my problem here is this. As far as Matt knows, Elisa may have had the best of reasons for keeping him in the dark. Indeed, once he’s brought in on the secret, he understands perfectly why the existence of gargoyles isn’t something she can just tell anyone. However, despite this, he never seems to consider that that may be the case–it’s just “man, how could she lie to me?”, without any attempt at empathy, or well, trust.

    Matt strikes me as the type of person who believes in an open and honest relationship between people, especially friends and partners. Back in “The Silver Falcon” he felt guilty for not telling Elisa about his Illuminati hunt (which might have saved some headaches if he had). He felt bad about it, and probably became MORE open and honest with Elisa as a result. He was probably just as open and honest with Hacker if their interaction is any indication. I don’t think Matt has a problem with personal secrets…he doesn’t like LIES: intentional deception.

    A valid interpretation even though its one I don’t really agree with. The feeling I get from him is that he doesn’t like being lied to, but doesn’t mind lying or keeping things from others. After all, we never really see him struggling with the burden that is being In On It, and in fact seems rather a natural at it. The fact that we aren’t meant to know whether he ever told Elisa or the gargoyles about his membership in the Illuminati, and that The Society itself seems to think that he can be counted upon to stay quiet about them says a lot about him, I feel.

    So yes, I believe that if she told Matt at the beginning, “It’s personal Matt,” Matt would have let the matter drop. I don’t buy the idea about how that would not have been acceptable because Elisa is part of an “oppressed group” and therefore can’t be assertive to Matt without being labeled “the bitch.” She’s been plenty assertive to him in the past. Hell, she’s barged into the MEN’S LOUNGE to talk to her brother.

    Note that I’m theorizing about how Elisa deals with people in general, not about any particular case or person. Yes, in this particular case, saying “it’s personal” may have worked better than lying (assuming that she indeed died). As a general policy, however? It becomes considerably harder to justify, especially as Elisa has a lot she’d rather keep private.

    Now, it’s true that Elisa, as portrayed until now, hasn’t indicated all too great a concern with what people think of her, and hasn’t been the sort of person to self-censor, at least in some occasions. However, that raises another inconsistency: if she, as you posit, wouldn’t have cared about the ways reporting Matt would have made her job harder, then why doesn’t she? The only explanation I can see is that she just doesn’t see Matt’s behavior during The Car Incident as problematic, which feels woefully out of character and makes her into a rather unpleasant figure.

    Oh, and Matt Bluestone is Jewish; wouldn’t that make him part of an oppressed minority?

    Is he? I hadn’t heard. In any case, yes, to an extent. However, being part of an oppressed doesn’t necessarily grant a person empathy with other oppressed groups: just as there are racist women and people who are both Hispanic and homophobic, and self-proclaimed liberals who indulge in fat hatred or ableism, there’s no reason why Matt can’t be unaware of the privilege he wields.

    “…if Elisa were a closeted lesbian, she would have the right to maintain her sexuality a secret, and Matt would be wrong for trying to out her. And yet, throughout the episode, this is precisely what Matt does…”

    No, it is not. Being “a closeted lesbian” is a personal quality that would not affect Bluestone in any way. The existence of the gargoyles DOES affect Bluestone, and HAS affected him in the past. In “Legion” Matt called out an entire SWAT team to chase down our heroes because he thought the monster that had just destroyed RECAP (and stolen defense secrets, AND trashed Times Square not too long ago) had stolen the robot’s VR visor and hookup. Of course, we the audience know that Elisa was the one who stole (yes, STOLE) the items. She did so for a very good reason, and it helped our heroes and the stolen items were recovered, and the whole thing was ended with a joke at Matt’s expense. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt got a major dressing down back at the department for wasting NYPD time and resources on the whole affair, and a lot of humiliating jokes at his expense from his fellow officers.

    These are all true: the gargoyles are far more involved in Matt’s life than he knows, and a case can be made that he is entitled to know about them. However, like I said, that same case can be made for everyone else in Manhattan (hey, Vinnie) if not the world. Matt, however, is not arguing that everybody else should know; he needs no convincing when it comes to the idea that the gargoyles’ existence should be kept secret. If he believes that this is the case—that Elisa is justified in keeping the gargoyles secret–what makes Matt special, other than the fact that Elisa is forced to work with him? It comes back to “Matt deserves to know because he believes he deserves to know”.

    I also noticed that the gargoyles’ wants and desires aren’t mentioned. Their existence is THEIR secret, not Elisa’s. And as far back as “The Thrill of the Hunt” they did want (and acknowledge the need) to extend their circle of friends and allies beyond Elisa. The thing is, Elisa is their best point of contact for new humans in this world. The indication I got from this episode was that they had basically told her, “Matt seems like someone we’d like to know,” and then let her introduce him to them at her own pace. And Elisa…dragged her feet.

    This is all very close to my own reading situation: given the context, I don’t think its out of the question to assume that bringing Matt into the fold is something that the clan had discussed at length. It is also, I feel, irrelevant to the point I was making, since Matt is aware of absolutely none of this. Yes, Elisa may or may not be dragging her feet. Heck, I believe that the gargoyles have every right to go over her and introduce themselves to Matt, if they so wished and believed that Elisa wouldn’t do so in a timely manner as they think (although I do believe they should tell her beforehand). The fact that something is intended as a gift doesn’t allow its intended recipient to simply take it. Heck, that was pretty much how “Outfoxed” ended. Here, it’s apparently the opposite.

