Gargoyles: Deadly Force – Episode Review

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After battling Demona’s spells last week, we’re into mundane territory today. Don’t think we’re getting a break, though. The third episode of the Trio’s triptych belongs to Broadway. We meet a new antagonist and see just how manipulative one of our favorite antags can be. Not all the protags’ troubles come from villains, though. Elisa fights for her life thanks to Broadway’s mistake. Will he to step up and take responsibility for his actions, or let the new antagonist take the blame?

This is a unique episode, one that Toon Disney actually banned!

As usual, spoilers are in the 20/20 moments. Info from Ask Greg is in the According to Greg bits.


Season 1, Episode 8: Deadly Force


Reason(s) for existence: To give us more insight into Broadway’s character. To explore the theme of repercussions. To teach respect for guns. To reveal more about Owen’s capabilities.

Main antagonist(s): Tony Dracon and company

Time(s):  November 18th-19th, 1994

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


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Wonder where this ship’s port of origin was?

Prologue

When I began watching Gargoyles, it was only on Toon Disney. The first time through the series, I watched Temptation, then the next night happily tuned in to…Enter Macbeth. I didn’t know the episode lineup, but the “Previously on Gargoyles” in Enter Macbeth left me scratching my head. A crap-ton of serious business went down in the episode before EM, yet that episode was not Temptation. Okay, thought I, maybe it’s just a scheduling error. Channels do that sometimes. I’ll catch it next time around. Next time around: Same deal. What the heck?

I did some digging later and discovered Toon Disney in its infinite wisdom decided that the very same viewers who could handle seeing gargoyles get pulverized in their sleep, magic destroy its users, and generally more adult-level concepts/themes than your average adult drama series, couldn’t handle Deadly Force.

After Gargoyles went off the air in my teens, I took a garg hiatus. Yes, I had the VHS recordings, but I was a little busy with college and all. In my mid 20s, I ponied up and bought the DVD collection. It was thrilling to submerge in the sea of nostalgia! Then I realized with a tsunami of excitement that I would finally be able to see The Episode Time Forgot. It was like someone let me into the government vault in Indiana Jones, the one with the Ark of the Covenant and all other manner of legendary treasures. At last, the Lost Episode!

I watched it with baited breath, heart a-flutter. To my unending joy, Owen played a major role in the plot. He even more awesome than usual! It was a shame Xanatos wasn’t in it, but he was mentioned. And I will always complain when he isn’t present. It’s a fan thing.

If you haven’t seen it, get the DVDs. This episode is a treasure.


Army of One

We’re out at the harbor, on the docks. There’s a ship unloading metal cargo containers that bear the X of Xanatos Enterprises. It must be an important shipment, because Owen Burnett is personally overseeing the transfer. At his side is Bruno – in a normal security uniform, not armor. He’s toting a rifle.

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I like seeing Owen in other capacities besides PA.


According to Greg: Putting Bruno in here – and having Jeff Bennett talk to himself – was intentional. The writers wanted to show that the commandos were regular Xanatos Enterprises security forces on a special mission.


Bruno remarks that Owen’s concerns about security were unnecessary. Owen, however, trusts his instincts and keeps his guard up. He is, after all, head of security.

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What’s the insignia on Bruno’s patch?

No sooner does Bruno jinx them, than a truck full of guys in gas masks screams up. Gas masks means…incoming tear gas.

While everybody hacks up their lungs, the marauders make off with a truck of crates from the shipment. Now we know for sure whatever’s in those containers is important!

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Aw crap.

Owen is having none of it. He grabs the nearest enemy, wrenches the guy’s arm around, and rips off the gas mask. Note: none of the security forces, the very ones who were selected for the commando job, are doing a thing. Bruno makes a vague attempt but fails.

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Two seconds later a guy knocks him down. Where’d the mad skillz go? Is it only when you wear magic commando armor?

Owen, the man in glasses and a suit, the man we viewers have up to this point written off as another Waylon Smithers, is showing he’s ready, willing, and able to get his hands dirty.

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Owen is happy to use the resources on hand.

Despite his efforts, the truck pulls away before he can reach it.

We haven’t seen much emotion from Mr. Stoicism up to this point. Now, however…he is 100% pissed off. I have no doubt he’d make the thieves pay painfully and slowly if he could get his hands on them. I’m sensing he’s not one to mess with.

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Who needs weapons when you have a glare like that?


20/20 moment: Holy heck is Owen not one to mess with! He’ll take the direct, lethal route every time. He, not Xanatos, is the one who wants to destroy the gargoyles. He has the skills to take them on in a face to face altercation, too. And he’s quite happy to draw a weapon – which he can handle like a pro. Nothing fazes him, either. Even in the face of his boss’s fiancé turning into a werefox, he executes his duty. He’s the kind of person you want backing you up. I totally see why Xanatos chose a lifetime of service from him over a (dangerous, possibly life-wrecking) wish from the Puck.


