What do you do when gargoyles you’ve never met accuse you of a crime – betraying another gargoyle and causing his death – that happened 50 years ago when you were still frozen in stone? And there’s proof that it was indeed you? If you’re Goliath, you break out the Phoenix Gate and head to 1940. The Battle of Britain is about to break out, and it’s up to a handful of pilots and two gargoyles to defend London from the Nazi horde. Are they enough, or will their efforts only get them killed? Nazis aren’t the only enemy tonight: fate also takes a hand – and possibly a life.
Miss last week’s ep? Read Sanctuary episode review.
Spoilers are in the 20/20 moments. Info from Ask Greg is in the According to Greg bits.
Season 2, Episode 30: MIA
Reason(s) for existence: To introduce the London gargoyles. To highlight differences in clans. To show the need to protect freedom. To remind us the Phoenix Gate exists. To show the time stream in action. To teach a lesson about taking responsibility rather than blaming others. To gratify Greg’s desire to see Goliath fight in the Blitz.
Main antagonist(s): Nazis, fate, Una and Leo (sort of)
Time(s): January 2?, 1996
Location(s): London, Puddingland
We open on a London street, were a gang of white hooligans is chasing some apparently foreign guy. As they move through the streets, they’re destroying property by smashing it with baseball bats. Not cool. But at leas they didn’t set any of the cars on fire, and there are not vast hordes of them camping on the streets. …Unlike the UK and Europe nowadays, both of which are starting to look like Somalia or Syria. They’re also not taping knives to their hands and going about slashing everyone while on a religious war. But I digress.
The foreign guy runs into a magic shop. Two, well, creatures are running the place. One has the head of a unicorn, the other a lion, but they both have the bodies of humans. Or so we assume, since they’re wearing cloaks. Um… Riiight. Fortunately a shop regular is there to helpfully explain that the owners wear masks. That sounds fake, but okay. Like…really fake-y fake.
They refuse to help the man, however, because what happens outside is not their business. They are proponents of isolationism, I guess. They’re also not realizing that the bad guys outside are likely to bash in their windows.
Elisa and the gargoyles float into town, apparently on the Thames. They pull up at a statue of a WWII war bird. On the plane’s wings stand a statue of a griffin-like gargoyle and one that looks exactly like Goliath. Man, it’s great how Avalon holds the protags’ hands so we can finish up in 22 mins. <3
The monument has a placard that says it is in remembrance of the Battle of Britain, which happened in 1940.
An old taxi driver suddenly appears to conveniently provide information on the battle, since the people watching this will be kids who may not be familiar with history (that would be almost everybody nowadays). He explains that the Battle of Britain was called the Blitz, and he remembers it well. There were creatures such as gremlins and other legends, but he doesn’t remember any gargoyles.
He says that if Elisa is interested in myths and legends, she should check out a shop in Soho. The proprietors are interested in magical creatures and such. Well now, I have a funny feeling they look like a lion and a unicorn.
On the way there, after she gets out of the car, Elisa is set upon by the same game that was chasing the immigrant. Of course the gargoyle save her.
Then they run into the shop owners, since they’re right in front of their establishment. They apparently know Goliath, even though he has never seen them in his life. They also have major bone to pick with him, since apparently he betrayed them and got one of their friends killed. Now, if this was a human’s accusing another human, I’d say that it was a case of mistaken identity. But it’s a little harder to claim that when the subject is a giant purple gargoyle. Despite Goliath’s insistence that he was trapped in stone during 1940, which is when their friend died, they don’t believe it. Now, all this goes down in the street/sidewalk. I guess everyone thinks it’s a LARP.
They all troop inside. The argument continues. Leo the Lion gargoyle takes off his robe and reveals a very stylish outfit. Una the Unicorn has on a flattering dress.
As things are about to come to blows, the unicorn pulls out a book of magic and casts a spell on Goliath, Elisa, Angela, and Bronx. Hey, cool, another Grimorum! The London gargoyles abduct everyone except Goliath, telling him that he will now know what they have felt for the last 50 years.He will be powerless to help his friends. He won’t know where they are, if they’re alive or dead. Whoa, that escalated quickly. You can’t just kidnap two people and a dog!