    Also, when reasons are listed for Elisa not to report Matt for the car incident, I don’t see the fact that he knows about the Clock Tower hiding place among them. And if he reveals that, the gargoyles themselves are almost sure to be revealed.

    This is also an additional reason for Elisa not to have reported Matt, yes. However, it again raises the question: if Elisa believes that Matt would be the sort of person to retaliate in this manner, what exactly makes him the sort of person that can be trusted with the secret?

    And speaking of the car incident…this was definitely an “asshole” thing for Matt to do, but I have to ask: did you REALLY believe Matt was actively trying to kill Elisa (and HIMSELF)? […] Matt is a lot of bark, but not so much bite. I think the car stunt was a bluff. A stupid and dangerous bluff, yes, but Matt’s not his most rational right there. And Elisa’s first reaction afterward is to bodily handle him and question his sanity, but I think she knows it was a bluff as well (and how dangerous and stupid it was, hence the aggression).

    To be honest? No, I don’t think he hoped to die, nor do I think he wanted to kill Elisa; I think he just thought that they were almost certainly going to be saved at the last moment, and so they weren’t in any real danger if and when he drove the car into the sea. However, intent isn’t magic; no matter what his actual goals, they’d have been just as dead if he’d actually managed to crash to the sea, which was a distinct possibility even if he was bluffing and didn’t plan to take things that far. Was he bluffing about sending the car over? I have no idea, but in its way that’s irrelevant to my point, which is that Elisa doesn’t know either, and yet impossibly believes that Matt can still be trusted with the gargoyles’ secret. Yes, she might have thought that it was a good idea to trust him before; however, what anyone thought before should have been moot the moment Matt decided that threatening Elisa was a good idea. We still end up with an episode that says that Matt is a good person, despite the fact that he actually actively planned–this was not a heat of the moment thing, as he needed to ask Elisa for the car–to scare his partner and coerce her to give up the secret she wasn’t ready to give.

    I’m not saying that a lot of what was brought up about inequality in societal norms doesn’t exist (it does, sadly), but not here: not with these characters, not in this story, not in this episode.
    And, of course, we the audience are meant to be tricked into thinking Matt could be a bad guy, so…insert argument about subverting character integrity for the sake of an episode’s plot here. I personally don’t think it’s as bad as that, but it can’t work for everyone.

    All very well and good—I never expected everyone to agree with my theories, which is what this all is. However, that leaves us with the original problem, that there is no way to explain Elisa’s impossible behavior after the car incident.

    Yes, I can believe that Elisa and the gargoyles had decided that they trusted Matt enough to bring him in on their secret. However, Elisa had also trusted Matt with the far easier commitment of not actively putting her life in danger. Once Matt breaks that, then that should have rendered everything else moot, and forced them all to reconsider everything they though they knew about him . Even if Matt was bluffing, and never intended to send Elisa’s car crashing into the sea, and would never ever do something like that again, Elisa has no way to be sure of that. She just knows that the guy she trusted to have her back was now the kind of person who, without warning, would instead attempt to coerce her and put her life in danger, and may do so again. And again, it’s not like it was a spur of the moment thing that Matt did—he had to have known what he wanted to do, or else he wouldn’t have basically ordered her to let him drive.

    And yet, this is not at all what happens. Instead, her reaction, once the immediate danger past, is to have no reaction. For a detective like Elisa to apparently not even consider the possibility that she may be taking her life into her own hands every time she and Matt are alone, is, to me, unbelievable.

  7. Blaise says:

    Hey Ian! Here’s my response to your response:

    “Actually, I’d like to note one thing: despite what I originally wrote, the viewers, actually don’t have any evidence to confirm that Elisa is actually lying here—we know that if she’s leaving the supply closet it’s usually because he’s exiting the clock tower, but we don’t know that’s the case here, not for sure. However, Matt, who knows even less than we do, is certain that that is the case—indeed, he immediately leaps to the conclusion that she is lying–based, apparently, entirely on his interpretation of her inflections.”
    Elisa said she had spent 30 minutes in the women’s locker room cleaning up a mess. Matt had NOT ONE MINUTE EARLIER been talking to Captain Chavez, who came right out of that locker room, said she had been in there for the past 20 minutes and not seen Elisa. THAT’S how he knew she was lying.

    “This is also an additional reason for Elisa not to have reported Matt, yes. However, it again raises the question: if Elisa believes that Matt would be the sort of person to retaliate in this manner, what exactly makes him the sort of person that can be trusted with the secret?”
    It’s a possibility, not a certainty, and not one he has to directly say or intentionally want to reveal. Sometimes, things just come to light (a Freudian slip, or someone following at just the right/wrong time) It’s just a danger to be considered. And Elisa probably knows that Matt is the kind of person who values trust and honesty, hence his being “righteously angry” (to borrow a line from Weisman’s ramble) at lies and deception, and that he is more likely to return trust with trust.

    The car incident: we’ll probably just have to agree to disagree. As I said, I think Elisa actually felt GUILTY for keeping Matt out of the loop. That can color her reactions. And she knows that Matt can do stupid and crazy things (“The Silver Falcon” anyone?) but in the end, he always does what’s right (an assessment that’s borne out by the ultimate end of the episode). The argument can be made that not enough of that was seen by the audience prior to this, but it worked for me.