Who’s the daring rogue who made off with Xanatos’s property? Who dares to court the wrath of the richest man around? Some guy with black hair and an annoying laugh. Is this a new villain/antagonist to the gargs? Since he’s stealing Xanatos’s stuff, he’s an antagonist to David, but that doesn’t mean he’s also against the gargoyles, or even that he’s against Good. Hmm…

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He loves his work!

Run and Gun

At the castle, the sun’s set. Broadway is off to the movies. There’s a Western he’s obsessed with, The Showdown. It’s a takeoff on The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Clint Eastwood stars. Okay, I may be making that up.

Hudson remarks that with all the fantasy in TV and video games, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. I thought we covered this theme with Thrill?

Speaking of weapons… Elisa is demanding Maria Chavez, her captain, get a warrant for Tony Dracon. Elisa believes he stole Xanatos’s shipment of “non-projectile weapon prototypes.”

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According to Greg: Elisa’s last name was supposed to be Chavez originally.

Side note: I’m assuming the Eyrie Building and the docks are in the 23rd Precinct’s jurisdiction. That’s why Elisa is always up in Xanatos Enterprises’ business.


20/20 moment: At this ep, we don’t know how much we’ll be seeing Chavez. She’s a recurrent character. Puck even uses a picture of her, and her adult daughter, as authenticity details in the vision he gave Goliath in Future Tense. This ep is where Owen/Puck met her, assuming they hadn’t had dealings earlier.


Ooh, let’s slow down and savor the irony of Elisa Maza having to help Xanatos Enterprises. What’s more, she’s helping the weapon-manufacturing arm of his conglomerate. He’s no Tony Stark, either – no end of weapons in sight.

It’s surprising that they’d put her on this case. She was the main reason Xanatos went to jail. Is she really going to investigate the perpetrators of this crime 100%? Yes, I realize she will, but she’s only doing so because she has a real dislike for Dracon. Evidently they have history. If they do, now you really have to look at the legal side on this. She’s got a lot of interest in the parties of this case. Dracon’s attorneys could easily say she falsified evidence due to her grudge against him. Xanatos could request a different detective, or use his contacts to get another one, or even file a complaint against her. (Note: I’m not a lawyer. I just watch Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and Matlock.)

Chavez won’t budge. Dracon is “bulletproof.” Wait, how is a gangster more bulletproof than Xanatos? See, this proves my idea that the courts convicted Xanatos partly due to grudges.

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He’s rightly proud of the prototypes. He’s probably more concerned about the competition getting them than about the damage thugs do.

Elisa doesn’t understand what’s so amazing about laser weapons. In this universe, high-tech weapons are everyday sights. On cue, Owen Burnett lets himself into the captain’s office. The Xanatos Enterprises head of security explains that the only thing “laser” about the weapons is the sight. They’re high-collimation charged-particle beam weapons. The beam itself is invisible. If they malfunction, you reverse the polarity and call Geordie – oh wait, wrong show. Sorry. Anyway, 322 guns of various sizes, styles, and power ranges were stolen. Ouch. Hope David had those insured.

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What is that side-eye, eh?

Elisa leaves in a huff, with Owen smiling in that “I know something you don’t know” way he does when she’s around. No doubt he’s enjoying the same ironic thought about her having to help him and his boss as I was.

Back to the movies: Broadway sneaks into the theater and starts ripping open pre-popped bags of popcorn.

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Albert Wesker, catching a movie while on a mission to NYC for Umbrella Corp.

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What on earth?

Face Off

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New establishing shot!

Elisa is at an upscale hotel that apparently is Dracon’s stomping ground. She confronts him and his gang on the steps, in front of God and everybody. Way to spit on his street cred, Elisa. Cop or not, you’re dealing with a guy who is “bulletproof” as far as the law goes.

Tony knows he’s untouchable. He denies involvement, but brags that if he did kill her if he was involved, he could have his associates sell off assets to raise operating capital any time. Now is a good time, actually. So…the smart-mouth gangster kid with a gang of morons can act like he’s invincible right in front of her and get away with it, but Xanatos goes down under a truck load of charges? What makes Dracon so untouchable? Are his connections that good? He was personally involved in the theft, so he’s a hands-on guy. You tell me you can’t get anything on a guy like that?

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Tony-badger don’t care.

Maybe I’m just annoyed on behalf of Xanatos, who’s still twiddling his thumbs in jail.

But you gotta give Dracon credit for knowing what he can get away with – and doing it right in front of Elisa. Gutsy! “You can’t do anything about it,” he says. “Face it, Sugar, you got nothing.” That’s style. He overplays it a bit and comes off as cocky, but it’s still amusing to see Elisa fume.

