Ready to feel the thrill of the hunt? We’re wrapping up our review of the first episode of the series-proper. If you thought the antagonists and villains of the show opener were fierce, better watch your back, because the Pack is circling for the kill.
Make sure you watch the first half of the episode review.
Note: I write as if this is my first time thorough the ep. Spoilers are in 20/20 moment sections. Info from Greg Weisman, Gargoyles’s creator, are in the According to Greg sections.
Lex and Goliath roll right into their argument.
Goliath wants, suddenly, to keep their existence a secret. This didn’t bother him during Awakening, so perhaps something happened to make him rethink the “let’s fly around and be obvious” tactic.
Lex thinks they should take chances with people, otherwise the clan will always be alone. The Pack could be great allies, if given the chance. The Pack is honorable. It fights evil! Lex didn’t tell them about the stone sleep, either, so it’s not like he blabbed all the clans secrets. The Pack doesn’t even know where the clan lives.
Hudson backs up Lex. Broadway thinks they might need the clan’s help.
20/20 moment: Two Pack members, Fox and Dingo, have benefited from the clan’s help.
It would’ve been great to have an ep where the Pack and clan work together. It could be a dream/vision, or a virtual reality. Somebody write that fic!
Goliath agrees to meet them before he judges them.
Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. We’re Hunting Gargoyles
Off they go to the empty, dark Pack Media Studios. This is like those Batman: The Animated Series episodes where Bats stalks through abandoned fun houses in search of Joker.
The Pack opens up the meeting with a spotlight and flash-bang. I’m awake now! How about some gunfire for fun?
The gargs dash into the (gaudy) gauntlet. Hyena lures Lex and Goliath deeper into the maze of halls with various traps inside.
They’re the usual fare, the same we saw on the Pack TV show at the castle: Walls that try to smash you, spikes, trap doors. Well now, it appears this is a trap! Wasn’t I just saying something about the Joker?
The ambush doesn’t surprise us viewers, since we saw Fox’s pitch for a hunting trip. But Lex is stunned. Imagine going to meet your idol, say it’s a rock band, and having them attack you. The advantage of surprise that the Pack has is about 1000x greater on Lex than Goliath. Goliath was wary to begin with.
Goliath rips through the walls that are about to crush them in the gauntlet. Fox watches from above, announcing that usually the traps aren’t lethal, but they “juiced them up” for the gargs.
According to Greg: We always see this ep from the hunted’s POV. Here the gargoyles are the hunted, so we don’t see much of the Pack. Later, though…
For the Pack, the gauntlet lets them gauge the gargoyles’ strength and abilities. I’m betting Fox had the idea of running Lex and Goliath through the gauntlet. Remember, all the Pack has to go on are Daily Tattler reports and a few CCTV stills. Not exactly the amount of intel I’d want when engaging a species that is obviously sentient and obviously strong. That’s part of the thrill, I guess, but it’s also a good way to die.
The gargoyles escape through a window and fly into the city. Let the hunt begin!
Lex and Goliath land to discuss matters. Lex feels like an idiot for trusting the Pack. He wanted so badly to be future savvy. He just wanted to help the clan! And to make it all worse, it was on TV. How could these people not be who they are on TV?
This ep is a good reminder that the gargoyles are from 1000 years ago. TV is 100% foreign to them. Why wouldn’t they believe everything they see on it? Early viewers did, after all.
Goliath says the pack is worse than animals, since animals hunt for food. Obviously he’s never seen a cat.
Too bad Dingo has an exploding Bat-arang to break up the brainstorming.
Another narrow escape.
As the gargoyles fly past, Jackal slices power cords that somehow electrocute the gargs, despite lack of a ground. Oh well. They catch themselves on a fire escape.
But another explosion, this from Hyena, sends them crashing down 5+ stories with a ton of masonry. Turns out gargoyles don’t land on their feet after a fall.
The Pack closes in around the pile of rubble and gargs. It looks like the end for the gargoyles! (Read that in an announcer voice, okay?)
Until they’re rescued by…fans of the Pack! A boy and girl break from their parents to gush over the famous Pack.
In the most intelligent move of his screen time so far, Wolf co-opts the younglings by telling them the gargoyles are part of the evil ninjas!
Kids are easy to brainwash. Just have a celebrity tell them who to hate and who to love, and they follow like sheep. And by the way, the category “kids” isn’t age dependent, it’s maturity dependent.
The gargoyles wake up and begin mixing it up with the Pack. The kids start throwing cans at Lex, who yells at them.
They run back to Mom and Dad like scared puppies. The parents pull Billy and Suzie away, reasoning this is a stunt or a film session. This is such a great cover by the Pack! The best covers are the ones that people/onlookers perpetuate.