    “Matt, however, is not arguing that everybody else should know; he needs no convincing when it comes to the idea that the gargoyles’ existence should be kept secret. If he believes that this is the case—that Elisa is justified in keeping the gargoyles secret–what makes Matt special, other than the fact that Elisa is forced to work with him? It comes back to “Matt deserves to know because he believes he deserves to know”.”

    Situations change when new information comes to light. Matt didn’t know anything about the gargoyles beforehand, other than that they caused damage to the city (again, mostly Coldstone). Based on what other people have said about Matt in the show (“tilting at windmills” and so forth), I believe Matt has a hero complex. He wants to save people and bring villains to justice. He believes the Illuminati are villains, but has accepted that joining them may be the only way to bring them down (he is overreaching a bit I think). Likewise, when he finally meets the clan, and discovers they are not destructive monsters and in fact in need of help and protection themselves, that’s what he starts to do for them as well. And who says he’s not uncomfortable with lying? He didn’t seem happy to lie to Travis Marshall at the beginning of “The Journey.” But once he’s concluded that this is the “right” thing to do, he will tough it out.

    As for Elisa “not being ready” to let him in on the secret…let me speak from my own life experience. Some people will NEVER “be ready” without some sort of push, because they DO NOT WANT to be ready. They refuse. Sometimes, growth can only occur when someone has been knocked out of their perceived “comfort zone.” That has been the case with me, it may be the case with Elisa. Heck, it took an attack from poachers with guns for her to open up to her own MOTHER (who has been portrayed in nothing but a positive light).

    And lastly, Matt doesn’t deserve to know “because he believes he deserves to know.” He deserves to know for the same reason Elisa’s FAMILY deserves to know: a personal connection to Elisa. They are close to her and thus the events of the series affect their lives in a much more personal way and more often than the rest of Manhattan (Elisa getting shot by Broadway, Derek being mutated, Elisa disappearing for six months, etc.). Now, one might ask why, if that’s the case, she doesn’t just tell everyone on the force. Because of the “personal” connection. Police partners who work together all the time can connect in a way I can’t even begin to describe. It’s a combination of time and the nature of the work. They can be as close as any family. And while their relationship may have started out with her being “forced” to work with him, their banter in previous episodes shows they’ve actually evolved into a quite healthy and close relationship. So, for that reason, as well as logistical ones (extending the gargoyles’ circle of friends, easing things up on Elisa), Matt being in on the secret made sense, once they had determined he was a good person. And yes, as far as the show is concerned Matt is a good person. That’s just something that works or doesn’t depending on the viewer.

    Have you gotten a chance to read Greg Weisman’s ramble about this ep? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Heck, I’d love to read the back and forth on “Ask Greg” about this, if you ever decided to ask him about it.

  8. Blaise says:

    Sorry, forgot to add one more thing:

    In the car, I don’t think Matt knew what he was going to do/say until Elisa said “You haven’t said three words all night.” I think that’s when (after stewing in his feelings of betrayal, hurt, and anger for several hours) the stunt finally solidified in his mind. And I think he did it more to get back at Elisa for how he felt she had wronged him than to actually get the gargoyles to show up (if he were really dead set on sending the car off the road to get them to swoop in at the last minute, he would have fought Elisa when she tried to take control). Is it a mature, rational response? No. But again, Matt is hurt, and people can lash out at others and say and do mean things when they feel that way. It’s not right, but it happens. And friends can forgive each other when it does.

    Again, this is something that didn’t work for you, and it doesn’t have to. I can definitely see an argument for Elisa forgiving a little too easily (I would have loved to have heard her and Matt’s discussion on the way back to the station). But for me, I really had no problem with it.

  9. Ian says:

    (Content Note: Spousal Abuse; Being forcibly outed)

    Oh, yes, sorry. I had read the ramble–I make a point of re-reading those before doing my reviews, because it helps me determine what creators thought or might have been thinking instead of just leaving me to do the guessing–and was somewhat dismayed by it: Weisman has gotten considerably more progressive in his thinking since his Gargoyles days so its somewhat disappointing to see that his opinion on the episode hasn’t apparently changed that much since it was actually produced (although then again, the Ramble is more than ten years old, and there’s always a chance that his thinking has changed since then).

    Because make no mistake, no matter the characters may have thought, which we can be debated upon until the cows come home (and then we can debate the cows) the episode is still operating under a very problematic double standard, under which keeping secrets is publishable by having one’s life threatened, while threatening ones life in an attempt at coercion–which I believe most would consider unarguably worse–is rewarded. This, is my problem with the episode: in implying there’s no negative consequences for Matt’s actions, it is implicitly endorsing them.

    As for asking Greg himself…I’m not sure I can do it in a way that wouldn’t sound like an attack, but I’ll consider it. : ) Now, if he were ever to comment here…

    In any case, on to the characters themselves.

    Elisa said she had spent 30 minutes in the women’s locker room cleaning up a mess. Matt had NOT ONE MINUTE EARLIER been talking to Captain Chavez, who came right out of that locker room, said she had been in there for the past 20 minutes and not seen Elisa. THAT’S how he knew she was lying.

    *Rewatches scene*

    0_O

    O_o

    0_O

    Ohmygoshyou’reabsolutelyright. For some reason I’d never grokked that Captain Chávez was leaving the Ladies room–I always thought the place she was leaving was her office. Things make much more sense now, so thanks lots. : )

    As for Elisa “not being ready” to let him in on the secret…let me speak from my own life experience. Some people will NEVER “be ready” without some sort of push, because they DO NOT WANT to be ready. They refuse. Sometimes, growth can only occur when someone has been knocked out of their perceived “comfort zone.” That has been the case with me, it may be the case with Elisa. Heck, it took an attack from poachers with guns for her to open up to her own MOTHER (who has been portrayed in nothing but a positive light).

