After stealing the Phoenix Gate and using it to make an abortive attempt at changing the past and thus the future, Demona realizes she’s outmatched and so surrenders. Ha! Never! She’s scheming new schemes and dreaming old dreams. This time, she’s using the spells she tore from the Grimorum Arcanorum to take one minute of life from everyone who sees and hears the spell. She’s convinced David Xanatos that she can confer those minutes upon herself and him. They’ll have a big audience, too: anyone in range of a TV. Besides that, she’s ruminating on her history, beginning with the Vikings’ attack. Turns out she and Macbeth – yes, our Macbeth – were contemporaries. Meanwhile, Xanatos is discovering why the episode’s title is City of Stone and why you don’t give Demona even an iota of trust. There’s magic afoot today, and nothing is as it seems.
To get the full effect of this episode, read the Vows episode review.
Spoilers are in the 20/20 moments. Info from Ask Greg is in the According to Greg bits.
Season 2, Episode 9: City of Stone, part 1
Reason(s) for existence: To discover Demona and Macbeth’s history. To introduce David Xanatos’s interest in immortality.
Main antagonist(s): Demona, The Hunter, Duncan, David Xanatos
Time(s): November 9-10th, 1995; September 28th, (and other days) 994AD (and later years)
Location(s): New York City, New York; Castle Wyvern, Castle Moray, Edinburgh Castle, unnamed locations in Scotland
Previously: Macbeth doesn’t just know Demona, he “named hah.” I love saying that line with Rhys Davies!
Remember at the start of Season Two when I talked about tent poles and tiers? City of Stone is Tent Pole Two, the start of Tier Three in the series. There are four episodes in CoS. They’re critical to understanding many of the forthcoming episodes.
According to Greg: Because City of Stone is so long and has so much packed into it, Greg initially thought this could be a Direct to Video movie. Thankfully his boss Gary Krisel vetoed it. A movie should have the heroes in it more, he felt. Good call. It’s much better to have this as episodes, where the story doesn’t get pressured. Krisel liked the Hunter character, though, so Greg got him to agree on four episodes. Then Greg promised he and Michael would use the Hunter more later. Hunter’s Moon was the result. So, early on in Season Two, they had an ending to shoot for.
Read Greg’s full ramble on City of Stone part 1 at Station 8.
Causes and Creepy Kids
We open on a street full of police cars. Elisa and Matt are of course involved, since NYC’s police force apparently consists of only ten or eleven officers. Anywho, Matt’s playing hostage negotiator. Yeah, he’s got hidden talents. This isn’t one of them, though, because the terrorists start shooting the cop cars with lasers while yelling, “Our cause is worth any sacrifice!”
According to Greg: After the attacks on the World Trade Centers by Islamic Jihadists on September 11, 2001 , Disney edited out the word “terrorist” from these eps. Cuz, you know, we wouldn’t want to recognize that terrorism is a threat or anything. The word “terrorist” is still on the DVDs, thankfully.
Also, Greg didn’t know what the terrorists’ cause was in the episode.
20/20 moment: Margot is the Assistant District Attorney. That’s why the cops are so careful here.
Behind them are three young girls with flat faces and the weirdest pattern of hair grown I’ve seen. They’re triplets except for hair color. They’re wearing antiquated, pseudo-horror-movie sailor dresses. They’re emotionless. The blonde one reassures no one in particular that it will be all over soon.
To no viewer’s surprise, the gargoyles bust in and take out the terrorists. The lead fanatic is a coward when it comes to facing “monsters.”
One of the creep sisters (black hair) says, “The cause is everything until her own life is threatened. Still, it’s good that you saved her.”
Blondie chime in with, “If you forget what she’s forgotten, that every life is precious, then you’ll be no different from her.”
Goliath says he’ll never be like the terrorist he just took down.
White hair clarifies, “We were not talking about this terrorist.”
When Goliath looks back at the girls, they’re gone. Vanished. Disappeared. Poof.