Goliath starts to threaten them, but they call his bluff. Now, Goliath could have just called their bluff harder. And by that I mean beaten the living crap out of them. But he’s a protagonist, so he has to do it the hard way.
He decides that despite his vow to never use the Phoenix Gate, he WILL use the Phoenix Gate. Because he has to know what happened to their friend – whose name is Griff, by the way. This is a serious situation, and there is good evidence that he has used it to travel back in time. Or rather, he will use it. So it’s not like he decides to fireball off to World War II to fight Nazis. As much as we all would like to do that…
He ends up in the sky, right in front of a British fighter plane. If that doesn’t wake you up, I dunno what will! A griffon garg swoops out of the upper atmosphere and knocks him out of the way, saving him from a food-blender end.
This is Griff. It’s funny how they chose a unicorn and a lion, which are the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. They’re also using a griffon, which is a common heraldic emblem in that part of the world.
Griff does not seem too surprised to see another gargoyle. He is quite pleased to see one, however. He says the Goliath looks like Scottish stock. That’s interesting, because it means that just as humans look different depending on their origins, gargoyles also have ethnic differences. And indeed, these English gargoyles look like animals rather than humans.
Now, the fact that Griff offhandedly comments that Goliath looks Scottish makes me think that Griff has encountered Scottish gargoyles before. That’s a little odd, considering they were supposed to have been mostly wiped out. He’s also not too surprised to see a Scottish garg, which leads one to believe that they are not all that rare.
Griff takes Goliath home to meet Una and Leo. Back in 1940, they were just as eager to stay inside and let the world pass as they are now. They say that human problems are not gargoyle problems.
I could have split this, I guess, but most of the second half is me ranting.
Griff is quite vocal in his protest. Goliath backs him up, saying that human problems usually become gargoyle problems. Ooh, there’s a lot of history in that statement! If Griff only knew…
Griff is completely living up to the gargoyle way of protecting. He’s also taking seriously his British heritage and his love of freedom. He knows that if the Nazis win, the entire world loses, human and gargoyle like.
The blitz is about to start. So Goliath and Griff go out to fight alongside the Royal Air Force, because creatures that can glide and have no armaments are perfect matches for war birds with machine guns. They put up a nice fight, taking out numerous Waffen planes. They also save a few British planes and pilots.
According to Greg: Greg is a fan of having Goliath fight in the Blitz. Greg also wanted to give a nod to one of the fighter aces, Douglas Bader, a true hero. Check out Greg’s ramble on MIA at Station 8.
Goliath takes a machine gun round to the inside of his wing, which tears a hole in it. The healing from the stone sleep must be very impressive to patch up a hole in the membrane like this.
Suddenly they start taking friendly fire from the surface-to-air artillery.
The gargoyles land, since Goliath can’t fly very well. A building collapses and almost crushes them. Then a car almost runs them over. It’s like they’re dodging death by a hair’s breadth every few seconds.
Being a pretty perceptive gargoyle, Goliath realizes that fate is conspiring against them. Griff, for whatever reason, is not supposed to be in the timeline for the next fifty years. Now, Goliath doesn’t know whether that’s because Griff died, or because Griff ceases to exist in this timeline. Goliath figures that is doesn’t really matter, so long as Griff is absent. Apparently things have to happen that would not have happened if Griff was there. Or perhaps things should not happen that would have happened if he was there. Or there are actions in the future that only he can pull off.
We have here another example of an idea that comes out of the time stream itself. The idea has no beginning or ending, since in order to have started it, one must’ve already known about it. This is just like Xanatos sending himself a coin because he sent a letter from the past telling his future self to go back in time and send himself a letter and the coin so he could go back in time. Get it? Got it? Good. Or like the Archmage, saving himself with magical artifacts so that he could come back and save himself with magical artifacts. They aren’t time loops in the sense where one gets trapped in them and is generally screwed. These are little turbulent spots or jumps in the time stream, where things must be helped along a bit. It’s sort of like history is cheating so it gets to the end and it wants.
Goliath grabs Griff and blasts into the future just before a plane crashes into where they are standing.
