Gargoyles: Upgrade – Episode Review Continued

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The Pack is back, and they’re sicker than ever. Wolf is a wolfman, Hyena and Jackal have cybernetic enhancements – or mutilations – and Dingo is in armor. Coyote is the alpha, and he’s not playing around. Who is playing? David Xanatos and Fox. Their chess game will decide the fate of the Pack and the clan. Will the Trio be able to rescue Hudson, Goliath, Elisa and Bronx before it’s too late? The role of second in command also hinges on how the Trio handles this.

Lost? Read Upgrade Episode Review part 1.

Brought to You by…Fox!

The Trio returns to the clock tower to find it deserted. You know things are bad when even Hudson and Bronx, the faithful TV guardians, are gone.

In a train depot somewhere, the Pack is amusing itself. Wolf is staring at Goliath, Hudson, Elisa, and Bronx, who are in stasis chambers. The giant robot is soldering a tracking collar for Bronx. They’ll stick it on him and track him back to the roost. Ah, a tracker. Typical Xanatos plan.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - pack in train station

Is Thomas the Tank Engine there?

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - hyena with coyote

Hyena and her hunk. Why wasn’t the collar already made?

Coyote is also the one keeping the gang from turning Goliath and Co into shish kabobs.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - goliath in stasis

Dang it, stop getting dog nose prints on the glass!

At the Eyrie Building, we rejoin Fox and David. They’ve resumed their chess game. Xanatos comments that Fox seems to be in check. She’s not worried though.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - fox and david play chess

I find it neat that Fox is on the clan’s side, even though she used to lead the Pack. But now Coyote, Xanatos’s double, leads the Pack, so it belongs to David. It’s an interesting trade of roles.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - fox smiles

Ah yes, still green eyes. Good, animators.

Side note: The pieces are representations of the gargoyles and the Pack. So…Team Xanatos ordered a custom chess set. I wonder if there are pieces besides these? I also wonder who’s idea this was. It says something about how well suited Fox and David are to each other in that I can easily imagine either of them having the chess game idea.

Another side note: White moves first in chess. But it seemed to me the Pack moved first by robbing the bank. Or was the gargoyles stopping them considered the first move?

At the clock tower, the Trio is about to leave. Then they hear a commercial. Fox is the narrator. She’s telling viewers who are sick of commuting to Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway that they should take the train. I wonder what she – and House Xanatos in general – thought of the clan’s names. The place names are odd, but I suppose it would have been even odder to have them take names like Bob and Glenn and Carl.

Lex of course is the first to recognize the voice. They know it’s a trap, but what choice do they have.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - trio watches TV

And people say TV is a waste of time! Cracks me up that Fox knew they’d be watching the boob tube.

At the castle, Xanatos comments that the move is clever, but he’s still got the edge. The last line is recycled from the tag ending of The Edge.

They pick up on the clue and head to the train place, where they peek through a window to find their friends in stasis. Lex wants to attack, but Brooklyn makes a plan. Jackal and Hyena are playing cards. Dingo is antsy but trusts Coyote.

The gargs split up the Pack, then cut the power. They also free Goliath and Co.


Hyena vs Lex.

Dingo gets momentarily stuck in the roof.

Brooklyn vs Wolf and Jackal.

Coyote vs Bronx and Broadway.

Goliath puts an I-beam through Coyote before the bot can launch Bronx through the roof.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - goliath stakes coyote

Robot ona stick!

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - hyena creepy legs

Hyena wonders if gargoyles taste like chicken. (She is sooo sick.)

Hyena rotates her hip 360 degrees to kick Lex, then she jump on him as he flies by. Aerodynamics have no power here! Ha! Her limbs are extended and jointed like a spider’s. This is horrifying but riveting to watch.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - hyena rides lex

Oh, and this is aimed at young adults, remember. I love 1990s Disney!

According to Greg: A challenge for the writers was keeping the Pack edgy and dangerous. As is the problem with recurring villains, you have to keep them interesting by giving them advantages, otherwise it’s just a rehash of the last time the protags beat them. You can’t make the villains too powerful though, cuz then the viewer wants to know why the villain doesn’t just kill the protag. This is why Xanatos is such a great recurring antag: his goal is to use the gargoyles, not kill them.

The writers solved the problem by doing this upgrade. They’ve already established the Pack as being bloodthirsty lunatics for the most part (excluding Dingo and Fox), so it’s not a stretch to say they’d permanently alter their bodies.

Broadway takes her down.

Brooklyn and Jackal fight. Jackal can extend his torso, telescoping it. Um, so he doesn’t have any internal organs? He doesn’t eat? How does his flesh survive then? Is there an artificial growth and oxygen transport system/medium in his body? He can pull his arm off and reattach it, too, if you wanted to know.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - jackal stretches

I can’t look, but I can’t look away, either.

Brook socks him when Jackal gets his hand stuck in the wall.

Hudson fights Wolf.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - wolf werewolf

Moon Moon is even more bestial than before. It’s like the adrenaline pushed the transformation farther.

The garg’s sword lands on the third rail. Since the wolf form seems to make Wolf even dumber, he grabs the electrified blade. Oops.

Dingo is seeing the light of reason. Time to leave. Elisa finds an industrial crane-mounted magnet and nails him with it.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - dingo on magnet

I dunno where she found the keys or how she knows how to use it, but whatever. Makes about as much sense as the rest of this ep.