    You know, I agree that it’s quite possible for Elisa to never be ready to spill the beans. I also think that’s perfectly fine. I mean, it makes me sad for her that she’ll have to keep on carrying that burden on her own, but it’s the choice she has decided to make, and I thought it should have been respected as her right. Forcing her out of her comfort zone feels, again, like forcibly outing a gay person. Plus, it’s not like the gargoyles aren’t perfectly capable of revealing themselves to Matt, if they so choose–that’s within their rights too.

    And lastly, Matt doesn’t deserve to know “because he believes he deserves to know.” He deserves to know for the same reason Elisa’s FAMILY deserves to know: a personal connection to Elisa.

    This right here is the crux of our disagreement, I feel. I don’t think that closeness overrides personal agency. Yes, the existence of gargoyles is pertinent to Matt’s existence. Yes, it may be selfish for Elisa to drag her feet. In the end, I don’t think it matters. She owes him nothing that she’s not willing to give him out of her own free will, and she is allowed to be selfish.

    (Note that I also don’t feel that Elisa was under any obligation to reveal Derek’s fate to her parents, if she didn’t wish to do so. Derek can do that himself.)

    The car incident: we’ll probably just have to agree to disagree. As I said, I think Elisa actually felt GUILTY for keeping Matt out of the loop. That can color her reactions. And she knows that Matt can do stupid and crazy things (“The Silver Falcon” anyone?) but in the end, he always does what’s right (an assessment that’s borne out by the ultimate end of the episode). The argument can be made that not enough of that was seen by the audience prior to this, but it worked for me.

    I’m not questioning the possibility of guilt–as someone in her own personal version of the closet, I’d be surprised if she didn’t. I just find it highly unlikely that it would have overridden everything else. Far more likely, I think, is that she would go “hey, now I no longer have to feel guilty about not telling him–he almost killed me!”–making the fact that she’s now more or less forced to tell him all the more ironic.

    In the car, I don’t think Matt knew what he was going to do/say until Elisa said “You haven’t said three words all night.” I think that’s when (after stewing in his feelings of betrayal, hurt, and anger for several hours) the stunt finally solidified in his mind. And I think he did it more to get back at Elisa for how he felt she had wronged him than to actually get the gargoyles to show up (if he were really dead set on sending the car off the road to get them to swoop in at the last minute, he would have fought Elisa when she tried to take control). Is it a mature, rational response? No. But again, Matt is hurt, and people can lash out at others and say and do mean things when they feel that way. It’s not right, but it happens. And friends can forgive each other when it does.

    I’m sorry, [ETA: since I’m sure you don’t mean for this to come out this way], but this is starting to sound a lot that the language of people justifying abuse. “He’s not usually like this.” “It was a spur of the moment thing.” “It happens.” “He’s just angry.” And it’s true, Matt isn’t usually like this, from what we know (there’s that “being fired from the FBI” thing, which I doubt was solely because he had weird hobbies)–this doesn’t mean that it’s ignored, as is it’s done here. After all, abusers aren’t abusers until they abuse; there’s always a first time. No matter what the intent, harm was made. The episode, in letting Matt get off scot-free, is arguing that intent matters, that doing what he does is justifiable if one is angry enough.

    Here’s the thing, though. One can still have the car scene and have Matt come off as…well, not a good person, but at least a person who is trying. Let’s assume that putting Elisa in danger like that was something that surprised Matt as much as it did Elisa; that he never thought that he was ever capable of doing something like that. The appropriate thing to do then isn’t to ignore it and pretend it may never happen again; it’s to have him consider his action, reconsider everything he is and what he’s capable of, and attempt to seek redemption. And yet, none of this happens–Matt is still narrating, but he has nothing to say about the incident. Granted, this can’t really happen if the episode’s resolution is to work, but if the plot of your story requires you portray a character as more of an asshole than you want him to be, then perhaps it’s not a very good story in the first place.

    So yeah, I still think that Matt is an asshole. If anything, you’ve made the reasons why I think so clearer to me, so I thank you for that.

    Midway through “Revelations”, Matt is told information about the gargoyles and Elisa’s relationship with them. We don’t know how much he is told, or how accurate the information is (although it is suggested that it’s not enough for him to be able to investigate them on his own without Elisa); all that is certain he’s been told is that a) creatures called gargoyles exist, and b) Elisa is aware of them and is helping keep their existence secret.

    Now, lets assume that this is all he knows: beyond the things he’s experienced himself, he doesn’t know whether or not the gargoyles are a threat, what they may want, or just what the nature of Elisa’s relationship with them is. As far as he knows, they might be coercing her to silence. She might be their willing accomplice in their actions. She might be in on whatever occurred that time everyone in New York lost a night, or she might not even know what she’s doing–in a world where gargoyles suddenly exist, all bets are off. In the end, she might have bad reasons for keeping the secret, or she might have good reasons (including the fact that telling someone about large weird sentient creatures who secretly protect the city is a good way to get people to question her mental health). She might have no problem keeping the secret, or she might be absolutely miserable about having to carry the burden of lying to everyone she knows (this is how why I think he doesn’t mind lying; I tend to think that were that the case, he’d have a better idea of what being in the closet would be like for the person inside, and yet he displays no such empathy here). He Doesn’t Know, and yet, the only fact that he apparently finds important is that he’s butthurt over Elisa lying. And in doing so, he never stops to consider that in outing her the way he does, he might be putting her life in danger in ways he cannot suspect.

