Review and Analysis: Gargoyles Deadly Force

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Previously on Gargoyles, Brooklyn got his first solo episode and was the new victim of naivete when his trust in Demona was abused and nearly got Goliath permanently brainwashed.  Also there was this really cool motorcycle that was blown up.

The episode begins on the docks where Owen is overseeing a shipment of some crates belonging to Xanatos Enterprises.  Suddenly a group of men with gas masks appear and start firing gas grenades, and though Owen attempts to stop them they still manage to hijack the truck and make off with the crates much to Owen’s displeasure.

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“We are not amused.”

Night falls at the castle and Broadway soon takes off on his own, when Goliath asks where he’s off to the rest of the Trio explain that he’s going to re-watch the new western movie they saw Showdown.

Hudson: Movies, television, video games… these days it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

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“If you think that’s bad just wait five years when The Matrix comes out.  That’ll really confuse you.”

Meanwhile at the local police station, Elisa’s arguing with her captain Maria Chavez (Rachel Ticotin) over the recent theft.  She’s convinced that a gangster Tony Dracon is behind the theft but her captain points out that even if they all know Dracon’s behind it they don’t have any evidence to warrant a… uh warrant.  Elisa asks about what was in the crates stolen and they were apparently filled with “non-projectile weapon prototypes” aka laser guns.  That’s when Owen arrives.

Owen: They are the latest design in high-collimation charged-particle-beam technology.  The laser’s just for aiming.  The particle beam itself is invisible.

Wow, actually trying to scientifically explain the presence of lasers on a kid’s show, that’s new.

Owen explains that three hundred an twenty-two of these weapons were stolen and Elisa storms out to do her job.

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“Hey wait!  I’m supposed to angrily throw you out of my office! There’s a procedure to these things!”

While Broadway catches up on his movie Elisa angrily confronts Dracon (Richard Grieco) and his entourage.   He smugly feigns ignorance and decides to rub it in further by telling her she couldn’t do anything about it even if he was to suggest one of his men sell off some “merchandise” on the streets.  Which is kinda dumb when you think about it, because all the cops really need to do is then tail one of his men and catch them selling weapons like he just suggested that they do.

Back at the movie, Broadway’s pretty enraptured when the film gets to the titular showdown.

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A black and white western.  You sure it’s “new?”

After the movie finishes Broadway slips out through the roof and glides away, excitedly mimicking firing a gun with his fingers.

Elisa heads home and is greeted by her cat Cagney while she hangs her coat and gun holster on a coat rack and Broadway stops by.  He tours around her apartment, even checking out a photo of Elisa with her family.

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But what really catches his attention is her holstered gun.  So while Elisa’s busy cooking he decides to take it out and starts playing around with it.  But after waving it around the gun accidentally goes off.

Broadway: Sorry, my fault.  I was playing with the gun.  Stupid of me.  Hope I didn’t break anything.

But as he looks around the room he doesn’t see Elisa anywhere, then he sees her on the kitchen floor.  In a pool of her own blood.

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“DUDE!”
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“HOLY CARP!”
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“MOTHER CHRIST SWEET H. JESUS OF!”

Okay.

So we’re doing a “very special episode” and on guns.

And not beating around the bush either.

Yeah…okay.

Well Broadway’s probably as shocked as the viewer is at this point.  Justifiably so.  And glides her off to the nearest hospital and places her on a convenient gurney where some convenient EMTs spot her and rush her to the ER.  All the while Broadway watches from the shadows, still horrified that he has his friend’s blood on his hands.

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Literally.

Back at the castle, dawn is fast arriving and Goliath is approached by Owen.

Owen: I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.

Goliath: What is it?  Speak quickly.

Owen: Your friend Elisa Maza has been shot.  They’re not sure if she’ll live.

And before Goliath even has a chance to gasp at this news, much less process it, he turns to stone for the day.

Elsewhere, Dracon and his men are testing out the destructive power of the weapons, which can burn a hole through two trees and demolish a boulder on the other side with a single shot.  They mention a buyer that they’re supposed to meet that night, but still plan on selling a few weapons on the streets.

While Elisa remains in surgery the gargoyles burst into Owen’s office the minute they wake up.  Falling asleep the moment you hear your friend has been shot is a hell of cliffhanger.  He catches them up on the situation before abruptly taking his leave.  Goliath tells Hudson to stay and guard the castle, Brooklyn and Lexington to search for Broadway while he checks in on Elisa.

