Gargoyles: Leader of the Pack – Episode Review

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Hello, season 2! We kick off the season with a bang! Lots of explosions, actually. We meet a mysterious stranger in gold and black exo-armor and wears an Anubis-head mask. His task? To spring the Pack from Riker’s Island prison. What’s the nature of his game? Revenge. Who is this masked man? He’s not Iron Man, but he’s close. The Pack’s arrival on the scene forces the clan, namely Lexington, to reevaluate their priorities. Vengeance is a sucker’s game, but will that stop Lex from going all-in?

If you missed the last ep of season 1, Reawakening, check it out.

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


Season 2, Episode 1: Leader of the Pack


Reason(s) for existence: To explore the need for priorities. To explore the theme of revenge. To get the Pack out of prison. To get Fox an early parole. To reveal David and Fox’s relationship. To introduce Coyote.

Main antagonist(s): The Pack, Coyote, David Xanatos

Time(s):  August ? to September 6th, 1995

Location(s): New York City, New York


Back in Black…and Gold

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - title

One guess who’s in this ep!


According to Greg: Gargoyles won a second season, one that spans an impressive 52 episodes, up from 13 in season 1. This presented a new set of challenges for Greg and Co. The Bosses wanted them the make the series episodic rather than linear. Meaning, they wanted the eps to be able to run in any order. Thankfully Greg balked. How could you grow the characters and Gargoyle universe if episodes didn’t build on each other? He had big plans for antagonists as well as protagonists, ones that needed groundwork and would make zero sense if the eps aired out of order. Gargoyles broke ground as being one of the very first, if not the first, Western animated series to cause irrevocable changes in the characters and world. It needed to stay linear.

Greg’s solution?  Tiers and tent poles. The eps between tent pole episodes could air in almost any order. The tiers built on each other. Tent pole eps needed to be on schedule, but the others had some wiggle room when it came to production scheduling.

Tent pole One was the Awakening five-parter. Tier One was all the eps of season 1 between Awakening and Reawakening. Now, because this was retroactive, the eps in Tier One really can’t run in any old order. For example, what sense would it make to run The Edge before was Enter Macbeth?

Reawakening is Tent pole Two. Tent pole Three is the City of Stone four parter. Tier Two has eight episodes, which were supposed to be aired in any order, but Greg knew that wouldn’t fly. At the very least, Leader of the Pack had to come before Eye of the Beholder, which had to come before Vows. The other eps provided enough leeway, though.

In the end, Gargoyles didn’t have production or scheduling issues that altered episode order. Good thing. Greg knew where each of the 65 eps should fall in the time line. While the original point of having eps that could “slide” was mute, the tier and tent pole system did help the writers stay on track. The system also gives us viewers a sense of accomplishment and closure. You feel like you’ve reached a new level in the series each time you hit the next tent pole.


The episode theme now has Goliath doing a voice-over recap of the gargoyles’ history and current struggle. It’s beautiful – in writing and narration.


According to Greg: Gary Sperling and Greg wrote the opening. Whether or not they should have the narration was a topic of contention. Frank Paur and Greg thought the opening was more dramatic with just the music. Big Boss Gary Krisel left the decision up to Greg, who finally decided that it would help new viewers know what’s going on. It’s like the Gilligan’s Island song, he said.

He needn’t have worried. The opening is iconic. We all love shouting along with Goliath’s “We live again!” That’s also the hashtag for Greg’s current campaign to get the Gargoyles comic revived. Check out #WeLiveAgain on Twitter.


We get a previously on Gargoyles: Xanatos created the Pack, but they don’t know it. Only Fox knows. Xanatos set up his own assassination, too, at the hands of Jackal and Hyena. Fox says, “He’s most brilliant man on the face of the earth.” I’m thinking they’re more than friends, no?


According to Greg: Yes, another one. The idea of having Previously sections came from Hillstreet Blues. At first, Disney got the impression that everyone hated the recaps. Supposedly they gave away too much about the upcoming ep. Now, of course, most shows use Previously sections. Greg stuck with them. They’re handy has you get farther into the series. I think they create a sense of anticipation and suspense as you try to figure out the current ep based on the Previously explanation.


