Gargoyles: Awakening Part 5 – Episode Review

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The final part of the 5-parter is here! The writers made a lot of promises to us during the last 4 episodes. We’re about to see if they’ll pay off. If they do, this’ll be a grand start to a grand series.

Read episode 4 and its wrap-up review if you can’t remember where we are in the plot.

As usual, comments that reference future episodes are in the 20/20 moment sections. Remarks about the writers team and from Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman are in the According to Greg sections.


Season 1, Episode 5: Awakening, Part 5


Reason(s) for existence: To wrap up the 5-part introduction, putting the protagonists on their path through the rest of series. To reveal antagonists and set them on course through the series – a course that will collide with the protags’ like a SuperDump.

Main antagonist(s): Cybertiotics guards, spoiler –>  Demona, David Xanatos, Steel Clan

Time(s):  October 6th-7th 1994

Location(s): New York City, New York, USA.


The opening has sound effects behind the theme music. You don’t see that very often. Most animated shows made in America also have a theme with lyrics. The lack of said lyrics says you’re not watching your standard fare. This is serious from the get-go.

The recap starts from the first episode, as befits the last episode. It reminds us that Goliath’s second in command (Red) and the Captain both wanted the gargs out of the castle before the Viking attack. More scenes of her remind us she is appreciative of Xanatos and wants to help retrieve his stolen discs. Then Elisa runs from commandos, the gargs attack the Cyberbiotics installations…and that brings us to now.

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You really miss at this range?

We’ve got a lot to cover in the episode, so the writers waste no time.

Three of a Kind

The Trio backtracks to an upper floor and make their own way to the lower floor by punching through the tile. Shocked scientists – they’re scientists because they have white coats – offer no resistance. Just once I’d like to see protags run into a group of scientists who are like Albert Wesker (Resident Evil), not Professor Frink (Simpsons).

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These are not what you wanna see drop out of the ceiling.

Lex knows just how to get the disc. Was Xanatos that specific?

They exit via the window. Cyberbiotics guards took lessons from the guards who work for the James Bond villains. Not. One. Hit.

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Well, that was pretty easy. The guards are in the window back there.

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Three people with automatic weapons should be able to hit three large gliders.

The gargs take what appears to be a direct flight back to the Eyrie Building. Um, maybe you should do a little evasive action to throw off any pursuers/watchers?

Down Under

Meanwhile, the commander at the underground Cyberbiotics base is receiving word of monsters. He’s about to get more than that.

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Not something you see every day. The gargs and Xanatos don’t care about people seeing them.

 

Hudson and Bronx bumble onto the entry. Bronx trots off before the guards can get a lock on them. Hudson falls back on his old age and cunning. He surrenders. Ah, the Sauron move! They obligingly take him inside, past the massive door. Before the barrier shuts, Bronx bursts through. In the confusion, Hudson escapes. He finds the disc by following the traditional approach to frustrating tech: hit buttons.

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They have a great alarm system. These guys are quiet, too, sneaking up right behind him.

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Let’s let the monster into the lab! Nobody needs to stand in front of him. There’s no way he could go forward and attack!

Security in real life ranges from rent-a-cops who basically just have a fancy uniform, to former spec-ops operators. Go to a mall, and the loss prevention officer will flash a badge if somebody pulls a stunt. But the guards at a nuclear power facility? These teams of highly trained operatives will take out even other trained personnel.

I would think that since these Cyberbiotics guards have automatic weapons and aren’t afraid to fire them, they were previously in the military or police. At the least, they’ve had extensive training. I would want them almost at the level of the Bruno’s commandos, really. If you’re going to have that high of a security level, then hire the right people.


20/20 moment: Cyberbiotics HR must be terrible. Vinny proves that they hire pretty much anybody. Then again, Gen-U-Tech doesn’t do much better, since they hired him too.


Hudson and Bronx run for it. They end up on top of a subway train. Fortunately it emerges from the tunnels. Hudson finds that physics make gliding off a train tricky. Back-rolling down a roof isn’t the best landing but, like they say, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing! Somehow the disc survives his tumble. Floppies were pretty tough, as I remember.