Atop Grand Central Terminal Broadway is still sobbing over what he’s done and Goliath watches over Elisa while she rests.

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Convenient that her room has a skylight. 

Elisa’s family also shows up, her father Peter (Michael Horse), brother Derek (Rocky Carroll) and mother Diana (played by Nichelle Nichols?)

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“First Commander Riker and Counselor Troi and now Lieutenant Uhura?  I feel I should start making a Star Trek counter.”

The doctor there explains that the bullet hit her in chest, ricocheted off her collarbone, nearly hit her heart, passed through a lung before it was removed near her spine.  Now that sounds like an absolutely crazy trajectory for a bullet but considering real life wounds are often similar or even crazier I guess I’ll have to give the episode credit for realism.  Though she managed to survive ten hours of surgery, her condition however is still uncertain.  Her father wonders whether they should fly Elisa’s sister in from Arizona and I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to realize that he was talking about making sure she got to see Elisa one last time before she died.  I mean really, they are not sugar-coating the seriousness of a gunshot wound, and the only thing left for the family to do is pray.

Captain Chavez shows up next and fills them in, she even theorizes that Dracon or one of his men may have shot her with her own gun.  While this was going on Goliath was listening in at the window, the moment the rest of them leave he sneaks inside to offer some words of comfort to the sleeping Elisa.  Right before he vows to find the man who did this to her and make him pay.

Goliath makes his way outside Dracon’s penthouse suite where he listens in on the planned deal that’s to take place at the docks.  At Central Park a hoodlum is out mugging people with one of the laser guns when Broadway suddenly shows up and shows that he’s switched from the depression side of grief to the anger part.

Broadway: What’s this?  A new kind of gun?  A NEW WAY TO KILL PEOPLE?!

He shakes down the thug with such fury that even Liam Neeson would tell him to take it down a notch until he gets the information he needs and heads off to the docks.

And at the hospital Elisa flatlines.

The doctors spring into action giving her a huge shot of Epinephrine and a shock from the defibrillator before her pulse returns.  And with that little scare out of the way the episode can continue.

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I don’t know what’s scarier, the size of that needle or the knowledge that something that size actually exists.

Over with Dracon, he’s on his way to the big sale when he notices that he’s being tailed.  Turns out Captain Chavez and another cop have decided to take a more proactive approach after Elisa’s shooting.  Unfortunately Drakon was prepared for such an event and manages to lose them, though unbeknownst to him Goliath is also following him.  Over at the docks, Dracon’s man Glasses (creatively named for his eyewear) is selling a few more weapons before the deal, but that’s interrupted by Broadway who pressures him for information.

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I imagine this is a lot more painful than it looks.  And it already looks really painful.

Eventually the two gargoyles end up converging at the warehouse where Dracon’s stashed the weapons.

Goliath: How did you…never mind.  You’re just in time to help me deal with the one who shot Elisa.

Broadway: What?

Goliath: Oh, that’s right.  You don’t know.  Elisa was shot.  And the human responsible is in this building.  Come, there’s no more time for talk.

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“No wait!  There’s plenty more time to talk!  Boatloads of time!”

Dracon gets a call from Glasses about the gargoyles but before he can do anything Goliath and Broadway break in and the criminals open fire on them.  Goliath destroys the fuse box turning out the lights and actually that makes sense.  I mean it stands to reason that an entirely nocturnal species would have excellent night vision.

Anyway the fight continues, Broadway taking out the mobsters Batman Arkham style while Goliath relentlessly pursues Dracon before dangling him off a catwalk.  But before he can kill him Broadway intervenes, confessing that he was the one who accidentally shot Elisa.  With this revelation Goliath’s fury subsides and instead opts for securing the criminals for the police.  It’s at this moment that Dracon’s buyer shows up, and it turns out to be Owen.

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“Surprise.  It was me all along.”

Owen explains that Xanatos needed to get the weapons back somehow and considering how the police weren’t able to do anything decided to simply buy them off the crooks.  Easy to do when your boss is a billionaire.  Goliath asks whether all the weapons are present and Owen surmises that at least thirty-seven have already been sold on the streets.  And I have to love Goliath’s logic to all this, he takes one rifle, uses it to destroy the other weapons before snapping the one he used in half and leaving it as evidence for the police.

Owen: Mr. Xanatos isn’t going to like this.

Goliath: I’ll be happy to discuss the matter with him.

And with that Goliath and Broadway leave to visit Elisa.

