The neverending series opener continues with another two-fold episode focusing on and contrasting the two women in Goliath’s life, old and new. Though there’s a whole lot of set-up for next week’s grand premiere finale (what?), we still have some thrilling action sequences to keep things interesting.
We open up with the main guard’s gun being way bigger than before for absolutely no reason, but whatever.
From the get-go, Elisa technically saves Goliath by absolutely kicking ass. Goliath does pick her up and run away, and he gets a big superhero moment by heroically gliding away from a blonde chick firing way more incessantly than necessary, but it’s Elisa who had to do the dirty work to free him up so he could do it.
Bottom line, they work together really well. The action in this scene makes it pretty evident that the animation of part one is back in full-force here, with fantastic fluidity and shadow and very beautiful designs.
Meanwhile, the Trio is busy exploring the city and probably exploding more motorcycles, but complain that their wings are tired. Red gets the idea to hail a taxi, which doesn’t work since they’re fucking monsters, so they walk.
Back with Goliath and Elisa, they hide out under a bridge. Elisa finds a radio transmitter on Goliath, with a photo of a beetle that might be a company’s logo. Elisa sees an angry rabid stray dog nearby, but uses her dog whispering abilities to make the dog super friendly, teaching kids everywhere that putting your hand out to a starving wild animal will only make it love you. She puts the tracker on the dog to hopefully distract the people chasing them.
Hudson, meanwhile, is now watching TV and enjoying it, flipping through lots of random Disney references like The Lion King, and Dog gets annoyed at actual dogs on the TV for some reason. The only thing important about this scene is that Hudson says the sun is coming up soon and he’s worried.
The previous scene with the Trio does apparently turn out to be inconsequential, because they show up to the castle without delay anyway. They are, however, worried and wondering where Goliath is. That’s why you invest in cell phones, guys.
As it’s getting closer to sunrise, Goliath and Elisa make it to another part of the woods, when Elisa spots the armed guys walking down the path. Goliath “explains” the whole turning to stone thing in the most half-assed way possible, which is sitting down and actually doing it. In response, Elisa starts yelling in the face of a lifeless statue.
Since that’s obviously fruitless, she jumps out and leads the armed guys away from Goliath. They say they’ll track Goliath with the transmitter later…which begs the question of why they hadn’t been doing that now, but eh. Elisa runs like hell, passing a creepy Alice in Wonderland statue, probably symbolizing how she “fell down the rabbit hole” and such. Which is cool, but after JJ Abrams’s adoration of Alice references these days, I think the TV world is sort of burnt out on that symbolism.
Elisa hides under a table that completely shouldn’t hide her at all but somehow she isn’t seen.
She still gets the upperhand by tripping up the dude from underneath, and steals his gun (which, if you look closely, apparently only fires tranqs.)
Elisa hides out in a cabin-y thing that’s of course filled with gasoline which the bad guys of course shoot up and cause an explosion. Did I mention that gun she stole already ran out of ammo? This really isn’t Elisa’s day. But luckily, she gets a big action hero moment.
Elisa hides in the water, and shockingly, these armed guys aren’t total dunces, because they check for a body in the explosion instead of assuming she died. Which, sad as it is to say, is a lot smarter than most mooks on TV shows are. Elisa swims away like goddamn Aquaman, but can’t get any farther than the docks where the armed guys are standing.
This is a very pulse-pounding moment as the bad guys are walking right on top of her, with their shadow looming over Elisa’s face. She manages to pull the exact same move she did on the other guy by tripping up one of the guards and running off in the mayhem. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Elisa makes it to a waterfall. I don’t know much about Manhattan geography, but is Central Park (or whatever this is) really this huge with waterfalls? I mean, I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt here since I’ve only been to Manhattan once, but this seems kinda crazy. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, though.
Anyway, Elisa pulls another cool-ass move by hanging her jacket on a tree to distract the guard, before LEAPING ON AND WRESTLING HIM UNTIL HE PASSES OUT.
The last episode was an introduction to Elisa as a character, but this time it’s an introduction to her being a BADASS. What’s really great about Elisa’s action sequence is that, unlike the quip-heavy laser/taser/gargoyle battle in part two, this action sequence is very real, suspenseful and intimate. Elisa is our lone cowboy, out-of-breath and low on sleep, armed only with her wits against an entire force of armed fighters, and with no certain way out. She’s even been missing her gun (either the guards disarmed her or it hasn’t been replaced since Goliath crushed it—it isn’t clear, but either explanation is acceptable.)
I know I’ve rambled on about how great Elisa is in these past two episodes, but it’s not out of previous admiration for the character; these two episodes just do a really, really good job at making her extremely likeable and interesting. Admittedly, she’s not as complex as other characters we’ve met and will meet, but that’s part of her appeal—she’s open, and what you see is what you get, but both what you see and get is awesome. We got a nice peek into her thought process last time, but now we get to see her in action and what she’s capable of in the worst of situations. It’s incredibly easy to root for her since we already know she’s a decent person, and it makes the stakes all the higher now because we desperately want her to win even with everything stacked against her.
