Gargoyles: Upgrade – Episode Review

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There’s one word for the Pack: INSANE. They’re full-on criminals now, but that doesn’t keep the clan from pummeling them. They’re tired of the gargoyles beating them within an inch of their lives, though. Luckily, Coyote, Xanatos’s robot body double, appears. Well, his head does, since that’s all that’s left of him. He’s here to introduce a new line of Xanatos Enterprises products: Cybernetics, robotics, genetics, and armor! The Pack buys in.  Now squicky, horrifying, and sobering are three words that describe the Pack.

Behind all this is David Xanatos. Fox plays a role too: his opponent in a chess game. There’s more to the competition than spousal bonding. Namely the fate of the clan and the Pack.

Miss last week? It was a good one! => Double Jeopardy Episode Review

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

Season 2, Episode 17: Upgrade

Reason(s) for existence: To decide who the clan’s second in command is. To decide who the leader of the Pack will be. Again. To develop the Pack as a formidable force that will sacrifice their humanity for advantage. To develop Fox and David’s relationship. To show how capable Fox is. To prove that Xanatos has married an equal and that he couldn’t be happier about this. To give Coyote another evolution/upgrade. To set Dingo’s story in motion.

Main antagonist(s): The Pack, Xanatos, Fox

Time(s):  November ?, December 15, 1995

Location(s): New York City, New York

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - title

Love the title.

Previously: Xanatos uses the robot Coyote, which is his twin in voice and appearance, to break the Pack out of prison and give Fox a shot at an early parole. The gargoyles destroy the robot, but David shrugs it off: robots are nothing, as he can make a dozen more, but true love is so much harder to come by.

Side note: Xanatos sees robots as tools. Given his druthers, he prefers working with people. This is diametrically opposed to Renard‘s view. Old Man Renard thinks robots are the perfect creations, since they don’s suffer from the moral lapses that people do.

Oceans Four

We open on the a rooftop, where the Pack has parked their hovercraft/submarine/jet. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. But that’s the least of their law worries: they’re robbing a bank! Yes, they’ve fallen to robbing a bank. The Gargoyles writers don’t overuse this trope. I appreciate this, since it makes it more realistic. Large-scale bank heists aren’t common. Last time we saw bank robbers was in City of the Stone, and they were really just unspecified terrorists who had a beef with the Establishment.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - wolf vault door

Just go thru the hole.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. The once-loved TV stars are now escaped convicts who can’t manage any criminal pursuit more complicated than a smash and grab burglary. “We’ve finally sunk to robbing banks,” says Dingo.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - dingo, jackal, hyena

Dissension among the ranks?

Needless to say, the clan arrives to shut this nonsense down. Everyone gets tossed about for a few rounds. Dingo and Wolf finally tase Goliath. Good thing, too, because  Jackal’s getting his tail handed to him by Broadway. Really, none of the Pack are a match for the gargoyles. The gang barely managed to make enough breathing room to escape. Pretty humiliating. Heck, Goliath and Lexington – just those two – defeated the whole pack, including Fox, last year.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - dingo shoots

Dingo is a horrible shot.

Jackal is recovering in Hyena’s arms, when a knock at the hatch sounds. In the air? They let in…Coyote’s half human, half terminator head. It’s sitting on a little hover pad.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - coyote's head

Oh that’s not creepy at all! Man, I hate robots.

At the clock tower, Goliath is also recovering. Hudson wants him to choose a second in command. Goliath puts it off.

The Pack lies low. Really low. On the bottom of the ocean low. That ship is pretty slick.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - pack ship underwater

This is a multi-million $ ship. Xanatos doesn’t do anything half way.

The Pack isn’t interested in what this door-to-hatch salesman has to say. Except for Hyena. She’s always thought he was “cute.” Um, not the fact that he looks like Xanatos. No, she likes that he’s a robot. Kinky.

Coyote, for his/its part, is as smooth as the real Xanatos. He says it’s a shame for them to be beaten when they have so many resources available. Free resources. How? They’re from Xanatos Enterprises.

So what are these amazing advantages? Well… We’re treated to a little video. Yes, Xanatos has a video prepared, because he’s a professional, and he doesn’t do things half way. There’s genetic engineering: the mutates. Cybernetics: Coldstone. Robotics: Coyote. Exo armor: Xanatos himself in his red Steel Clan armor.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - coyotes video

I love that he’s turned all his previous projects into demos for sales. Such a businessman!

Wolf likes the genetic engineering. Hyena and Jackal like the cybernetics. Dingo is the lone sane member of the group, which is saying something since he’s an Aussie, and they’re crazy. He wants the armor like Xanatos has. That’s my choice too.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - dingo with coyote's head

This is so messed up.

The Pack wonders why Xanatos doesn’t come ask them himself. Well now, y’all think highly of yourselves! As if the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar corporation has time to meet with some mercenaries. “He’s a busy man.” Besides, there’s no way he’d risk being caught talking with these people. Plausible deniability must be maintained!