I See My End In My Beginning
It’s her and the Captain trying to convince Goliath to take all the gargoyles from the castle. We get the second half of this now: Demona tells the Captain that this ruins everything. He says he’ll have the Vikings attack in the day and will protect the gargoyles.
Demona tries to warn Othello and Desdemona, but she breaks off when she sees Vikings sneaking up. I still don’t know why she didn’t use her second in command power and just order everybody out. Say Goliath is in trouble or something. She takes her own precautions and goes to a cave to turn to stone. We see her mistrust here. Also, how much of this is due to what she knows from her visit to her future in Vows? You’d think after seeing that she’d do anything to get the clan out. But there’s always a hope that things will be different. Maybe she thinks that what she’s done so far will prevent it.
She wakes up and finds the clan in ruins. Imagine the double horror of realizing that even though her older self warned her of this outcome, it happened despite all her efforts to prevent it. How futile were her struggles! She must feel impotent now, like she’s got no control over life.
She picks up a bit of rubble. It’s half of Othello/Coldstone’s face. She says the classic line: “What have I — What have THEY done to you?” So the blame starts. If things had gone her way, she believes, they’d all have lived happily ever after. I think she’s wrong; the humans would have come back to reclaim the castle.
Then Goliath returns. He mistakes a pile of rubble for his Angel of the Night. Suddenly Demona is no longer the hardened warrior who betrayed the castle to the Vikings. Now she’s guilty and scared. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, she flees. She rationalizes that she can’t face him yet but will return soon and he’ll be happy to see her. This is classic avoidance behavior. Goliath would have been exceedingly happy to see her right then, while he was screaming his sadness and rage over the loss of his beloved.
Two Ships Passing
When she returns, she finds what remains of the clan turned to stone. Below, Katherine, Tom, and Magus are loading
Easter gargoyle eggs into a wagon.
Demona barely spares them a glance; she’s fixated on her love being stone at night. She kisses his stone form. Her tear runs down her face and onto his, then down as if the stone cries. Then she glides off.
Hold up. What about the eggs, Demona? One of them might even be hers! She doesn’t seem to care. At first I want to write it off as her deciding the humans have it under control, but that makes zero sense. Humans betrayed her. She wanted the castle to be free of the race! Now she’s letting humans take the future of her clan. I understand that her brain is not in a rational place, though, so maybe…
20/20 moment: This scene is even more mystifying when you discover that indeed, one of the eggs is Demona and Goliath’s. She knew it, yet she does nothing?
Another point: obviously some sort of SORCERY is behind the clan being stone at night. Down there, in front of God an everyone, is Magus. Why doesn’t Demona drop in on him and get some answers? At the least, you’d think she’d want to take some long-delayed revenge on Princess Katherine for being a stuck-up prick all these years. Like I say, Demona’s just not thinking straight, as we see from her fleeing from Goliath.
How much did her inaction as stated above haunt her later? If there’s one thing unaddressed guilt does, it’s make a person bitter. That describes her. In an effort to avoid feeling guilty, she blames everyone else. This directs the hostility outward, but at the same time, it’s frustrating, because it doesn’t help the cause of her discomfort. It’s like getting a splinter but deciding to relieve the pain by punching the wall instead of removing the foreign object.
Years later, a random boy is going to the barn to tend the animals. He enters, wary. Demona lunges, scratching his face badly. She’s been stealing the animals’ food. How the mighty have fallen. She has no remorse for attacking the boy. “That will teach you humans for betraying us.” Now we see how one act by humans has created a hatred for the entire race. Hate never stays the same size. It always grows.
Now in 1995, Demona lands at Pack Media Studios. Inside she rendezvous with Xanatos and Owen. Xanatos has broadcast equipment that will override all the networks in the city. Owen adds that it’ll even override cable. They both seem quite proud of the tech.
So what’s this scheme about? Xanatos is not making her a star, don’t worry. Turns out those papers are indeed Grimorum spells. The spell will take a minute of life from everyone who sees and hears the spell. Then it will confer those extra minutes on her and Xanatos. She says that with so many people in the city, the minutes will equal centuries of extra life. It’s how she’s lived so long. So now we know her secret!