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He’s just a business man! Honest!

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Dracon calls Elisa “sugar.” It’s like he’s trying to be an old-school gangster. I get the feeling he likes to be classy.

It’s tempting to think of Dracon as a pseudo Xanatos, what with his shoulder-length hair, his smirk, and his attitude. He’s even got a right-hand-man with glasses. (That is where the similarity with Owen ends, however.) Dracon is his own unique type of antagonist, don’t be mistaken. Will he fare any better than David when he faces Goliath and Elisa? We’ll see.

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Love it when somebody gives Elisa attitude for a change!

With Friends Like Broadway…

After her second fail of the night, Elisa returns to her flat. It’s on the top floor with a door to the roof. How convenient! We meet Cagney, her cat.

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Cat rant: Why do you have a cat? You live in NYC in a tiny apartment. You are never home. Poor Cagney, going neurotic cooped up all the time.

Elisa leaves her jacket and shoulder holster on the coat hanger. I’d carry that weapon with me all the time if I lived in New York, was a cop, and had just called out a gangster that the law can’t touch.

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It’s like a scene from A Christmas Story but without special effects.

Broadway glides back, shooting invisible outlaws with his finger.  He lands at Elisa’s. She’s cooking, so he comes in the roof access door/skylight/slider thing. He’s still role playing as the gunslinger.

Elisa’s gun is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now he’s got a toy…or so he thinks.

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No one’s taught him gun safety. He thinks it’s just “cool.”

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Only point that thing at what you intend to kill.


According to Greg: Greg says “guns are not cool.” I agree. Guns aren’t cool, they’re very cool. Know what else is very cool? Power tools. I can spend hours in the hardware store drooling. What else? Big trucks are cool, especially when they’re off-roading. Oh, and heavy machinery – Cats, etc. Gotta love watching the backhoe at work. And don’t forget military aircraft! You know what all these cool things have in common? They’re tools. They’re possibly dangerous tools, but in the right hands they are lifesavers – literally. If nobody’s using them, they just sit there and do nothing.

Greg agrees that weapons need to be treated with respect. He deferred comment about his personal stance on gun control, saying it wasn’t important to the episode. Agreed.


One pull of the trigger by accident is all it takes. The camera pans to an empty kitchen.

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Kids watching might not understand right away. Neither does Broadway. But we adults just groaned.

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Being the person I am, I’m wondering how much blood we’ll see. It’s actually more than I’d expect on an animated series from America.


According to Greg: Disney Japan animated a larger pool of blood. These animators are used to more realistic gore like you find in anime. The Americans scaled it back, but not due to squeamishness. Greg didn’t want the blood distracting kids. Yes, it needed to be there, but if you make it too big, it becomes a character in itself.

On the other hand, it’s not distracting by being too small, either. Depending on where he shot her, what the bullet hit, and if the bullet exited, you could end up with a pool this size. It’s early in the trauma, too.


Broadway has the presence of mind to get her to Manhattan General Hospital. He plops her down on the gurney of an EMS team that’s probably about to go off shift.

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Well crap, now they have a GSW to deal with.

Broadway’s reaction is powerful: he wraps his wings around himself and cries in the shadows. Bill Fagerbakke delivers a fantastic performance.

Leverage

At the castle, the clan is settling in for their day’s sleep. They reason Broadway is at the theater.

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Owen is one of those people who sort of just appears behind you.

As Goliath takes his place on the highest parapet, Owen breaks the news about Elisa. How did he know? I’m assuming Xanatos put out an APB on Elisa’s activities? Or maybe there’s a program that analyzes emergency-band radio transmissions? I don’t know. It’s another detail that gives you a shiver of unease. When you don’t know how much an antagonist knows, it’s unsettling. This rapid, reliable info acquisition makes me proud of Owen and of Xanatos Enterprises. Well done. David has learned a valuable lesson about underestimating your opponent. He’s going to be semi-paranoid from now on. Actually, he’s paying other people to do that for him. He’s alert but cool.

Owen gives “just the facts”: Elisa has been shot. They don’t know if she’ll survive.

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Well now, good night to you too. Pleasant dreams, sleep tight.

Owen is as emotionless as ever. Like, brick wall emotionless. Anyone else would have sneered, at the very least, or delivered the news with a sarcastic concern, or flat out laughed. Other antagonists wouldn’t even have told Goliath, hoping she died without him getting to say goodbye. Other villains would have sent their goons to kill Elisa in the hospital.

What’s going through Owen’s mind at the news of Elisa’s trauma alert and possible death? Maybe a little satisfaction at seeing an opponent get smacked down? I don’t know. VLN Research will keep you updated as the story progresses.

In a forest somewhere other than Narnia, the Dracon crew is shooting trees and rocks. It’s a mediocre way to show the weapons’ power. Blowing up vehicles and buildings would’ve been more effective.