Back at the hospital Elisa regains consciousness and her family fills her in about Dracon being arrested.  When they leave the gargoyles step in and Broadway apologizes profusely.

Broadway: Elisa, it was all my fault.  I was playing with your gun and it went off.  I’ll never touch a gun again.

I should have been a lot more careful about where l left it.  We both made mistakes.

Broadway: Yeah.  But you nearly paid for those mistakes with your life.

Elisa: Then let’s not repeat them.

Goliath decides that it’s time for her to rest and with one last word of comfort and a stroke of her hair they leave to rest for the day.  Watching over their friend.

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Review and Thoughts:

This episode closes out the trio of episodes focusing on the Trio themselves and their respective “Berserk Buttons” essentially people or objects that will assuredly get them angry throughout the season.  They all call back to the end of “Awakening” when Goliath got his in the form of Xanatos and they all cover the same topic, naivety.

Goliath placed his trust into a man he didn’t know and that trust was abused.  Lexington naively believed the Pack were kindred spirits to himself and that was abused.  Demona took advantage of Brooklyn’s depression and abused his naivety when she convinced him to unknowingly betray his leader.  But Broadway?  His naivety was different.  Instead of having his trust hurt by someone else, he unknowingly hurt it with regards to one of his friends.  In fact it was his naivety that nearly got the clan’s closest ally killed and for that he lashes out against guns because they remind him of his own grave mistake.

Which brings us to the Elephant in the Room

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“You really want to go into a lengthy discussion on guns?”
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“Not really, but considering the nature of the episode it’ll be a little hard to avoid now won’t it?”

Guns are a hot button topic to be sure, and my own feelings are…complicated.

Ever since my youth I’ve been fascinated by the subject of weapons, swords, axes, spears and yes, guns.  I’ve been intrigued by the design that went into them, how they differed in different countries and cultures, how they shaped warfare and by extension how they shaped history.  But one thing I learned fairly early on, and I must credit the Redwall books for teaching me this.  A weapon is not a toy.

One can debate the subject on whether something like a gun counts as a tool or not (I would like to point out that the earliest of firearm prototypes were used in warfare and not hunting) but can we at the very least agree that weapons like guns that are specifically designed with the purpose to kill are dangerous and should be treated with respect?

It was only a few years ago I went shooting for the first time with my uncle and cousin.  I remember that even though I knew the basics of gun safety they were sure that I knew even more than that.  And when I got to fire them?  I will admit it is quite a rush, and I still think it was one of the coolest things I got to do with my family.  I’m also thankful that they were sure to quiz me on what they told me about gun safety after it was all done to make sure I remembered.

But as cool as it was, the number of mass shootings here in America, the numerous occasions of children getting ahold of guns and harming or killing themselves or others and the attention that they’ve gotten has shifted my opinion on such things since my teenage years and playing Halo 2 with buddies.  And I’ve found myself being a little more apprehensive on the nature of guns because of it.

As a police officer, we should trust that Elisa would be responsible with her firearm not only in the field but at home as well.  Elisa was indeed careless for leaving her gun out where anyone could find it and Broadway was indeed reckless for playing with a gun like it was a toy.  It speaks to the episode’s maturity that they both recognize the mistakes they made and want to make it a point not to repeat them.

On to some other thoughts; we get to see some of Goliath’s rage return and a good reminder that he may not be murderous like Demona but he isn’t the kind to shrink from the subject of killing those he feels deserve it when his anger is high.

We also get to see Elisa’s family and work in the episode which is a nice touch of showing that she has a life outside of interacting with the gargoyles.  We see the closeness not only of her family but also her boss who’s on a first name basis with the rest of her family.  Not to mention the little details like showing her father in uniform in that picture is what probably inspired Elisa to follow in her dad’s footsteps and join the force.

And finally the acting.  Richard Grieco is suitably slimy as Tony Dracon, nearly every word is dripping with self-satisfied contempt.  It also shows that our heroes will be facing off against villains independent of Demona and Xanatos and his pawns.  But the true highlight of the episode is Bill Fagerbakke, for those in my age group we probably best know him for his role on Spongebob as the none-too-bright Patrick Star. So watching him go from this…

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To this…

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Was not only impressive but terrifying.  He not only showed outrage over the arms dealers and terrible fury over guns but downright anguish over the guilt for what he’s done.  The episode really gets to show off his acting muscles and shows why he’s had such a prolific voice-over career in the future.

Next time we shift focus away from our heroes as a new player enters the game…

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