Time to flex that English degree.
Did I forget to tell you to murder or extort anyone while i was in here?
Having finished our episodic rounds spotlighting the gargoyle trio and warning that Mr. Nonchalant Attempted Child Murderer is seriously going to be back any day, we open with a casual night for the gargoyle family: Broadway is cooking, since we’re not at least attempting to elevate the “heeeeeeeee’s fat” jokes; Hudson is showing off the benefits of being owned by Disney that come along with screwing your license over in perpetuity, Hotshot and The Littlest Gargoyle are playing cards, and Goliath is brooding about on a future Utena set. It is all very picturesque. Like Lyra floating over the mountains in that balloon, I’m sure this peace will last forever.
Across the city, Xanatos is a few classical records short of Hannibal Lector’s cell, and college students the country over find themselves weeping with no conscious explanation. Xanatos is less than a week from getting out now, and is checking in with Owen (who is defying tradition by wearing neither dark sunglasses NOR a ridiculously floppy Hat of Shame). We also find out that Owen’s chill attitude over the last few episodes may be purely because Xanatos didn’t order him otherwise – and from his nonchalant “It would be super easy to destroy them during the day, just saying,” (paraphrased – to arrive at the actual quote, stiff it up about 200%), I’d say he’s pretty much at capacity for the castle’s mystical moochers.
But they’re in luck! A Totally Trustworthy Security Guard pops in to a) return this series to its constant low key affection for Scottishish accents and b) to offer to take the gargoyles out before Xanatos is released. And the script seems to know we’ve already had a “hired merc chase” episode with The Pack, so the focus here is a lot more on how exactly the Accent of Yore fits in with the show’s mythology.
It’s also our first Shakespeare reference-homage-crossover…thing. I imagine most of you are at least sketchily familiar with the play in question – for Americans, at least, it’s right up there with Hamlet as the most likely to be butchered by uninspired high school English classes (I’m sort of bitter about the modern educational institution’s disinterest in engaging with the text as any kind of vibrant, mutable document, alright; but I digress). As a refresher: the titular Macbeth, a general, meets three witches who tell him that he will one day be king; unnerved but also enticed, Macbeth goes home and tells his wife, who insists that they should speed that timeline along by murdering the current king while he visits their castle. They do. And so Macbeth becomes king, becoming more and more paranoid and violent until he’s eventually killed by the prophesized “no man of woman born” (i.e. he was delivered via c-section, because prophesy loopholes are tricky things) Macduff.
I definitely remember the verses dedicated to the Scottish King’s luscious abs
Like most of Shakespeare’s plays, this one cribs off of pre-existing documents, in this case Holinshed’s Chronicles as well as a general, um…let us say that Shakespeare knew who to grease up, and Macbeth got a little grislier in his telling of events. King James was paying the bills, you see, and Jimmy was pretty sure he was descended from Banquo (who Macbeth, fearing competition, has assassinated). Shakespeare didn’t have a lot of qualms about this sort of thing (see also: the high likelihood that Richard III did not have a hump, among other things).
All of which is a very long way round to saying that Macbeth-as-trenchcoated-assassin is an interesting way to go, as well as the unspoken knowledge that “Macbeth” has a long tradition in the theater as supposedly being cursed (lots of grisly injuries in lots of famous productions) and thus is the perfect person to bring an end to the gargoyles’ life in the castle (the misfortune brought by saying his name, and so on).
Also I cannot stop laughing at Macbeth “I would not stoop so low as to attack you while you slept” because guess how he gets to be king. These jokes will never stop being my favorite.
Macbeth shows up at the castle with a token friendly offer for lodging before decimating the whole group with Fancy Future Tech and capturing Lex, Brooklyn, and Bronx (he’s looking pretty murdery before Owen steps in to tell him to knock it off). In spite of all this, Goliath is still digging his heels into the ground about the whole moving thing, and thank God Elisa is there to yell all the logical things at him because otherwise I would be clawing my face off at how protracted this dilemma is. It’s a fine balance between how it fits Goliath’s character, a traditionalist who’s also coping with grief by trying to stay still, and how frustrating it is from knowledge of how the narrative needs to work (and all logic pointing to Elisa being right). It helps that the second Goliath goes off on a rescue mission Elisa is able to talk Hudson and Broadway into grabbing the Grimorum and getting out of dodge. Can we elect her leader instead?
In another absurdly period-appropriate house somewhere, the three captives are locked up in electrified cages powered by a generator that’s seen better days. Fortunately, this means that Brooklyn and Lexington can take on the majority of the power and let Bronx chew his way out for help. Because…it wouldn’t be sporting to leave the inexplicable gargoyle dog there by himself, I guess. And after taking a merry stroll downtown, Bronx does indeed lead Goliath back to Macbeth’s house.
As you may’ve suspected from the ominous stained glass window earlier in the episode, all of this run around has been an attempt to draw out Demona, whom Macbeth seems to assume is still working with Goliath. Updating his dossiers ended up a bit behind all the laser tech, I guess. Macbeth was the one who coined “Demona,” y’see. And what happened – well, the show wants to leave it for another day, so I’ll oblige as well.
