Change is good, so They say. Derek Maza agrees – at the moment. Life is good as a Xanatos Enterprises employee. But after the radical life change he’s about to experience in this episode, his opinion might change just as much.
Elisa will have to face his change as well. She’s reaping a crop from the seeds she planted in the beginning of Her Brother’s Keeper.
This episode grates on me. It’s like a puzzle piece that almost fits but doesn’t. Or like a Sliders parallel dimension that’s almost identical to the true Gargoyles-verse, but the characters are just a bit darker. They feel…off. Through the episode review, I’ll do my best to grease the gears and file the edges. It might take some mental acrobatics, but I’m a pro at rationalization/justification. One thing I’m not able to justify is the poor quality of the animation.
If you missed the first ep of season 2, Leader of the Pack, check it out.
Spoilers are in the 20/20 moments. Info from Ask Greg is in the According to Greg bits.
Season 2, Episode 2: Metamorphosis
Reason(s) for existence: To explore what makes a monster a monster. The move Derek’s story along. To introduce the mutates. To introduce Gen-U-Tech and Sevarius.
Main antagonist(s): Dr Anton Sevarius, David Xanatos
Time(s): September 7th-11th, 1995
Location(s): New York City, New York
We get a Previously On Gargoyles! Those mean episode continuity, and development of existing characters and plots. The ep must be about Derek Maza, because the recap starts with Elisa insisting she needs to “get something” on Xanatos that she “can use,” and Derek tells her to leave it be. Then Xanatos offers Derek a job as pilot and bodyguard, which Derek accepts. Good; I like Derek.
It’s a full moon again, glowing behind the Eyrie Building. Beautiful. In the back alleys of NYC, there’s nothing beautiful. An old guy with an accent, cane, and fedora is propositioning – with a job, sickos – a woman who looks like she just walked off the set of The Walking Dead: gaunt, ragged, desperate. She insists she’s not like the “other people” there. The implication is she’s not a crazy tweaker vagrant like her cohorts. She’s just experiencing a temporary setback. How fortuitous! Old Creepy Guy needs a temporary assistant.
I see no possible way this could go wrong! But desperate people do desperate things. At least she’s willing to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. I wonder what her backstory is? She’s obviously being preyed upon. It’ll be interesting to see how the predator decides to…proceed.
From the dark backstreets of NYC we go to a sunny airport. A glider is doing barrel rolls. Derek is at the controls. He lands and meets Elisa. There’s tension between them. “New toy?” she asks.
It’s one of the perks of working for Mr. Xanatos. Note the Mr. Things are going well for Derek as an employee of Xanatos Enterprises.
20/20 moment: Two employees of XE. Both will have the same end. Both were betrayed. But both made a deal with the devil for perks. Not that I blame ’em! I’m all about having a good job. I’ve made a few hellish deals in my time too.
Elisa starts in again about what Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad person Xanatos is.
“He’s not the reincarnation of Snidely Whiplash! And even if he is, I can handle him.” I feel for him. It’s so annoying when people harp on the same issue, one you’re on the other side of. It’s not going to change anybody’s opinion. It’s just going to piss them and you off.
Elisa has the lame comeback of, “You’re fooling yourself.” Great argument, Detective. What do you expect him to say, “Wow, when you put it that way, I see you’re totally right! I’m resigning from my high-paying, perk-filled job that I enjoy and returning to the grind of being a cop.”
He agrees to let her know if he needs help. They cross their hearts.
According to Greg: The writers needed a “secret sign” between Elisa and Derek. They knew the crossed hearts was lame, but not as lame as the original idea of pinky swearing.
This Isn’t Beakman’s World
That night, in a lab in an undisclosed location, something bestial is knocking over scientists and making a break for it. Armed orderlies charge after. Oh, they’re Bruno’s squad from Awakening and Deadly Force. Are they working freelance, or is this a Xanatos Enterprises project? Hmm.
The alarm is just like what my alarm sounded like as a kid. I hate it.
An escaped research subject as a premise for the ep? Sign me up. Are we going to the Upsidedown? Will there be Eggos?
While on patrol, Brooklyn and Broadway see a winged silhouette below. Demona? Brooklyn’s all over it.
Not Demona. It’s worse: a furry. Okay, not really, but she is fuzzy, feline, and winged.
Sirens of the UK type blare. Help is on the way.
The cat creature freaks out when she sees the “monsters.” Brooklyn tries reassure her, but she opts to yell for help from the nice young men in their clean white coats (and sunglasses, and who carry rifles).
Tranq darts fly! Catgirl and Brooklyn get hit. In the confusion, the orderlies grab Catgirl and toss her in one of their two ambulances. Brooklyn insists they “save” her. Broadway is not convinced this is necessary, given she was all for going with the mercs.
The attempt is a fail. However, they do find a bracelet with a logo and the words Gen-U-Tech. I’m not sure why you’d mark this so obviously. This is worse than the Scarab Corp logo on the tracker in Awakening.
