The Wedding Bells of Notre Dame: “Sanctuary”

“I’m the monster of Notre Dame.” — Thailog

PDVD_004

Written by: Cary Bates

Original Air Date: December 18, 1995

Introduces: Dominique Destine, Nightstone Unlimited

Timeline placement: January 21 – 22, 1996

Location: Paris, France

TMNT episodes I could make variably forced comparisons to: N / A

Content Note: Domestic Abuse, Rape

The Beats:

  • Paris, France.  People are seeing what looks like a winged monster gliding around the Notre Dame area.
  • The world tourists arrive in Paris; unlike other times, they actually arrive during the day, which means that Elisa is left to walk around the city on her own, and rather disappointed at that; she would have liked to spend some time in “the most romantic city in the world” with Goliath. She doesn’t get terribly far before she sees two familiar faces: Macbeth and Demona in her human form, walking around town like lovers.  Because that’s what they are.  They’re lovers. She is understandably shocked, and decides to follow them until they reach Macbeth’s pad, where the two separate.  Elisa then follows Demona to the Notre Dame area, where she loses her.
  • Elisa returns to the skiff and tells the now-awake gargoyles what she saw.  The world tourists ponder this turn of events, and decide to return to Notre Dame, the apparent center of suspicious monster activity.
  • Goliath confides in Elisa his bemusement at Angela’s continued interest in her biological parentage, and in his particular interest in keeping her away from her mother, Demona.  To that purpose, he asks Angela to keep watch over Elisa while he goes explore, explaining about Demona’s grudge against the detective.  Neither of the two women are terribly happy about this.
  • Goliath and Bronx climb to the belfry atop Notre Dame, where Demona awaits “[her] love”.  Instead she gets her ex, and like many exes, they fight.
  • Two people arrive at Notre Dame to join the fight: Angela, who has seen things go down and wishes to help, but never gets to join the fight, and Demona’s love…Thailog.
  • Goliath watches in horror as Demona cozies up to the gargoyle who is the Russ to his Ross, and as the two love birds tell him their couple origin story: Thailog was taking a gap year in Paris when Demona arrived on the Avalon Cruise Skiff.  Not far away, Angela is eavesdropping on the conversation, and hears Goliath as he unsuccessfully tries to convince Thailog that Demona is playing him.
  • With daylight approaching, Goliath and Angela separately decide to leave.  A sad Angela arrives at the skiff first, unseen by Goliath, who lands shortly thereafter.
  • Inside Notre Dame, Demona meets up with Thailog so they can discuss the plan they’ve already agreed to and know about. What’s new, however, is the name of their joint venture: Nightstone Unlimited, run by Madame Dominique Destine and Alexander Thailog.
  • While processing all the new information they’ve obtained, Angela confronts Goliath about his past relationship with Demona.  Goliath does not want to talk about it, and a more heated argument is only prevented, as many arguments are, by the rising sun.
  • Elisa is at a café trying to figure out the Macbeth / Demona / Thailog love triangle.  She concludes, correctly, that Macbeth must not remember that Demona becomes human during the day, and that he must be getting played by the two gargoyles.
  • At Macbeth’s Chateau, ‘beth and Dom get married.  Night falls before any sexytimes  can begin, and it soon becomes obvious that Dominique has not quite disclosed everything about herself, and that consent will not be possible.
  • Thailog arrives at Macbeth’s, and Demona takes him to the sex dungeon, where Macbeth is to remain prisoner until the end of time while they legally kill him off and transfer his funds to Demona and subsequently Nightstone Unlimited.  However, Thailog has a secret alteration to make to that plan: when Demona isn’t looking, he slips Macbeth a blaster, which he uses to escape.
  • Thailog has Demona and he separate.  While Demona fights Macbeth, he heads outside to await their deaths, where he runs into the arriving world tourists.
  • After Thailog does a Bond Villain Monologue about his motivations–let the two newlyweds kill each other and inherit everything–Elisa heads down to takes care of Macbeth and Demona, leaving Goliath, Angela, and Bronx to take on the clone. Thailog manages to give them all a good fight, until an unintentional attack on a water tower causes him to be washed away, and lose his weapon and his advantage.
  • Seeing that Demona and Macbeth, left unattended, will not listen to her and keep on fighting until the end of time Elisa decides she has had enough.  Picking up Macbeth’s lightning gun, she shoots Demona unconscious.
  • Thailog, hearing the sounds of the battle below stop, decides its time for him to leave.
  • Macbeth is still alive and disappointed by that fact.  Goliath observes that, no matter how disastrous the relationship with Dominique may have been, it at least let him know that it was possible to find love and happiness again.  Macbeth listens, and, finding Goliath’s logic sound, actually seems cheered up by this.
  • A groggy Demona wakes up and sees Angela.  Before she can do any substantial reacting, she is picked up by Thailog, and the two gargoyles make their escape.
  • As they return to the skiff, Angela, with no more patience to spare for nonsense, asks the biggie: is Demona her mother?  Elisa’s confession that indeed she is does not make her any happier.

