Archive for category Childhood Revisited
Dear Koko Animation,
Please decide whether or not Demona has cheekbones. In fact, the answer is no – Demona doesn’t have cheekbones, it makes her seem like she’s (relatively) 90 years-old. What the hell is wrong with you?
Visual oversight aside, Gargoyles, as implied in the previous review, is truly making some headway in the narrative department. Even though the first two parts of the “City of Stone” saga is heavily dependent on flashbacks, the actual story is moving forward, questions are answers, stakes are raised, and major events begin to occur. We finally get Demona’s take on events during and after the gargoyle massacre in “Awakenings,” and if there was any doubt to Gargoyles’ connection to Shakespearean allegories, well, three creepy sisters would like to tell you otherwise.
The Weird Sisters that pop up in and out of the various events in the first two parts of “City of Stone” are wonderfully creepy, giving an extra surreal sheen to already surreal events. They seem to be helpful to a mystical fault, as they attempt to persuade Demona to team up with Macbeth to defeat the Hunter (in the past), yet give Goliath warnings to be wary of revenge (in the present). They also drool over an upcoming “event” 975 years in the making, and they seem complacent in the machinations of Prince Duncan’s horrific acts back in 1000AD. Maybe they’re just mysteriously opportunistic. I doubt it, though.
“City of Stone” finally destroys the already tenuous alliance between Xanatos and Demona, which was on thin ice back in “Reawakening.” In the first part, Demona promises Xanatos that the spell she has will prolong their lives for centuries. Xanatos allows her to broadcast this spell to the world via Pack Studios video equipment. Xanatos knows something up, and tells Owen to only watch or listen, not both. Owen opts to only listen – but the spell isn’t right. When he goes to fight back, Demona traps him and forces him to watch AND listen to the whole thing.
These events are interspersed with the tragic story surging at the heart of Demona’s life struggle. When Goliath and Hudson headed off to fight the Vikings, Demona argues with her partner/betrayer. He reassures her that the Vikings won’t break the stone gargoyles in the morning, but let’s be real – we’ve all seen No Country for Old Men (alright, alright – The Dark Knight). There are some forces that you just can’t reason with, and Demona’s suspicions trigger her to duck out for the evening, away from the castle. Sure enough, when she gets back, everything is destroyed. She can’t bear to face Goliath upon his return, so she retreats into the night.
Weismen and co. use this opportunity to, for better or for worse, create their own Shakespeare play of sorts, creating a scenario about a soon-to-be-coronated prince named Duncan concerned about the popularity of his cousin, Macbeth, to the point that Duncan goes out of his way to plot his (and Macbeth’s father) death. The story they tell works so, so well, despite that it doesn’t make a lick of sense, since succession is purely about bloodline, not popular vote. Duncan would have been king no matter what, no matter how much more popular Macbeth seems to be (nor does the show display the populace’s reaction to Duncan or Macbeth, so a lot of these opinions are based on heresay).
The basic tale, though, is what’s so intriguing, so full of twists and turns and, yes, contrivances, because as much as we seem loathe to admit it, the best tragedies consists of contrived, convenient events that end in horrific results by people who mean well but tend to be viciously misguided. So the tale begins here, in the first part of “City of Stone,” where we see a young Macbeth fall in love with a girl named Gruoch, but is forced to marry a man named Gillecomgain by the decree of Prince Duncan. The scratches on Gillecomgain’s face are the result of a claw swipe from Demona many moons ago, when she attacked a stable boy while scavenging for food. This scratched boy has grown up to be an masked assassin, sort of, known as The Hunter.
Demona, during this time, has been laying low, gathering expatriot gargoyles and striking at the humans in quick, hit-and-run skirmishes. She relishes the chance to finish off this Hunter, who was sent after her as well, so by narrative decree, she gets indirectly roped into this story as well. The whole thing is big, grand, and dramatic, with boastful words to no one but the audience, grand gestures that add weight instead of melodrama to the preceding. The final conflict between the Hunter, Macbeth, Macbeth’s father, Gruoch, and Demona is, as mentioned, contrived as hell, but works, because it’s a tense, thrilling scene. especially since we know Gargoyles isn’t afraid to kill off a few of its characters. The Hunter kills Macbeth’s father, but escapes when Demona, with a surprising amount of heart, saves Macbeth and Gruoch from their deaths as well.