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Keep them doggies rollin’!
I’m not sure where the disc was. In a side…pocket maybe?

Ship Shape

On the airship, Goliath and Red burst onto the bridge. While Goliath elevates the captain’s standing, Red gets the data. Now Cyberbiotics has lost it all.

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Set phasers to stun!

As Goliath turns to leave, Red punches into a central column that holds a nest of wires. She pulls out a thick power cable. Somehow this causes the whole ship to veer off course.

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Not a normal reaction, that excitement.

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This somehow knocked out their whole system. And they specialize in tech and robotics. Wonderful.

Worse, engines start to explode. So…you’re telling me that the City of New York allows this massive airship to cruise around even though there are no redundant systems? No fail-safes? No backup power? No emergency shutoffs? Yeesh, Xanatos Enterprises could drop an anon tip to the FAA about Cyberbiotics and wait for the Feds to shut the ship down.

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Three engines just explode? Meaning they were overworked/overclocked, I assume?


 20/20 moment /According to Greg: Demona is a genocidal maniac. She’s dangerous even to her allies, because even if her immediate actions don’t get them killed, she’ll eventually turn on them. Greg said Xanatos wasn’t aware of just how dangerous she was at that time.

Heck, he still works with her in City of Stone, despite what she says later this ep, about humanity needing to be eliminated. There’s always that idea competent people have: “I can handle it. I’ve handled [insert biggest challenge here], so this shouldn’t pose a problem.”  Or maybe, “She’s just nuts.” At the least you’d think red flags would go up when your cohort is talking about wiping out your race…


As the airship plummets amid exploding engines (whyyyy are they exploding?), Elisa rolls up to the edge of the bay. She’s got a front row seat to the show! Goliath and Red fly over.

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Busted

The airship crashes into the bay. People jump from it into the water to escape the flames. How many didn’t get off? I’m sure Red would’ve been happier if it plowed into Times Square.

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I can’t imagine Xanatos was too happy with this result. In theory it works, but the bad PR after? Nope.

Goliath and Red also take a direct trip back to the castle. Everybody else is there.

How Many Experience Points Is It Worth?

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I find it interesting that Red, the second in command, hands over the disc. Shouldn’t Goliath?

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The hand-off. I can only imagine what’s going through both parties minds.

Xanatos takes the disc with the same level of emotion he’d show if an intern handed him the espresso he ordered. He’s satisfied and pleased, but there’s no debriefing, and only mild triumph. It’s like he never doubted this would be the result. He thanks them and assures them the data will be used to benefit humans and gargoyles alike. That’s a nice touch.

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“Thanks, guys! Well, I’m off to do stuff and thangs with this.” And he just strides off.

We’re not at halftime yet. We have the discs, the threat of Cyberbiotics is gone, and…and now what? This was too easy. There’s a reversal coming; our viewer senses are tingling and we sense a disturbance in the Plot.

No time to think about it much, though. Goliath is off to see his “human friend.”

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Red is letting her anger cloud her judgment. It’s threatening her relationship with Goliath, but she doesn’t care.

Red doesn’t like the words of that tone. They don’t have any human friends other than Xanatos. (I guess Owen is chopped liver?) Humanity is their enemy.


20/20 moment / According to Greg: Demona knows who and what Owen is. Though the writers didn’t know the Owen/Puck connection when they wrote this ep, her exclusion of Owen works as a subtle clue later on. I love it when things come together before even the writers know what’s happening!

No doubt Goliath doesn’t notice Owen’s absence in her very short list of human friends. After all, when Elisa asked who knew about the clan, Goliath said, “Only the man called Xanatos.” Goliath sees Owen only as a servant of Xanatos. That would prove a fatal underestimation if not for Xanatos restraining his friend and right-hand man. Owen is the one who wants to take a sledgehammer to them in the day, remember? Don’t mess with Owen. He will take you down.