Mythology and Continuity Notes:

—-

The most fun World Tour episode so far is also the one where all the World Tour stuff is most marginal.  The Paris setting here is mere set dressing, and the story is one which could have easily been told in New York, which means that, among other things, the episode can just get into the thick of things without spending too much time on the setup.

The Thailog / Demona pairing is one of those things that is super on the nose, but nevertheless manages to be perfect. Of course the two would meet and  get together.  Of course they’d merge assets and world domination / extermination plots.  Of course Demona would attach herself to the one gargoyle in the world who most looks like her former mate.  Of course one of them would end up betraying the other, although it’s a bit disappointing to see that betrayal come this quickly.

Actually, scratch that: it’s super-disappointing to see that betrayal come this quickly.  It defuses the potential emotional impact of the relationship and makes it into just a thing that happens.  It’s not pointless–we get Gargoyle clones and, more interestingly, Nightstone Unlimited out of it–but it feels more like a gimmick than it should.

Now, there’s a big reason why a Demona / Thailog (MonaLog?) alliance has no long-term lasting power: their ultimate goals are utterly incompatible.  Demona is working towards global genocide; Thailog wants to become Xanatos.  While their strategies to achieve those goals may converge–they both have Profit!  and a surrogate clan as mid-term goals–their paths eventually diverge, and the two would eventually have to deal with that in a way that would likely create irreconcilable differences.

But! This doesn’t mean betrayal has to be in the cards.  It’s entirely possible for Demona and Thailog to have an intentionally temporary relationship that is also  mutually satisfying.  Sure, it would undermine the idea of gargoyles as “true” monogamists (as opposed to serial monogamists) but heck, that idea was already undermined by the fact that Thailog is in the relationship for purely self-serving reasons.   And think of how fun it would be to see Demona and Thailog actually working together, their strengths actually complementing each other.  What’s more, seeing them as an actual couple could give us an idea of what Goliath and Demona looked like back when the two had a successful working partnership, which is something that we really haven’t seen explored a whole lot.

The episode asks why Demona would be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t care for her.  It answers that love is blind, which is true enough, but also, I feel, far from the whole story–especially when it comes to Demona–and I wish the episode had attempted to delve into other possible reasons why she might choose a non-ideal relationship over being single.  Because really, there’s plenty of them. At this point in the series, she has been alone for one thousand years, and the only other people with whom she could possibly see herself forming an emotional and physical connection hate her guts.  Thailog doesn’t even have to look like her ex, really–just being a gargoyle who won’t try to punch her is enough.  Which raises the question: we know from future episodes that Demona will not tolerate attempts on her or her daughter’s life.  What will she tolerate for the sake of that connection, though?  Verbal abuse?  Probably–we see some of that here.  Physical Abuse?  Rape by coercion?  Violent rape?  I honestly don’t  What’s more, given that we know that Thailog can and will attempt to murder her, could he and would he do any of those other things?  Something worth exploring–probably not in the cartoon / comic book, but somewhere.

Also sort of inevitable, in retrospect, is our brief foray into Demona / Macbeth (MacDem?  BethMona?) 2.0.  Given the two characters’ interactions in “City of Stone”, it seems right to have the relationship explored once more, particularly because, when one gets down to it, they both liked (loved?) each other very much, until That One Thing went and ruined everything forever.  Unfortunately, given how the season works, the writers are forced to rely on shorthand in order to get things across, leaving their interactions feeling quite unnatural and stilted, when it’s very easy to see a more slow-burning version of this story, told from both characters’ perspectives’, and to imagine it being very compelling.  Demona knows–or perhaps knew–Macbeth, rather intimately: she knows what makes him tick and what he’s passionate about, and it would be incredibly easy for her to craft the sort of woman he’d fall for.  Given that we know Macbeth was into Demona in some capacity, it is very easy to imagine Dominique as an edited version of Demona herself.  Their relationship, in short, would likely be a version of their 11th century partnership, and that would have been just fascinating to see.  It’s also easy to see the relationship introducing an element of uncertainty to Demona’s latest planned betrayal–what if, during their courtship, she began having getting some awareness of the way she hurt him the last time, and began feeling something akin to remorse for it?  What if she began feeling wistful for what they once had, to the point of having her reconsider things? How would that change their interactions and her approach to her overall plans?  There’s a whole lot of fertile ground here, the sort an enterprising writer could do a lot with.