In the present, Owen calls Xanatos to warn him about Demona’s incorrect spell, but the sun goes down. As the gargoyles emerge from their stone slumber, the entire city of New York who watched (and listened) to Demona’s broadcast entered their own stone slumber. Fox was a victim of the broadcast, and the first part ends with a stone cold Fox (literally!) at the controls of Xanatos’ helicopter, her and Xanatos falling to their deaths. And the worst is yet to come.
The second part of “City of Stone” is vicious. Demona gleefully smashes a number of stone humans, and frankly I’m stunned that Disney let this happen. When the gargoyles were destroyed in “Awakening,” that at least happened off-screen. Demona’s rampage is up front and center, and it literally sent chills down my spine. The gargoyles follow her trail of destruction and death, and they have another bizarre conversation with the Weird Sisters, warning Goliath of the dangers of revenge. These three continue to be wonderfully mysterious, and I’m not sure if their end game will be revealed in the next two parts, or later in the second season.
We get more information about the past and Demona’s backstory, her continuing fight with the Hunter, and more intrigue involved with Prince Duncan. I have to admit that I’m somewhat confused. Gillecomgain here says that Macbeth is heir to the throne. So Prince Duncan isn’t? I’m not sure if Duncan wants to take out Macbeth because he’s afraid that his popularity would garner supporters for him to be a potential king, or if Macbeth is heir to a different castle and Duncan simply is resorting to literal backstabbing to snag more power. Why Duncan feels Macbeth is a threat is unclear. Maybe he just wants to murder some guys. Maybe he just likes to fuck with people.
That might be the case, actually. Duncan orders Gruoch to marry Gillecomgain and then pushes for Gillecomgain to finish off Macbeth. The Hunter refuses, and Duncan, who clearly doesn’t like to be refused, “reveals” to Macbeth that Gillecomgain was the one who killed his father. More swooping plot developments and grand events and elaborate betrayals give “City of Stone” an exciting foundation that even the best Gargoyles episodes so far seemed to lack. And these events are given an extra element, when the Weird Sisters convinces Demona to strike the Hunter, with the help of Macbeth. She’s reluctant, but concedes.
We get a great final sequence, with Macbeth, The Hunter, and Demona once again going at each other with Gruoch in the midst. It’s all swords, maces, and good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs, with a bit of thematic parallelism when Macbeth saves Demona life as the Hunter falls to his death. Macbeth and Demona seem linked somehow, and I wonder if the Weird Sisters are involved, since they want Demona and Macbeth to work together so much. In the end, Macbeth marries Gruoch, and Prince Duncan seethes while he watches from afar. While it’s still confusing as to why exactly Duncan hates Macbeth so much, there’s something stirring as he grasps the Hunter’s mask in his hand. He then hands over his son to three familiar, creepy female caretakers.
Back in the present, the gargoyles track Demona to Pack Studios, where Xanatos, who managed to land the helicopter safely, destroys the broadcast of Demona’s spell. And suddenly, a modern day Hunter appears! He and Demona go at it, and Koko’s fight scenes continue to be effective even though their character model designs fluctuates way too much. “City of Stone,” with its epic tone and larger stakes, should have been animated by Disney’s signature animation studios. Still, there are so many interesting things in the air now, especially now with this Hunter around and Demona on the prowl – not to mention the city still in the midst of a rocky situation. To that end, Goliath has no choice but to team up with Xanatos, which is never a good sign.
Next week looks to be very interesting.
[I decided to grade "City of Stone" like I graded "Awakening" - as a whole. So the grade will come next week!]
