Gargoyles: Shadows of the Past – Episode Review Continued

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In the caves below Castle Wyvern’s ancient site lies ancient, powerful magic. The ghosts of Hakon and the Captain of the Guard are hellbent on using that magic to resurrect themselves. All they need is life-force to steal, and they’ll be back to their old selves. Who better to leach life from than Goliath? The men have hated him for 1000 years because they blame him for their deaths. Will Goliath be able to resist their illusions? He’ll have to act fast; if he doesn’t he’ll be a ghost instead.

Miss the first half of the Shadows of the Past episode review? Read!


Not the Fall but Landing

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - elisa bronx angela save goliath

Elisa piles in to help as if it would make a difference. How much does Goliath weigh, anyway?

Goliath falls.

Bronx bites down on his wrist and pulls him up, though. Ouch. Elisa and Angela try to help him up, but once again he sees Hakon and Captain. He chooses falling over dealing with them.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - captain hakon illusion

Not what you want to see above you.

Angela, Bronx, and Elisa have no choice but to climb down. Elisa does an amazing job of climbing DOWN (down is way harder that up, generally) a dark, wet, slick rock face. Speaking of dark – again – where’s the light coming from? We’ve all been in caves when the ranger shuts the lights off, right?

This may come as a shock, but Goliath survives the fall. He’s in a large chamber full of stalagmites. In the center of them is a platform with Stonehenge-like structures.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - standing stones

Non-euclidean geometry? I still say the Lovecraft universe would go well with the Gargverse.

Runes are all over them, but not like Norse Viking runes. They’re not the Theban language either, which is one commonly used in magic.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - runesss

They look almost extraterrestrial, something you’d see Daniel try to decode on Stargate SG-1 while Jack cracked wise and Sam typed on a laptop.

Overhead are two green blobs of ectoplasm. They have Hakon’s and Captain’s voices. They comment that the magic is strongest here. This means they have the power to animate the stalagmites, or at least it looks like they do.

The stones turn into the slaughtered Clan Wyvern. This is creepy. Imagine if your whole family was murdered, then stones came together in their exact likenesses.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - stone gargoyles

Garg on the right could be Brooklyn’s bro.

They accuse Goliath of destroying and betraying them. The ghosts are able to inhabit two of the stone gargs, and toss Goliath around.

Captain wants to get on with whatever they’re planning, but Hakon is having fun getting his revenge.

Then stone Demona steps out. She says she’ll grant him the same gift he gave her: oblivion. Ah, that’s a mistake, ghosts! Goliath catches it. (I wonder, does part of him wish she had died in the massacre so he could remember her with fondness as his Angel of the Night instead of the villain who’s dead-set on revenge upon the human race?)

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - stone demona

Dang, Demona is cut!

Fool G Twice

When he realizes this is a trick, and the spirits of the gargoyles aren’t coming against him, the stalagmite clan crumbles. Does this mean that his belief gave them more power? Sort of like in the movie Skeleton Key, where SPOILER the magic only worked if you believed it? Come to think of it, that movie had a similar plot to this ep.

At the very least, now that Goliath knows he’s being messed with, the ghosts can’t gaslight him anymore. He won’t believe their illusions. But it’s too late; he’s at the heart of the magic. I’m not sure why there’s a massive collection of magic here. There’s also no explanation regarding who built the standing stones. The Archmage, maybe? Or someone even earlier in history? None of that info is integral to the plot at this point, but it’s still something to explore.

Captain and Hakon aren’t sure why they’re ghosts. Maybe it’s the magic, or maybe it’s their hatred – for each other and for Goliath.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - captain ghost and goliath

How weird would this be? You’re talking to the guy who betrayed your family 1000 years ago.

The ghosts activate the runes. The aim is to suck G’s life force and use it to bring them back to life. It’s almost like The Machine in Princess Bride, except it confers that life energy onto other beings.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - glowing magic stones

I’d say the magic is active.

Let’s slow it down here, because this is YUGE. Demona conned Xanatos into letting her use his broadcast equipment by saying she could steal a minute of life from everyone who saw the spell. We thought that was just her jerking him around so she could turn the city to stone. Apparently it’s a viable magical action. What are the repercussions of this? Does this mean you can essentially have immortality by dragging somebody here and sucking their life force out? Perhaps it only works if you’re dead but are somehow able to cling to this plain. What effect would it have on someone who was old but still alive, and who sucked the life force from another person? If it restored their life force and rejuvenated them, at what age would the reversal of aging stop? This better not be some Benjamin Button weirdness. I assume it would be like the Lazarus Pits in Batman, but even those are a little sketchy in their workings.

As the magic does its work, Goliath becomes transparent. At the same time, the ghosts become opaque. Is it regenerating their bodies? Why is it restoring their physical matter, which is different from their souls?

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - hakon vs ghost goliath

That’s Goliath’s shade on the right.