The Game’s Afoot

We move to Xanatos’s throne room. He and Fox are sitting at his desk, starting a game of chess. Fox is wearing her Pack costume for some reason. Does she, like, just sometimes bum around the castle dressed as Fox the ninja fighter? Does she want to re-live the old days? Or did the animators screw up? At least they remembered she has green eyes.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - fox and david in office

That plant is getting bigger.

Somehow I don’t think this scene is in here just to show us how some of our antagonists pass time. The game is symbolic. (More on that later. Um, belated 20/20 moment.)

What’s Xanatos up to now? His last project was cloning Goliath. That did not go to plan at ALL. That almost ended with him in an oil-fueled BBQ. I wonder if he told Fox what happened? Probably not. There are some things in life that nobody needs to know about, because if they did, they’d question your ability to perform your day to day activities safely. It’s been half a month, which is long enough for Xanatos got either get bored or decide to continue one of the many plans he has in progress.

A month later, at the clock tower, the Trio are arguing who would be the best second in command. Uhg, none of them. But disqualifying them leaves the garg dog. Or Hudson, and he gave up his leadership to Goliath in the first place.

They leave just before  Elisa arrives and says the SWAT team has the Pack pinned down in an abandoned building.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - explosion

If there’s one thing Elisa is bad at, it’s spotting a trap.

Welcome to the Freak Show

They arrive just as the SWAT team shoots tear gas into the building. The place promptly explodes. Either they loaded the wrong canister, or it’s a set-up.

Sure enough, the talking head Coyote zips down to inform Goliath, Hudson, Elisa, and Bronx that the real action is in the steel frame of a construction site.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - floating coyote head

Nightmare fuel, anyone?

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - goliath and coyote head

This would be enough to make me go home.

The Pack appears. Holy abominations, Batman! The Pack is a regular freak show now! Wolf is a wolfman. Straight up. Dingo is in hunky, ugly yellow-gold armor. But by far the most disturbing are Jackal and Hyena, who went the cybernetics route. Now, cybernetics is all well and good if you have to rebuild a body, as in Coldstone‘s case, but it’s downright disturbing when you have a perfectly normal body and you start cutting and pasting. Basically all that remains of them that’s still flesh is their heads, necks, and in the case of Hyena, upper chest and abdomen.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - jackal attaches arm

Zombie arm? I can’t even.

Apparently there are more people like Sevarius at Xanatos Enterprises, because I don’t know any surgeons or researchers who would amputate basically a person’s whole body as an elective procedure. Did they save the organs just in case the machines don’t work?

And what kind of person does that to themselves? You’re going to trust that you can always access somebody to do upkeep on your hardware? They could end up with another ***SPOILER*** Texhnolyze situation where everybody gets fancy robot parts, then the Powers That Be shut em off. Now everybody’s stuck.

I’d want to know exactly what the track record of this procedure was and how other people handled it. It’s going to get really bizarre when the siblings get old: there will be senior citizen heads on top of robot bodies. Okay, too gross for me.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - pack argues

Sure glad none of the cops looked over here from next door.

Moving on! We have the new Coyote. He’s a hulking monster. In typical trickster style, Xanatos has kept Coyote as he was: a head with half the skin on. It’s instantly recognizable to the clan, and it’s creepy as heck. Seeing it in a giant body is nothing if not intimidating.

We get a nice throw-down: Hyena vs Elisa, Dingo and Wolf vs Goliath, Jackal vs Bronx, then Wolf vs Hudson, and Coyote vs Goliath. It’s fluid.

In the end, Wolf bags Hudson, but Coyote takes out Goliath. Bronx and Elisa don’t count even though they’re unconscious too. The Pack reveals that they had a bargain: whoever took down the biggest gargoyle got to be leader. So that’s officially Coyote. Problem is, not everybody wants to follow a robot. Hyena has the hots for the bot. Dingo thinks Wolf is nuts for turning beast. Jackal sides with Wolf, who sides with himself.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - coyote takes goliath

Oh look, it’s a parallel situation with the clan: leader choosing.


Short review, I know. That’s because most of this half was fighting. We had two extended ones: at the bank and at the construction site.

The most interesting part of the ep is the Pack’s willingness to sacrifice their bodies for the sake of victory. They’re not (except for Dingo) thinking of any future other than the criminal one they’ve made. I suppose that makes a little sense, since they’d just land back in prison if they tried anything normal. What would they do, anyway? Work at the deli, cutting meat with their Wolverine-style claws? Wolf could be a body builder or coach. Dingo can go back to Oz, or be a mercenary.

Only Fox, who was always far more intelligent than her cronies, thought beyond the tiny world of the Pack. Now she’s living the high life in high society with the man of her dreams. Heck, she’s even a mom! I’d say she transitioned to “normal” life well.

What’s going on with Fox and David’s chess game? Xanatos dumped a lot of resources into the Pack, so what’s he up to? He originally wanted the Pack as private mercenaries who had no connection to him. Is he rebooting that plan?

Tune in Friday for the conclusion, where we see just how freaky the Pack is. We’ll also see who wins the House Xanatos chess game. Believe me, it’s more than a trivial pursuit.

Thoughts? Comment!

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