Welcome back! If you missed part 1 of the episode review, go read it!
We’re getting into recurring-villain territory. Instead of executing an info dump about every antagonist and villain we see, I’ll try to control my enthusiasm and spread the fun facts throughout the episodes. I’ll be drawing a lot from the Ask Greg archives over at Station 8. If you’ve been through them, a lot of this stuff will be familiar anyway. Those sections will be in the According to Greg areas.
Also remember I try to review this as if it’s the first time I’m seeing it. Since in reality it’s about the 7,931,842nd time I’ve watched the show, and since the series just gets better every time you watch it, I’ll put the “spoiler” observations in the 20/20 comments areas.
We open on a sunny day in Scotland, 1994. Ivy and moss cover sections of Castle Wyvern, but overall the place looks salvageable.
We’re not the only ones who think so. A good-looking fellow in a trench coat is observing the ruins, with his attention on Goliath. We haven’t heard his name yet, but…this is our first contact with David Xanatos.
According to Greg Weisman: Xanatos was supposed to be the Bruce-Wayne type: tall, handsome, intelligent, rich, inventive, skilled with weapons and proficient in martial arts. Mission accomplished.
“At last, Castle Wyvern.” His opening line tells us so much! He knows of the castle and has been looking for it for some time. He’s pleased at locating it. He’s American. And his sweater looks like it’s from New England. …I made that last part up.
I like him already, and not just because he has a goatee and ponytail. Though those don’t hurt.
20/20 moment: As mentioned previously, the first ep I saw was The Gathering. I liked him immediately and wondered what the gags’ gripe with him was.
His voice actor is Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame. He’s Commander Riker, the One and only.
He bounds through the ruins and runs up the steps to the highest tower, the one on which Goliath sits.
This continued intro shows us this man is take-charge, lead from the front, and fit. Xanatos is practically radiating excitement the whole time.
When he reaches the stone Goliath, he pulls the ivy off the gargoyle. “Magnificent!”
Then he turns to someone off screen. “Make the offer now, Owen, this instant!”
Now we meet the one and only Owen Burnett! He’s voiced by…Jeff Bennett! That man is amazing beyond words. I have yet to meet any Gargoyles fan who doesn’t like Owen. That’s impressive, since he’s the least expressive character around…or so it seems.
Clean cut, wire rim glasses, Brit-American accent – he seems to play the part of Xanatos’s assistant or liaison. He’s got his cell phone, which must be a sat phone since it has reception, but he’s *gasp* politely disagreeing with his employer’s idea. Not a yes-man? Can it be? Who is this guy?
20/20 moment: One of my favorite aspects of Gargoyles is the chemistry between Xanatos and Owen. Their interactions are always a pleasure to watch. The cast and crew did a fine job, making them stand-out scenes. When you start thinking of Owen as Puck during all these scenes, they’re even more enjoyable!
Owen argues that the cost will be “astronomical.”
Xanatos doesn’t care.
Getting workers will be difficult, since locals think it’s haunted.
Xanatos retorts with his classic line: “Pay a man enough and he’ll walk barefoot into Hell.” He just said Hell on Disney? Hell yes he did.
From this scene we see that Xanatos is rich and powerful, but he’s pragmatic even when embarking on projects his ally (they obviously know each other well) believes are unwise. He also knows how people work: everyone has their price.
20/20 moment / According to Greg: Owen somehow introduced Demona to Xanatos. This put the castle scheme into motion. Even so, Owen is hesitant. Or is he? He’s doing his job as head of security/majordomo by warning Xanatos of the cons.
We get scenes of workmen in construction machines that are basically wearable. It’s like the enhanced capability gear the military is working on nowadays.
They’re loading the gargoyles into crates, transporting the crates via choppers to cargo ships, and sailing to NYC.
We still don’t know what on earth he’s doing. We’re figuring he’s going to rebuild it. But what will he do with the gargoyles? Does he even know about them? Why was he so hell-bent on acquiring Castle Wyvern?
We get part of our answer: A sleek red and black chopper is en route to the top of a skyscraper.
We follow the chopper up to the top of the massive building we saw at the show’s start. Atop its top is Castle Wyvern!