I’m not sure of the writers realized it, but whenever they bring something about death and the afterlife into the series, they’re actually establishing the rules of the Gargoyles Universe. Now we know it’s possible to be a ghost. We know that in the right situation, it’s possible to transfer life force. We still don’t know anything else about the afterlife, though.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - magic energy

Is it supposed to do that?

My interest in this is mainly due to Xanatos’s obsession with gaining immortality. If this life force snatching is a thing, he could possibly do this to stay young. It’s sort of like a being vampire, I guess. Rather, it’s like the Asian vamps that take your life force/soul instead of your blood.

Side note: David would make a great vampire, considering how suave, charming, and handsome he is. Actually, Owen would make an even better one, since he’s more aloof and mysterious.

Moving on! What would the ghosts do if they were restored to fully functional, living status? Everything they know is gone. It would be like the gargoyles when they woke up 1000 years later, but worse. The gargs got a helping hand in this cultural and time adjustment from Xanatos and Elisa. Also, the gargoyles aren’t human! Hakon and Captain are humans who don’t have a penny to their name, have no ID, and have no idea what the world is like. They don’t have shelter, transport, or even modern clothes.

I really don’t think they thought much past getting revenge on Goliath. That’s kind of an odd desire, too. I’m assuming they knew about the curse on the clan that turned them to stone, since the castle was right above the cave. All that construction probably rattled the ghosts too. For all they know, though – and this is the key – the gargoyles are still stone. There is a small chance that the ghosts know about the spell’s condition (castle rising above the clouds), and heard workmen talking about the castle’s destination atop the Eyrie. BUT! There’s no way the ghosts could know if the castle’s move broke the spell.

Anyway, Hakon’s hate has kept him around all this time. I’m not sure what kind of afterlife he’d have or will have, so I dunno if chilling on earth for 1000 years is good or bad for him. If he’s going to some Valhalla place, this would be bad. If he’s going to Hell, this would be a reprieve for him. On face value, at least, it was not a fun time.

Captain’s hate for himself and Hakon have kept him around. Same story as above regarding afterlife. But I can’t imagine spending 1000 years with the guy who betrayed you and who is generally unpleasant would be enjoyable.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - hakon angry ghost

Think of how much anger this man has. It’s been growing for 1000 years, because he’s had that long to rationalize and blame.

Goliath plays on Captain’s sense of honor, just like he played on Macbeth‘s. It’s really hard to be a villain when you have honor. You can be a good antagonist, don’t get me wrong, but you’ll never reach villain level. The “What good is life without honor” line hits home. Ah, he’d make a good Solamnic Knight! “Est Sularus oth Mithas” is their motto, meaning “My Honor is my life”. Or the Waffen SS’s motto, “Meine Ehre heißt Treue,” meaning My honor is loyalty.

Heart and Soul

The Captain has a change of heart and struggles with Hakon. This interferes with the spell. Conveniently, this reverses it, allowing Goliath to regain his life force.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - captain tackles hakon

Hakon tries to remind Captain that they hated G for 1000 years. Joke’s on Hakon, because Captain hated himself.

Their struggle causes the standing stones to explode, collapsing on the men.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - ghost captain revives

This is like a Star-Wars wrap up

Captain has atoned for his deed by saving Goliath. Thus, Captain is free to toddle off into the afterlife.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - ghost captain atoned

Aw, it’s like Dead Like Me when the souls get to go to the afterlife.

Hakon isn’t so lucky. He’s still holding on, trapped in the caves. “Don’t leave me here with nobody to hate!” he roars. But…he has people to hate: Goliath, Captain, the world in general. I’ve never been in a position where I had no one to hate. Just because you don’t have somebody right next to you doesn’t mean you can’t hate. After all, they hated Goliath for 1000 years without him being around.

Disney Gargoyles - Shadows of the Past - ghost hakon stuck in a rock

Welcome to the Upside Down.

Oh, yeah, and the protags sail off on their merry way in the skiff that survived the tide and storm.


Final Thoughts

I’m still stuck on the idea of ghosts. It just opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities and questions.

The placement of this ep is great. We just saw characters from Goliath’s past, good and evil. Now we’re seeing two more! We’re on a roll. Lots of forgiveness for them from Goliath, too, which is nice.

What’s interesting about this idea is how they explore the theme of creating your own chains. It’s like in The Cage, where the characters had made their own cages that kept them from enjoying their lives. Hate led to all-consuming obsession with revenge. It trapped these fellows for 1000 years. It’s fitting that they used Demona in their illusion. They used her because she was Goliath’s GF, I know, but they unwittingly provided the perfect symbol for their hate. While they’ve been dead and hating it – and Goliath – she’s been alive, doing the same thing. She might as well be dead and trapped in a cave for all the good it’s done her. She’s been just as miserable. They say there are no haunted houses, only haunted people.

Tune in next week for Heritage. Since it’s been ONE WHOLE EPISODE since we saw a fey, it’s time for more of Oberon’s Children! Join me as I wrestle with whether or not to be pseudo-offended by the characters and ep themes!  It’ll be fun. And it’ll be one. One post, that is. Boom. 

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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