    Strike one: lack of empathy. Also, self-centeredness, as he apparently doesn’t ever consider the possibility that it might just not be about him.

    Second, I don’t see how Matt, knowing what he knows–or knowing what he doesn’t know–can claim to trust Elisa and come to the conclusion that all of these potential factors are irrelevant, or come to the absolute worst conclusion about her—that she’s somehow keeping them secret for kicks and would not reveal her existence unless she was coerced into doing so. Heck, when one comes down to it, he’s trusting the organization that by definition has been gaslighting the world for no reason that he knows over his partner, who, while lying to him, has been doing so for reasons which are at least conceivable. Apparently, trusting her to share her secret when she’s ready is a level of trust too far.

    Strike two: hypocrisy; double standards.

    Now, knowing what he knows, there is at least one way that he can proceed, if he trusted Elisa. And yet, it never occurs to him to simply tell her, “Elisa, I’ve been told that gargoyles exist and that you’ve been keeping their existence a secret, lying to the world in the process—and especially to me. Now, I don’t know the reasons, but I trust you and trust that they were good ones. I can’t imagine what it must be like going through having to lie to everyone you know, and I can’t pretend I’m not very hurt and angry at the lying,but if you can and would like to share that burden, I would like to help you carry it.” Sure, there’s a chance that he might not get what he wants, but it’s a damn better idea than what he actually did.

    Now, lets say he’s too angry to think in this manner, as you posit and the episode suggests. It never seems to occur to him to well, to take a day and not be around Elisa for a while and get his thoughts in order before confronting her. No, apparently he’s not capable of calming his shit down, even some eight hours after the original revelation.

    Strike three: lack of trust; hypocrisy again; persistent anger that overtakes his ability to do anything else.

    All of this is before the car incident, which no matter what his feelings or thoughts or intentions, could have easily killed them both if any of a million possible factors had gone differently. Take them altogether, and I fail to see how they make up a good person.

  10. Blaise says:

    “I’m sorry, [ETA: since I’m sure you don’t mean for this to come out this way], but this is starting to sound a lot that the language of people justifying abuse.”

    *sigh* Definitely not my intent, and maybe I could have phrased it better, but I still stand by the idea behind it. And going down the list of strikes, it almost looks like Matt’s expected to act like a Zen Master/Saint in order to be considered “good.” Would Goliath be considered “not a good person” because he put his whole remaining clan’s life at risk just because he doesn’t want to leave the castle in “Enter Macbeth”? Or put them at risk for the sake of vengeance in “Hunter’s Moon”? These are not good things that he is doing in these instances (and the latter is definitely meant to show how dangerously close to the edge he can get) but Goliath is still a good person at heart who tries to do the right thing in the end. “Noble, but flawed,” to borrow Greg Weisman’s terminology. That seems to be a running theme with most of his characters on the “good” side of the equation. This is Matt’s flaw: how he deals with betrayal and being knowingly deceived by someone he trusts.
    As for trusting the Illuminati over Elisa…he now knows she can and has lied to him, whereas upon finally catching up with Mace Malone the latter seems more forthcoming. And the nature of the information revealed to Matt may have resulted in a “Eureka” moment: previous seemingly unrelated matters all starting to connect and make sense.

    “…the episode is still operating under a very problematic double standard, under which keeping secrets is publishable by having one’s life threatened, while threatening ones life in an attempt at coercion–which I believe most would consider unarguably worse–is rewarded. This, is my problem with the episode: in implying there’s no negative consequences for Matt’s actions, it is implicitly endorsing them.”

    (Did you mean, “punishable?” ;-))
    I don’t think that’s what the episode is going for at all (since the threat of the first commercial cliff-hanger is Matt himself, his actions are definitely not a “good thing”), but I can see where your argument comes from. It would have been better, I agree, if Elisa and Matt had a further conversation about this (after the revelation of Matt’s true allegiance, so as to maintain the twist of the story). But then, Greg has said he and his crew have an unfortunate habit of writing overlong scripts and needing to trim stuff out. Arguments can be (and have been) made about how essential some of that stuff is (I still think the cut Clock Tower scene in “Hunter’s Moon Part 3” makes Jason’s change of heart more understandable), but they always go with what they feel needs to be in the episode to make the plot itself work. Maybe they had something like this, and felt that other stuff was more integral to the flow of the plot and/or the characters were strong enough on their own merits without it. I have no doubt Elisa chewed out Matt (off-screen), and that Matt felt bad and apologized (ditto), but I can understand (and share) the desire to actually see something like that happen.

    “Plus, it’s not like the gargoyles aren’t perfectly capable of revealing themselves to Matt, if they so choose–that’s within their rights too.”

    Most people don’t react well to them on first encounter (even Elisa’s first instinct is to go for her gun), so I can see the gargoyles choosing to play it safe when possible and use Elisa as a go-between.

    “Forcing her out of her comfort zone feels, again, like forcibly outing a gay person.”