I came into Chip n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers fully ready to be disappointed by it. I knew that there was no way that the cutesy show of high-pitched rodents saving puppies, children, and other helpless animals could possibly hold up in any way. Heck, it wasn’t may favorite show as a child, so if it was lukewarm then, I figured I’d hate it now. I could see the leading line now: “Rescue Rangers signaled the cracks in the Disney Afternoon’s impenetrable armor.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong. In a complete and unexpected twist, not only did I deeply enjoy Rescue Rangers, it actually became my favorite show of the entire lineup. Let me be clear: it’s not the best show of the afternoon block – Ducktales has much more exciting and fun adventures; Darkwing Duck is funnier, more subversive, and more stylistic with the format; TaleSpin has richer characters and distinct relationships. Rescue Rangers, on the other hand, feels inventive. It feels clever, ambitious, and confident. It has this indomitable free-spirit couched in a wildly creative world of rodents and animals living their own lives among a bunch of humans. It doesn’t take itself seriously, only when it needs to. In a word: it’s fun.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers – (1989)
Director: Alan Zaslove, John Kimball, John Zamboni
Starring: Tress MacNeill, Corey Burton, Peter Cullen, Jim Cummings
Screenplay(s) by: Julia Luwald, Tad Stones, Dev Ross
Here’s the thing you should think about: when it comes to the idea of rodents living beneath humans, nine times out of ten, there’s a hidden message. Most of the time they’re about humanity’s wanton destruction of the environment – The Secret of NIMH, Ferngully, The Rescuers Down Under – or they’re about contrasting humanity’s cruel treatment of each other and the world at large, as compared to life underfoot – The Rescuers, Capitol Critters – or maybe they’re allegorical – Watership Down, An American Tail, Animal Farm. The exception might be the fantastic The Great Mouse Detective, but that’s in a league all its own. In fact, Rescue Rangers is more analogous to that film than it is to The Rescuers films that it is based on; it is the completely tonal opposite of Capitol Critters. While that show portrayed its mice and roaches as refugees and scavengers desperate to stay alive, Rescue Rangers showcases its pint-sized cast as normal critters comfortably attuned to the humans overhead. Humans are more like natural phenomenon – forces you have to deal with and handle, forces that can be dangers but also can be extremely helpful and exciting to behold. Getting around by car in Capitol Critters is a dangerous venture; in Rescue Rangers, sliding down a drainpipe and launching yourself onto the bumper of a speeding car is Tuesday.
That kind of commitment and normalization of its pip-squeak world is what makes Rescue Rangers so much fun. It reminds me a lot of Phineas and Ferb, a world that also spritely normalizes miniscule characters (the kids) and their outlandish worldview. No one really comments on the kids purchases or their incredible abilities, nor the sight of a hat-wearing platypus or the alarming number of mad scientists in the Tri-State Area. Likewise, no one bothers to comment on the sheer number rodents and small animals wearing clothes, or their surprising efficiency at building planes or go-carts, or the ease in which a superhero dog can be a huge TV star, or a crazed scientist wearing a bumblebee outfit is fighting five tiny rodents on a live stage using bees. Things just happen. The humans and animals live with it. The audience just enjoys it.
And even the most exciting stuff needs a great core cast, and incredibly, they deliver. Individually, Chip, Dale, Gadget, Monetery Jack, and Zipper would probably be annoying, but together, they’re fairly efficient and create an interesting dynamic. Chip is a solid leader, if impatient and somewhat dismissive. It’s a flaw that works, especially when certain episodes reflect Chip’s flippant responses to other characters as being genuinely hurtful. Then there’s Dale, the goofball, comic relief character that probably rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I was okay with him though. There are some moments where he takes things too far, but for the most part, Rescue Rangers showcases Dale’s wackiness as inherently important to the crew. His outsider “silly” status often positions him outside of trouble, often by luck, leaving him the only person to save the day. A goofy show uses Dale’s unpredictability to add to the circumstances instead of forcing inane comedy relief to every scene. This is particular notable in “Chocolate Chips,” one of the strongest episodes of the series. Dale’s wacky passion for chocolate leaves him the only one not hypnotized by a cloud of malicious mosquitoes, and there’s a genuinely tense sense where Dale is running for his life as the bugs give chase.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2×25 – Chocolate Chips
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Gadget is a lot of fun. A brilliant, absent-minded inventor based on the character of Jordan in the 1985 film Real Genius, Gadget functions like an endearing robot, thinking and speaking intelligently but putting very little emotion behind her decisions. It’s interesting to see her bounce between her genius and her awkward insecurities, which is addressed often, like in the “To the Rescue” five-parter and, specifically, “The Case of the Cola Cult,” another classically brilliant episode that gives Gadget a badass moment. Monetery Jack, the muscle, regales the cast with his broad, outlandish tales that may or may not be true, but also able to back it up with brute force. He’s addicted to cheese, at some points treated like a comical take on alcohol addiction. He’s brash and self-sufficient, to the point that he’ll dismiss the team and strike off on his own. He always comes back though, understandably needing the team as much as they need him. “Love is a Many Splintered Thing” is his signature (and fantastic) episode, delving into a past love life with tragic consequences. And then there’s Zipper, the tiny fly whose fast and nimble, able to help out the team in a pinch. He even gets his own standout episode, “Zipper Comes Home.”