Griff is a bit surprised about being 50 years in the future, but he should be glad that it’s not a 1000 years. He should also be glad his friends are there to help him.
Now, while all this is going on, Una and Leo have been keeping Elisa, Angela, and Bronx in captivity. They literally have them chained in their back room.
There are, from a writer’s standpoint, two ways to get our protags out of this situation. The first of course is the most easiest and predictable. It’s Goliath and Griff coming back, arguing or fighting with Una and Leo, and rescuing the captives.
But that’s not very satisfying. It’s okay for most cartoons, mind you, such as all the superhero onse, but this is Gargoyles. We have a higher standard, one that has made this series last over 20 years. In fact, the standard is what makes it even more appealing now that we’re adults.
Leo realizes that they were the ones who sentenced Griff to his death. If they’d gone out and helped, perhaps he would have survived. All this time, they have been blaming the wrong gargoyle. They should have been blaming themselves. They felt the guilt inherently, but they would not admit it. Instead, they shoved all the blame off on Goliath. They felt semi-justified in this, because they thought Goliath had died with Griff.
So it is Leo who convinces Una, and two sets are protagonist free. This is a much better turn of events. It shows character growth, and it teaches a valuable lesson. We so often blame others for things that are our fault. Our society is primed to help us push blame on other people. Feeling guilty for your actions and mistakes is apparently the only sin society recognizes nowadays.
Now, I don’t believe in feeling guilty for very long. Guilt exists to show us that something is wrong, much like pain exists to warn us of damage to our body. Guilt should force us to repent of whatever we did, make amends, and then make a plan two avoid repeating that action.
So it is when Griff reunites with Una and Leo, everyone can meet on friendly terms. Leo and Una can admit to Griff that they have learned that he was right all these years. They can also thank Goliath for saving him. Yay, happy ending.
The last scene is of Una, Leo, and Griff beating up the hooligans. The writers manhandled the racism theme in here, hmm.
This is an interesting episode in that there isn’t really an out-and-out villain. Yes, Una and Leo are antagonists, but we feel sorry for them since they are acting out of the grief and anger that come from the death of a loved one. We really can’t bear any animosity toward them, because they’re not doing it for personal gain. They’re taking a sort of revenge, but it’s one that hurts them as much as their targets.
I guess the Nazis are villains, but they’re really more of a faceless force. Yes, we do see the pilots, but we know that they aren’t the actual evil. They’re just the out-workings of it, the tip of the spear so to speak.
I suppose the actual villain in this is the idea of isolationism. It’s the idea that if we all stay inside and mind her own business, the evil outside cannot touch us. Much like the hobbits on the Shire, the gargoyles in London believed that the problems of the world as a whole were not their problems.
It’s often this way with people who just want to live their lives – working hard and minding their own business, and trying to make their way in the world. Moral people usually are very prone to complacency. We think that because things are good now, things will always remain so. We would never do anything to make the situation bad, so why would anyone else? We forget that evil is always at work in the world, and that the greedy, power hungry, immoral people are striving every second to impose their will on the world. They’re scheming while we’re day dreaming.
Good must constantly strive to maintain the status quo if that status quo is freedom and prosperity, because evil will always try and push us toward the direction of slavery and misery. It will do so in many different ways and will always be changing its tactics, even claiming Progress and Justice as disguises. But it will never change its goal: to gain power. With that power comes corruption, and with corruption comes destruction.
Those in the side of freedom and Truth must always be on the alert. We stand up and speak without fear. Tyranny is always waiting at the doorstep. Sometimes it gets through the door, and we must hurl it out again. But more than anything, it is insidious. Before World War II, many of the nations, including Britain and the US, did not want to fight the Nazis. They did not think that the Nazis would become a worldwide problem. It was easier to bargain with them or come to their side.
I give the Gargoyles writers mad props for being brave enough to tackle this issue. They also don’t get preachy about it, which is hard to avoid. See, I didn’t even try to come across with tact.
Tune in Tuesday next, when we’ll meet up with the Pack again. But it’s in an odd place: the Sphinx in Egypt. Xanatos has a plot, and it’s a life-changing one. And possibly a death-changing one. It’ll cause our protags a lot of Grief.