Gargoyles: The Hound of Ulster- Episode Review

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The Banshee’s keening is an omen of death, but what’s worse than dying? Living a wasted life. Rory Dugan is doing just that. The blood of heroes runs in his veins, but all he’s doing is running from the cops. That’s before he meets the Hound of Ulster. Well, it’s really Bronx looking for someone to rescue Goliath, Elisa, and Angela, who are trapped in a stone room. The Banshee is behind their capture. Will Bronx and Rory be able to defeat the fey and rescue our protags?

Miss last week’s? Read Grief episode review.

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


Season 2, Episode 32: The Hound of Ulster


Reason(s) for existence: To stress the fact that the Gathering is nearing. To introduce more fey. To give Bronx the spotlight. And other stuff.


Main antagonist(s): Banshee


Time(s):  January 27th-28th, 1996


Location(s): Liscoo, Ireland


Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster -

Cool opening, bro.

We open with a couple hooligans hopping into a drainage way to escape the po-po. One is a purple-haired punk rocker girl, and the other is a young man with a stylishly ripped-sleeve vest. They’ve just stolen a jacket. While she’s quite thrilled ,he’s still bored. The police can’t seem to catch them.  By the accents and the police siren, we can easily guess this is Ireland.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory and molly

Good thing nobody has security systems or witnesses.

He’s only doing this because there’s nothing else for him to do. He has graduated yet does not have a trade. Which is his own fault for not majoring in something worthwhile instead of bag-piping and interpretive dance. Even if he did have a trade, he says there are no jobs. Indeed, UK does have an unemployment problem.

Worse, his father is always harping on him to get a job, but said father is “on the dole.” I’m not sure how many kids watching this understand what that means, but they do understand the idea of parents nagging.

Molly (the chick) suggest Rory (the dude) go to the US. Problem is, he has about enough in the bank to get him to the end of his driveway.

They part ways after a kiss, and Molly tells him to watch out for the beast in the dark, the Hound of Ulster. Rory is unimpressed.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - molly scaring rory

*foreshadows loudly*

As he’s walking home, he sees a giant wyrm rear up in front of him. It’s a glowing slightly.

 

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - clan in stone room

Either this is Tremors, or somebody’s been reading the Necronomicon again.

 

On her way home, Molly is freaked out by a howl in the distance.

Unsurprisingly, the howl comes from Bronx. Elisa and the Gang have arrived on the sparkling shores of Ireland. Actually, they arrived in a peat bog.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - clan elisa lands in ireland bog

Avalon has sent them here to deal with a rash of jacket thefts.

They barely have time to figure this out, when horrible singing starts. No, they haven’t landed next to a country music, reggae, or indie punk rock festival. It’s something worse. Hard to believe, I know. The singing, which is more like wailing, reduces Bronx and Elisa to the fetal position.

Angela grabs the gargoyle beast, while Goliath takes Elisa. They try to fly from the noise, but they have a little luck. They crash in a pond. Except it’s not a pond. It’s the quicksand that we were warned about his kids. You know, the quicksand that was apparently everywhere. After becoming an adult, I was rather depressed to find that quicksand was not nearly the threat that I thought it was going to be. All my life growing up I had imagine what it would be like to be in quicksand, and even read up on how to escape it. I never heard of quicksand again after I turned 14. I must have gone extinct. Maybe it’s global warming or something.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - angela quicsand

Shoulda watched more Westerns, Angela.

Bronx swims out, but he comes face-to-face with a glowing silhouette of a woman who is floating 10 ft in the air. Either this is like that X-Files ep where the fungus gave Mulder and Scully hallucinogenic dreams while it digested them, or we’re looking in another magical creature.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - banshee glow

Where’s Newt Scamander when you need him?

When Rory gets home, his dad accosts him with usual, “Do you have a job yet?” Rory ignores this and asks about hearing howling or screaming on the moors.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - dugan and rory

“Why, Da, so my taxes can pay for you to sit on your butt all day?”

This gets the dad’s attention. He cites the Hound of Ulster, whose howl means danger. Then he turns of subject to sirens of police cars that were chasing thieves. He says that the boy needs to do something useful with his life, because he comes from a good family, one with heroes.

But he says there are only villains now, and they have us all beaten. Yeah, pretty much.

The clan and Elisa wake up in a stone chamber that looks like it’s about 2,000 years old. It’s so solid they can’t escape. Goliath decides someone put them here. True, they might have, or you might have just passed out in the air in the wrong spot, landed in a peat bog, and falling through some weird gateway into the rock room. Stranger things have happened. And will happen.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - clan in stone room

It’s ok, the dirt on Elisa goes away on its own in a few scenes.


According to Greg: Read Greg’s ramble on the Hound of Ulster.