Owen isn’t the only one in the know regarding Elisa. Dracon is well aware of her condition. Yeesh, HIPAA violations are rampant at Manhattan General in the garg ‘verse. “Dangerous to leave a gun lying around,” he says. How did he know it was an accident?

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Hey, gotta test the merch!

Dracon is amused at her fate. See, that’s what I expect from an antagonist. That’s why Xanatos and Owen are so unsettling: they don’t fit in the antagonist mold. You will always be miles behind them if you try to use the standard villain character to predict their actions.

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Why is your right eye shut?

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I thought the beams were invisible.


According to Greg: While guns and gun safety are a major theme, the point of the episode is that repercussions are real. When characters make decisions, their actions have real-world consequences. Every action causes ripples that affect multiple people – sometimes even the whole world.

This is an important lesson for kids. It was necessary in 1994, but it’s critical today. Our society preaches more and more that consequences don’t exist, and if they do, they shouldn’t. Nobody needs to take responsibility for their actions. Nobody needs to think about others. If you make a stupid decision and something stupid happens to you, it’s somebody else’s fault, of course. You couldn’t possibly have screwed up. Even if you did, meh, the world will write it off.

This is unsustainable. It’s like being a leper: they have no pain sensation in the affected nerves, so they don’t notice when they injure themselves. If we keep people, particularly my Millennial generation, from feeling the pain of putting their hand on a hot burner, they’re going to do serious damage to themselves and others.

Guns were a means to an end, showing that in the Gargoyle universe there are strict laws – for behavior, for time travel, for choices. The writers’ devotion to using the Law of Unintended Consequences is part of what makes a show about magic and mythical creatures relatable. The show’s more realistic than reality regarding repercussions!

Side note: The other shows that stress and exploit the LUC are Walking Dead and its spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul.


Speaking of the Walking Dead…we go to a scene from ER – if ER was shot in Nepal (and I don’t mean Kamar-Taj, either). I’m gonna admit that I didn’t watch this part. Medical scenes, especially operating room/surgery center scenes, make me yell at the screen. …It can’t be that hard to get the scenes right! There are plenty of medical peeps running around. Grab one of us and run your scene by. We’ll be more than happy to point out what’s off. Believe me.

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We don’t need no stinkin’ anesthetist! No equipment needed either!

Suffice it to say, the cardiothoracic surgeons did their jobs.

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I need to match this to the outside of the Eyrie. It looks like the gold wrap-around bit.

Cut to Owen in his office. This is the first time we get to see his little slice of heaven. It’s like the universe had to compensate for Xanatos’s YUGE office window, so it gave Owen’s office a dungeon-style ceiling-height slit. Also, apparently the rest of the castle’s rooms are stuffed with robots or suits of armor or spare castle parts, because Owen has to share his space with filing cabinets. Then again, maybe he likes the easy access to the files. The computer system should serve the same purpose, though. I suppose he’s rarely in his office. Either he’s with David on business, or in his flat in the Eyrie Building, or out on the town. I’ve had offices like this. I used them to store my junk mail, cuz I was out working. If you wanted me to not see something, put it in my office.

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It’s a slick decor, aside from the giant plant.

Owen is dividing his attention 80/20 between papers and gargoyles. The entire clan is packed into his office. There comes a point where you hit critical mass with weirdness exposure and become inured to it. It’s my dream to one day be as unflappable as Owen.

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Goliath, you gotta do better if you want to be more interesting than papers to Owen.

He explains that they don’t know how Elisa was shot. She was trying to get a stolen shipment of particle beam weapons off the street. The investigation seemed important to her. Elisa is at MGH. He doesn’t mention that they’re Xanatos’s weapons. Hah, tricksie blondses! Now we know a bit about what Owen thought regarding Elisa’s condition: how can I use it to get the weapons back? And…maybe screw with the clan a little. Now Goliath will jump to conclusions, putting the thief as the shooter. Angry and Purple will launch into a vengeance trip against the perpetrator. Owen neglects to say who it is.

After the succinct explanation, Owen excuses himself.

Meanwhile, Broadway mourns.

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Powerful image.


Halftime!

We’ve got a lot of pieces in play! Everybody’s got an agenda, and they’re about to collide. The mix of action and emotion is impressive. Elisa’s life hangs in the balance, though we know she won’t die. Broadway is seeing that real life is no movie – actions have consequences. How will he go on?

We’ve got a strong theme going too. We’re seeing the unintended consequences of actions, as well as the ripple effect in other characters’ lives. People take advantage of these consequences, even if they’re painful for the one who caused them.

This ep is really ramping up! We’re locked and loaded for the next half. Read on!

What did you think of it? When did you first see the ep? Comment!


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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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