The B-team springs the news on Goliath about moving post rescue, and he is real Beauty and the Beast about it – one half expects him to grow a mane just so it can bristle. And you know, I haven’t given enough praise to the rest of the ensemble cast yet. Bill Fagerbakke (who’s now making eternal bank playing Patrick Star) does really nice work as Broadway in this scene – his passionate outbursts have a particular sort of power behind them, a willingness to act that gives them more force than Brooklyn or Lex. Still waters, I guess.
And so we end with two separate homecomings: Xanatos, greeted by Owen and pondering over his new potential chess piece (my only regret is that we don’t get nearly as much of Owen Being Done With Everything now that we’re not based in the castle); and the gargoyles settling into an abandoned clock tower, with Goliath realizing at last that home is a family and not a building (I was going to say collection of stone, but that felt insensitive all things considered).
All I’m saying is that Stan probably still has relatives in Jersey, alright?
We start with Owen and Xanatos practicing…judo, I think? Let’s go with martial arts generally, for safety. This is a scene I love immensely for reasons I cannot tell you right now, not in depth. But bookmark it for…like, three months down the road. But just speaking with where character development is right this second, it’s still pretty great.
Up to this point we’ve established that Xanatos thinks of everyone he meets as a pawn in the making. He’s always the smartest guy in the room, knows it, and while he can be friendly there’s always a certain dismissiveness about how he thinks of others. So it says a lot that we’re taking this moment to point out that Owen is apart from that sentiment (hence why I’m later going to lump him in with what I think of as “the Xanatos Family”) – Xanatos wants someone at his side whom he can not only trust but who will push him, and despite very loyal service this seems to be the first time it’s really come up (see: Owen offering to lose). And the slooooooow growth of how this subtly changes their dynamic is kind of my favorite.
In other important dynamics, this is also our introduction to Matt Bluestone! He’s Elisa’s new partner, and in case the trenchcoat didn’t tell you he’s very much in the Agent Cooper mold of detective (with some Mulder thrown in for good measure). He is very interested in ~conspiracies~. Also, he makes it a lot harder for Elisa to just sneak off and hang out with the gargoyles. Oh, and the clock tower is over the police station, by the by. I suppose it isn’t hiding in plain sight if they’re not really lawbreakers? Besides the squatting, I mean.
While Goliath might’ve agreed to moving last episode, he’s still plenty upset about it, and has been spending a lot of time in the “let’s not question why this is here” rooftop library wishing he could get back at Xanatos – or rather, that Xanatos would feel the same sense of loss Goliath does. And look at that, there’s a news story about how Xanatos has just donated an artifact called “the Eye of Odin” to a city museum. It’s in that museum for about ten seconds before it gets stolen.
So here’s my favorite retroactive part about Matt: he’s totally out to prove the Illuminati exists, which means that’s a recurring subplot in this show, which means I can sit here and justifiably demand crossover art with the other Disney show that the company doesn’t adequately appreciate. Someone needs to give Matt some deer teeth, is what I’m saying.
Our new cop duo is called to the scene of the museum heist, where Xanatos’ robo-gargoyle looks juuuuust vague enough in the moonlight to keep some good old mistaken identity going. The camera’s already shown us its trick here, so the tension here is mainly stocked in trying to figure out Xanatos’ plan in between grinding our teeth at the false suspicion thing (the tension of the public vs the gargoyles always felt strongest when it was a threat at the periphery of the episode rather than the focus, which I suspect has to do with that type of storyline almost inescapably getting sucked into the Marvel Mode of what we’d perceive as the ungrateful civilian; better to live in the specifics of these well drawn characters, and leave the populace for a few very memorable moments of scale).
What about you, dad? WHAT ABOUT YOU
The upshot of all this is that Goliath runs off to confront Xanatos and Elisa (and Matt) run after him. And while Owen keeps the cops busy on the ground floor (by serving as a human meat shield, and hoo boy would I love a gif of that scene) Xanatos lays out one of his patented Very Reasonable Plans: gargoyles will be hunted in the city now, so wouldn’t it be nice to go to a safe (Xanatos-owned) research facility upstate? Goliath’s having none of it, of course, and all of a sudden I can’t help but notice how often our ostensible leader smashes things, roars, and runs away. Keith David’s sultry tones may be the only thing keeping Goliath from fitting right in as a member of the Breakfast Club. And Xanatos’ gigantic shit eating grin after he’s watched this all go down is part of the reason I just can’t hate him, even at his most evil.
It’s not so easy to call it a day, of course, and the robo-gargoyles (which somehow sounds less silly in my head than “steel clan”) intercept Goliath and co. on their flight home. Ah, and here in only one scene we get to see what Xanatos was so happy about.
He wanted to play gargoyle too, y’all. He made his own garsona AND he’s the red ranger.
The ensuing fight leaves enough damaged robot debris to throw the public off for another day, but Matt’s found himself a new conspiracy to dig into. And we end with Xanatos name-dropping the title – which is probably the most vaguely thematic one we’ve had to date. Xanatos coins it as him having “the edge,” i.e. a mental and physical advantage over his opponents; but it’s also the edge between machine and flesh, between hidden truth and spun perception, not to mention the many literal ledges that characters keep backing themselves against all episode. Well played.