Not until Goliath sees that Puck and Owen are one and the same does he see Owen as anything more than a proxy for Xanatos.


Slow down. Enemy? All of the humans are enemies?

Goliath is rational. The people who betrayed the clan have been dead for 1000 years. He’s more rational than many a human ethnic group today. Don’t make descendants pay for something their ancestors did.

Goliath wonders, doesn’t Xanatos prove there are good and bad humans? He broke the stone sleep. He hosts them. He treats them with respect. He treats them even as equals despite the fact that his a “lord” and a human.


20/20 moment: This is such a major clue to who Demona is! In Demona’s mind, Xanatos proves humans are bad, even though she and he are working for the same ends. In him she sees what she secretly hates in herself: betrayal and subterfuge. She can’t say this, of course, since she’s still trying to co-opt Goliath into taking out humanity with her.


Goliath counters Red’s earlier accusation that he was weak: the centuries have made her cold and unforgiving. Makes you wonder, did they dream in their stone sleep? Or did they just wake up as if they went to sleep a few minutes ago. I don’t know about gargoyles, but humans would go nuts after 1000 years of dreams and nightmares they couldn’t wake up from.

We cut to Xanatos’s office TV screen and a CCTV feed of the clan. Owen and Xanatos are watching.

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Xanatos was just walking back from the parapet about 10 seconds ago. Red and Goliath started their argument right after Xanatos left earshot. So how close is his office? Or was there a slight time delay on this?

Xanatos is disappointed yet not exactly surprised. “Goliath, it seems, is too hard to control. A pity.” Red flag! This isn’t what protags and supporters of protags usually say. Maybe he wants to control the gargs for their own safety? Question is, what’s he going to do with this info? Is he going to pull Goliath into the principal’s office? At the very worst, will he have Goliath taken out of the picture?

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Xanatos rarely gets truly angry. He seems most things as challenges to overcome, as well as to profit and learn from.

Through it all, Owen is his usual stoic self.

The Great Reveal!

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Nobody wonders why the cop has to keep getting up here?

Goliath arrives for his meeting with Elisa. She demands to know what he was doing flying away from the crashing airship. Being that he’s from 1000 years ago and is a different species, he doesn’t see the problem. He was retrieving Xanatos’s discs.

Elisa says nothing was stolen from Xanatos Enterprises. “I checked.” She checked? How? I understand that there were no reports to the police, but perhaps, just perhaps, XE doesn’t put much stock in the NYC police. Perhaps they wanted to deal with this on their own. Just because Cyberbiotics reported things doesn’t mean Xanatos would. When he spoke with her in the castle, he made it clear his people could handle the situation. You know why people hire Sherlock? Because they don’t want the cops involved, or the cops won’t do anything, or the cops can’t do anything.

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“Three Cyberbiotics-” Who makes a 3 sign like that?

The obvious explanation to our detective is that Xanatos staged a theft. The commandos work for him. They didn’t actually steal anything. They just made it look like they took the discs, thus making the case for the clan to steal the discs from Cyberbiotics. In reality, the discs belong to Cyberbiotics. Xanatos conned the clan into doing his dirty work.


20/20 moment / According to Greg: Greg and his team didn’t know Xanatos and Fox were an item. Thus, they didn’t know that the best way for Xanatos to get the discs, aside from just paying off a few guards Moriarty-style, was to have Fox finagle them. As a cover, we can always say that Renard wouldn’t let her near them…but I’m sure Fox could’ve sweet talked Daddy. A better explanation is that it wasn’t the most challenging, entertaining, or fun way to get the discs. Xanatos knows that while the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the course to collect the most quest items often looks like a yarn ball after a cat’s finished mutilating it. Make the course long enough and you’re bound to come up with some successes.