    Agree to disagree here, mostly because the analogy does not work for me. I’m sorry, but I find it like comparing apples and steam engines. It’s different situations, different social pressures, just…different everything in my eyes. I could see a comparison made to Elisa’s relationship with Goliath, perhaps, but not her overall friendship with the gargoyles and knowledge of their world. And the phrase “forcibly outing” in my mind sounds more like exposing someone to EVERYONE, rather than just one person demanding the other be truthful with them. Besides, if anyone “outed” Elisa in this regard it was Xanatos and the Illuminati.

    All right, we probably could go on forever on this, so let me just put this out there. No one has to like this episode (though I do), and no one has to like Matt Bluestone. Heck, even Greg’s daughter (as reported in his ramble) said she didn’t like Matt in this one because “he’s mean.” That’s all part of the wonderful world of individual perception. Each person’s likes and dislikes as shaped by far too many environmental factors to calculate (growing up in my household, one of the worst things you could do was lie, so that may color my perceptions).
    I suppose my real objection stemmed from the nature of the essay on the “unfortunate implications” of the episode, and that while the writers most likely intended none of them, the implication seemed to be that they were ignorant and/or insensitive to not consider them and thus “produce an episode with a horrifying message.” But that doesn’t seem fair to me because in the over 17 years since this episode aired, this is the first time I’ve seen ANYONE come up with THIS interpretation of the events of the episode. In over 17 years, NO ONE else I’ve known has ever reached these conclusions. They may have thought Matt was a jerk in this episode, but that was the extent of it. Maybe you know more people who feel the same way, but…I’ve been in the Station 8 Comment Room since 1997, and in that time I thought we’d touched on every topic and way of looking at the story, characters and episodes. But no one ever indicated they saw the events of “Revelations” in this particular light. Given that the fans didn’t for 17 years, I don’t see HOW the writers could have.

    I guess that’s why I’m interested in seeing what Greg Weisman’s response might be to all this.

  11. Ian says:

    I apologize for my long-delayed response. I tend to procrastinate a bit, am not a fan of confrontation, and have other things on my mind, making for a perfect storm of not responding to this.

    *sigh* Definitely not my intent, and maybe I could have phrased it better, but I still stand by the idea behind it. And going down the list of strikes, it almost looks like Matt’s expected to act like a Zen Master/Saint in order to be considered “good.”

    That was not my intention, and I disagree. What would have made him “good” is not being faultless, but recognizing the faults when they do occur. The lack of such acknowledgement is what sets him apart from Goliath, who, while often making mistakes—sometimes the same one–does acknowledge when he is mistaken or crosses the line.

    This, in the end, is my main beef with both the character and the episode. I think Matt crossed a line, and believe that if the writers believed that, their ethos would require them to make him acknowledge it in order to remain on the side of the white hats. Had they done this—and I, personally, don’t take it as a given that it happened offscreen, and would have felt cheated if that were the case, given what I perceive to be the importance of such a scene to the themes of the episode–I would have little to complain about. The fact that he didn’t suggests that the writers didn’t see it as crossing the line, or didn’t see the apology as an important enough part to include.

    Again, timing works against Matt here: this is the last story in which he really is the focus character, and the way the between-tentpole episodes are structured to fit in any order meant that this episode couldn’t change the character relationships in any noticeable way. So in a way, the reason why we don’t see longer term fallout from this episode is because no longer-term fallout in either direction can be shown until way after the World Tour ends—we don’t know, for example, if Matt actually told anyone about his Illuminati membership, which would probably be the best indicator of how much he actually does what he says and says what he does.

    “…the episode is still operating under a very problematic double standard, under which keeping secrets is publishable by having one’s life threatened, while threatening ones life in an attempt at coercion–which I believe most would consider unarguably worse–is rewarded. This, is my problem with the episode: in implying there’s no negative consequences for Matt’s actions, it is implicitly endorsing them.”

    (Did you mean, “punishable?” ;-) )

    No. 😛

    (By which I mean “yes”.)

    I don’t think that’s what the episode is going for at all (since the threat of the first commercial cliff-hanger is Matt himself, his actions are definitely not a “good thing”), but I can see where your argument comes from. It would have been better, I agree, if Elisa and Matt had a further conversation about this (after the revelation of Matt’s true allegiance, so as to maintain the twist of the story). But then, Greg has said he and his crew have an unfortunate habit of writing overlong scripts and needing to trim stuff out. Arguments can be (and have been) made about how essential some of that stuff is (I still think the cut Clock Tower scene in “Hunter’s Moon Part 3″ makes Jason’s change of heart more understandable), but they always go with what they feel needs to be in the episode to make the plot itself work. Maybe they had something like this, and felt that other stuff was more integral to the flow of the plot and/or the characters were strong enough on their own merits without it. I have no doubt Elisa chewed out Matt (off-screen), and that Matt felt bad and apologized (ditto), but I can understand (and share) the desire to actually see something like that happen.

    Yay, areas of agreement! : ) Still, like I said, I think that this is something that, if it was in the works, really should have been included if the episode is to work, for me. All debating aside, though, I wonder: do you believe that Matt similarly told Elisa about his new Illuminati membership offscreen? It’s something Greg has been quite reluctant to talk about, and I’m curious about your take on that particular bit.

    “Plus, it’s not like the gargoyles aren’t perfectly capable of revealing themselves to Matt, if they so choose–that’s within their rights too.”

    Most people don’t react well to them on first encounter (even Elisa’s first instinct is to go for her gun), so I can see the gargoyles choosing to play it safe when possible and use Elisa as a go-between.

