Women at Work: “Walkabout”

“…law and order [Chung CHUNG!].” Dingo

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Written by: Michael Reaves, Steve Perry

Original Air Date: February 7, 1996

Introduces: Matrix, Anastasia Renard, Shaman

Timeline placement: May 1 – 2, 1996

Location: Australian outback

TMNT episode I could make a comparison to: “Membership Drive”

 

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Villain Decay: “Upgrade”

” They are formidable opponents.–Goliath, on The Pack

Upgrade

Written by: Adam Gilad
Original Air Date: November 9, 1995
Introduces: The Pack 2.0
Timeline placement: November 15 – November 16; December 14, 1995 – December 15
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: N/A

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Not a Cassandra Clare Book: “City of Stone”, Part One

“Isn’t this exciting Luna? It begins again!”Phoebe

Written by: Michael C. Reaves (Story); Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia C. Marano (Teleplay)
Original Air Date: September 15, 1995
Introduces: The Weird Sisters Phoebe, Luna, and Selene; Findlaech, Gilcomgain/The Hunter; Duncan; Gruoch; Bodhe; Terrorists
Timeline placement: September 30 – October 1, 994; 1020; November 9, 1995
TMNT episode I could make a forced comparison to: “Tale of Master Yoshi”, “Secret Origins”

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Beauties and the Beasts: “Eye of the Beholder”

“If Xanatos speaks the truth…if someone like him can love, perhaps there still is hope for this world.”Goliath

Written by: Steve Perry
Original Air Date: September 13, 1995
Introduces: N/A
Timeline placement: October 1 – October 31, 1995
TMNT episode I could make an incredibly easy comparison to: Ep. 7.04: “The Engagement Ring”

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Screenshot Wednesday

It’s often fun to check transformation sequences frame by frame.  Occasionally, you’ll get interesting single shots that go unnoticed in motion.  Here, for example, is Fox, in the middle of her transformation into  werebeast, but looking more like an evil simian with great hair.

By the way, the review for Eye of the Beholder should be up later this week, as I’ve finally come up with a satisfying alternative to the time-consuming recaps I’d been making and which nobody read.

Hellooooo, season 2: “Leader of the Pack”

Hyena: Okay, masked man, you broke us out of stir and you’ve got some nice moves, I’ll give you that–you’re even kind of cute.

Jackal: But The Pack doesn’t follow just anybody. For the last time: who are you?

Written by: Steven Perry
Original Air Date: September 4, 1995
Introduces: Coyote (Robot)
Timeline placement: Sept. 4 – Sept. 6, 1995

Synopsis:

As the sun sets over Riker’s Island, a lone masked person in a costume resembling a stylized dog uses wrist-mounted claws to scale the prison’s inner walls.  After reaching the desired floor, Dog-Mask uses acid gas to melt the bars into the prison, and then immobilizes a prison guard with a beam that causes disorientation and minor hallucinations, and then takes the guard’s keys.

Wolf and Jackal are killing time in their cell when they’re approached by Dingo, who breaks them out with plastic explosives. Prison break!

In yet another cell, Hyena and Fox are also killing time—Hyena shoots homemade proyectiles at cockroaches, while Fox reads Sartre—until they’re approached by Dog-Mask, who breaks open the cell door.  He gives Hyena a weapon-glove, and urges the two dames to escape.  Before they can make a getaway, however, they’re found by a prison guard, who attempts to stop the crooks.  Just as Hyena is about to kill the guard, she is stopped by Fox, who attempts to appeal to her partner’s non-existent better senses.  Before they can get too philosophical about the matter, Dog-Mask urges them to just leave already, but Fox is having none of it: she’s staying in prison to finish out her sentence.  Guards approaching, Hyena and Dog-Mask decide to book it.  They don’t run very far when they reach a dead end; it’s not a problem, however, as Dog-Mask uses a laser in his gauntlet to destroy the prison wall, and then, with Hyena in arms, makes the leap to the ground level without going “splack”, “crack”, or “ouch”.  Hyena is suitably impressed.

The five escapees meet up at the prisons main gate, which Dog-Mask breaks open with his bare hands.  After some quick introductions—Dog-Mask’s name is Coyote—the group escapes in an airship remotely summoned by their newest member.

Nightfall.  Clocktower.  The gargoyles wake up, only to receive unpleasant tidings of The Pack’s escape from Elisa.  Lexington takes these news badly, and is set to go to Pack Media Studios with a quickness, but fortunately, Brooklyn convinces his rookery brother to let him and Bronx join him.  As they glide towards the studios, Elisa, Goliath, and Hudson comment on how it’s unlikely that the Pack will actually be there, and that their efforts would be better served tracking down the Pack’s creator: Xanatos.