You may have noticed I mentioned a lot about various episodes being “brilliant”. Because they are. What’s remarkable about Rescue Rangers is that a majority of the episodes are written so well. They’re tense, intriguing, mysterious, and fun, but from a narrative perspective, their tight, focused, and crafted well enough to gradually raise the stakes throughout all 22 minutes. Not every episode is a winner, though – some of the earlier episodes, like “Out to Launch” and “Bearing Up Baby” hue more towards a classic Disney-short sensibility, where the Rescue Rangers randomly find themselves in a crazy scenario and work their way out of it (“Bearing Up Baby” even brings back Humphrey the Bear, a classic Disney character.) These episodes are merely okay, especially since a lot of the show mines comedy from the old school tension between Chip and Dale from the 60s.
The truly great episodes are that follow a formula, a formula specifically built for the show: 1) introduce a weird event, 2) introduce a team conflict, 3) slowly explain the weird event while tying the team conflict, 4) show how the team cleverly solves the mystery and saves the day. Points 3) and 4) are the key to why Rescue Rangers works. Sure, as an adult, it’s easy to predict the stories and the twists (“When You Fish Upon a Star” might keep people baffled until the end though), but how they’re told is remarkably well done. The show wisely doesn’t spend too much time on building mysteries though; after they’re exposed, Rescue Rangers shows how the team actually saves the day, with smart (if albeit silly) use of various small objects and talismans and charms and whatever’s on hand, which is wonderfully endearing, especially when they use their fully capabilities to beat the most clever villains, both great and small.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2×01 – To The Rescue – Part 1
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The “To the Rescue” five-parter is not only an excellent series, but an abject lesson in character introduction. The story of a mastermind villain that manipulates a retiring cop in order to enact a hilariously ridiculous plan that actually works, “To The Rescue” shows each character coming to life – Chip matures into his leadership role and Dale shows his silliness as an asset. Gadget establishes herself as separate from her late father as an inventor. Monetery Jack and Zipper finds his place with the team after losing their home. Fat Cat is a ambitious, flashy mob villain and Professor Nimnul is an eccentric mad scientist. “To the Rescue” is notable because it brings out the characters flaws and creates dramatic tension with it, which is something increasingly rare in kids’ cartoons (oddly enough, Kung Fu Panda seems to an exception, for better or for worse). It also just an enjoyable hour and a half of TV.
The show, overall, is both charming and exciting, with beautiful animation from the unstoppable TMS for a majority of the episodes. The character designs are lovely, to the point that… well, let’s just say that crushing on cartoon characters is quite alright. I was somewhat surprised by the amount of sexual tension on the show, both intentional (Gadget is quite often portrayed in, um, “form-fitting” outfits, complete with accompanying jazz chords) and intentional (I’m not saying that shipping Chip and Dale is a thing, but it could be). There’s also a fair share of 90s violence and language, with quite a number of instances of “Shut up!” and “Stupid!” being tossed around. Hell, when Chip and Dale meet Monetery for the first time, they get into an all-out brawl with each other, which is hilarious but definitely evocative of an era long gone.