Well now. Didn’t see that coming, eh? We now have a much better feel for just how rich and powerful Xanatos is. This is his building, and it is massive. His personal wealth must be in the multi-billions.
According to Greg: Xanatos, back in the days when Gargoyles was a comedy, was named Xavier. That hit too close to X-Men’s Xavier, though. The surname Xanatos is derived from Thanatos, the Greek god of death and the underworld. One of Xanatos’s character influences was Theseus from Greek mythology. Theseus is a Bastard/Trickster archetype. Later I’ll mention a few other characters who influenced his character. They’re surprising, to say the least.
As the sun goes down, Xanatos stands behind Goliath. Xanatos looks at the sunset and the clouds, murmuring, “Don’t disappoint me.”
The wind kicks up and rain pours. Xanatos hunches deeper in his trench coat. Lightning cracks around the castle.
He must know of the spell. Why else would a person stand outside in the middle of a rain/electrical storm? He wants to see personally what will happen. This guy is brave. I’m not sure if I’d want to stand two yards from a “monster” when it wakes up.
What if it’s like a bear after hibernation: ready to eat anything? Or what if the 1000 years of stone sleep have driven it nuts like a djinn in a bottle or Ra’s Al Ghul after the Lazarus Pits? Xanatos is calm and not toting a machine gun, which makes me believe he’s not expecting a threat. That, or he can handle it.
Rise and shine!
Cracks spiderweb across Goliath. Xanatos gapes as Goliath roars to life. Though Xanatos is surprised, and he does back up a few steps, he isn’t scared. This fellow is impressive, and not just for his excellent taste in trench coats.
Cue amazing camera rotation around the tower to take in each gargoyle’s awakening in one continuous shot.
With the successful awakening of all the gargs, Xanatos actually jumps, fists up in celebration. “Yes!” He’s more enthusiastic than ever! This is apparently exactly what he hoped would happen. Christmas morning’s got nothing on this. After he invested vast sums of money and cut through probably seas of red tape, not to mention faced ridicule from stakeholders (not shareholders, mind, as Xanatos Enterprises is privately held, according to Greg).
Happy family reunion crashes into reality below as the clan notices they’re at least 2000 feet up. And, even more disconcerting, they’re in a city of glass, steel, and light. Weird smells, sounds, and sights hit them like a brick to the face.
Xanatos has composed himself; he strolls out to greet them as if they’re long-awaited guests. And they are.
Got some ‘splainin’ to do:
We enter the great hall. The decor is minimalist, with a few suits of armor on the walls and a chandelier overhead. The doors are light blue with bluish-purple Vs on them. Other people have mentioned that this color scheme fits the owner: cool, relaxed, elegant, practical. Agreed.
The clan is gathered before the giant fireplace, which is burning merrily with propane. (Or so I assume, given the logistic problems and general annoyance involved with wood heat.) Xanatos is alternately leaning on the mantle and the table that’s before the fireplace. If the man got any more relaxed and casual, he’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt, lounging in a hammock, and drinking a pina colada.
20/20 moment: Whenever Xanatos is trying to pull off a scheme, he gets super-relaxed in body language. There’s no doubt that he’s confident and in charge. His mannerisms belong to an alpha dog who knows no one will challenge him. He also likes to “lay on hands” – to make physical contact with his target. This creates a bond, increases trust. This actually works in real life, by the way. Try it!
He answers the gargoyles’ questions:
G: What happened?
X: I shipped the castle over here, raised it above the clouds, and woke you up after 1ooo years.
X: Reasons. Curiosity. (Hey, I’ve seen people spend incredible sums of money on endeavors that aren’t half as interesting and with rationales that aren’t half as sensible.)
G: The rookery?
X: Gone. You’re all that’s left.
G: How did you know all this?
X: That book. (The Grimorum Arcanorum, now under glass. How’d he get this? Later…)
After the pleasantries, Xanatos gets to the point: there’s much we can do for each other. He doesn’t get farther, as a chopper whir filters into the hall.
No peace for the wicked…
He goes to check, only to come face to face with a team of commandos. That’s never good. He looks annoyed but not scared or even nervous like you or I would if a chopper bearing missile pods and commandos landed in our yard.