According to Greg: Gen-U-Tech was originally called G.U.T.S. I’m glad they changed it.
Little Shop of Horrors
The next day, Xanatos lands on the castle grounds in his personal chopper, Derek at his side. Owen’s waiting. The security chief has a stack of expense reports from Gen-U-Tech that have charges for armed mercenaries. ‘K. Wait, wait, Xanatos didn’t approve them this time. My mistake. Time to make a personal call on Dr Sevarius, the lead scientist, who’s working on “something special.” Somehow I don’t think he means a new breed of explosion-resistant grass for the castle lawn.
Derek volunteers to come, seeing as how armed mercs are involved. “It’s what you pay me for. Might as well get your money’s worth.”
20/20 moment / Grinds my Gears: In Cloud Fathers, Xanatos said the acid vat trap was his first real stab at cliched villainy. But here he is, looking all tricky and villainous. He’s a mustache twist away from being Snidely Whiplash here!
Meanwhile, the gargoyles are deciding what to do. Brooklyn insists Furry needs their help. Broadway is skeptical, citing how she voluntarily went with the mercs. Brook chalks it up to her being scared. She wanted his help. Sure, lover-boy. You in heat, son?
Elisa is suddenly a tracker expert, announcing that the bracelet they got off Furry is a digital, long-range, expensive type.
At Gen-U-Tech, Xanatos and Derek meet Dr Anton Sevarius. Hey, it’s Old Creepy Guy from the alley! Now things are coming together! The chick in the alley sounds and semi-looks – in coloring, anyway – like Furry.
The Good Doctor has a film for the class to view. Xanatos commissioned a gargoyle. Sevarius didn’t think it was strange at all. What is his story? He wanted to clone one, but no raw material was available. In the Gargoyle-verse, cloning has come a long way, apparently. Xanatos affirms that he still doesn’t have any “raw material” for starter.
20/20 moment: Hah, well written! Xanatos finagled tissue/blood from Goliath while Xanatos was still in jail. Sevarius has been working on the Thailog project for almost a year.
Next tactic, gene splicing. He used jungle cat and bat DNA. Cat = strength, speed, and agility. Bat = flight. Radar isn’t included. The problem is that the energy consumption of the wing muscles was massive. They’d need to eat three cows a day to cover it.
Xanatos notes that there aren’t many cows in Manhattan. I dunno, maybe the gargs stop at Mickey D’s?
Sevarius theorized that the gargoyles stored solar energy while they slept. I’m no scientist, but this makes zero sense. As we know, solar energy is great as long as it’s always sunny. Since Scotland isn’t Philadelphia, there’s about as much sun there as there are cows in Manhattan. What if the gargs slept in a cave or forest? That means they’d conk out if they missed a few days of sun.
Also, he talks about wing muscles. We know gargoyles don’t fly like bats, they glide like flying squirrels. It takes far less energy to glide than fly. Starting with genes that aren’t at all like gargoyels’, as there are no analogs in nature (Sevarius notes this), leads to problems the gargoyles don’t have.
Sevarius compensated by adding electric eel genes, as they “store energy.” There’s a tank of eels
for lunch behind him. Again, I’m not a scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn once. There’s a difference between the energy the body uses for movement, which is stored as ATP, and electric energy that eels generate.
Derek has had enough science nonsense. He wants to know why Anton hired mercs.
Sevarius shrugs it off, saying a test subject escaped. Test subject? Both Xanatos and Derek are surprised.
Sevarius shows the finished product, which leaves something to be desired. Furries. Three of ’em. Looks like a lion, a cougar, and a tiger type, judging by their coats. The female’s wings are pathetic vestigial things. The female furry Brooklyn had the hots for is rocking in the corner. The other two, males, are staring out the glass.
If I were David, I’d want a refund. If not a refund, then a rebate. What’s he supposed to do with these? Put a cat door in the great hall’s gate and get a massive scratching post? Great protectors they’re gonna be. They’ll be sleeping for 23 hours out of the day and walking on the counters, after using the litter box, for the remaining hour.
Xanatos is impressed by the fact that Sevarius grew them “from scratch” so fast.
Oh, no, he had a starter kit. You can pick it up in Walmart in the refrigerated aisle, right next to the cookie dough in-a-tube. He used human test subjects. Not to worry, though, they were volunteers and compensated for their time.
Xanatos is understandably shocked. Humans? He starts to deny all responsibility and knowledge…then stops. “No, that’s not true. I was fooling myself.” (Callback to Elisa’s comment to Derek?) He knew Sevarius had a bad reputation, but Xanatos wanted results badly enough to ignore it.
Hold up, who is Sevarius? Where did he come from? How did Xanatos run across him? I’m assuming XE has many contacts in the scientific world. There was probably a department memo asking if anybody knew any geneticists who were down with growing monsters. Y’know, for science.