She returns to the stone Goliath, where she notes that this was “’Lot to go through for a piece of lawn sculpture,” followed by a funny little scene with a runner confused that he never noticed a statue on that path. With the coast clear for now, Elisa hangs around and sleeps with Goliath.
That night, Goliath awakens and is surprised to see that Elisa stayed around to protect him from what Elisa calls “comic book rejects.” It’s a nice moment—they shake hands and establish that they’re even now.
While there’s no big “aha!” moment for Goliath to start trusting humans, it is a step for him to move closer to trusting them again. Elisa has proved herself, but it’s going to take much more to show that it’s not a fluke. They agree to see each other later that night, and part ways.
Goliath returns to the castle and informs his clan that they have enemies, while Xanatos and Owen ominously watch the exchange via video feed because they are definitely good guys.
During the exchange, Hudson let’s it slip that he’s now named Hudson, and Blue’s…intimidated?
They get over the shock and instead get excited at the prospects of naming. They use what they learned about the city locations last time and name themselves—Red chooses Brooklyn, Blue chooses Broadway, Green chooses Lexington, and I’m relieved to finally not list them as their colors four episodes in. Lexington asks, “Do…you like it?” after he names himself and it’s so cute and you want to pinch his cheeks. Brooklyn names the dog Bronx, who just walks away not giving a shit. Lex apparently doesn’t understand body language because he assumes Bronx likes it.
The exact reason they’re each named these names seems kind of random (Brooklyn is cool? Broadway is theatrical? I don’t know.) But it’s honestly not something I’ve looked into further, because it doesn’t really matter; we’ve already got a clear picture of these characters’ personalities, so its not like we need Broadway to be named “Gluttono” or something to clarify it. It’s also another testament to the originality of the show, that naming the major characters is a plot point so late in the game. It’s also goes to show just how quickly our leads are adapting to their new world and actually liking it, just as Goliath is easing back into trusting humans.
Owen shows up and summons Goliath to Xanatos. In a huge twist, Xanatos introduces Goliath to…DEMONA.
I know this was ruined by the crappy shadow in the last episode, but enough time has passed that maybe you kinda sorta forgot. And seriously, his brief moment is insane. There’s a very off-putting zolly shot on Demona for one, which is rare enough to see in film and even rarer to see in animation. And then FUCKING THIS.
Let’s talk about this. I’ve been trying to sort through my feelings on whether I like how obvious the “Demona isn’t a good guy” hints are here. This show likes to go back and forth between being relatively subtle and overtly in-your-face (as much as I have a soft-spot the loud, epic instrumental score behind every episode, it is not nor will it ever be even remotely subtle) but it rarely shies away from being complex and smart with whatever way it chooses. So, this dark moment is really shocking for first-time watchers, and creates a sense of intrigue and suspense because we now know for sure that something big is about to go down. But the downside is that we’re immediately disconnected from Goliath’s journey—he doesn’t see the shadowy zoom on her eyes or hear the ominous music.
There isn’t really anything to make him suspicious, so while this moment is really good for the shock factor, we’re robbed from going on this journey with Goliath. However, I’m a little conflicted because of how this scene continues. Because, put simply, Goliath and Demona have a ton of chemistry. I mean, even Xanatos seems to be getting off from watching them stroke each other’s hair.
Keith David puts on a winning performance, and Marina Sirtis’s voice is noticeably high and very sweet. These guys are just so happy, and you want them to be happy together. In this sense, the “eeeevil!” glare before works, because now we as an audience really don’t want something to be up with Demona so Goliath can get some happiness, even though every fiber of our being is telling us that she’s obviously bad news, somehow.
Demona explains that back in 994 she left the castle to find Goliath before the sun rose. By the time she got back, the Magus had already turned the others to stone, so she did the same thing Goliath did and asked him to turn her to stone, too. Xanatos says he found her a year ago and added her to his private collection, and decided to take her to the top of the tower after Goliath and his friends woke up. Demona also says, “all the days I dreamed of this moment,” before the rest of the clan learns of the news.
Note that this story has a lot of holes. Why was Demona gone so long before returning to the castle in 994? Wouldn’t this be written in the Magus’s book? How did Xanatos separately acquire Demona for his private collection a year earlier? How was Demona waiting for this moment “all the days” if she’s been stone, too? These are questions that could be explained, sure, but no one bothers to ask them because the gargoyles have no interest in looking a gift horse in the mouth. Goliath’s only interest is, “With you alive, I can start to live again as well.” The mixed emotions of the clan being happy and Demona being ominous are very off-putting and tense, but I’m not entirely sure it justifies the obvious “DEMONA’S EVIL OR SOMETHING!” moments.
Anyway, barring that discussion, Demona convinces Goliath to help Xanatos retrieve the disks stolen back in part two, if nothing else out of gratitude for reuniting them. Xanatos recaps the three video game levels the disks are being held in by Cyberbiotics.
