A Consulting Analyst on a Monday? What’s this world coming to.
Awakening (Part 3)
We open with our detective, Elisa Maza, totally refusing to buy the bullshit line from Xanatos’ first and best line of defense, Owen Burnett. This is a very small moment, less than a minute long, but it sets up a parallel I love quite dearly. Owen and Elisa are kinda-sorta equals, the interceders and protectors (though their charges are certainly far from helpless) of two supernaturally fearsome forces who would pretty well fall apart without that pillar of support. There small moments of mutual respect are a treat, so consider this your cue to keep an eye out.
Xanatos smarms his way out of trouble with the law for the first time, and I feel like I’m watching baby take his first running steps into traffic. You’ll notice he’s a master of telling Jedi Truths – yes, technically he did fend off an attack, and it might well have been from a rival company (if he hadn’t obviously, so obviously, once you’ve reached the proper state of paranoia, set it up himself), and yeah he probably did have permits for those weapons because he manufactures them. He’s really, really rich, seriously did we mention that.
This is actually a bit brilliant. As part of getting around censorship guidelines, the show made Xanatos’ company a manufacturer of (among other things) laser weaponry. All those huge excavation suits from episode two? Yeah, but in gun form. Which makes for a somewhat interesting stratification of weaponry. Elisa does carry a handgun, for example (which is explored to pretty good effect later on), but most of the antagonists the gargoyles themselves face (and thus have to fight) are armed with laser weaponry bought or “stolen” from Xanatos. Voila, flashy fight scenes that learns from Batman Animated’s “white flash” rule (you’ve probably noticed this – it’s an S&P requirement that replaces the moment of impact with a pure white frame, which a lot of times seems to make things look more violent).
I cannot lie, readers, I just like screencapping Xanatos and Owen
But anyway, the real point of this scene is to let Goliath lurk around watching Elisa, while our three youngest gargoyles poke around in Xanatos’ high tech house. Did I actually need to say the word shenanigans, or were you already there way ahead of me?
Back at the plot, Xanatos gives Elisa the brushoff and Owen lets her….get on the elevator alone and just trusts she’ll leave? That girl has a distinctive character design sir, don’t assume she’ll just leave the plot! That’s Jeff Bennett as both Owen and Brooklyn (if you are watching for the first time, you currently know him as The Red Gargoyle (with 80s Hair)), by the way. I’m taking a moment to point him out because he is a God of Voice Acting, whom you might know as Johnny Bravo, the Joker (Brave and the Bold edition), that great radio recapper on Legend of Korra, and secondary/one-off roles on just about every cartoon you’ve ever watched or loved.
Surprising no one except debatably our antagonists, Elisa hops off the elevator to do some good old intrepid sleuthing. She makes it back up to the roof only to be affrighted right off by Goliath, who then has to do his token bit of swooping and saving to a half-triumphant, half-ominous version of the main leitmotif. And Elisa, bless her to the bottom of her snazzy red jacket and comfortable shoes, acts like a totally normal human during the interaction that follows. Check out her body language – arms up, sort of scrunched to looks a little smaller. This is a person who has talked down her share of potentially violent perps. And while she’s definitely nervous, because go on and lie to me and say you wouldn’t be, she’s not screaming her head off or trying to get away. She’s trying to reason her way into getting a ride from the scary-possibly-murder-monster. This is why I love Elisa Maza.
Oh, also turns out gargoyles can’t actually fly, so they’ve got to rock climb back up to the top. They’re even nice enough to skip the exposition dump, and move right along to Elisa making skeptical 90s-cop friends with the fishes out of Scotland. Which hey, another nice bonus point on the writers’ part – not only does “equal male and female warriors among Gargoyles” allow for Demona to be part of the story, but it means we also get to avoid the really tired “whaaaaaa, a woman in a position of authority?!” conversation. Anyway, Elisa’s going to give them the DL on how to live in New York.