But in all seriousness, what kind of person does this? The kind that worked with the Nazis, I imagine. But maybe that’s unfair. The Nazi’s were cruel beyond words. We don’t know that Sevarius is necessarily cruel. Yet, anyway. He’s doing this for science. He’s doing it on non-humans and on people who (sort of) volunteered. He’s interested in the process – the hunt, so to speak. Due to his skill, knowledge, and intelligence, he feels he’s justified in playing god. He’s above the law. There are probably a number of employers in Third World countries who pay well for his services.
20/20 moment: Given how many villains have hired him throughout the series, there must be a Monster.com Jobs board for…mad scientists with no concern about how their research is used.
Xanatos swears they’ll find a way to reverse the transformations. Hey now, maybe they like their new forms. Maybe they’re like those body modification enthusiasts who try to look like animals. People in certain tribes and cultures would die to look like this.
Sevarius doesn’t think highly of this idea. “I won’t let you destroy my work!” He draws a dart gun and fires in Xanatos’s direction.
Grow for Me
20/20 moment / According to Greg / Grinds my gears moment: Sevarius was aiming semi toward Xanatos. If Derek fell down on the job – ie didn’t take the dart for his boss – it wouldn’t have hit Xanatos.
I still say this is really trusting of Xanatos. I’m not standing down range of Sevarius. I don’t care how much he promises to not shoot me. I don’t even care if he has a Nerf gun! Maybe David was confident enough in his own ability to gauge where the shot would go – and then dodge.
There were enough options built into the plan that Derek was going to get shot no matter what.
Derek subdues Sevarius with ease. But…why isn’t Derek sleepy?
Sevarius drops into mad-scientist character, laughing as he announces it wasn’t a sedative, it was the mutagenic formula!
There has to be a way to make an antidote. Sevarius being Sevarius, he has the antidote – in his head.
Bruno Skype-intercoms the lab. Matt and Elisa are outside.
Xanatos is a master at finding leverage. By all means, he tells Bruno, let them in and show them around. Tell them what Sevarius has been doing.
Now the drama is on! Sevarius might as well be staring down hot pokers. He rallies, though. Xanatos bankrolled him, so David will also go down.
No, if David goes down, everybody goes down. The police, the public, and the press will crucify Anton for his deeds. Xanatos postures: “I’ve been in prison before. Have you?” He’s in the doc’s face. If society doesn’t crucify Sevarius, Xanatos will.
20/20 moment: Once you know these guys are acting, you can’t help but snicker at their overacting. They’re having a blast. Which is kind of sick, but…they might as well enjoy their work, huh? They’re antagonists, after all.
The formula is hitting Derek. Xanatos supports him. David admits it was all his fault. If Derek wants, they’ll let Elisa in and have the whole thing go public.
No, Derek can’t face Elisa like this. Elisa can blame herself for this. It’s incredibly hard to go to the person you’ve been at odds with and admit they were actually right. Elisa would never let him live it down – or so he thinks. His pride is also to blame. He just bragged he could handle Xanatos. While it’s not truly David he’s dealing with, it’s a situation he got into because he’s working for Xanatos Enterprises. Derek is supposed to be able to handle himself. He’s been talking about living his own life; now going his own way has backfired.
He’s the kind of person who wants to solve things himself. I admire that characteristic. There are few thins that annoy me more than people who ask questions that they could have googled. Don’t make me waste my time explaining something that’s on page 1, entry 1 of a basic search. Odds are I’ll just pull up the web page that explains it and give it to you. You probably won’t listen to me anyway! I will go to amazing lengths before I break down and “bother” somebody about a problem. I feel most things are situations/obstacles I should be able to figure out, given my resources and experience.
“Help…me.” Derek breaks down and asks help – from Xanatos. Well, he did take a dart for David. If not for Derek’s sacrifice, Xanatos would be the one turning into a cat-goyle. No wonder David feels responsible. Puts him in a new light, doesn’t it. Where’s the amoral Xanatos we’ve grown to know and love?
20/20 moment: What an ironic betrayal: Derek gets nailed by the dart while he was protecting the very man who orchestrated the transformation.
Whoa, first we go from Frankenstein’s monster to mutants. Xanatos loves to push the boundaries of science.
How is this ep going to end? I assume they force Sevarius into whipping up an antidote. This is Elisa’s brother, after all.
What are the repercussions for Xanatos? He went to prison thanks to incredibly thin evidence back in Awakening. This looks pretty bad.
Will the Xanatos Enterprises security forces ever turn traitor and publish books about what they’ve seen while working for Xanatos? Will they ever try to blackmail him? Probably not. They value their lives and life situations too much.
You’ll notice there aren’t many 20/20s, According to Gregs, or Grinds my gears. That’ll come next post, when we learn what’s really happening. Derek and the other protags are in for a surprise and a rude awakening. Happy fur-birthday, Derek!
What do you think of the ep so far? Comment!