Let me add to the recap: June 30th, 1995, the parole board denies Fox and Wolf early release. The two will have to serve their entire sixteen-month sentence. But all hope’s not lost: the next parole hearing is October 30th, 1995.

Yes, you read all those dates correctly. We went from early February to late August, possibly early September, since Reawakening. Apparently all the antagonists were on summer break. Or…they were scheming.

Hey look, we’re finally at the episode proper!

We open on Riker’s Island prison. A man (I assume) is climbing the side of the prison wall…with spikes on his wrists. He’s in gold armor that has a black, form-fitting under layer. His helmet is coyote or wolf shaped. It actually looks more like Anubis’s head  but without the headdress.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - coyote climbing

If he’s not careful, his nose is going to trip him.

Reaching the floor he wants, he cuts the window bars with a green gas that comes from his wrist. He drops in on a guard and uses a mind/reality warping weapon that…comes from his wrist. He’s taken a page from the SWAT Kats and their glovatrix.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - coyote mind warp beam guard

Lasers are for losers. Mind warp rays are way more fun!

Side note: Speaking of SWAT Kats (another great 1990s cartoon!), look at the username of the artist who made this Turbokat model.

The guard falls shaking and panting to the floor. Anubis-head grabs the corrections officer’s keys.

In a cell, Jackal is trying to ignore Wolf, who’s doing pretty lame one-handed pushups. Wolf stops at 206 as Dingo comes for an unexpected visit. Our favorite Aussie brought a surprise: C4! He blows the cell door off.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - wolf pushups

Balancing on one arm and rocking forward and back isn’t a one-hand pushup.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - dingo get out

G’day, mate! Isn’t he a beaut?

In another cell, Hyena is shooting roaches with a rubber-band and paperclip slingshot. Fox is on the lower bunk, reading. Hyena wants to know why Fox reads the stuff. I love Fox’s reply: “Nietzsche‘s too butch, and Kafka reminds me of your little friends over there.” This is a reference for the adult viewers. It’s an accurate critique of the philosophers: Nietzsche, with his Übermensch idea and general pessimism, is pretty butch. Kafka is trippy with his surreal situations and worlds run by bizarre social-bureaucratic systems. In addition to the protag in Metamorphosis, I guess the people in his stories resemble roaches.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - hyena shoots roaches

At least she’s putting the roaches to good use.

It’s a great glimpse into her character. She’s currently reading Jean-Paul Sartre. It’s doubtful that she sides with him, though, since he was a Marxist and burdened by the freedom individuals have to make choices despite what he saw as the lack of purpose for humans. Existence before essence, he believed. Fox, like David, takes a pragmatic view of the world. The ideas in Machiavelli’s The Prince fit them better. Contrary to popular opinion, Machiavelli espouses very practical, sensible, time-tested, reliable methods for ruling. If governments acted in accordance to his precepts, we’d all be better off. Read the book a few times before you argue!

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - fox taling to hyena about reading sartre

Always good to see Fox in an ep! What’s she up to this time?

The fact that she spends her time expanding her mind shows how above the other members of the Pack she is.

The guy in armor arrives, greets them. His voice is altered by the helmet. Then he blows the door open. He offers Hyena the razor-claw gauntlets she used in the Pack. Hyena is quite taken by this rescuer but hopes he’s cute under the mask.

A guard makes a valiant effort to stop the escape, but Hyena has her in a headlock before the CO knows what hit her. 

Fox stops her. Yet another factor that sets her apart: she’s not into mindless violence like the idiots she works with.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - hyena vs fox over guard

Hyena is thirsty for blood.

Coyote urges them to get a move on, but Fox refuses. She helps the guard up, saying she wants to finish her sentence. Say what? Well now, an antagonist with common sense! Unless you want to spend your life on the run, it’s better to do the time. No, she’s not interested in repenting or changing her ways any more than David was. She just wants her old life back, that’s all.