Cue fight scene. The gargoyles launch in to defend the castle, but the invaders put up a good fight. Too bad for the gargs these neo Vikings have grenades, tear gas, and automatic weapons.
We’re expecting Xanatos to turn tail and run, right? Hah! He disarms one of the commandos and executes a perfect Seoi Nage (Jujitsu shoulder throw). Xanatos goes for the dropped…Uzi/MAC-10 hybrid, but one of the invaders blocks him. Patrick lunges in.
The gargs battle on, discovering they shouldn’t get in the way of these very capable and dangerous Vikings.
In a way, this combat is probably cathartic for the clan. They can take out their frustrations while also falling into the familiar task of defending the castle.
Xanatos charges up the stairs, up to a secret panel in the wall. It slides up to reveal a futuristic rifle. Slow down now. He’s got secret panels with weapons behind them scattered around the castle? This is a man after my own heart. Either he’s expecting something like this, or he just likes to be prepared. Through the series we see the castle is about 50% stone and 50% hidden weapons.
Rifle up, he goes to work. Turns out its a laser rifle. Niiice. He plays Dungeon Master and drops a couple tons of castle wall on one of the commandos who’s attacking Goliath. It’s kinda…gruesome. That ought to earn some points with Big and Purple. Xanatos gets a few more shots in. He’s having he time of his life. It’s not every day you get to shoot a laser rifle to repel invaders from your castle. Talk about a bucket list item!
Then a commando tackles him. Xanatos neglects to take his finger off the trigger, resulting in a whole wall taking damage.
Now we know what the explosions and rock are from. Don’t you love those stories that start in the middle, then bring you back to the beginning to figure out how we got to the middle? No? Too bad.
As he prepares to “take the gloves off” and fire directly at one of the baddies, he’s smiling like this is the funnest thing that’s happened in years. It probably is, actually.
One of the commandos breaks off and runs into the castle. He finds a door, blows the keypad, ducks in, then emerges with a briefcase. He yells that he’s got it. A flare summons the chopper.
Xanatos aims his rifle, but one of the attackers throws a ninja star and knocks the weapon from his hands. No, I don’t know how that worked.
The chopper flies off.
20/20 moment: I wonder how the mission brief for the commandos/Xanatos Enterprises Security Forces went. Don’t directly kill anybody? Make it look real? As head of security, Owen would have been in charge of it, but I’m sure Xanatos was closely involved. I’ll have to research Ask Greg more…
Xanatos takes this all in stride. He speed-dials Owen and asks for a cleanup crew as calmly as a Wally World employee would call for a cleanup on aisle 2. Good grief, man, commandos just attacked your castle-in-the-sky! You just dropped a ton of rock on some guy. Half your digs are in ruins. Must be nice to have so much money…
Which is his explanation for why they attacked: “The richer you are, the more enemies you have, and I am very rich.” Xanatos doesn’t beat around the bush, I’ll give him that.
Xanatos thanks the gargoyles for their efforts and invites them to live in the castle, which does double duty as his headquarters and home.
According to Greg: Xanatos is an even 6 ft tall. You can extrapolate the other characters’ height by comparison.
Goliath is standoffish. Can’t blame him. He’s had more than a few bad experiences with humans. He’s blunt: “We will never trust humans again.”
Xanatos is thoughtful. “I can see this relationship is something we’ll both have to work on.”
Meanwhile, on the mean streets of post-DM lightning, the detective from the first ep is still swearing to find out what caused the rock rain. Hurry up, sister!
The red-jacketed detective is in the castle, then falling off, then running around a park with commandos chasing here. The trio are causing havoc with a motorcycle.
We’re not gonna stop watching now! I think ep 2 did it’s job well.
So, do you trust Xanatos? Did you when you first saw this? The gargoyles want to. The clan is in a new world and new age. It would be great to have an ally, especially one as powerful as Xanatos. He seems to be okay, offering them respect, acceptance, and a home.
Goliath has a right to be suspicious, but he has to walk a fine line. If he ditches out, the clan may be unhappy with him because he’ll be giving up the castle. But…they aren’t human, so in theory they could go back to the old ways and live off the land. They could leave humans behind, only feeding off their goods, or just ignoring them altogether.
What about the briefcase? What did you think was in it and who did you think took it?