The creativity behind Rescue Rangers is what gives the show an edge that makes it stand out. It’s a delight to look at the miniature world underneath our feet and see how these animals re-purpose various things for their daily use. The Ranger-Mobile, for example, is a skateboard with a hairdryer attached to it with a bottlecap as a wheel. Chip and Dale use a record player as a treadmill. Surround sound is a pair of headphones above the couch. Being able to make and utilize paper airplanes for semi-long distance travel is must. A lightbulb doubles as a fortune teller’s crystal ball. Part of the appeal is pointing out the various little things that everyone uses for themselves. Sponges are mattresses? I love it.
That kind of creativity sneaks into the writing, which, well, could probably annoy some people, but it really requires a particularly keen ear, since a lot of gags are more of the guise of passing puns and references. These puns and references are not THE joke, but canny watchers might spot them and laugh/groan. At one point, Monetery Jack mentions helping a talking barnacle “out of a scrape.” A villainous mother-and-son, who are kidnapping birds out of the sky to make meat pies, are known as The Sweeneys; the son’s name is Todd. They also have two cats named Jack and Nichols, who – you guessed it – sound like Jack Nicholson. One character calls Chip “Alvin,” and follows it up with, “all you chipmunks look the same.” A more obscure allusion lies in a story Monetery tells when he once went off with a bunch of flying squirrels to Frostbite Falls to hunt for mooseberries. Gags like this are peppered into the show, particularly for older viewers, but they aren’t driven into the ground, making their discoveries all the more wonderful. (My favorite, random gag comes in “Pound of the Baskervilles,” where Chip discovers a blood-stained manuscript during an unrelated investigation, which is completely ignored. It’s an out-of-left-field, bleak non-sequiter that made me laugh more than it should have.)
Rescue Rangers builds so much good will with it’s energy and spirit. It creates a nice balance between the human and animal characters, deriving characters and conflicts from both, and letting the team work to their strengths and weaknesses to deal with them. The world-building, in its own insular way, is just fun to watch, with various one-off characters adding to the kind of adventures that take place underfoot, like Sparky the lab mouse (who sounds like Christopher Lloyd), Rat Capone the rat gangster, and fan-favorite Foxglove, the bat lover for proper Dale shipping. Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, and TaleSpin work in their own individual ways, but Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers works because it has a vision, a formula, and a creativity that’s unmatched. As cliche as is sounds, Rescue Rangers is proof that great things comes in small packages.
Fox: “But what about love?”
Xanatos: “I think we love each other. As much as two people such as ourselves are capable of that emotion.”
Gargoyles, I think, is turning the corner. After developing so many ideas and setting so many tables, the show finally begins to push into a forward momentum. Things start to happen. Characters slowly open up, pasts are reveals, stories start to chug along.”Eye of the Beholder” was a much stronger episode than “Vows,” but I think “Vows” was hindered by a time travel conceit that didn’t do the already-complex show any favors (nor did the sub-par animation from Sae Rom). Overall, especially after last week’s promising two episodes, it looks like Gargoyles is becoming the show everyone keeps swearing by.
Remember “The Edge?” I had wrote about how Xanatos spends a lot of time and effort on maintaining control, or more accurately, the illusion of control, to those around him and, in particular, to himself. “Eye of the Beholder” slowly and carefully breaks down Xanatos’ image of self-perseverance, finally opening up the man and giving the character a much needed sense of vulnerability and, dare I say it, helplessness. It’s also the show’s signature Halloween episode, which was quite honestly an awesome coincidence.
Xanatos decides to up and marry Fox. His reasons include compatibility and long-term goal similarities. But when it comes to “love,” well… his wonderfully robotic response is both funny and revealing. To Xanatos, love is simply a function, a function that connects two people along with other simplistic intangibles that can lead to further perfunctory successes. Or, that is what he wants to believe. Fox sees the statement as Xanatos opening up, and in some ways, that’s the truth. She accepts the wedding proposal, and as a gift to his bride to be, Xanatos offers her the Eye of Odin to wear.