    Sure, I agree that it makes more sense to use her, particularly since Matt’s first reaction when first seeing a gargoyle-like creature was to shoot it. What I mean is that she’s not in any way essential, and they are not without options, should they ever decide that she’s dragging her feet.

    “Forcing her out of her comfort zone feels, again, like forcibly outing a gay person.”

    Agree to disagree here, mostly because the analogy does not work for me. I’m sorry, but I find it like comparing apples and steam engines. It’s different situations, different social pressures, just…different everything in my eyes. I could see a comparison made to Elisa’s relationship with Goliath, perhaps, but not her overall friendship with the gargoyles and knowledge of their world. And the phrase “forcibly outing” in my mind sounds more like exposing someone to EVERYONE, rather than just one person demanding the other be truthful with them. Besides, if anyone “outed” Elisa in this regard it was Xanatos and the Illuminati.

    Points noted. Still, I think the comparison, while not perfect for the reasons you state is not a wholly invalid one. Like being in the closet, Elisa keeping her relationship with the gargoyles a secret keeps her safe and helps assure her employment at the cost of forcing her to keep incredibly important parts of her life perpetually hidden from people whom she is otherwise close to. And like I said initially, I believe that, like being in the closet, the decision of to whom and how she reveals that part of her life to should remain in her hands and those of the gargoyles.

    I suppose my real objection stemmed from the nature of the essay on the “unfortunate implications” of the episode, and that while the writers most likely intended none of them,
    the implication seemed to be that they were ignorant and/or insensitive to not consider them and thus “produce an episode with a horrifying message.”

    You say “ignorant” like its a bad thing. I don’t agree: it’s morally neutral, and can be good or bad depending on the circumstances. Not knowing something isn’t a crime, particularly when one is born into to a lot of privilege into a culture that it is generally in love with its sexist narratives. What’s more, given how consistent Weisman has generally been in attempting to make his works as progressive as he can—he’s certainly miles away from where he was by the time of the Gargoyles pilot, where the only female gargoyle and the only bad gargoyle are one and the same–I can feel fairly confident in concluding that the problems with this episode were not borne out of a lack of sensitivity.

    That said, just because it wasn’t meant doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be called out, and like the post indicates, I do believe there are problematic ideas here that need to be called out. And if I didn’t express them well enough, well then, here’s awesome person/ blogger / personal inspiration Ana Mardoll making the point in a more coherent way.

    But that doesn’t seem fair to me because in the over 17 years since this episode aired, this is the first time I’ve seen ANYONE come up with THIS interpretation of the events of the episode. In over 17 years, NO ONE else I’ve known has ever reached these conclusions. They may have thought Matt was a jerk in this episode, but that was the extent of it. Maybe you know more people who feel the same way, but…I’ve been in the Station 8 Comment Room since 1997, and in that time I thought we’d touched on every topic and way of looking at the story, characters and episodes. But no one ever indicated they saw the events of “Revelations” in this particular light.

    Okay? I’m really not sure what you want me to say here. On one hand, I don’t wish to dismiss you or your greater experience with the Gargoyles fandom. And I’m definitively not egotistic enough to believe that I somehow got hold of an actual original thought. That said, my experience with the fandom and Ask Greg, while not as extensive, has not led me to believe that it’s a place given to discussions on feminism past the 101-level, which, to me, makes the idea that it hasn’t far from inconceivable. Still, let’s say that for some miraculous reason, nobody ever thought of exploring the episode in the way I did—or more likely, nobody who thought anything similar is also doing episode-by-episode recaps of the series: I’m not sure how that matters. Everyone else’s experience doesn’t make what I took from it any more or less invalid—I thought it, it exists, and I have a right to it–just as how my experience doesn’t make everyone else’s invalid.

    Given that the fans didn’t for 17 years, I don’t see HOW the writers could have. I guess that’s why I’m interested in seeing what Greg Weisman’s response might be to all this.

    I’m not sure what you mean here, or what you are suggesting; I sort of get the impression that you feel I’m reprimanding the writers for something they never noticed or intended, or fans for not noticing, which, nope. Whatever the writers intended or the fans got from it is irrelevant when it comes to what I got from it, just as, for example, Stephanie Meyer’s ideas on what is romantic has no bearing on what people who consider Twilight to be about something else entirely. And that, basically, is why, as stoked as I would be by the idea of Greg Weisman reading my blog, I don’t really think that hearing him disagree with me (assuming that’s what ends up occurring) is all that important. That said, if you want to bring the subject up to him, be my guest. : )

  12. Blaise says:

    Hey, Ian! No worries about the time-gap: on occasion a little distance allows clarity. And for me to try and figure out how to properly quote things here. 😀

    Believe it or not, I am not a fan of confrontation either, so I completely understand. Heck, I could have written a whole essay on “City of Stone” and why Demona definitely DID create The Hunter (which is a whole other conversation), but for the most part I prefer to let things be. So, why not here? Well, give me a bit and I’ll explain (and hopefully be clear about it this time).

    Yay, areas of agreement! : ) Still, like I said, I think that this is something that, if it was in the works, really should have been included if the episode is to work, for me. All debating aside, though, I wonder: do you believe that Matt similarly told Elisa about his new Illuminati membership offscreen? It’s something Greg has been quite reluctant to talk about, and I’m curious about your take on that particular bit.