According to Greg: September 18th was when “Demona first approaches David Xanatos about her plan to gain immortality by stealing one minute of life from everyone who watches their hijacked broadcast.”
Hang on a minute…
The population of New York City in 1995 was 7.35 million. That’s the whole city, not just Manhattan. A minute from everyone in the city, assuming the broadcast didn’t get too far out of the Big Apple, would be 7.35 million. But since there are a lot of non-residents in NYC, let’s be really generous and nudge that to 8 mil. So… Math time!
8,000,000 mins/60mins = 133,333.33 hours
133,333.33 hours/24 hours = 5555.56 days
5555.56 days/365 days = 15.22 years
15.22 years/2 people = 7.6 years a person
Hey, Xanatos, you’re a smart guy. You didn’t check her math? I mean, sevenish years is great, but for all this? But let’s be even more generous and say the whole state saw the broadcast.
The population of New York State in 1995 was 18.52 million. That’s 35.24 years, or 17.62 years a person.
Not bad, but not centuries, either. Lets widen it enormously to the population if the whole country.
The population of US in 1995 was 266.3 million. So 253.3 years a person.
That’s more like it! But…that override system isn’t that strong. Also, you do that to the whole country, and that broadcast is gonna get far more notice – from the government – than it would just in the City.
Also, what are the spell’s specifics? Do those minutes go on the end of your life, or do they start right now? I’m thinking the latter, since Demona is still young. I’d want the whole lowdown if I was dealing with magic that played with my lifespan. Well, maybe Xanatos got the 411. I dunno. At any rate, it’s nice to see him applying his efforts to something more lasting than, I dunno, toying with the gargoyles. I wonder, how does Owen feel about this? How about Fox? Do they get in on the goods?
David seems confident. Or does he? When he leaves Owen to act as cameraman, he murmurs to his right-hand-man to either watch or listen to the spell, not both. Why? So it doesn’t affect him, apparently. Again, why? What’s one minute? If it’s just about that, then it’s a respect thing: Xanatos’s respect for Owen, and the respect Xanatos demands from Demona for “his people.”
Or does Xanatos not trust Demona as much as it appears? I’m leaning toward this one. He’s a wise man if he’s cautious. But I don’t know if I’d trust her at all. She’s been quite open about her hatred of the ENTIRE human race and her desire to wipe it out. I wouldn’t believe she’d make an exception for me if I were Xanatos.
Apparently Xanatos has an urgent appointment somewhere else, because he ducks out before the filming. Does he mistrust her so much that he doesn’t even want to be in the same neighborhood when she casts the spell? I don’t think so, otherwise he wouldn’t have left Owen. It’s something that David probably considers a done-deal that he doesn’t need to supervise. Again, call me paranoid, cuz I am, but if I were in his position, I’d stay to make sure she did what she said.
After David leaves, Demona starts the spell:
Omnes conspecti, omnes auditi,
In nocte usque ad saxum commutate
Dum caelum ardeat”
I don’t know much Latin, but Owen does. Ah, that classical Brit education pays off! And they said learning a dead language was a waste! He flips out. And that’s saying something for Owen.
But before he can kill the camera, Demona’s magic slams him against the table. It’s ok, that lumbar spine will grow back!
According to Greg: Greg admits to cheating here. She shouldn’t have been able to work two spells at once, what with how magic works in the Gargoyles universe, but the other ways they thought of (for her to take down Owen) were clunky. At least Greg is honest!
Wow, where to begin? This ep is all about Demona so far. It’s quite nice to finally get some hard answers to the questions I’ve had about her history and her motivation. I love seeing how villains got to be the villains they are today.
What’s really going on with the spell? Demona doesn’t pick simple spells, that’s for sure. Just how much power does she have? With technology in the mix, there’s no telling.
What’s up with those creepy triplets? Chekhov’s Gun, that’s all I can say thus far.
I know you want to find out the answers and enjoy my pithy yet scintillating commentary, so tune in Friday for the conclusion of City of Stone part 1. It’s just the beginning of the story though!