Goliath and Demona take the air fortress, while the Trio takes the tower, resulting in them saying “cool,” which they explain indicates a positive response. Goliath is just like, “…Okay.” Hudson is sent to the underground base with Bronx, which he isn’t happy about.
Goliath’s excuse is that Bronx “needs the exercise” which…uh…okay, sure. Also, Xanatos is all evil again.
We get another exchange between Goliath and Demona being lovey-dubby and talking about dreams coming true and shit that makes us single folks want to strangle ourselves. But again, it’s a very nice scene coupled with an air of ominous because of all these evil eyes and music. Hell, we even see Xanatos watching them evilly as they fly off.
So, this weird mix certainly adds an effect of suspense we wouldn’t otherwise have. But the reason all this obvious evil bothers me spawns from the scenes following Goliath and Demona’s arrival to the big Cyberbiotics airfortress. Their entrance is really cool—it’s all very quiet and without dialogue as Demona and Goliath get caught in the air currents and have trouble getting up there, and the animation is spot on. Well, except for Goliath at one point stopping midair, changing his course and flying (not gliding) in the opposite direction the air currents that should be carrying him.
Anyway, when they get into the airship, Demona makes some brief quips about guards “throwing away their lives” to protect their disks, meaning it’s a-ok to kill them. Goliath is noticeably weirded out by this—and it’s exactly what makes the previous hints about Demona’s evilness bother me so much. Before, her evil glares and creepy music were only things the audience saw or felt. Goliath is finally picking up on these hints because they’re actually tangible in the Gargoyles world, and not Gargoyles the TV show that we’re watching.
But since we’ve spent the last 10 minutes getting moment after moment of ominousness from Demona, Goliath seems kind of slow for not picking up on it (even though there’s no way he really could have.) This very subtle moment right here could have been an amazing first hint at something being wrong with Demona, and we’d be right along with Goliath in thinking, “hold up…what?” So if you didn’t catch the holes in her story before, this would be the first clear indication to the audience that “YES YOU SHOULD BE WARY.” And it’d be even stronger, because we’re in the heat of battle, which makes it all the more scary when we consider she could be a traitor or a clone or robot or psycho or whatever. But instead, we’ve been readied to expect it before Goliath does, and it cheapens the moment. It made the earlier scenes slightly more interesting because they were a little more ominous, but I don’t know how much it was worth it.
Anyway, Goliath continues to think Demona’s behavior is risky. The sequence with the big-nosed guard freaking out in the smoke is very creepy as Demona and Goliath both stalk the guy like monsters (one reason why this show is awesome.)
Demona decides to drop the now-unconscious guy off the ship to his death, prompting Goliath to stop her, saying, “To kill in the heat of battle is one thing, but not like this.”
Wow. This kids’ show openly justified killing in certain circumstances. And you think your kids shows are edgy, 2012? In any case, the growing tension between Goliath and Demona is very, very good.
Meanwhile, the Trio in the tower are, of course, totally excited about all the “magic in this century” (aka 90s technology.) There’s a fairly humorous sequence where they don’t understand why the elevator here is different from the elevator at the castle (because the car is on another floor.) They decide to use the rope to slide down, because gargoyles don’t get rope burn I guess.
…And then the doors open up to a shitton of guns pointed at them.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Uh…yeah, this episode just kind of stops when it runs out of time. The cliffhangers at the end of parts two and three aren’t exactly pulse-pounding, but they do function well as partial closure and a launching point into the next episode. It definitely wouldn’t be a problem viewing this in its movie form, but as an individual episode, it doesn’t work so well. That doesn’t hurt the episode’s content at all, it’s just not a very good ending place.
One thing I want to make clear is that, while I was pretty negative this time around, this is still a really strong, enjoyable episode. The problem is that, by nature of what it is, there wasn’t too much substance to talk about outside of the Demona reveal, which is unfortunately flawed. But that doesn’t muck up the entire episode, or the theme.
Like part two, we got two plotlines for each half of the episode, one of which is mostly an action sequence. But this time the two plots complement each other really well thematically—comparing the two women in Goliath’s life. Elisa is a stranger, and of a race Goliath can’t bring himself to trust. But she still manages to prove her loyalty without asking for a reward, simply because it’s the right thing to do, and she knows Goliath is a good guy.
On the other hand, Goliath’s old and supposedly “true” love of his own race, Demona, progressively shows more and more that she’s reckless, doesn’t share the same ideals as Goliath, and isn’t being completely truthful. It’s not a perfect parallel, but it works—one is risking her life for Goliath, while the other is quite frankly closer to putting his life in danger. It’s confusing for Goliath now and is leading to a very conflicted climax in the opening five-parter’s conclusion, and will likely be conflicting and emotionally confusing for us, too.
Or at least it would be if we didn’t already get so many damn shots of Demona being eeeeevil.