As Rory trips through the brush, Bronx finds him. Bronx is dead-set that Rory will save Timmy from the well, whether Rory likes it or not. So the guard beast chases the boy. Rory is a genius and falls off a cliff.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory falls

Pretty sure you’d be in bad shape after that tumble.

Meanwhile, back in the stone prison, the Banshee meets the clan. They ask about Bronx, but she says he doesn’t matter, since he can’t tell her what she wants to know. She knows they’re from Avalon. She says the scent of its magic is on them. It’s interesting that magic has a scent. As a form of energy, one would think it would have a feeling, or aura, or tingle. But perhaps that’s just how the fey pick it up. It’s just odd, because for scent work, there has to be chemical particles that come in contact with the mucous membranes.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - banshee

Where’s Darby O’Gill?


20/20 moment: I only press the matter because Boudica was able to smell Puck after Oberon showed her his flute. Maybe gargoyles have an innate ability to sense magic?


She wants to know if the Gathering is started and if Oberon has an agenda for these newcomers. Are they trying to bring her back to Avalon? She doesn’t want to go back.

The Gathering is when Oberon calls his children home. Apparently declining the invitation is not an option. She likes the mortal world, and she wants to stay. This is interesting. She’s a magical creature from Avalon. One would think she’d want to go back to her homeland, where magic runs rampant and is the soul of the island. You’d think she would want to hang out with her fellow fey. But to each their own. I almost feel sorry for her, because who wants to go to a party that will have no end, and to live with people you don’t want to be with? I I don’t blame her for trying to avoid it.

Of course, they don’t know anything. But that doesn’t convince her. So, she puts on the torture with voice. I’ve known people who had a voice like this.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - clan facing banshee

It’s like gas station or elevator music: even if you don’t know anything, you want to tell somebody something so it will stop.

Rory wakes to Bronx licking his face. There’s the obligatory first encounter reaction, then the just-as-common response of petting a dog.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory pets bronx

Tell me you’ve never wanted to pet Bronx.

Bronx howls. It’s so powerful it resonates on a magical spectrum, one that freaks out the banshee. She leaves Elisa and the clan. Goliath asserts that Bronx will help them. My, we must be desperate if we are coming to Bronx for help.

I love Bronx. He’s a dog, and I love dogs. But he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time. This isn’t his fault.  This isn’t the writers’ fault. It’s darn hard to use a dog effectively if the dog is not the center of the story. Yes, Scooby-Doo works fine because he’s a huge part of the story. But if you just throw a dog into other TV shows, it doesn’t work so great. Dogs are good to have around every now and then, but when you have to drag them around all the time, feed them, take them out to pee every hour, and walk them, they’re less of a boon. In my writing, my most frequent comment to myself is, “Dang it, I forgot the stupid dog again!” I have to go in and put in a little bit about how the dog yipped that this, growled at that, or had to go out.

When Rory is out, he sees vision of a cairn. It’s got standing stones and all the fun stuff that comes with Celtic graves. He doesn’t get too far in contemplating this, however, because Molly appears. Bronx doesn’t like her. We know Bronx is an excellent judge of character. Molly does not like him either.

He actually goes so far as to attack her. This prompts her to turn into the Banshee. Well, that was a surprise!

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory sees banshee

Better than the death wyrm, anyway.

She’s known Rory for a long time, and has been playing with him for years. Now she must salvage her plan, whatever it was. So she mesmerizes him, drags him back the house, and props him on the couch.

This doesn’t go very well with Da. But Rory is more concerned about the fact that he’s seeing giant wyrms, the banshee, and apparently the Hound of Ulster.

Molly arrives. Mr. Dugan does not like her. He tells Rory where to find the cairn that he dreamed about.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory dugan molly

Seems like Dugan is the real failure here.

So off Molly and Rory go to find it. Molly doesn’t like the idea, but she’ll go with him anyway. They arrived at Cairn na Culainn. She warns him not to go in, but he says he must, because something that belongs to him is inside.

Rory begins to hallucinate, seeing a large, muscular man from the 4th or 5th century floating before him. The man has a spear of light and a shield. He also has the most amazing mustache you’ll ever see.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - cu cullain

The spirit apparently lives in Rory. That’s interesting. How? Just through DNA, and now that he’s near the cairn the spirit can get a lock on him? What sorcery is this?

Then the man vanishes and the spear floats in front of Rory. He accepts the Gae Bolga. Much like He-Man, he transforms into the muscle-bound warrior that he saw. He also has the Mustache of Wonder. That ’stache alone could be a superpower. This is Cu Chullain.

Side Note: Cu has bases in real-world myth.

Buttkicking ensues, with the Banshee initially gaining the upper hand. But Bronx hops into the fray and helps subdue the giant wyrm, called Crom Cruac, the Death Wyrm.

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - cu cullain bronx

Activate mustache power! Come on, they do it in anime.

