Last time on Gargoyles, we had an episode centered on Lexington as he and Goliath were hunted by a team of TV stars/mercenaries that he and the rest of the Gargoyles had previously idolized. Bringing to mind that old adage, “Never meet your heroes, because heroes are people and people suck.”
For this episode, we start off with the Trio at some old garage where Lex is putting the finishing touches onto a motorcycle to the impatience of Broadway and Brooklyn.
Broadway: Isn’t it finished yet? We’ve been here every night for a week.
Brooklyn: Come on. You’ve ridden one before.
Lexington: You’ve ridden a horse before, could you build one from scratch?
Well, technically speaking he crashed one before, but that’s another subject. Either way the bike is finished and Brooklyn is all geared up to take it out for the first ride.
But the excitement soon comes to an end as Brooklyn drives off, and the two of them are left to wonder when they get their turn. And I immediately empathize, I swear the number of times at school where I had to wait most of recess for a turn, you know sometimes I think the other kids perfectly timed it so I’d get the least amount of time on the swings. But anyway, while this is happening a shadowy figure watches from above…
Things are going pretty well for Brooklyn who’s an absolute natural on the bike. Even managing to evade the police in a high-speed chase.
However things soon turn sour when he rides alongside a motorcycle gang who go from “Sweet ride” to “Holy crap it’s a monster, let’s kill ’em” in the blink of an eye. During the scuffle one of the bikers pulls a gun to shoot Brooklyn but that same shadowy figure causes him to miss and and accidentally shoot the bike, which promptly explodes.
Brooklyn flees to the rooftops and is shocked to find out that his rescuer was actually Demona (obviously). He decides to leave despite her protests that she only wants to talk, insisting that during their last encounter she was only lashing out do to grief and anger.
Demona: If you only knew what I’ve gone through for hundreds of years dealing with the humans.
Brooklyn: Hundreds of years? I thought you were under the sleep spell like we were.
Demona: It’s a long story. Centuries long. I’d like to tell you about it. If you’ll let me.
And despite his hesitation, Brooklyn decides to give her a moment of his time. She asks what he did to provoke them to attack him and he did nothing, except look pretty inhuman.
Demona: That’s what humans are like.
Brooklyn: But Goliath says when they get used to us…
Demona: They were used to us a thousand years ago. Did that stop them from betraying us and destroying our kind?
Bit of a self-serving memory there considering she at least had a hand in betraying her clan.
Demona: You don’t know the depths to which humanity can sink, my young friend. But I do. Over the centuries I’ve seen horrors that would blast your soul! Come let me show you what mankind is really like.
And the two of them explore the city; first she shows him a thief making off with a woman’s purse. While Brooklyn wants to stop him, Demona holds him back.
Demona: What would you do? Capture him for human justice? He’d be out of jail and back on the streets in a day.
Next she takes him to a home where he witnesses a couple yelling at each other, objects are thrown at one another and their young son runs out of the house in tears.
Demona: They can’t share their own homes without fighting. And you think they will share this world with us?
And finally to a crime scene where a chalk outline is shown and a body bag is being loaded into an ambulance.
Demona: They hold each other’s lives completely without worth. Do you really think they would accept us with open arms?
Demona tries to convince him that humanity will never accept them, Brooklyn counters that Elisa is at least their friend, but Demona then asks whether she’s able to protect the clan from all of humanity. She even brings up Goliath and Lexington’s recent clash with the Pack and when pressed to reveal himself to the humans Brooklyn starts to wonder whether Demona is actually right about this. And asks what they can do considering Goliath still believes that humanity can accept them. She tells him that there’s a way for him to see the truth through a spell in the Grimorum Arcanorum, aka that magic book used by the Magus back in the pilot and then acquired by Xanatos. And all she needs him to do is bring it to her.
Brooklyn makes his way back to the castle where Elisa is waiting to talk to Goliath before sunrise. She informs him that Xanatos’ sentence is almost up and he’ll be released within a month. She continues to tell him that the clan must find a new place to live and even has found a place that might suit them but Goliath stubbornly refuses. Still insisting that because they beat Xanatos that they hold claim over the castle, though Brooklyn points out that Xanatos might try to reclaim it from them Goliath is all, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” And they turn to stone before the discussion can continue.
Elisa: That’s one way of avoiding a conversation.
The next night, Brooklyn slips away from the group and sneaks into the castle where he steals the Grimorum before taking it to Demona, who has hidden away at the Cloisters, a museum in Manhattan with a distinct medieval look to it. Later he he brings brings Goliath there under the pretense of seeing the old architecture, he is rather shocked to see Demona alive, probably expected gravity to have killed her back in that last episode.
Goliath: Demona! So you did survive.
Demona: I always survive!
But even more shocking is seeing Brooklyn at her side and that she’s carrying the Grimorum. While Brooklyn pleads to Goliath to listen to what she has to say, Demona casts the magic spell. But instead of opening his eyes like Brooklyn believed Goliath is completely bewitched and stares off blankly.
Demona: Humans are our enemies.
Goliath: Humans are our enemies.
