Gargoyles: Golem – Episode Review

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What’s the best way to protect a city from organized crime? Setting a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk on them. What’s the best way to keep living when you have a degenerative medical condition? Putting your soul in a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk. Problem is, there’s only one giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk. That’s going to put young Max Loew, a descended of the Rabbi who created the golem, at odds with Halcyon Renard, who believes riding around in a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk is preferable to wasting away in his electric wheelchair, even if his chair does shoot lasers. Renard is about to show himself as a hypocrite of epic proportions.

Miss last  week’s ep? Read Monsters episode review.

Spoilers are in the 20/20 moments. Info from Ask Greg is in the According to Greg bits. 


Season 2, Episode 28: Golem


Reason(s) for existence: To show the importance of maintaining one’s principles. To reveal another aspect of Renard. To move Goliath to the point where he accepts being Avalon’s agent. To show other types of magic. To prove that power corrupts, especially when you’re in the body of a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk.


Main antagonist(s): Brod, Renard, Vogel


Time(s):  January ?th, 1996


Location(s): Prague, Czech Republic


Author’s note: This was supposed to be a one-shot. It still is. It’s long, but that’s because most of my observations are in the second half. Also I’m too lazy to set up another post. Shut up; I don’t see you doing it.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - title

Land ho!

We break from our usual opening of the skiff coming out of the fog and running into a Leviathan. We’re in the middle of a car chase down the streets of Prague. The cops corner the subject, but he jumps off a stone bridge, does a nice flip in mid air, and lands on the top of a motor boat.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - brod runs

Ah, the 1990s.

Who should be piloting that boat but Preston Vogel, who apparently has more talents than just planting viruses in his boss’s robots and acting snide. Speaking of his boss, Halcyon Renard is behind him. It appears Renard took Goliath’s advice and recognized that Vogel could be honorable. This is big, considering how much value Halcyon places on integrity and loyalty.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - vogel and brod in boat

Not even a jacket? Hard core, Vogel.

I suspect that he couldn’t get anyone else, or at least anyone better, than Vogel. Who wants to put up with holier-than-thou, bitter, ranting, opinionated old Renard? I don’t know why Vogel still hangs with him. Preston obviously is talented as a personal assistant and general coordinator. He could get a job elsewhere. Fox might even hire him, as long as she kept him and Owen separated. I don’t know what his exact title is, but he functions for Renard a lot like Owen Burnett functions for Xanatos: right-hand man, confidant, friend. I get the feeling that there’s a high turnover rate at Cyberbiotics, since nobody’s good enough for Renard. Why has Vogel stayed around so long? I’ll speculate later.

The skiff passes. Goliath and Renard see each other.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - renard sees goliath

A Renard ep. Oh joy. Prepare for lectures!

Goliath goes after them, while Elisa, Angela, and Bronx dock under a bridge. Angela and Bronx climb to the top of it while Elisa goes to explore the town.

Elisa runs into a ginger, but he’s not helpful, other than saying they’re in Prague. The guy goes into a building, but when Elisa tries to follow, they slam the peep slot shut in her face.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - Max loew

Don’t trust the gingers in this show!

Inside, ginger boy, who’s name is Max Loew and is a descendant of Rabbi Loew, is meeting his mentor Janus. The old man wants him to write down the words in Max’s dream. Apparently the spirit of the Rabbi gave him words that would raise the golem. In case you’re weak on your Kabbalistic lore, a golem is a mindless stone statue that comes to life at and follows the word of a Rabbi. I really wish it was Smeagol, though. We could probably do a crossover with Lord of the Rings, right? It’s a parallel universe or something…

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - janus and max

Janus says it’s Max’s destiny, then hands him his father’s light saber. Wait, sorry, wrong series.


Real world history: This is a quote from GargWiki: In Jewish folklore, golems were artificial clay men, brought to life through cabalistic magic; a particularly important step of the ritual for creating one, as per Gargoyles, was placing a scroll with holy writings penned on it, such as the name of God, inside its mouth. The word golem is Hebrew for “lump of clay”; it was held that Adam himself was a “golem” before God breathed life into him after forming him from the dust of the earth. One of the best-known golems was the one created by Rabbi Elijah of Chelm. Another was the Golem of Prague covered in the animated series; it was created by Rabbi Loew to protect the Jewish community of Prague, but later on de-activated, after it became uncontrollable and began to endanger the community. According to the legends, the Golem’s remains now lie in a secret attic of a synagogue in Prague, waiting to be re-awakened when the time is right.


In the warehouse district, the guy who the cops were chasing – Tomas Brod – is meeting with Vogel. Brod wants the hovercraft that Renard was using. It’s a lot like the Fortress I and II designs, but smaller. Vogel agrees, but Brod has to bring them “items.” I don’t think he means Chinese takeout.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - brod's hovercraft

Renard loves hovercrafts. It’s the only explanation for how many he has.