Lex and Goliath escape again. The Pack isn’t being too…lethal. They’re using fists, claws, and other non-firearm weapons. Even the explosives aren’t designed to kill. These hunters more like a pride than a pack, preferring to toy with their food. That’s always a bad idea for antagonists in fiction. The protags will use the slack to free themselves and defeat their villain. In real life, though, it’s as effective as torture, which is pretty darn effective. The caveat is that the “prey” might get sick of being prey and decide to become the predator if the antagonist hits the right – wrong? – buttons.
Flip the Table
The gargoyles have reached high ground. Somehow they’ve found a roof where there’s a stone gargoyle every three feet. Maybe the owner really likes cathedral statuary? Maybe there’s a gargoyle artist here? Maybe the White Witch of Winter turned a bunch of gargoyles to stone?
We’re with the Pack on this. Which means…they are the hunted.
They scrambled up with grapples, showing again their impressive abilities. Dingo comes face to face with a stone garg – and shoots it off. Uh, why did you wait to use this? Oh, right, the hunt. These people would probably hunt hog with a spear.
Lex grabs Dingo and flies off with him.
The losses freaked the others out enough to split up the party. Guys, never split up the party! Fox knows this, but Jackal won’t listen. Even if you never played an RPG, surely you’ve watched Scooby Doo!
The shadows take out Jackal.
With only Fox and Wolf left, the Pack needs to pack up its toys and go home. Not so fast. Goliath lunges at them, and…pushes them through a brick wall.
To make matters worse, the wall is about 2-3 stories up.
Falling through it lands everyone on the concrete floor below. Despite crashing into the ground with a gargoyle on top of them, Fox and Wolf hop up like nothing happened.
They’re in another studio, where a swimsuit shoot is taking place. I guess that’s a good choice for the writers, because Fox needs a hostage.
20/20 moment: After this ep, Fox would never again be rash enough to take a hostage. She won her early release by helping a guard, the opposite of taking a hostage.
Don’t be so quick to roll your eyes at Fox. There’s a learning curve when it comes to dealing with the gargoyles. These monsters just did…who knows what to three of her teammates. Will Goliath tear her limb from limb? Will he try to crush her skull? When you’re facing almost 7 feet of muscle and rage, you don’t have time for deep analysis. She takes the surest option for immediate survival: a hostage. Suddenly Fox has a snub semi-auto pistol, probably a Walther P38.
She and Wolf back out of the building.
All the while, the photographer is taking pics of Fox. Not the big, purple monster. Nope. Fox. Well, she and Wolf are stars. He probably thinks this is a stunt. (I’ll rant on this later. Stay tuned.)
Outside, Lex screams out of the sky and knocks Fox out. That’s almost as bad as falling masonry, Fox!
Wolf is game for more, but even he can’t handle Goliath almost crushing his fist.
With the Pack leaders down, the gargs go on their way. A police cruiser rolls up a moment later. Crap.
The heroes return to the castle.
Lex berates himself more. Goliath shrugs it off. There are still heroes in the world. You just shouldn’t believe all the ones who claim to be heroes, especially if they’re on TV.
The sun comes up, putting another night and another adventure to rest. The good guys won, the bad guys lost.
Tag, You’re It
But wait, there’s more! And here’s a new establishing shot! It’s a detention center, probably the county jail. What’s this now?
According to Greg: One of the factors that sets Gargoyles apart from almost all other series is its use of what Greg calls a “Xanatos Tag Ending.” In it, the last 1-2 minutes of the ep explains how Xanatos came out on top despite a seeming loss. With David, defeat is only skin deep. No plan he lays has only one goal. This is what gambits are all about! No matter what option his opponent chooses, Xanatos will achieve a win. Talk about groundbreaking in a series, much less one for younger viewers!
Side note: setting up our own plans to include multiple goals, options, and wins is crucial. It’s all about taking advantage of our opportunities.
Owen is filling Xanatos in on what happened with the Pack and gargoyles. David is super calm. Zen-like, really.
The “experts” say the worst, and in writer-speak that means best, most character-developing, thing you can do for your character is to embarrass them. Well, mission accomplished. Xanatos has suffered public humiliation before the press; private humiliation before his family; and business humiliation before his colleagues, employees, investors, and rivals.
This would drive most antagonists into a super-villain-creating rage. Not Xanatos, though. Instead, he’s maintaining his dignity and calm. He’s also carrying out his plans as if nothing happened. Sure, being in jail makes it more complicated, as does his limited visiting hours with his right-hand-man, but David is up for the challenge.