In Xanatos news: heyyyyyy, these nasty crooks totally stole these data disks from me; could you, y’know, go get them back? I mean, I could go to the police but think how bad that would be for you. Also, oh hay indistinct gargoyle who is clearly Demona! By the way, I’m imagining that you younger viewers are as baffled by the sight of floppy disks as Goliath is, and that makes me feel extremely old.
The next night, atop one of New York’s many poorly guarded and lock-free rooftops, Elisa agrees to give Goliath a tour of the city. And yes, you should be picking up on that utterly charming rapport Goliath and Elisa already share. Don’t get too focused on it though. The plot certainly won’t. There’s a return to that discussion of names and identity – as Elisa points out, “things need names” in the society of individuals our protagonists are entering into. Those names separate them from who they were and mark them as standing between two societies – and yet it will also allow them to stand out from anonymous tools Xanatos employs. There’s a great deal about identity politics. We’ll be back.
The tiny trio has a few more shenanigans around the city, Hudson discovers TV, and Elisa and Goliath start their relationship off with some good old vigilante work. Unfortunately, Elisa’s pitch on NYC’s hidden heart of gold is cut a little short when the mooks from the castle raid show up to, apparently, finish Goliath off. BAM, credits.
Dun dun dun, and all of that.
Little known fact, gargoyles store all their organs in their thighs
Awakening (Part 4)
We pick right back up aaaaaaaand nope, everything’s fine, our heroic duo gets away by summoning some inner strength. We do get our first introduction to the adorably 90s claw-cross cut, which is used with…comparative restraint, shall we say, as time goes on. Our young gargoyles are still having adventures in the city, and in case you forgot: one of them is overweight and enjoys eating, one of them’s a babyfaced gearhead, and one is The Leader One. These three are really made quite endearing over the course of the show, but whoo boy are they one note for most of this introduction.
Back at the park, Goliath turns into stone and leaves Elisa stranded. On the one hand this is arguably a bit redundant, since the audience already knows that gargoyles are stone and vulnerable during the day, but the real purpose of the scene is to spur Elisa to protect the helpless Goliath by leading the mercs on a merry chase and show off her skills. Which, I know this is New York and all, but…wow are they attracting a bogglingly minimal amount of attention. There were live rounds and explosions, readers.
It’s a good scene regardless, well-paced and even truly tense as Elisa hides under the docks, and putting aside the fact that her job doesn’t seem to require her to move or check in all day, things go off without a hitch after that. We return to the name thing again, and the names are actually pretty clever: Brooklyn is our rough and tumble not-yet-leader, Lexington is the tech kid (and the avenue is home to quite a bit of historical innovation in terms of transport), and Broadway is destined to become the thoughtful philosopher. Points to you, writers.
Oh, and Xanatos set up the whole park assault so that Goliath would have a reason to help him with that whole raid thing. Get used to Xanatos having about 80 million plans running at any time. One of these plans involves reintroducing Goliath to his long-lost lover, who…uh, conveniently also got turned to stone just after our main group. She is also totally on board with helping Xanatos in his plan, which squares 10000% with her previously shown views of humans. Totes trustworthy, all of this.
…Think of the children?
The last part of the episode is the beginning of the assault on the three strongholds. Notably, it doesn’t take long for Demona’s (yes, I know I’m spoiling that a bit but we’re going to throw it under the Ease of Recap rule) contempt for humans to resurface. If anything, while she accuses Goliath of weakness it’s she who’s grown more brutal, from killing in battle to coldblooded murder. And our littlest gargoyles have walked right into an ambush. Cliffhanger, dun dun, you know the drill by now.
Like the last even numbered episode this is mostly action scenes and ominous looks, so there’s rather less to talk about. Still, building up the bond between Elisa and Goliath and the distrust surrounding Xanatos and his motives is extremely important for how most of the show proper will go, so consider this one cartilage before we roll on into the fifth part.