Goliath swoops in to greet Renard, who is inside a warehouse. But the crotchety old man is in no mood for friendship timez. Goliath wants a favor, but Renard denies him, since Renard is too busy wallowing in self pity to worry about getting G back to NYC.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - renard shuts goliath down

Look, Goliath, Renard is busy stealing ancient artifacts. Leave.

Vogel wants to know in passing how Goliath got there. I like that we’re seeing more personality from Preston. All this gargoyle stuff is still a bit unfamiliar to him. Unlike Owen, he doesn’t have a wealth of experience with and the rich background in mythology and magic. But Vogel makes sure he doesn’t sound too interested. I like Vogel; he’s so much like Owen that you kind of have to.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - vogel and goliath

*silently judging*

We get a flashback to 1580 Prague from Max. There’s violence in the streets until a bearded Rabbi wakes the golem and shuts down the idiots.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - rabbi loew

Gandalf and golem.


Halftime!

Thus far: protags in Progue. Renard being a jerk. Preston curious. Goliath denied. Lore about the golem.

And you wonder why this is a one-shot review? I wanna go back to NYC more than Goliath and Elisa do at this point. Straight up, the best part of this episode is Clancy Brown (Wolf and Hakon‘s voice actor) playing Tomas Brod.


Max goes up to wake the golem in the attic, but Brod blows a hole in the wall, ropes the golem up, and carts it off in the hover craft. The gargoyles attack, but no-go. The baddies gas grenade Angela, then Tase Goliath.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - brod takes golem

Zero finesse.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - brod tases goliath

Taking a page out of Macbeth’s book for tasing?

Max whines to Elisa that he lost the golem on his first night as its keeper. Yep, mate, that’s a poor showing.

Goliath finds Renard and Vogel in the warehouse. They’re in the middle of a circle of candles.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - goliath watches renarde

That’s never good. Is he summoning an Old One?

The golem is in front of them and Vogel is wearing a Rabbi scarf.

 

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - vogel smiles

I wonder if he’s got some Jewish blood in him. His surname Vogel is of German, Dutch, and Jewish origin.

Goliath tries to stop them, but Renard holds him at laser-gun point. Goliath tries to argue with Halcyon, pointing out that this isn’t what a person with integrity does. What’s life without honor? Well, that might have worked on the Captain, but it doesn’t phase Mr. Personal Responsibility and Perfect Integrity.

“Integrity is a luxury I can no longer afford,” Renard says. “My illness has seen to that.”

Whoa there! This is so out of character. And I’m not just talking about Renard going for a magical rather than a technological solution. I’m not sure who needs to be slapped more, the writers or Renard! If the writers just twisted his character in order to mush him into this role for the ep, then we need to have a discussion…out in the back parking lot. If Renard really is the quintessential hypocrite, then I’ll be cheering all the more for Fox to take over Cyberbiotics. I’ll also have far less respect for all his integrity and responsibility talk. I really don’t know who to hold responsible here.

Anyway…

Renard explains that he’s dying, losing more and more function, thanks to his unnamed illness. He wants to live! All right, buster, after this I don’t want to hear another word from you about how villainous Xanatos is. I also don’t want to hear about all the fired employees’ lack of personal responsibility and how many iotas of it you could get out of them if you crushed them all together.

This lust for life parallels Xanatos’s obsession with immortality. David’s just starting early, like a good planner should.

Vogel reads the incantation impeccably. It transfers Renard’s soul into the golem. No, this isn’t Full Metal Alchemist, sadly. Renard’s soul now resides in the giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk. He’s pretty enthused about this! He can feel again, he says. I don’t know how this works, since he’s stone/clay.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - renard in golem

Vogel’s job is to guard the body. Gotta wonder what’s going through his mind while he waits for his employer, who’s in the body of a stone giant, to return.

Anyway, Renard takes his new ride for a road test. He ties a lamp post in a knot and mushes up a car before tossing it into the river. He then breaks into Janus’s place and starts tearing up books so they can’t be used against him. Yes, he thinks they have a counter spell.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - renard ties up lamp

Well now, if that’s not a good use of your time not locked in your body, I don’t know what is.

I’d say power corrupts, but he was pretty low on moral standards this whole ep. I mean, he hired a thug to steal a golem. So it’s not just being in a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk that makes him act like a lunatic. The whole soul transfer idea is loony.

Let’s think about this desperate idea of putting your soul in a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk. How exactly are you going to go about your daily life looking like that? Are you going to still run Cyberbiotics? Will you be some silhouette on a video screen in the work meetings? Being in this body traps him just as his human body does, but he has a bigger cage, a longer leash.

I just wonder what Fox would think if she could see her dad this way. He’d never live it down. Speaking of family, how would he interact with her? Would he fake his own death? He’d never meet his grandchild…if that means anything to him at this point. Can you imagine what Xanatos would think of him? Talk about an opportunity for a gloat fest! David may be amoral, but he’s no hypocrite. He owns being an antagonist!

And what about Vogel? What does he think about all this? His boss is now a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk. That’s not in the job description. He did seem to get a kick out of reviving the golem, but who wouldn’t? Maybe he just got dragged along and really didn’t know how to get out of the madness. Friends do that to you sometimes.