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This is some real detective werrrk

The scarab logo tracker came from Scarab Corp, a subsidiary of Xanatos Enterprises. Elisa makes the leap that the only people who could have this tracker were those who worked not only with XE but for Xanatos directly. Certainly no one could have bought or stolen the tracker from a robotics firm that…makes tech devices. Nope. Not a chance. This conclusion jumping is exactly what gets innocent people put in prison.

All this means the commandos were working for Xanatos Enterprises. She reasons Xanatos probably planted the tracker himself.


Scarab Logo Trivia: The scarab is a sacred animal in many cultures. Egypt is what we think of primarily, though. Judging by the logo, that’s what Xanatos was thinking of too when he named the company. The scarab represents creation and new birth. It was also thought to roll the sun across the sky.

The scarab god of the sun was Khepri, whose name means “The Being, The Extant.” It’s related to the word kheper, “to exist, to come to existence,” and khepru “transformations, metamorphoses.” The Great Sphinx is known as “the great statue of Khepri” and faces east to the rising sun.

Soon the scarab became associated with life and death. The priests reasoned that if the scarab can hatch from the earth, and the sun can rise from the ground, why can’t man rise after death? Even the mummy wrappings may be a part of this belief, since the scarab comes from its cocoon (dung ball).

During the New Kingdom, people put scarab amulets over the hearts of mummies. In the afterlife, the deities of death would weigh the amulet against the feather of truth at the final judgment. The amulets bore a spell from the Book of the Dead. It was a wish for the heart: “Do not stand as a witness against me.” Further, the scarab became the most potent symbol of life triumphing over death. This makes even more sense later on. I’ll shout it out, don’t worry.


Maybe Red was right about humans – except not even Xanatos can be trusted. What about Elisa? She proved her loyalty when she protected Goliath from the commandos. Elisa takes the gargoyle by the horns: he has to trust somebody, and he’s better off with her than Xanatos.

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Same face touch Red used.

Slow down. For that matter, stop the bus. Let’s not be so hasty.

Now that Goliath knows Xanatos is allegedly behind all this, Goliath has options.

(We as viewers know Xanatos is aware of Goliath’s fraternizing with other humans, so Xanatos is planning to act on that info somehow. Goliath doesn’t know this, though.)

Option 1.) Play dumb and continue to haunt Castle Wyvern. After all, he was a pseudo-slave to the humans back in Scotland. It would be easy enough to do. It would guarantee them safety in this dangerous, unfamiliar world. Where are they to go if they can’t stay in the castle? Out to cliffs somewhere? Doable, but the clan likes this world’s comforts.

Option 2.) Confront Xanatos.

—–Option 2a.) Xanatos woke them. They stole discs for him. Even-Steven. They leave.

—–Option 2b.) They proved their capabilities and worth. They’re even now for favors, or semi-even. But they could benefit each other: they do jobs for Xanatos while he gives them room and board at the castle.

Those are only a few of the options. If I spent more time, I could come up with more. Each option/sub-option could lead to variations, too.

But no. Goliath sides with Elisa. It’s obvious from his body language that he isn’t going to try to play both sides – keep Elisa while also trying to keep Xanatos as an ally.

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Hey, Goliath, another idea: Elisa could be an evil mastermind who works for Cyberbiotics and set this all up.


Halftime!

Wow. Talk about a reversal! I love it when there’s a secret antagonist. Those are often the most dangerous types. This episode is proving to be a fitting end to a great intro. The writers are keeping their promises so far: twists and turns, loyalty shifts, payoff for previous actions.

We’re feeling the tension build among characters. We can sense the impending collision of agendas. There isn’t a way to let this go quietly into this good night – not with the personalities we’ve got. Speaking of personality, the characters are deep and lifelike. We want to see more of them.


Did you see that plot twist coming? Did you, as a kid, understand all that? Comment!

Ready for the next half? Read the continuation!


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Lead researcher at Villainous Life Natures Research. Writer, reader, snarker. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ. Read my reports at vlnresearch.com and learn how understanding villains can help you succeed in life. Find my action-adventure post-apocalypse zombie thriller Wolves of the Apocalypse series at lcchamplin.com. I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.

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