Inside the (stealth-rigged) Pack ship, Coyote is ready to give the team their new orders, when Wolf asks a rather reasonable question: who died and made him leader.  Coyote admits that the position is a self-appointed one, and defends his claim to the mantle by easily defeating Wolf.  Wary but not exactly willing to take on a guy who can break steel doors with his bare hands, the remaining non-Dingo members of The Pack tell Coyote that he needs to tell them who he is before they’ll trust him.  Coyote obliges, removing his mask and ohmygodit’sXanatos.

The Pack, particularly Jackal and Hyena, are flabbergasted—wasn’t he the guy they’d been told to kill, and who was partly responsible for putting them in prison?  Before they can take care of that bit of unfinished business, Dingo (who’s getting all sorts of “level-headed guy” cred this episode) makes the point that it was the absent Fox who’d ordered them to kill Xanatos, and that it was Coyote/Xanatos who sprung them out of prison. That bit of business solved (at least for the moment), Coyote/Xanatos explains their next move—namely, revenge on the Gargoyles.

Goliath, Broadway, and Hudson arrive at Castle Wyvern, only to find that Xanatos isn’t home.  Smugly omniscient, Owen explains that what they actually want is the location of The Pack, and informs them that they will soon arrive at Pack Media Studios, and that they are expecting to see the gargoyles there.  Not terribly satisfied with this information or the way they’re been led around, Goliath and co. leave, with Goliath saying that he’ll speak to Xanatos later. “Sooner that you think, perhaps,” Owen retorts to no one in particular.

Outside Pack Media Studios, Lexington and Brooklyn notice that the place has already been surrounded by the Po-Po.  Before they head in, Brooklyn tries to give Lexington some advice about letting his hatred for The Pack prevent him from thinking straight about the important things in life.  Like breakfast family.  It all goes in one ear and out of the other: as soon as Lexington notices the cops leaving the building, he decides to go in.  Brooklyn and Bronx follow.

Inside  the studio, Lexington is disappointed to find that there’s no Pack to be found.  However, that’s not a problem for long, as the building’s floor opens up, revealing the hovering Pack ship.  Round 1…FIGHT!

Despite being outnumbered and not at their best—Lexington refuses to think tactically—the two gargoyles (and one gargoyle beast) put up a good fight; still, they’re eventually defeated by the Pack.  K.O.!

Goliath, Broadway, and Hudson arrive at the P.M. Studios.  Despite finding plenty of evidence of a struggle, there’s no sign of their clanmates.  A studio phone ring and Broadway answers.  It’s Owen, informing them that the Pack has the missing gargoyles, and that they will be awaiting Goliath and co. aboard the Japanese-sounding oil tanker Otoshiana Maru, anchored in the middle of the bay.

Otoshiana Maru.  Lexington regains consciousness, and is told by Brooklyn that they’re trapped.  Again.  While escape seems improbable at best—at least, until reinforcements arrive—Lexington is adamant in the belief that he can take on The Pack by himself.  He fruitlessly begins banging on the cargo bay’s steel walls.

Atop the Maru’s deck, a heavily-armed Pack waits for Goliath and co.’s arrival.   They are not disappointed.  Round 2: It all depends on your skill!  Triumph or die!

Struggle highlight reel:

  • With some accidental help from Hyena, Broadway manages to free Lex, Brook, and Bronx.
  • Several barrels of oil get spilled atop the ship.  A stray laser blast ignites said oil.
  • Goliath eventually unmasks Coyote, then fights mano-a-mano with Xanatos.
  • Surprisingly, Xanatos gets the better of Goliath, as he’s about to turn the gargoyle into fried crispies, Bronx arrives and begins savagely mauling the villain’s face, actually ripping through his skin and revealing Xanatos as the Terminator he actually is.  Hyena finds this extremely sexy (Robosexual!)
  • Before Coyote can do some terminatin’ he is shot through the chest by Lexington, who carries a rifle one size too big for him.  A final kick by Goliath beheads the robot.

Realizing that the fight is not going their way, The Pack escape to their airship.  Just as Lexington is about to shoot the ship down, an explosion causes him to throw off his aim; a second explosion knocks Brooklyn against a column causing him to lose consciousness.

Lexington takes aim again, then notices his fallen rookery brother.  As The Pack escapes, the gargoyle decides on family, as he picks up Brooklyn before he can fall into the burning water.

As the fire continues to burn and the ship sinks around them, Goliath, Hudson and Bronx try to retrieve Coyote’s head. Before they can do so, a rocket built into it activates and launches it into the air.   With nothing else to do, the gargoyles decide to make their exit.  As they glide away from the scene, Brooklyn thanks Lexington for rescuing him.  Lexington replies that it was nothing, and that the moment actually helped him get his priorities straight.

Almost a minute left.  Time for a tag.

Riker’s Island.  Fox stands before her parole board, who declares that, thanks to her decision to remain in jail and protect the guard, she has been granted an early release.