Coyote is still around – Wait, no. Goliath grabs his head, pulls it from the body, and crushes it like a pop can. A passing train finishes off the body.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - goliath crushes coyotes head

So wrong. Like the whole episode.

Wrap Up

The clan leaves the Pack tied up with I beams. Poor Morgan and his partner are the only two cops to arrive. Morgan’s surprised, sure, but not enough to keep from wisecracks. He jokes that he doesn’t know if he should take them to a hospital (Dingo), a mechanic (the sibs), or the vet (Wolf). It’s like he sees werewolves, guys in power armor, and people who are more machine than human, on a daily basis.

Let’s follow what’ll happen to the Pack. The authorities take them, yes, but then what? How common knowledge are these developments in technology and medicine? Because if they’re still classified, the cops getting a hold of the Pack is a big deal. Won’t the investigators track the parts back to Xanatos Enterprises? Won’t there be questions asked about why XE helped wanted criminals? Or what on earth they were doing with this wacky technology in the first place? If this is all stuff that people know about but just cant afford, okay. I’m going with that explanation only so I can save what remains of my sanity after watching this ep.

In case you wondered, Brooklyn gets second in command. Goliath picked him from the start but didn’t say anything, cuz he didn’t want to cause infighting. Poor naive soul.

Tag a Friend

A Xanatos Tag Ending! Fox tips over David’s king. “Check mate.”

He’s impressed and a little surprised. “Well played!”

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - xanatos happy

How did all this start? Like, “Hey, you know what would be fun, playing human/gargoyle chess!”

“Aren’t you angry? I know how you don’t like to lose.” Who does? This is also why we have the Tag Endings that showed how he actually didn’t lose, even though it seemed like he did.

He takes her hands and leans in. “But I have won, my darling. For in you I have found a true equal.” For a guy who thinks love is a weakness, he has an excellent grasp on how to romance his wife. I love seeing these two together. If they’re in the same room, they’re usually in physical contact with each other. They have wonderfully snarky exchanges. David is always at least a little protective, while Fox is loyal but witty.

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - xanatos holds fox's hands

This is one of my absolute favorite scenes.

She smiles at him.

Tonight’s going to be nice.

We end on Xanatos asking, “Care to play again?”

Disney Gargoyles - Upgrade - xanatos asks want to play again

He’s almost got a little puppy-dog begging, innocent look on. Stahp.

Huh, so all this was a game. House Xanatos won even when the gargoyles won. Little did Goliath know that when he killed Coyote, he was doing exactly what Fox, an antagonist, wanted. Both players were able to move their “pieces” with ease, all without personally interacting with them.

This ep also shows how House Xanatos views the gargoyles – and probably life itself. It’s all a game. They move the pieces like the Greek gods played with mortal lives on Mount Olympus. I suppose this mindset actually helps the gargoyles. If the clan got too out of control, that would inspire Xanatos to take more of an interest in them. It’s like when somebody pushes, you push back. Or like when somebody says you can’t do something. Even if you didn’t have any plans to do that thing initially, now you won’t anything get in your way as you do it!

Mindsets are one thing. Power is another. Any nut can think they run the world. The proof is in the pawns. House Xanatos wields massive power. And David is only a low ranking member in the Illuminati, so that should tell you what kind of world-movers this series deals with.

Fox and Xanatos in this ep bear a passing resemblance to Go-for-the-Jugular George Soros, who gets a kick out of crashing currencies. The richer you are, the smaller everyone around you becomes, until they’re the size of chess pieces. They exist to do your will.

Final Thoughts

I like this ep in that we see Fox and David in the roles of power players at a level we’ve never seen before. We also see again that Fox is David’s equal, and in this game, his superior. It’s so refreshing to see a female allowed to be the match of a male in a fictional series.

I normally dislike female protagonists. Yes, I do like some male protagonists, so it’s not just the protag bit. Why? Because for some reason, writers suddenly forget how real life works and thus can’t figure out how to make the females realistic. By realistic I mean capable, confident, witty, and genuine. So we end up with a Mary Sue character who can do everything perfectly and is super-model beautiful. Or we get what’s-her-face from Twilight: dependent, weak, annoying. Writers, stop doing my sex a disservice! I’m going to put in here that I dislike Elisa, who is neither of those cliches, because she’s obnoxious. I don’t care what sex/species/age you are; if you’re irritating, you’re on my crap list.

Back to Team Xanatos: They love competition, but in the end they’re on the same team. They have a great relationship. It’s just that their game nights involve risking others’ lives rather than just playing Scrabble.

I realize I didn’t go too much into the Pack members’ characters. They’re unbalanced, except for Dingo, who was already distancing himself from them. They want victory, wealth, thrills – and they don’t care how they get it. They have absolutely no foresight. Long range planning to them means five minutes from now.

Well, at least this upgrade throws a new complication into the mix! We’ll see where it goes.

Next week we review Protection. Dracon is running a protection racket, but a surprising rival appears to muscle in on his turf: Elisa Maza. What’s going on here? Come back Tuesday to find out.

Thoughts? Comment!

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Lead researcher at Villainous Life Natures Research. Writer, reader, snarker. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ.
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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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