Given the focus romance gets in this episode, it is then perfectly natural that we’d see some some light shed on the current state of Elisa and Goliath’s relationship, and here we see that their feelings for one another are deep in romantic territory, and are all but explicitly expressed, once privately–Elisa’s statement that she wanted to share the most romantic city in the world with Goliath–and once not–Goliath’s look at Elisa when he talks to Macbeth about finding true love, which is then returned.    It’s all rather lovely, and indicates all that is left to do is for them to act on those feelings, and it is here if I’m wondering if it might not have been advisable to have Macbeth actually share the story of his partnership with Demona with Goliath and company.  Not only is it easier, logistically, to have everyone on the same page regarding the two characters’ connection, it would then give Goliath and Elisa both a confirmation that human / gargoyle love is a thing that happens, and a cautionary tale about their potential future, should they choose to pursue things.

On the non-romantic front, Angela finds out that Demona is her mother, and, like most things Angela, it’s all rather muted, in large part because we have no idea what she knows and when she knew it.  We know Angela knows that Demona maimed most of the Avalon clan while under mind control.  We do not, as far as I remember (please correct me in the comments if this is not the case) know if she knows of her mother’s role in the Wyvern Massacre.  None of the people who raised her knew, and there are as many reasons to believe Goliath has remained silent on the matter (and all the other shit Demona’s pulled) as there are reasons to believe he spilled the beans.  And whether or not she knows is kind of crucial–it’s one thing discover your mother has a rap sheet, and another thing to find out it includes genocide.  There’s not even talk about telling her, I don’t think, and if that’s the case, it absolutely harms the story.  It’s too important a thing to leave vague.

Still, “Sanctuary” manages to be a largely enjoyable episode, because these are all fun characters and its fun to see them interact.  The battle between Demona and Macbeth is great: kinda farcical, kinda brutal, and just well executed in a way that manages to depict, without blood or gore, just how much these two characters are beating on each other.  But, in what is becoming a theme for the Gargoyles world tour, it all comes amid a feeling that more could have been done.  While the series pre-Avalon had done a quite good job of dealing with its season 2 limitations, those limitations are making themselves felt, and seeing the writers deal with them is one of the more interesting stories of this rewatch.  The next episode, I recall, will be by far the best of the tour so far, and will be so despite having to introduce a whole lot of (very cool) stuff.

Random Thoughts:

  • One really interesting thing about Thailog is that he provides the story a way to explore how much of gargoyle cultural norms stems from biology and how much is simply socially constructed.  From what we’ve seen, so far, most of them seems to be due to the latter, as Thailog is very much not like a gargoyle at all.
  • So…that animation error.  That was something.  Fortunately, it is also our gain, as Puerto Rican Gargoyles fan DTaina got a couple of fun comics from it.  Here’s the first and here’s the second.
  • Elisa indicates that she knew–or hoped–that shooting Demona with what would have normally been a killing blow would only knock her unconscious.  We know why this is the case from “City of Stone”, but how does Elisa?  She’s seen enough of Demona and Macbeth to know they’re linked, and she’s seen enough of them together to be able to make informed assumptions about their deal. but I’m not sure she’s ever been in a position to learn about that particular detail.
  • If this episode teaches us something, it is that Thailog has more resistance than the Shredder when it comes to water tower attacks.  If there is ever a TMNT / Gargoyles Role Playing Game, this will be incredibly relevant information.
  • Thailog is sporting some new armor, and…well, that’s all there is to say about that, really.
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2 Responses to The Wedding Bells of Notre Dame: “Sanctuary”

  1. Loudo says:

    While I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering Macbeth isn’t exactly a good guy, I kind of question his decision to tell the woman he loves about his curse and his real self only *after* the marriage. I pictured him more honorable than that. Guess he hasn’t completely shaken off centuries of patriarchy.

    So, you linked to this D’Taina deviantartist pag-OMG this the greatest piece of fanart in the history of fanart: http://dtaina.deviantart.com/art/Lexington-and-Staghart-542371384?

  2. Ian says:

    Yeah: while it’s one of those big “there’s no real right time” secrets–it’s not something you pop out on the first date–there is definitively a wrong time, and “after being married” is one of them. Saying it earlier might have given him a clue about Dominique’s real identity too…

    I hadn’t seen that piece of fan art. It’s fantastic!

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