She boasts she can take out McCullen and his “little dog too.” This is the second reference to Wizard of Oz in this episode, as in the beginning Elisa mention they weren’t in Kansas anymore. Well, they haven’t ever been in KS. It’s pretty landlocked. An adventure in Kansas would be pretty cool, like maybe they have to fight a tornado monster or the devil of the plains or something. Somebody write a fan fic on that. Go!

Per Gargwiki, “It should also be noted that the little dog in the film is Toto. Toto is Dorothy’s pet cairn terrier in The Wizard of Oz. This Scottish breed was named for its use in digging and hunting for prey among cairns (manmade stone structures such as Cairn na Culainn). The fact that Bronx is a dog-like beast of Scottish descent and is attacking a foe that is hiding in a cairn while being referenced to Toto is an incredible coincidence. While one can debate whether Bronx is indeed the Hound of Ulster reborn, perhaps the question should be asked if he is the reincarnation of Toto as well. “

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - light in death wyrm mouth

When you eat a ghost pepper and though it was a jalapeno.

The warrior formerly known as Rory throws the spear of light into the wyrm’s mouth. This turns her to a cloud, and after last wail she vanishes. It’s not clear whether she’s been destroyed or just banished. We don’t really know how one kills a fey. They’re more spirit and energy than flesh and blood. I’m assuming you could use iron, like if you cut off their head or staked them through the heart, but we’re not told at this point in the series. Perhaps Oberon is the only one who can destroy them? What happens after they die – if they die – I don’t know.

 

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - banshee smoke

The vape juice manufacturers are getting creative.

The spear is now a stick in Rory’s hand, and Rory has lost his beautiful mustache. He says that he had a dog like Bronx when he “was someone special.”

Disney Gargoyles - The Hound of Ulster - rory with staff

Goliath says he’s still a special snowflake.

We actually agrees, and then points out that there’s no training to be a hero. It’s not going to be easy.

The gargoyles sail off, with Goliath commenting that it’s not often that an old land gets its hero back. So far, Britain has gotten a hero back to in the form of King Arthur. Oh, and Griff, let’s not forget. He says that the land will find other deeds for that hero to do. Let’s hope that one of those deeds is improving the unemployment rate and facilitating economic growth through less government control on business. Oh, you meant like whacking banshees with spears of light, I guess. My mistake. Whatever. He’ll find a way to be a hero.


Final Thoughts

Banshee’s an interesting villain, but there’s not a whole lot in her to analyze. She’s cunning, willing to use mortals, but she of course has to abide by the rules of Oberon: she will not directly interfere in mortal life. I really don’t understand how this works, because any time you do anything with mortals, you’re interfering in their life. Her being Molly and encouraging Rory to be a thief and sluggard was interfering in his life. Just because she was in human form she gets a free pass? Oberon will interpret his laws is he will.

Interestingly, she has feelings for Rory/Cu. This gives her a little more depth.

Are there any other fey who want to stay in the mortal world? We’ll have to see. It seems that Avalon is a rather dull place and a rather small island. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life on an island where the only things around are trees, a castle, and other fey. The gargoyles live there now, but that’s a new development. Princess Katherine is still there, but she’s old and will not be there for long. I’m not sure how many of Oberon’s children exist, so I don’t know how crowded the island will be. But even with, say, fifty, that’s going to be tight. I’m also not sure how big a home range fey have, but I’m assuming it’s fairly large. They all have their own agendas and are incredibly intelligent, so I don’t know what they would find to do during all that time. Well, other than cause trouble.

The Gathering we’ll no doubt hear about again. It’s like Chekhov’s gun: it’s been mentioned, so it must appear later. Plus, how can you not make use of something that monumental? Oberon bringing his fey back? That’s going to upset something in the real world if they’ve all been futzing around with mortals, like the Weird Sisters and the Banshee have.

I also don’t know what Puck has been up to. He doesn’t seem the type to sit back and let the world pass by. Where was he before Demona summoned him, and where did he go? She said he serves “the human.” Who? And why in the name of all that’s sane, would a fey serve a human? Did the human bind him? Did Puck lose a bet? He didn’t seem too broken up about the idea of returning to that human, whoever it is.


20/20 moment: One of my absolute favorite aspects of Gargoyles is the fact that Puck was so enthralled by David and Fox’s personalities that he wanted to hang out with them for as long as possible. He willingly bound himself to the human. Xanatos, for his part, respects Owen greatly and counts him probably as his best friend other than Fox. Owen is the only man Xanatos trusts implicitly, just as Fox is the only woman.

This is such a unique idea! And other series, whenever a fey works with a human they are trying to screw the human over, or the human has forced them into the arrangement. The fact that puck has found a kindred spirit in a human and wants to hang out with him is so innocent and so simple that it is riveting for the viewer.


Next week we leave the realm of magic and head into the realm of technology. Oddly enough, the two overlap more than you’d expect. Tune in Tuesday as we save the earth from a silver tide that came to us courtesy of Fox.

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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