    If Greg doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s probably because there is a story there. I have no doubt Matt told Elisa about everything that happened in “Revelations” right up to the gargoyles going to sleep in the Clock Tower (i.e., where his narration ends). I’ve half wondered if his monologue wasn’t how he was telling Elisa the story, but then that would mean referring to her in the third person when he recounts meeting her outside of the Clock Tower entrance the first time, and that’s just silly. 😉

    But as for membership in the Illuminati itself…on the one hand Matt values honesty and truth, but on the other hand he believes in protecting people. Would he believe that not telling Elisa or the gargoyles would be safer for them and thus the lesser of two evils? Would he even be right, if that’s the case (I think a very strong argument could be made that telling them about his membership couldn’t put them on the Illuminati’s radar any more than they already are)? If he didn’t tell her, I think it would make him very unhappy, and it would only be a matter of time before he actually did tell. It would be inevitable. But would that happen before or after his membership would have been revealed another way? If he did put off telling, I can see him being called out on it. Of course, I can also see him telling Elisa and/or the gargoyles off screen, too. This is all a very long-winded way of saying: I don’t know (but I am eager to find out…sooner than later, I hope).

    Points noted. Still, I think the comparison, while not perfect for the reasons you state is not a wholly invalid one. Like being in the closet, Elisa keeping her relationship with the gargoyles a secret keeps her safe and helps assure her employment at the cost of forcing her to keep incredibly important parts of her life perpetually hidden from people whom she is otherwise close to. And like I said initially, I believe that, like being in the closet, the decision of to whom and how she reveals that part of her life to should remain in her hands and those of the gargoyles.

    I can understand keeping her safe (and more importantly to her, keep the gargoyles safe), but how does it help assure her employment? She’d get fired if her connection to them came to light? I actually don’t take that as a given, but okay. And again, by this logic, the ones who outed her would be Xanatos and the Illuminati, not Matt.

    If I may ramble a bit here: the thing about secrets is that people out of the secret don’t know whether to be concerned or not. Let me see if I can make this clear. Matt knew Elisa was blatantly lying to him. Why would a cop lie to her partner? Maybe it’s for a good reason (a personal aspect that she feels, rightly or wrongly, could jeopardize her career, like you mention). Heck, maybe she’s planning a surprise party for him! Or, maybe, it’s something bad. Maybe she’s on the take (like she pretends to be a few episodes later), or maybe it’s drugs. Something that would be bad for her or the department as a whole. How is Matt to know? As her partner, the argument could be made that he should know her well enough to trust her, but if she lies right to his face…that erodes trust. He does seem to buy her story about the Clock Tower being her own hideaway, though. He’s still skeptical, but he seemed willing enough to let it go.

    This, in the end, is my main beef with both the character and the episode. I think Matt crossed a line, and believe that if the writers believed that, their ethos would require them to make him acknowledge it in order to remain on the side of the white hats. Had they done this—and I, personally, don’t take it as a given that it happened offscreen, and would have felt cheated if that were the case, given what I perceive to be the importance of such a scene to the themes of the episode–I would have little to complain about. The fact that he didn’t suggests that the writers didn’t see it as crossing the line, or didn’t see the apology as an important enough part to include.

    This makes perfect sense to me. Obviously, I disagree; I like the episode and character, and I feel fine inferring what might happen offscreen based on what I know of the characters. But I can follow this line of reasoning and understand the conclusion.

    So why do I debate? Well, that ties into the bit at the end of my previous post that I wasn’t clear about. Basically, that’s as far as I CAN follow the logic.

    A story for illustration (slight suggestive tone): I have an old family friend whose mother forbade her from painting her toenails. The mother’s line of logic went like this: “IF a girl is painting her toes, THEN she is showing her toes to all the boys. IF she is showing her toes to all the boys, THEN she is sleeping with all those boys.” It went from point 1 (the situation) to point 2 (a conclusion that’s not a given, but understandable) to point…10 (a very specific conclusion not guaranteed by point 2).

    That’s what this felt like to me. I could understand up to not liking Matt and the episode because of the feeling that he crossed a line and was not adequately called out on it. But the rest of it (“Misogyny, Workplace Oppression, Bullying, Online Harassment”) feels like it came out of nowhere. I’ve never seen anything to even remotely suggest all that in this episode. The argument (and the imagined scenario of Elisa’s persecution) did not fit, to me. It felt less like something that came out of the episode itself and more like a preexisting argument latched onto it; something that’s only there if a person wants it to be there and is actively looking for it. (Just to be clear, NOT saying you did this, just how it felt to me)

    I will freely admit, I don’t see Matt Bluestone and Elisa Maza as a white male and a NA/AA woman; I see them as Matt Bluestone and Elisa Maza (everything else is largely incidental to me). That may affect my view of things. And I can only see through my eyes, just as you see through yours. We each have our own thoughts, feelings and experiences, and they affect how we view the world and react to things. All I know is, the argument (and the scenario) about the “unfortunate implications” seemed so out of place to me (and even unfair to the characters, episode, show and staff) that I felt I had to say [i]something[/i].

    Anyway, that’s my piece. As for bringing it up to Greg…well, maybe the bit about Matt not being properly called out for the car stunt. The rest…I’d be afraid of putting words in your mouth, and that I do not want to do.

    At any rate, I look forward to more entries. Whatever our disagreements, you are one heck of a blogger!

  13. Blaise says:

    And I obviously can’t quote to save my life. 😳

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