Hyena is terrible at planning. We know that from the diamond theft in Her Brother’s Keeper. She lives for the moment. It’s gotten her where she is today: a pawn in prison. That’s why she never would have been a good pick for Pack leader. She’s homicidal and no doubt has numerous mental health issues.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - hyena struggles with fox

Fox and David part their hair on the same side, I just noticed. What?

Hyena has no trouble turning on her coworker, cellmate, and supposed friend. Her loyalty lasts as long as things are going her way. Give her an excuse to be violent, and she goes wild. Literally. Good thing the armored guy stops her. He blows a hole in the wall, grabs Hyena, and jumps to the ground far below. Not sure how he absorbed the shock to prevent her from getting injured. Whatever.

The Pack regroups near the gate while the guards shoot at them. Horrible shots, COs. Our armored friend is calm. He puts both hands on the massive steel gate and twists it from its hinges.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - coyote tears gate off hinges

Leg day must be insane, cuz that armor isn’t really built for this. It needs more exoskeleton.

He turns and hurls it at four guards, who are shooting in his general direction. The multi-ton steel plate lands on top of them, pinning the legs of two and completely crushing the other two. Hope none of them enjoyed walking…or living.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - gate crushes guards

It’s a pretty disturbing scene when you realize what that much weight would do to a person.

The Pack flees to the water’s edge. Now what? “O ye of little faith,” the armored man says. From the water rises a hovercraft/submarine that looks a bit like the Millennium Falcon.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - new pack airship

Hold on, Chewie!

They all board. The guy in armor sets the auto pilot and stealth mode while casually informing them to put their seats and tray tables in the full upright and locked position. Who is this guy!

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - pack airship takes off leaves prison

Never tell me the odds! Pew pew! Pew pew!


According to Greg: Xanatos got the idea for building this bird after seeing Macbeth’s VTOL craft.


Who Let the Pack Out?

The clan awakens to the news that the Pack has escaped. They busted out “quick and clean.” Um, not how I’d describe that cluster. The guard described the armored guy as wearing black. I guess he missed the gold armor and Anubis head. Easy to do when your mind’s been warped, I guess.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - goliath and elisa pack escaped

Never let a crisis go to waste, Goliath. Wink-wink.

Elisa tells them the cops are headed to Pack Media Studios. Goliath doubts the Pack will be dumb enough to go back there.

Lexington goes nuts at the news. The Pack, his arch nemesis, is on the loose again! He still wants his pound of flesh from them after they humiliated and almost killed him and Goliath. Brooklyn doesn’t see what the big deal is. He’s one to talk! He goes ape-crap whenever Demona shows up. Gargs who live in glass houses held together with grudges shouldn’t throw stones.

Lexington and Brooklyn fly off, Bronx between them (how?!), to watch Pack Media Studios. I’m shortening that name to PMS, by the way. You’re welcome.

Under the Mask

On the Pack’s aircraft, the armored savior tries to jump into delivering his plan. Wait a minute, the Pack doesn’t follow just anybody. Fox isn’t here, which means Wolf should lead.

Ooh, a dominance struggle between wannabe alphas! Despite Dingo trying to talk sense into Wolf, Wolf lunges at the guy in full battle armor who just ripped a steel gate off its hinges and threw it like a pillow. No surprise, Anubis guy catches him in the chest and zaps him. Wolf falls back, then attacks again! Moron. This time, Iron Man headlocks him and sprays him in the face with some sort of gas from…the wrist again.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - coyote gasses wolf

Hope it wasn’t the gas that melted the bars.


20/20 moment / According to Greg: Greg already knew Wolf was Hakon‘s descendant.


That earns their respect, but they need more. Hyena thinks he’s kinda cute. Jackal is impressed by the combat capabilities. Wolf is regaining consciousness.

Dingo is already on his side, since the guy busted them out. Why did Dingo come back from Europe? Along with Fox, he’s the only rational one of the bunch. What was he offered?

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - jackal and hyena don't trust hyena

Bite the hand that frees, Jackal.

To earn their full loyalty, he finally removes his helmet. It’s…Xanatos? Holy what? Why is he in this armor instead of the gargoyle exo-suit? I guess he needed different abilities.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - ccoyote unmasked

“Surprise.” Yeah, just a bit!