Elisa, a month later, tracks a commotion at a nearby grocery, only to find a hairy beast raiding the food stocks. She’s attacked by ostensibly a werewolf – I say “ostensibly” because it’s not a technically a werewolf. The rules are somewhat unclear: all we know is that this beast is drawn out of Fox via the Eye of Odin’s special powers. Xanatos and Owen watch the news footage of the beast’s rampage, only to see Fox returning home after a long night out. Xanatos can put two and two together, and kudos to the show to allow the audience to figure it out without hemming and hawing, or Swat Kats levels of exposition.
Still, I was somewhat surprised, only because of the female-human-to-male-werewolf transformation. Although, in the realm of magic, why should it matter? The answer is that it shouldn’t, and Gargoyles continues its subtle but pointed subversion of gender dynamics. Sexual dynamics is another thing, as this episode continues to play at a Goliath/Elisa romance, which just cheapens their relationship as lost souls in a city of madness, especially after a poignant scene of Elisa growing upset, relating Fox’s transformation to her brother’s. THAT is how the show should handle Elisa’s grief over Derek’s change – moments of panic and pain, not melodramatic haystack weeping.
The real thrust of the episode is the breaking down of the Xanatos Gambit, and, more thematically, Xanatos himself. When Fox returns home, Xanatos mentions that it’s time to start Plan A. This is about control, where Xanatos walks in casually and asks for the Eye of Odin back. He’s testing how much power he has over Fox and/or the Eye, but come to find out, it’s very little, as Fox transforms, wallops the man, and makes its escape. They manage to track the beast, but even though Xanatos plays it like it’s nothing – “Well, spilled milk. Let’s move on to Plan B.” – he turns away from Owen and, for the first time in the show’s history, expresses doubt and… sadness? There’s something wrong here, and for the first time, Xanatos is showing it.
Xanatos in his robot gargoyle suit has become a symbol. It is the cold, metal exoskeleton of man visually desperately exerting his power, used distinctively to mask his vulnerability (this becomes clearer in the “Vows”). If he can’t manipulate control, he’ll use force. But this fails to work as well, as the beast overpowers him and comes quite close to killing him, but the Fox inside recognizes Xanatos and runs. A damaged Xanatos returns to his castle and begins to discuss plans with Owen about Plan C – manipulate Goliath and his clan to “saving” Fox by getting the Eye of Odin, but Goliath is on to his tricks, refusing to even go near the beast. For the first time, Xanatos finds himself with no plan, no saving grace, no final trick up his sleeve.
Except honesty. He admits that the Eye gives the wearer power and insight, and that he just wasn’t expecting transformation. Goliath deduces the beast is a manifestation of Fox’s true character (I don’t buy this. Fox is a villain but she always had her head on straight – the fact that her true nature is a carnal. insatiable monster doesn’t quite work). Either way, a vulnerable Xanatos pleads to Goliath to help save her life – and he and Elisa refuse. Even when reaching out to Goliath, his penchant for manipulation kicks in as he relates losing his love to Goliath losing his. I love this. I never quite thought of Xanatos being so caught up in his lies and deceits that it became habitual, but it works, especially when he tracks Goliath later with a homing device. “Old habits die hard.”
Goliath does eventually come around, not because he’s concerned about Fox but because he’s concerned about the safety of the city. So he and Xanatos team up to take the beast. (The excuse he gives that leaves his clan out of the beast’s pursuit is a narrative necessity at best, cause it doesn’t make logical sense.) Take careful note that Xanatos is still walking around in his robot suit – he, in his desperate and legitimate insecurity. The two manage to finally snag the Eye, changing the creature back into Fox. A deal is struck: Goliath gets the Eye and Elisa returns Fox to Xanatos. It’s a deal he can’t pass up, because Xanatos actually loves her, a startling contrast to that opening quote. Which leads to the best exchange not only in the show’s history, but in perhaps all of TV:
Xanatos: “So now you know my weakness.”
Goliath: “Only you would regard love as a weakness.”