Brooklyn is horrified that he was just party to magical enslavement and calls Demona out. She other hand actually seems to want Brooklyn on her side but when he tries to take the book back calls Goliath to take him. Brooklyn attempts to snap him out of it but it’s no good and chases Brooklyn into the museum. All the while Demona keeps trying to reason with him.
Demona: Don’t you see? This is the only way. This is only temporary. He will obey whoever holds the spell. We can protect him from his naivety until we reach our goals.
When it becomes clear that Brooklyn won’t join with her she prepares to cast the spell again. However Brooklyn was waiting for this moment and grabs the book after blindsiding her. She soon grabs the book back and orders Goliath to destroy him, only this time Goliath isn’t obeying her.
Demona: I hold the book, you must obey me!
Brooklyn: You hold the book, Demona. But I hold the spell!
And Brooklyn holds aloft the pages containing the spell that he manged to tear out, now leaving him in control of Goliath.
With the tables now turned, Demona flees out of the Cloisters with both Goliath and Brooklyn hot on her heels. Unable to combat both a brainwashed Goliath and a very angry Brooklyn she tosses the book towards the Hudson to cover her escape but not before tearing a few more pages out.
Brooklyn is forced to catch the book before it’s lost and with Demona now gone, he sadly makes his way back to the castle with a brainwashed Goliath in tow.
Back at the castle Brooklyn is despondent over what he’s done and with no counterspell in the book the gargoyles are stumped over what to do. Elisa however gets an idea to use the spell to work for them and orders Goliath to act as if he wasn’t under the spell for the rest of his life. Well that bit of rules-lawyering seems to do the trick and Goliath snaps out of it.
Brooklyn: What Demona said sounded true at the time…
Goliath: Of course it did. It’s a half truth that she has thoroughly embraced, but it’s not the whole truth.
And as the sun begins to rise the gargoyles take their place to rest when Lex suddenly remembers something.
Lexington: Hey! What happened to the motorcycle?
Brooklyn: Um… it… blew up.
Lexington: Oh. WHAT?
And with that the episode ends.
Review and Thoughts:
This episode carried a lot of layers to what on the surface is a character-centered episode. But while Brooklyn is the central character, Demona is equally important to the story. Besides the obvious part where it confirms that she survived the plummet from the castle (and seems no worse for wear either) it shows a more nuanced side to her villainy.
The last time we saw her she was sending an airship on a collision course with a look of psychotic glee on her face and blowing apart the castle with a bazooka with wild abandon. Here she shows a more cunning side to her, playing off Brooklyn’s hurt feelings and lack of acceptance to more easily sway him to her side. At the same time the moment she takes control of Goliath’s mind she doesn’t start cackling and deride Brooklyn for betraying his leader but continue to plead for Brooklyn to try and understand that she’s doing this for the best reasons. It’s that genuine plea from her that shows that perhaps deep down inside she wants someone else to honestly believe in her misanthropy as much as she does.
We get a few more hints into her background as well, the biggest of which is that she’s been dealing with humans for hundreds of years, thus confirming that the story about being under a sleep spell was a lie. That and the bit about how she got her name from the humans a long time ago does raise some questions on what happened between the Massacre at Castle Wyvern and the modern day. Not only that she shows that she has some familiarity with magic spells, a feat only shown by the Magus in the past. Combine that with her adeptness with modern technology (especially weapons) and Demona is a much more dangerous foe than what was originally thought.
Brooklyn get’s his first solo episode and while it does continue his image as the “cool one” we see there’s a bit more to him. Like Lex from last episode he thought he had found some “kindred spirits” but was attacked solely on the grounds of good old fashioned human prejudice. Having to face the same prejudice he did a thousand years, where he’s judged solely on his appearance rather than anything about his character or interests is undoubtedly harsh. And a truth to many children or adults who don’t fit the standard of “normal.” All of this shows that underneath his cool exterior, there is a sense of melancholy to him, which may be explored in future episodes. To say nothing of his animosity towards Demona for using him.
We get some interesting tidbits as well, the magic spell book has a proper name, Grimorum Arcanorum which translates to “Magic Spell of Book of Secrets” is an undeniably cool name. Demona made off with a few of the pages, which means our heroes will most likely have to contend with sorcery in the future. The bike in the beginning existed solely to sell toys, so the fact that they blew it up so quickly just goes to show what the showrunners thought of merchandise tie-ins.
There’s one last thing I want to touch on, the sights Demona showed to Brooklyn to try and convince him to come to her side. While purse-snatching isn’t too shocking to show on a cartoon, showing domestic arguments that turn violent and the scene of a homicide certainly is. I have to applaud the show for showcasing such real world problems with the utmost seriousness. The thing is that nothing had to be faked for Brooklyn’s sake and was all meant to show how ugly the modern world can be, not just New York.
But as Elisa explained in the third episode, there is a beauty to the modern world. And to ignore that, to focus solely on the ugliness is to create a half-truth that paints one’s whole perspective. While it is important to recognize the problems of the world, to do nothing but recognize them and not try to fix them can easily send a person down the slippery slope from cynicism, to disgust, to misanthropy. And that does no good to anyone, especially not to one’s own self.