Hyena and Jackal thing Santa came early! Payback time! Would you look at that, another reference to revenge.

Xanatos isn’t scared. Why should he be? He just dropped Wolf without breaking a sweat. He argues that Fox is out of the picture. She got them put away, but he broke them out. But we know he told her to set this all up. There’s more to this than meets the eye.

He wants revenge on the gargoyles for landing him in jail. Look at that! Another revenge reference. Xanatos must have pounded a couple Redlines and a Monster or three, cuz he’s verging on manic obsession. He’s at frenzy pitch, which brings the Pack into a revenge lust too. What the heck is going on? What got into David that’s caused him to lose every bit of his infinite chill? It’s been around 7 months since we saw him last; did something happen during that time? He showed no signs of wanting revenge back then. Even while in jail he was pragmatic, making the best of the situation.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - coyote pleased

Yeah, definitely cute under that mask.

The Pack is convinced. How do they find the gargoyles, then? They don’t. The clan will find the Pack. Xanatos gives them back their classic gear.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - wolf rips off shirt

The excitement’s too much for Wolf, who rips off his smedium-sized wife beater.

On Schedule

 

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - goliath hudson broadway march into castle

Grand entrance #2 for Goliath is wasted on Owen. Again.

Goliath, Hudson, and Broadway ignore PMS, opting to go to the source of the Pack: Xanatos. They march into the great hall, where Owen is waiting. He’s in a good mood, judging by his mischievous smile.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - owen smiles at gargoyles

I’ll say it again: When Owen Burnett smiles, watch out.

 He says that, “alas,” Xanatos isn’t in, but the gargoyles’ business is with the Pack anyway. The Pack is expecting them and will be at PMS. “Shouldn’t you…be there?”

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - owen reads pack social calendar

He knew they’d come. He’s even got the day planner for dramatic effect. The snark is strong in this one.

As the gargs stalk out with threats of speaking with Xanatos later, Owen mutters, “Sooner than you think, perhaps.”

Ah, gotta love the scenes where Owen gets to indulge his snarky side! What an attitude he has when he feels like it. Apparently the Pack and whatever their business with the clan is strikes him as quite a joke. It’s a bit of revenge for him, since the last time he saw them in the great hall they were throwing him across the floor as they stole the Grimorum Arcanorum. You have to respect a guy who basically tells three angry gargoyles they’re late to the party and need to get off his yard.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - Owen snide

He’s been smiling this whole time. Run. Fast.

PMS-ing

Lex and Brooklyn are watching PMS. The cops pull away after an investigation that lasts about 10 mins. Apparently the police don’t think the Pack will be dumb enough to come back either.

The boys investigate. Everything looks fine, but Lex is raging. Brooklyn counsels him to remember priorities like family instead of revenge. Look at that, just look at it! Another revenge reference. And as usual, encouragement to put family first. That’s a main theme in Gargoyles, one that the antagonists often understand better than the protagonists.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - lexington sad brooklyn smug

Lex is so expressive. Poor little sad puppy.

Then…the floor opens. Light blazes up as mist pours out. Is a Heavy Metal band about to appear on stage? Is that what they turned PMS into after the Pack fell from grace? Nope. It’s the Pack aircraft.

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - pack airship rises through floor

Somehow the cops missed the fact that the ceiling opens (or however the craft got down there) and the floor slides aside.

The ship’s door opens…

Disney Gargoyles - Leader of the Pack - pack airship entry open wolf walks out

Cue the music! This is so WWF.


Halftime!

We’re back in the action now! Neither Fox nor David, our main antagonists, are acting like themselves, but they must have a plan. Fox isn’t in the action, so we’re left to wonder what the outcome of that wise choice will be.

As for Xanatos, the 7 months since we saw him last must have really ticked him off. What happened? This is pretty basic for a Xanatos Plan too. Where’s the trademark gambit?

A huge face-off against the Pack is shaping up. Brooklyn, Lex, and Bronx don’t stand a chance against the Pack. Will the other gargoyles show up in time to help them?

We’ll find out on Friday!

What did you think was going to happen in 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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