Speaking of Owen Burnett: Something everybody seems to overlook is the fact that Owen is not in jail. Remember, he was an accomplice. As head of security, he not only knew what went on, he assisted. He was an accessory to everything Xanatos did.
Elisa didn’t mention anything about him regarding the court proceedings, so I have to assume he was never charged. I can’t believe Owen got off by cooperating with the authorities against David. So there’s only one good explanation for this: David took full blame, doing all in his power to keep Owen in the clear. Oh, sure, he needs Owen at the Eyrie Building so the business and Xanatos’s ongoing schemes run according to plan.
But David didn’t have to play it this way. He could get an underling to be his proxy. Every other antag/villain does this. Anyone they have authority over is an “underling” easily replaced. With David and Owen, this isn’t so. Their relationship is about David valuing Owen, and Owen respecting David. This isn’t about control or fear. Owen isn’t even in this to get ahead. He’s not the lieutenant who back-stabs his boss. This relationship between antagonists sets Gargoyles apart yet again. And I’ll point it out every time it comes up!
Just as in real life, being incarcerated doesn’t stop ringleaders from carrying out their plans and…business.
Owen details the Pack’s actions and defeat. It all turned out as David predicted. This alone is a triumph for him.
Wait a minute, the Pack is a Xanatos Enterprises creation? You figured he was just using them, but now it makes so much more sense. They don’t know he’s the one behind their existence. Xanatos wanted them to be “far more than a TV show.” Like the commandos, they would serve as a strike team if needed. No wonder the casting agent hired people who were ready and able to get into real combat. Hey, maybe they shoulda just gotten the discs from Cyberbiotics?
In typical Xanatos fashion, not only does he profit by having a team of skilled mercenaries, he also gets a high-grossing TV series. The Pack was a fine idea.
It’s in the trash now after the cops arrested the Pack.
20/20 moment / According to Greg: Greg and Co didn’t know Xanatos and Fox were an item. That’s why David shrugs off the Pack’s arrest. I wonder if the writers would’ve changed this scene if they’d known the BF/GF deal? It works well the current way, actually. He didn’t tell Fox and the Pack anything, because the whole thing was a test. He’s disappointed and annoyed that Fox is in jail and his team is out, but he didn’t tell her to take a hostage. He’s in jail for underestimating them. It’s ironic that she’s in prison for the same thing. He’s probably already laying the groundwork for the events in Leader of the Pack.
Xanatos isn’t one to cry over spilt milk. If he wants another team or another TV show, he can make one. This adventure was about getting information. It’s a test worth the expense. He needed to know how well the Pack could perform in combat, but more importantly he needed to know what the gargoyles were capable of.
When he dealt with the clan, he had little idea what they could do. Yes, Demona told him a little, but how much can you trust her? Yes, the skirmish with the commandos at the castle and the chase in the park gave data on the gargoyles’ capabilities, but you can never have too much. The commandos weren’t the brightest. Also, Goliath was asleep for most of the park encounter.
As for the second castle battle, well… Demona and Elisa corrupted the study data. David couldn’t even act to his fullest level, since he rolled a 1 to Falling Masonry. No doubt he’s spent the last month reviewing the events that landed him where he is. What could he have done differently? Hard to say. There were too many variables.
What he needed was a controlled environment to get a good read on the gargoyles. Would Goliath protect his clan? How good are his combat skills? Can he maneuver against a human pack that’s trained to fight in unconventional styles and situations?
Most importantly, would Goliath kill if pushed too far? He was an inch away from killing David. Xanatos hasn’t forgotten that. Knowing how far your opponent is willing to go is one of the most important things to understand – in any arena.
The test showed that no, Goliath would not kill. He wouldn’t act when there was a hostage, either, even when the hostage was no one to him. He would, however, take a risk and meet humans. This makes him easier to manipulate.
What an episode! A full half of it was action. Not just any action, either. It was cat and mouse!
Seeing how the gargoyles are handling their new life makes the series feel more realistic. They’ve been around for a month, yes, but that’s not long. It takes longer than that to learn your county’s culture when you move in.
The real draw of the episode is the antagonists. Five new ones? Jackpot. And they’re working at Xanatos’s behest, unbeknownst to them? Layering the antagonists takes skill, but the writers nail it. The conspiracy aspect has shades of Moriarty on BBC Sherlock.
The continuity in this 6th ep sets a done for the rest of the series. The writers are telling us that they won’t drop threads. They’ll keep the world mechanics as close to ours as possible. Here the continuity threads are Xanatos being in jail, the clan living in his building/house, and the gargs being new to the 1990s.
Well done all around!
What did you think of the Pack? Did you guess that Xanatos was behind it all? Were you surprised to see his tag ending? Comment!