As she exits the prison, she enters a limo.  Oh my God!  It’s Xanatos!  The real one!  They’re making out!  She’s not wearing underwear!

After snogging, Xanatos explains everything.  The whole break-out was set up solely to facilitate Fox’s release.  Plus, as icing, Xanatos got to test his prototype robot.  Fox then asks if he’s disappointed at missing out on his revenge, and Xanatos replies that revenge means nothing to him—it’s a “sucker’s game” that in no way compares to truly valuable things such as…true love.

K.O.!

—-

Yay, season 2!  Season 1 was interesting, but it’s not until season 2 when the show hunkers down and becomes interesting.

Right of the bat, this episode reminds us why Gargoyles is awesome, and why Xanatos is one of the very best villains in animation.  His plan here perfectly encapsulates his appeal: he has uncommon, yet believable, motivations; he is amoral without coming off as a sociopath; his plan here is his most ingenious without coming off as implausible.  And he has good taste in women, too.

I’ve mentioned that I did not enjoy The Pack’s debut, but liked the more focused spotlight on Jackal and Hyena that “Her Brother’s Keeper” provided.  We’re back to the full team here—with new member Coyote bringing the membership to six (that is, if you still count Fox)—which combined with the Gargoyles makes for a pretty packed episode, but by now the characters have been established enough to make it work, and the group has established a good, solid chemistry.  While the group still works better as facilitators for other characters’ stories than as story drivers themselves, they’ve proven that they’re not just one-shot villains.  Unfortunately, this is The Pack’s last story before “Upgrade”, which takes most of the team in a direction I don’t really like, but that’s an issue for another time.

Lexington…god, he’s a douche here.  There are suggestions throughout the series that he has natural inclinations towards evil; if that is indeed the case, the world has no reason to worry, as it appears he’d be a rather crap villain—waaay too impulsive.  Fortunately, he gets better.

Random thoughts:

  • Lexington spends a lot of his time in this episode in his gargoyle eyes-white-shut mode.  It looks especially cool, given his rather large peepers.
  • This episode also confirms something that had merely been a vague suggestion until now: basically, that jail sentences are a big deal, and not something you just shrug off—a rather radical departure from the series’ comic book cousin’s tendency to make the places laughably ineffective at anything. While this isn’t always consistent—there is at least one unexplained prison break—it’s yet another reason why the show is more than just the standard super-hero story.
  • Xanatos’ ability to create human-like robots, while seemingly a rather significant development, turns out to be much less so: it only ever really comes back in to play in a single episode down the line.  While this is mostly a good thing—it’s the sort of thing that’s very easy to abuse—one wonders why Xanatos of the ever-imaginative mind didn’t use it more often.
  • Brooklyn displays some nice leadership qualities here. He’s also got the quipping thing down.  He is so The Lancer.
  • A subtle clue that things aren’t what they seem after Coyote reveals himself to be “Xanatos” is that, despite his stated desire for revenge, the dude still leaves the captured gargoyles alive.  Given that there’s no disadvantage to killing them, the only reason for doing that is that, well, he doesn’t really want them dead.  One does wonder, however, how he sold that to the rest of The Pack.
  • Just like the real-time gap between seasons, the gap between the events of “Reawakening” and this episode is almost exactly seven months.
  • In the scene where Coyote turns his back on The Pack in order to retrieve their equipment, they all look, for a moment, as if they’re going to attack him–even Dingo.  It’s always felt weird to me– a hiccup in the storyboarding.
  • In her one scene in this episode (a relative rarity in itself) Elisa describes Coyote as a man dressed in black.  While technically true, it’s a rather odd way to describe the guy, given that the yellow in his armor is much more prominent.
  • A couple of things help differentiate season 2 episodes from season 1’s.  First is the modified opening, with a brand spanking new expository narration by Keith David, and new season 2 scenes replacing the random fight clips at the end.  It’s just as good as the first opening, although I usually favor this one, since it’s the first one I saw, and has a couple of neat sound effects.  Second is the addition of “previously ons,” which were used before in the pilot and in “Enter Macbeth”, but are now used for every episode.  Third, writers are no longer credited alongside the title.

Foxy Lady: A Look at the Many Looks of lady Fox

While most of the characters in Gargoyles adhere rather strictly to the limited wardrobe animation convention–unless there’s some sort of special occasion, they’ll wear the same outfit every time–two exceptions stand out: the first is Coyote, whom doesn’t so much change outfits as change bodies, and the second is the lovely Fox Xanatos (née Janine Renard), who given her eternally variable status (She’s a member of the Pack! She’s a prisoner!  She’s a martial artist!  She’s pregnant! She’s a used-car salesman) doesn’t reallyhave too much of a chance to obtain a standard look.    Today, we take a look at the many looks of Fox.

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