First, a little “dirt of the shoulder” love for Goliath’s badass comeback. Second, the face Xanatos makes after that line is striking, where anger, sadness, depression, frustration, acceptance, deference, and concession come together. He walks off with his bride-to-be. Owen says he looks heroic, but Xanatos crushes that sense of vulnerability: “A momentary lapse, I assure you.” He tells Fox it was all a bad dream, and it’s all over now. He will be damned if he’s shown up like that ever again.
“Vows” start off like a decent episode, but it gets way too caught up in its time travel concept to really be worth something. It moves a bit too fast for anything to land and has a lack of focus, but there are a lot of good ideas in the periphery. Time travel really works when 1) it’s goofy and campy enough to be fun and nothing more, like Doctor Who, or 2) so wildly, well-thought out that it’s more horror than sci-fi, like Primer. “Vows” is neither. It’s cute, it’s somewhat informative, but too packed and messy to really land an impact. To grasp the full meaning of the episode, I have to explain all the events first.
“Vows” is about Xanatos regaining the upper hand. The events of “Eye of the Beholder” leaves the man a (slightly) shattered version of himself, so he goes out of his way to show everyone he truly is in control. He confronts Goliath at the very beginning of the episode to invite the lead gargoyle to his wedding to be his best man, dropping the fact that Demona will be there as well. Goliath wavers on the decision, and while it seems we were all but past any chance of Goliath re-establishing a romantic relationship with Demona, it seems that he was not. He still has visions and dreams of their past love, remembering when they exchanged halves of a charm known as the Phoenix Gate amidst the wedding between Prince Malcolm and Princess Elena. Deep down, he thinks he could rekindle that love.
Xanatos, meanwhile, invites his father to his wedding (and again, note how Xanatos is still wearing the robot suit, still compensating from “Eye.”) Xanatos’ father is AWESOME. He smacks down his son’s luck into money, then, when everyone gets MAGICALLY zapped into the past, he doesn’t give two shits. Xanatos’ father follows along in the immense implausibility of returning to the past, and the slick manner in which Xanatos indirect made his fortune (giving a coin to the Illuminati to give to him in the future to start his fortune and a note telling him to do this), with the indifference of an emo teenager. Even after all the craziness, his father STILL is all, “Whatever, all you care about is money,” which makes me want this guy to have his own show. The Xanatos’ Dad Show, starring Xanatos’ dad, seeing magic and sorcery and giant robots and gargoyles, and simply wanting to know how the fuck to get to Denny’s. Incredible.
I digress. Goliath goes to the wedding, shows Demona his half of the Phoenix Gate, and she combines it with hers and sends everyone into the past. All the above happens, including a strange attempt by Goliath to talk past Demona into keeping her heart pure and loving so that maybe, in the future, she wouldn’t be so angry at humanity and they would once again be in love (it doesn’t work). Honestly, it’s a strange episode, a little more complex then I think the writers intended, but it’s revealing in some major ways: one, Xanatos is part of the Illuminati, which adds some deliciousness to Matt Bluestone’s conspiracies. Two, the Archmage from “Long Way to Morning” actually was a member of castle before his betrayal (I assume its the effort to get the Phoenix Gate, although it’s not made explicit). Three, this Archamge is after the ultimate power, which lies in the possession of the Phoenix Gate, the Grimorum, and the Eye of Odin. How this develops has yet to be seen.
Overall, though, this episode was intriguing and ambitious, but it didn’t quite work for me. I love what it tried to do, but adding a little bit thought to it kinda makes the whole thing fall apart. And I know time travel is a fool’s “thinking man” game, but the idea that the note Xanatos sends himself in the future, which presumably mentions inviting Goliath to the wedding and assuming everything between him and Demona would work out like that is a huge stretch. What if Goliath didn’t come? Well, the episode implies that it doesn’t matter, since the rules of time travel implied that Goliath would come, that the events happened because they’ve already happened. “Time travel’s funny that way.” This gets into a whole fate/destiny thing, and while Gargoyles plays around with fate and destiny a lot, the broad, universal theoretical approach may not be in the show’s strong suit.
But hey! Xanatos’ dad! More of him, please.
“Eye of the Beholder” A-/”Vows” B