Renard  beats up Angela. Elisa calls him out for enjoying it. Well…yeah. Why not? Max also stands up to him.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - renard vs bronx

You’re gonna chip a tooth.

Goliath takes the moral high ground: “A weak body is no excuse for a corrupt spirit.”

Renard whines more about his body betraying him. In his view, Goliath can’t judge him, since G’s body is just fine.

Max steps up. “Our judgements don’t matter; you have to be able to live with yourself.” Eh, a little searing of the conscience and you’re golden!

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - golem max goliath

It’s so convenient when the antagonist agrees to see your point. This never happens in real life, especially in an argument online, but it happens all the time in fiction.

Then should Renard accept his fate and wither away to nothing quietly?

Goliath points out that this is no life either. Would Renard “trade everything for a piece of clay?” G, we already trade everything we have for the piece of clay we live in.

This convinces him. Hm, that was easy. If you’re dead either way, I’d stick with the golem.

He sees too that he’s becoming a destructive monster that is in no way like the Renard we know. Or is it? Is this how he would be if he wasn’t immobile? I don’t mean that he’d be wrecking cars, I mean would he be this destructive to others in an emotional sense? His wife divorced him and his daughter is the exact opposite of him. How well liked was he really? He was probably too preoccupied with acting superior to everyone to develop relationships.

Renard returns to his old body. I think this relieves Vogel a bit, since he welcomes his boss back. I gotta wonder what Vogel’s end-game plan was. He’s not above turning on his employer for profit. He’s also very cunning, with connections in high places (Hi, Fox!). It’s believable that he wanted Renard to trap himself in the golem, which would make it easier for Fox to take over Cyberbiotics. But it’s also believable that he feels deeper loyalty to Halcyon after the old man didn’t fire him for almost destroying Fortress II.

That’s the end of the interesting part. The rest is of Max using the golem to take on Brod, who thinks that he can take on the army with a few bazookas and assault rifles.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - brod with bazooka

Yes indeed, you can totally take on the army now.

You’ll notice I pretty much ignored Brod. That’s cuz he’s another Tony Dracon, but with less style. Brod is a thug who wants to take over the city. Now, if he had a clever plan for this and some motivation other than power, I’d give him respect. But he literally thinks he can take on the army with his gang and some smuggled weapons. I don’t know how capable the Czech Republic army is, but I think they can handle this.

Disney Gargoyles - Golem - max stops golem from killing brod

Drop him!

The golem is about to do the smart thing and finish off Brod for good, but Max stops it. He says to remember the teachings of their ancestors: love justice and do mercy. Hmm… If I know my Holy Bible, and I do, that’s from the book of Micah, chapter 6. It’s verse 8. It’s known as the Micah Mandate:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

I notice that the censors left off the last bit about walking humbly with your God. Without that, which gives you an objective set of principles to follow, you have a broad range of interpretations for what the first two actions – doing mercy and loving justice – mean. Heck, Demona thinks she’s being merciful to the gargoyles and doing justice when she’s killing humans!

Renard offers Goliath and Co a ride back to NY, but Goliath recognizes he’s on a mission.

As for the old man, he wants to go home. He’s tired. Vogel comments that it has been an adventure. I get the feeling he might enjoy more adventures. Do you think he ever has a passing envy of Owen and his employers?


Final Thoughts

I should have something insightful here, but really I’m still too pissed off at/about Renard to care. Sure, it’s always interesting to see a semi-protag turn into an antagonist, but it’s only compelling if it makes sense. This didn’t.

I wonder how much Fox knows about her dad’s condition? She probably knows more than what he wants her to know. Xanatos Enterprises has the technology to put him in a new body, albeit a robotic/cybernetic one. Fox loves her dad and would help him out. Xanatos would be positively giddy at the chance to make Renard beholden to him.

Now, if you’d told me before I watched this ep that Renard’s condition was deteriorating, I’d have said he was too proud to take help from the “villain” and “viper” Xanatos or the wayward Janine “Fox” Renard. But that all went out the window after this ep. He’s desperate enough to hire a thug to steal a giant stone golem that has the strength of Hulk so he can put his SOUL in it. Let that sink in. Really. Let it. Are you soggy enough with that thought now? Good. You see my point.

Bland Head Cannon: House Xanatos learns of Renard’s failed bid on immortality and his little rampage in Prague. There’s much consternation, then laughter, then gloating. Basically a win for Team X. (Other than Fox losing her dad soon and Xanatos Jr losing his grandfather.)

Next week we get back into the land of sanity with some of our favorite villains: Thailog and Demona. Antagonist Macbeth is also in the mix. His relationship status now? It’s complicated. They’re about to find out that there is no Sanctuary.

Thoughts? 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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2 comments on “Gargoyles: Golem – Episode Review
  1. GregXB says:

    “How well liked was he really? He was probably too preoccupied with acting superior to everyone to develop relationships.”

    Like Chuck McGill?

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